Jul 27, 2018

July 1973: Mama Tried...


An estimated 600,000 young people showed up at Watkins Glen, N.Y., last weekend for a rock concert. That means there were 1.2 million parents biting their nails and drinking booze to keep from thinking the worst about what was happening to their children.
I speak from personal experience because I donated a daughter to the concert. Actually I didn't give her to the concert. She gave herself. She announced in no uncertain terms that this concert was the most important thing in her life and if she missed it there would be nothing worth living for.
The fact that she had heard the same group, the Grateful Dead, three weeks earlier in R.F.K. Stadium did not enter the picture. She hadn't, she pointed out, heard them at Watkins Glen - and if you didn't hear them at Watkins Glen, then you just couldn't say you had heard them.
After my daughter departed in a Volkswagen with five other people, I had a lot of time to think about Watkins Glen - all night to be exact. Why would 600,000 youths drive hundreds of miles, wallow in the mud, bake in the sun, and do without water and shelter to go to a rock concert that most of them couldn't even hear?

The answer is that all over this great country of ours, there are millions of teen-agers aimlessly wandering around with nothing to do and no place to go.
Everyone needs a goal in life. And when it was announced there was going to be a concert at Watkins Glen, it gave these rootless young people a place to head for.
In India it would have been the Ganges, in the Middle East it would have been Mecca. In the United States this year it was Watkins Glen.
For the first time all summer these 20th-century gypsies had a purpose in their traveling. They all turned and faced New York, some with cars, others with buses, and many with nothing but their thumbs.
With a goal ahead of them, their lethargy left them and their spirits brightened. Now when they called their parents collect, they could say with pride that they were going somewhere.
What started out as a rock concert put on by a couple of smart promoters turned into a religious rite for which no sacrifice was too great to be where it was happening. 
All over America bourgeois parents turned on their television sets to watch with trepidation as helicopters hired by the networks filmed the masses of humanity down below. There they were, 600,000 of our children, wall to wall, sitting on the hard ground, zonked out by bearded men screaming into electronic speakers that shattered the eardrums of anyone within 20 miles of the bandstand.

The big question every parent must have asked himself or herself was, "Where did we go wrong? You spent 18 years of your life seeing they got all their vitamins, making sure they did their homework, teaching them to brush their teeth, providing them with a security you never had. And the final result of it all was down below in some pasture land in New York State where they came to blow their minds."
But, as I have been told many times, it isn't for us to judge what our children do. Our only role in the summer of '73 is to accept their collect telephone calls so they can let us know they're still alive.
And so as the sun came up over the Washington Monument, I stood in my bathrobe on the balcony facing New York State and the only thought I had was, "It could have been worse. We could have been living in Watkins Glen."

(by Art Buchwald, from the Los Angeles Times, 5 August 1973 - syndicated column, originally run in the Washington Post)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also: Art Buchwald, "A Ticket to Writhe" (6/23/94)

Jul 12, 2018

July 4-5, 1970: McMahon Stadium, Calgary (Festival Express III)


The Festival Express rumbled into town early today and Calgary - which has been anxiously awaiting the arrival with emotions ranging from joy to apprehension - hardly noticed.
The welcoming party at the CN station was confined to a horde of taxis and half a dozen youngsters on bicycles asking for autographs.
But it was just as well that nobody knew where and when the special charted 14-car train was arriving, because none of the 140 people - including more than 50 performers - felt like facing a throng of fans.
The official schedule will tell you that the group - which includes some of the currently most popular rock music acts in North America - is performing at three concerts across the country.
But the people on the train disagree.
Between bites of ham and eggs and while piling into taxis, they told The Herald that the festival has been a week-long party - with all the things that make a good party.
"It's the best -- party I've ever been to," howled Janis Joplin over her breakfast. And it was obvious that for her - with hair flying in all directions and her raucous, grating voice - the party was still on.
The specially equipped train included two cars, fully equipped with amplifiers and musical instruments.
Among the performers is the French-Canadian hard-rock singer Charlebois, regarded by many as the radical, separatist voice of young Quebec.
And there were the elder statesmen of Canadian folk music, Ian and Sylvia. "That's an unfortunate description," Ian said as he boarded a taxi. "But we are glad to be here and it was really a wonderful trip - what I can remember of it."
"We're all like one big team," said James Good, of James and the Good Brothers. "At Winnipeg we were cheering each other on. It's like we were all going out to face the world together."

