Jul 11, 2018

July 1, 1970: Winnipeg Stadium (Festival Express II)


Blues singer Janis Joplin - billed as the top female vocalist in North America - will headline a one-day pop festival July 1 in conjunction with Manisphere.
The singer, one of more than a dozen performers scheduled to appear at the festival, will stage a 50-minute show during the 12-hour event.
Miss Joplin's performance was announced Thursday during a press conference at the Hotel Fort Garry held by officials of Manisphere and its pop festival promoters Walker-Eaton Associates.
The festival here - to be known as the Festival Express '70 - will be part of a four-city tour which will also see concerts staged in Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary.
Walker-Eaton Associates - the Toronto-based promoters of the festival - will co-sponsor the program with Maclean-Hunter Publications.
During the press conference, officials described plans for the one-day event at the Winnipeg Stadium which is expected to attract between 25,000 and 30,000 fans.
Included in the performance list, besides Miss Joplin, are Ian and Sylvia, The Band, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, the Grateful Dead, Buddy Guy, Eric Andersen, and James and the Good Brothers.
And show promoters promised the newly-announced list of performers for the festival would be augmented by several other top stars at a later date.
In additional, about four local bands will be hired in each of the festival's four host cities to perform at the pop concert.
Walker-Eaton officials said a special 12-car train - rented from the Canadian National Railways - will be utilized to transport the festival group.
Turning to cost, the officials said the festival has an entertainment budget of $500,000 and an over-all budget of about $1 million.
One official said tickets for the event - which will be sold in advance for $10 and at the door for $12 - will go on sale in about three weeks at major outlets.
Ticket holders will be able to sit either in the grandstand or on the field where the stage will be constructed.

(from the Winnipeg Free Press, 1 May 1970)

* * *


"The Big One" hits town Wednesday.
"The Big One" is a rock music extravaganza featuring just about all the big time pop music singers and musicians you can think of.
Ian and Sylvia (Great Speckled Bird) will be there. So will the Grateful Dead. So will The Band. And Janis Joplin. And Delaney and Bonnie, Buddy Guy, Tom Rush, Mashmakhan, James and The Good Bros., Mountain, Charlebois, Eric Andersen...and a couple of local groups, Justin Tyme and The Walrus, will also be on hand.
For a solid 12 hours the confines of Winnipeg Stadium will reverberate with the sounds and excitement produced by this incredible collection of talented performers.
Under the name of "Festival Express 1970," these pop artists, their groups, instruments, and equipment are travelling across the country in a private 12-car train. Complete with lounge car, jamming car, two flat cars, five sleepers, a staff coach, baggage car, diner, and two engines, the specially-equipped train will stop at Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary.
Presented locally by Manisphere 100, the rock package was put together jointly by Eaton-Walker Associates and McLean Hunter.
Thoroughly organized to avoid the kind of problems encountered at such festivals as the much-publicized Woodstock, Festival Express 1970 will give plenty of scope for spontaneity but will be orderly. Police will ensure that would-be gate crashers don't make the scene - and, of course, the Stadium has all the facilities to handle large numbers of people.
And large numbers of people are expected. Probably 250,000 fans will take in the action first hand in the three cities, and countless thousands others will view the proceedings via the medium of film, which will be made by a movie crew travelling with the performers across the country.
Just to handle the sound, a whole organization under the direction of Bill Hanley of Boston will be brought in. Bill Hanley is reputed to be the best sound man in the business. He's handled many rock festivals, including Woodstock, and he looked after the sound for President Richard Nixon's campaign train.

(from the Winnipeg Free Press, 27 June 1970)

(The 6/26/70 Winnipeg Free Press reported: "Festival Express ticket prices for the 12-hour rockfest slated for Manisphere July 1 are high for the average young person who doesn't have a summer job or a parent able to pay the tariff...there's no doubt. There's one misunderstanding that should be cleared up however. The advance ticket price of $10 includes the normal $1.50 admission to the grounds as does the $12 price if the ticket is bought at the gate July 1. In other words, the ticket prices for the show are actually $8.50 or $10.50 plus ground admission fees. And it's unfortunate but no one can pay Janis Joplin up to $15,000 a day without charging a high admission price.")