(by John Gibbs, from the Calgary Herald, 3 July 1970)

* * *


The cross-Canada rock music festival - featuring 22 acts - rolled into Calgary early today aboard a 12-car charted CN train amid charges that the festival represents a "cultural rip-off" of the young.
Two young men, claiming to represent an organization called the May Fourth Movement, demanded Thursday that ticket money be refunded and the festival opened to all free of charge.
They called a press conference at the University of Calgary student union building and charged the festival - jointly produced by Eaton-Walker Associates and Maclean-Hunter Ltd. - with "capitalizing on youth."
"They (the promoters) have taken our culture and are packaging it and selling it back to us. The young people in town will decide what to do about it just as they did in Toronto and Winnipeg," said 20-year-old spokesman Jim Rudy.
Promoters of the festival are still optimistic, however, that they'll have a quiet, peaceful and "successful" festival here despite slow ticket sales to date and the low attendance in both Toronto and Winnipeg, where only 4,300 paid to see the concert.

(from the Calgary Herald, 3 July 1970)

* * *


CALGARY (CP) - A group called the May Fourth Movement called a news conference at the University of Calgary, Thursday to knock a rock festival scheduled for McMahon Stadium today and Sunday.
"We demand that the entire weekend be free to everyone and that the ticket money be refunded," said Jim Rudy, a spokesman for the group.
"This rock festival is a cultural rip off. It is putting our culture in a package and selling it back to us at a profit."
Mr. Rudy said the news conference was called because the May Fourth Movement is upset that "basically, the people putting on the show - Eaton-Walker Associated Ltd. of Toronto and Maclean-Hunter Publications - have a long history of oppression."
"Maclean-Hunter forms part of the ruling class of Canada whose only concern is to make larger profits, not what happens to people.
"We also object to increased police harassment of young people.
"I've been in this city a long time and have never seen the police cracking down so hard like they have been recently. They are creating paranoia among the kids so that they can't have a good time this weekend."
Asked if his group would attempt to disrupt the festival, Mr. Rudy said:
"The people will decide what to do. We don't speak for everybody. We do have quite a sizable supporting group but it wouldn't be politically expedient to reveal any numbers."
He noted that only 4,000 tickets had been sold for the festival and said this "shows that the kids are becoming conscious of how the capitalistic system operates and are rejecting it all."
"The entire weekend, everything, should be free."
Earlier, local festival promoter Don Lloyd announced that a free rock festival would be held (Friday) on an island in the Bow River.
Mr. Lloyd said the free festival will feature local bands and is "something for the kids who have nothing happening this weekend."
"We must face the fact that many young people just don't have the money to attend the major rock festival this weekend.
"Rather than be forced into giving a free concert Saturday and facing the same problems as Toronto, we thought the pre-festival show would be a good idea."
Prices for advance ticket sales for the Calgary show are $10 and $12. In Toronto, a number of people were arrested during a demonstration protesting high prices.
Mr. Rudy said the free show is just a means to contain young people until the McMahon Stadium show starts at noon Saturday.
The Calgary show is the third in a province-hopping affair called Festival Express 70. Mr. Lloyd said attendance in Toronto and Winnipeg was far below expectations, with 4,600 paid admissions in Winnipeg.
"I think the promoter is going to lose money, but he's still prepared to go ahead," he said.
About 100 residents of the McMahon Stadium neighborhood and the nearby stadium shopping centre filed protests with the Calgary police commission opposed to the staging of the show, but the commission said Monday it does not have the power to cancel it. [ . . .  ]
But Mr. Lloyd said "we're looking forward to a cool, happy festival." He said organizers and police have taken great pains to defuse the possibility of trouble - including hiring 50 potential radicals as aides to work as ushers and attendants inside the stadium.

(from the Brandon Sun (Manitoba), 4 July 1970)

More on the free festival that Friday: 

* * * 


Gate-crashers could shut down this weekend's rock festival, warned Festival Express promoter Ken Walker as the performers straggled off their private train this morning.
"No one is getting in free or I'll close the show," Mr. Walker said.
"Performers have to earn a living too - and they don't want to do anything for free. If they want to they will - but that's charity."
Anyone seeking free entertainment will find themselves facing an empty stage, he added.
"We'll just pack up and leave the stage equipment there to hum.
"It'll still be a great show - we've got one of the greatest stage sets ever."
Rock music may create opportunities for violence, Mr. Walker said, "but there's no way the two belong together.
"Anyone who comes to break heads or cause trouble has ideas not in keeping with what the train and the performers stand for.
"Stopping the show is the most emphatic way to show this."
If the crowd has to be stopped, it remains a question just how big an audience will be disappointed.
The last ticket-sale figure given was 4,000 - well below the 20,000 to 30,000 predicted.
Local promoter Don Lloyd, however, said today that "Thursday was the best ticket sale day we've had to date." Mr. Lloyd said he did not have a precise figure, just general reports from ticket outlets.
Mayor Rod Sykes, meanwhile, has made public a detailed list of the services that will be available to the young people who are pouring into the city - for the festival or in spite of it.
[list of hostels to sleep at]
The mayor also announced free food will be served at the YMCA and at Prince's Island.