* * *


The promoters of Festival Express - the cross-country touring rock festival scheduled to appear here Wednesday - expect smoother sailing in Winnipeg than they encountered last weekend in Toronto.
Len Knott and Hugh MacGregor, representatives of Eaton-Walker Associates and Maclean-Hunter Limited, co-sponsors of the festival, arrived here Monday night to begin preparations for the show.
The 12-hour festival will be staged Wednesday at the Winnipeg Stadium. Admission prices are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. The ticket prices include the cost of admission to the Manisphere grounds.
Both Mr. Knott and Mr. MacGregor emphasized in an interview that they expect no repetition of the violence which disrupted the Toronto performance Saturday night.
The mass gatecrash attempts in Toronto led to dozens of injuries and 18 arrests.
Mr. MacGregor and Mr. Knott said the violence erupted from demonstrations - organized by the radical May Fourth Movement - against the price of admission.
They pointed out that the Sunday engagement in Toronto was peaceful and orderly and credited that fact to a free concert put on for those who couldn't afford the main attraction.
Although the New Democratic Youth organization here issued literature calling for a gate-crash attempt Wednesday, Mr. MacGregor doubted that it would amount to anything on the scale of the Toronto demonstrations.
He said he doubted that the New Democratic Youth were as organized or as well able to organize others as the May Fourth Movement.
He added that he had since heard reports that the May Fourth Movement had also attempted to disrupt the free concert on Sunday. That, he said, indicated the group was just out "to create static" rather than participate in any legitimate protest.
Mr. MacGregor said the admission prices for the festival weren't exorbitant. With the prices set at their present rate, a ticket-buyer was paying about 80 cents an hour for some of the best pop and rock entertainment available in North America.
"If you want a $6 show, you can get a $6 show. But 80 cents an hour for the acts we are bringing is, in my mind, an excellent bargain."
Mr. MacGregor said he hadn't heard anything about a free concert planned to be held outside the stadium grounds, in conjunction with the Festival Express.
"I think it's a good value for the money."
He added that the total talent budget for the tour was "just a fraction" under $500,000, that the promoters carried two kinds of insurance coverage, and that the sound system - which occupies three flatcars of the festival train - was the best available on the continent.
Mr. MacGregor said Maclean-Hunter was making a feature-length film of the festival tour. It would be a step above and beyond that of Woodstock, he said, because it would contain many candid scenes of the performers talking and jamming together while travelling across Canada.
The special train, which was chartered for the cross-country tour, arrives in Winnipeg sometime Tuesday afternoon or evening.
After the Winnipeg engagement, the festival continues on to Calgary for performances there July 4 and 5.
Among the acts featured in the festival are Janis Joplin; The Band; Tom Rush; The Grateful Dead; Delaney, Bonnie and Friends; Ian and Sylvia; Charlesbois; and James and the Good Brothers.

(by John Gillespie, from the Winnipeg Free Press, 30 June 1970)

The same issue also carried this notice:

Rain tomorrow may mean an end to the Festival Express scheduled to appear in the Winnipeg Stadium as a feature of Manisphere.
A spokesman for the festival said Tuesday that if it rains, the show will be cancelled and the money will be refunded.
He said the equipment for the show is not waterproof and could not be risked in the rain.
However, the spokesman said, even if it rains all night tonight and lets up tomorrow, the rock festival will go on.

* * * 


WINNIPEG (CP) - Festival Express, the cross-country touring rock music show, ran into little problems here Wednesday, but promoters of the event took a "financial beating."
Only about 4,600 people paid to attend the 12-hour show, well below the expected 20,000. The promoters, Eaton-Walker Associates of Toronto, estimated the cost of bringing the show to Winnipeg at nearly $180,000. Estimated gate revenue was about $55,000, of which $7,000 goes to Manisphere.
Police reported no violence, no arrests, and few bad trips during the show, which ran to nearly 14 hours.
A planned gatecrash by the New Democratic Youth failed to materialize. About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the main gate and chanted, "Make it free, let us in," but after a couple of hours, the group broke up.
During the demonstration, a group calling itself the University of Winnipeg Libertarian Club distributed pamphlets urging young people to reject the demands for a free festival, saying the slogan "make it free" actually meant "make others pay for it."
Several arrests and injuries were reported in Toronto when a massive gatecrash resulted in violence.
The show, which included performers such as Janis Joplin, Ian and Sylvia, The Band, and Bonnie and Delaney, left for Calgary today for performances July 4 and 5.

(from the Brandon Sun (Manitoba), 2 July 1970)

(The 7/2/70 Ottawa Journal also reported, "About 200 young people staged a sit-down demonstration outside Winnipeg Stadium Wednesday in a vain attempt to get free admission... There were no attempts to storm the gates and no incidents of violence such as marked the Festival Express in Toronto last weekend. The group claimed affiliation with the Manitoba New Democratic Youth, which has been protesting ticket prices of $10 to $12 for the Montreal-to-Calgary touring show of international rock stars.")