(by Catherine Campbell, from the Calgary Herald, 3 July 1970)

* * *

An Idea Whose Time Is Past.

Ian Tyson, perspiring over a drink, sums the whole thing up.
"The festival thing is dead." He has to raise his voice over the din of the press reception. "That's last year. This year they're losing their shirts."
(Across the sticky hotel room two members of the Festival Express crew take the cue and strip to the waist - in a bid to cool off.)
"I feel sorry for Kenny Walker (Eaton-Walker Associates) and people like that. They're losing their --'s." The last word is unprintable.
A radio interview shoves his mike in front of Ian Tyson (Canada's Ian and Sylvia, Great Speckled Bird).
Interview number, 9,847 or something like that, as Ian points out later.
After 10 minutes the interviewer confides he's from a "sort of underground" station in Edmonton and wonders "if there's anything you'd like to add?"
"Hell, if I'd known that I'd have used my special vocabulary."
Instead Ian rolls his eyes and tells the tape recorder, "I haven't played Edmonton in a long time, but I'm looking forward to playing it again. Maybe," he beams, "this summer."
The radio man shuts down and moves off.
Ian mutters another unprintable, turns back to his drink, and starts to gossip about the Toronto scene.
"Lightfoot doesn't do anything for nothing, don't worry. He's a real business man."
But there's too much attention to gossip for long. Ian Tyson is one of the few of the Festival Express celebrities to show up for the special press reception Friday, marking the arrival of the 22 acts in Calgary. Most of the people in the crowded room are members of the media dressed in sandals and, if they've managed to find them, battered jeans.
"Look at the dudes," French-Canadian singer Charlebois sneers at the press representatives.
He leans back, regal in the red and white striped trousers and white cowboy hat and black and red and white cowboy boots.
"Bought them today," he replies to a question from a curious reporter who happens to speak a little French.
What about the hat? Someone present that to you?
Charlebois is indignant. "I bought this." He taps the brim. "This is quality; it's going to last."
The reporter, changing the subject, asks how things are in Montreal.
"Ahhh," Charlebois beams. "Montreal." It comes out More-ee-all. "It's a real good scene. Lots of Negroes and draft-dodgers and big bands. Lots of fun."
The new outfit, he confides, is something he'll save for somewhere besides Calgary. "Maybe back in Montreal.
"Here I'll wear my Canadiens hockey sweater. It would be better for them here, no?"
A with it bandsman wanders by sipping a milkshake. Another illusion shattered.
James of James and the Good Brothers explains that his group spent the day on a trip to Banff.
"We went to the top of Mount Norquay this afternoon. Fantastic.
"But the cops stopped us on the way - searching for dope.
"So while they were looking we just got out our instruments and played them a few tunes." He grins.
"While they were going through our stuff, they were sort of tapping their feet."
Someone is trying to persuade Charlebois to go to a party.
Charlebois looks up in astonished innocence. "Here in Winnipeg?"
The man gives up after a few minutes.
Someone connected vaguely with the management of The Band (The Band didn't show up at the press reception) is commenting vaguely that Festival Express is "no Woodstock."
Woodstock, the festival in New York state that drew 400,000 last year, has become a by-word; a legend among festival legends.
"But don't worry," he adds cynically. "Just wait two weeks and this will be turned into another Woodstock."
A photographer, hired by the promoters to record the tour, flashes a picture.
"Anyway," the Band man adds with a shrug, "in Winnipeg when we only had a couple of thousand kids, it really happened." He laughs.
"You'd get high just being downwind of the stage."
A Calgary newsman strides in wearing white pants and white shoes and an electric-blue velvet shirt.
Even the other media people wince.

(by Jacques Hamilton & Catherine Campbell, from the Calgary Herald, 4 July 1970)

Two other article fragments from the July 4 Calgary Herald:

Friday. The Festival Express grooved along railroad tracks into Calgary, heading for a weekend performance promising to outdo recent shows in Toronto and Winnipeg.
Friday night. A press reception by the twenty-two musical groups turned into "something a little [?]." This [pre-taste] indicated the entertainment will include something "appropriate" to every audience, Saturday morning. Total attendance figures in Calgary not yet tallied, but no matter.
The performers were undaunted by small audiences in Toronto and Winnipeg. Even disappointing turn-outs can be turned on. "We're a team," said one musician. "We turn audiences into a sort of with-it standing ovation."

The bellboys were hustling trays loaded with tomato juice (hangover remedy) through the halls of the hotel Friday morning... As the temperature rose, so did the number of tomato juice trays.
Festival Express '70 had hit town earlier in the morning; now the hotel was crammed with distracted-looking musicians, promotions men, bodyguards, fans - all tired.
Some were less tired-looking than others, depending on their experience with the routine of touring. Mashmakhan - new, Canadian, on the verge of making it - looked like they were still revelling in the experience.
"It's fantastic, man, it really is. This train has been really incredible, really incredible."
Speaking is Jerry Mercer, drummer [of Mashmakhan]...

* * *


You don't just attend a rock festival, you either groove with a total sensory involvement or it doesn't work.
Festival Express, 1970, worked.
The music, all 23 hours of it, ranged from the mediocre to the fantastic, but hearing is only one of the senses. Mind you, it was the sense carrying the heaviest burden with tiers of amplifiers sending out solid layers of sound which could crash and crush your mind.
On stage, the strutting, leering musicians from Sha Na Na, the hair and feathers and abandoned motion of Janis Joplin combined to give your eyes a sense of perpetual movement. On stage or off, your sense of sight was wild with the confusion of not knowing where to look next.
As for the music, I don't think anyone was disappointed.
Janis Joplin was obviously the queen. She topped Saturday's bill, coming on in an explosion of sound and sight which set off a chain reaction in a turned-on crowd that wouldn't let her go. She sings bluesy rock in an almost unhuman voice, low, earthy tones alternating with high, piercing notes which sounded like someone had keyed a chorus of sirens to an organ console. She never lost control either of her voice or her audience.
Janis was one kind of experience, Sha Na Na another. Sha Na Na does a parody of 1950s rock and roll, basing this caricature of what rock was on a sound knowledge of how rock and roll should be played. That this sneering, greasy-haired bunch succeed is shown by the fact that while you laugh, you also tap your feet.
When Sha Na Na sing Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay, they may not be far wrong. Most of the groups threw in a rock and roll number, and the audience lapped it up and called for more.
As well as a trend toward reviving basic rock and roll, the recent rush for Nashville was also in evidence. At times it was hard to tell whether the festival was devoted to rock or to country and Western music.
The Grateful Dead did the Nashville bit along with some heavy, free-form rock which had the ground trembling. Some of their stuff was so wild and so loud it left people near the speakers a little light-headed.
One of the best groups was Mashmakhan, a Canadian assembly which has a lyrical, contemporary sound that blurs the line between pop and jazz. Sunday, they were at the top of their form.
The Band, also Canadian, was very much in evidence. The Band's set closed the show on Sunday and the crowd, I think, would have gladly kept them on until daybreak. They did very well, as did Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, a heavy group from the U.S.
The best local group was the Gainsborough Gallery, a hard-driving, talented bunch of musicians who hold their own in a top-flight international line-up.
Tom Rush and James and the Good Brothers turned in the best vocal performances. Both have acts which I would gladly watch any time and any place.
So much of the music was good and everybody joined in experiencing it. If some of it was bad, it didn't really matter. It was a two-day high in a different world, a remarkably good world.
That's what mattered.

(by Bill Musselwhite, from the Calgary Herald, 6 July 1970)