* * *


Festival Express - Canada's cross-country touring rock festival - whistled into Winnipeg Tuesday night and chugged out again Thursday morning.
In the intervening day, Wednesday, the Express staged a marathon rock music festival at the Winnipeg Stadium. And the whole thing came off practically without a hitch as an estimated crowd of 4,000 to 5,000 young people grooved to their kind of music.
There was no violence. A planned gate crash by the New Democratic Youth failed to materialize. Winnipeg police reported no arrests and few people were reported to have experienced bad drug trips.
In fact, the biggest problems experienced by the show's promoters seemed to be how to maintain a tight program schedule and how to keep their performers and equipment from blowing away in winds which gusted up to 40 m.p.h. throughout the day.
The festival ended some two and a half hours behind schedule. During the day, technicians clambered about on steel towers, tying down sound equipment and warning festival-goers to stand clear in case anything should break loose.
Janis Joplin, top-ranking woman rock vocalist, expressed the performers' view of the wind best.
Resplendent in what she calls her "hooker clothes" and with a pair of giant red ostrich feathers tied into her hair, Janis took the stage and said: "You know, you have a windy city here. Did you know that? Maybe you've never noticed, but if your head was covered with feathers, you'd sure notice."
In comparison with what literature circulated earlier had led many to expect, the NDY demonstration against "exploitive" admission prices turned out to be quite tame.
About 100 demonstrators staged a sit-in at the main Manisphere gate and chanted, "Make it free. Let us in."
One of the leaders of the demonstration went into the festival grounds – on a complimentary ticket given to him by the promoters – to try to round up support from the buying audience. He didn’t get any.
The demonstration lasted only a couple of hours, and when it became clear that the festival wouldn’t be made free, most of the demonstrators either bought tickets or went home.
During the demonstration, a group calling itself the University of Winnipeg Libertarian Club handed out a pamphlet urging people to reject the NDY demands for a free festival.
“Because this is the real world, the rock festival cannot be made free,” the pamphlet said. “Someone has to pay for it. The only alternatives are for the kids to pay for it themselves or shift the costs on to others…hence the slogan ‘Make it free’ means ‘Make others pay for it.’”
A spokesman for the group distributing the pamphlets said that there had been no hassles between his group and the NDY.
“We’re getting tired of the other side getting all the publicity,” he said. “What’s more, we’re getting tired of people thinking the other side is the only side.”
Inside the stadium, there was no trouble and no hassling between the police and crowd. The young people treated the police with politeness and respect and the police, in turn, avoided making major issues out of minor ones.
At one point during a performance by folk singer Eric Andersen, three security guards walked in front of the stage.
“Good afternoon, officers,” greeted Mr. Anderson. The trio ignored him.
“I’m just a policeman in love,” Mr. Anderson crooned, to the delight and applause of the audience and police alike.
And when Janis Joplin took the stage to end the festival, half a dozen police officers were among the first to crowd into the area around the stage where the view was good.
They applauded and cheered and commented favorably on the Joplin performance.
One constable later described the festival as “very quiet and quite enjoyable.”
The special train, charted to carry the festival performers and equipment on the tour, is now en route to Calgary for performances July 4 and 5.

(by John Gillespie, from the Winnipeg Free Press, 2 July 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/07/junejuly-1970-festival-express.html (Rolling Stone overview)

1 comment:

  1. These were all the articles in the Winnipeg Free Press about the festival. The Toronto protests cast a shadow over the subsequent shows, and a predominant amount of coverage here is devoted to the expected Winnipeg protests that barely took place. The post-show account focuses mostly on the ineffective demonstrators and the inactive police, with hardly a word about the bands playing.

    A couple tidbits from other Free Press issues:
    July 3, 1970 - "The [Festival Express] promoters, who had to pay Manisphere $8,500 for the use of the stadium and for moving the regular attractions out for the day, also had to pay the 10 per cent provincial amusement tax on each ticket. I believe it's the first time the tax has been collected on an exhibition attraction. Best estimate of the promoters' loss...over $100,000!" (Bill Trebilcoe, "Coffee Break" column)
    July 18, 1970 - "I would like to pass on a message from the Festival Express performers. They agreed unanimously that the Winnipeg audience was by far the most appreciative and easiest to work with out of the three cities and five shows." (Ann Stark, "Spins and Needles" column)

    The July 2, 1970 Free Press also had a long interview with Janis Joplin about her life and personal philosophy.