* * *


Festival Express has left its mark on Calgary: a peace symbol and a victory "V" for both crowd and police behavior.
Except for the weather, everything was cool in McMahon Stadium Saturday and Sunday as thousands of young people revelled in sunshine, music, and various refreshments.
The only storms occurred outside the stadium: two near-futile attempts at gate-crashing and one violent thunder, dust and rain storm which began just as the first band took the stage Saturday.
"It's a sign," muttered a disgruntled girl, glowering at the swollen purple clouds.
"Stand up and show the sky what you think of it," shouted a voice from the stage.
The plea launched the first demonstration of the group solidarity that grew throughout the weekend.
Apparently encouraged by thousands of threatening gestures aimed at the clouds from the football field, the sun beamed at its scorching best for the rest of the festival.
"It's just like a great big picnic," enthused Dr. Dunbar Rapier, a child psychiatrist.
"People are flying kites, throwing frisbees, and running around.
"I can't understand what all the fuss was about beforehand."
Tents, blankets, sleeping bags, and lounging bodies obscured the ground in front of the stage, but the far end of the stadium remained a playground for the energetic.
Frisbees caught the wind and hung among the gulls who were awaiting the scraps from thousands of lunches and suppers being consumed on the grass below.
Footballs, beachballs, and occasionally people - hurled upwards by groups wielding a parachute in trampoline fashion - spurted spasmodically from the throng.
Toddlers challenged their elders in rolling races down the steep slope at the end of the football field.
Turning up at the festival without a small child in tow - or at least an exotic-looking dog - seemed almost like wasting one of those rare times when everyone is welcome.
Tolerance was the byword.
Accidental victims of errant frisbees, sandwich-thieving dogs, and the inevitable jostling, accepted their fate with good humor.
Line-ups for food, phones, and gate passes were patient.
A lost wallet containing $150 was returned to its owner - intact.
Sharing cigarettes, wine, drugs, and food was spontaneous.
As the first group of performers mounted the huge stage each day a euphoric mood settled in: The audience surprised itself by being content to merely sit and listen for 12 hours, idly observing the more intriguing forms of dress and dance.
Camped in a back corner of the stadium, two almost unrecognizable school buses held court.
The Rabid Dog Bus Line - a pale brown parody of another more prominent bus company, and bearing the warning "Caution, Weird Load" - was parked behind Blue Bus Number Two.
About 25 travellers from the eastern U.S. inhabit the Blue Bus and its two "cabooses" - Volkswagen vans.
"But it fluctuates, man," explained a Blue Bus dweller. "People are quick to adopt the bus."
The bus-riders - including innumerable babies and puppies - are aiming to attend every festival they can, until the nine-year-old vehicle collapses.
They give away balloons, candy, and toys, and earn their keep by doing odd jobs.
One, a tall, solemn-looking man, clad in a white sheet and carrying a cardboard box and long spike, made a noble, if hopeless, attempt at leaving the stadium litter-free.
On the side of the blue bus is painted: "The question is not why - but why not?"
Though suffering in the hottest-possible uniforms, police inside the stadium were credited by most festival-goers with "keeping their cool."
Flinging footballs, chatting to just about anyone, and ignoring drug and alcohol consumption appeared to be a routine - and successful - aspect of their duty.
"This is a really good assignment," said one young policeman. "The kids inside the stadium are great - though outside it's a bit different. The price is the reason - they shouldn't have charged so much.
"About half the guys (on duty in the stadium) don't like the music much. But this is really my kind of sound.
"In fact," he confided, "when I'm through here I'm changing my clothes and heading for Prince's Island."

(by Catherine Campbell, from the Calgary Herald, 6 July 1970)

* * *


The party was on the second floor of the York Hotel in Calgary last weekend.
Janis Joplin, clutching a bottle of tequila under one arm, bounces into the room with beads a-swaying to and fro. She takes a lick of salt, a swig of tequila, and a bite of lemon.
In a colorful language, known to friends and fans, she enters a group conversation at one side of the room.
Tom Rush, a soft-spoken folksinger, sits in a corner sipping a Labatts 50 and chatting with a man with a beard.
In another corner, Ian Tyson, his wife Sylvia, members of the Grateful Dead and The Great Speckled Bird are engaged in a jam session.
Charlebois, wearing a recently-purchased black and red cowboy hat, searches for someone who speaks French. Eric Andersen is talking with an unidentified musician.
Others in the spirited gathering include members of Sha Na Na, Mountain, and James and the Good Brothers (Brian and Bruce).
It was Friday night and the Festival Express was preparing to run out of steam. The entertainers were warming up for their last three nights together.
Chatting with Miss Joplin, Rush, Ian and Sylvia, and other entertainers at the bash, I learn they all dig the Vancouver scene and were disappointed Vancouver as a site for the festival was cancelled.
"I'd love to play Vancouver," said Rush.
Miss Joplin, who was scheduled to appear solo in Vancouver Friday night, said it was unfortunate the show had to be cancelled.
Brian Good said if his group could get a booking in the Vancouver area, they would head west without hesitation.
Many of the entertainers and people who travelled on the 12-car CN Festival Express train, expressed regret that the journey had come to an end.
For the first time, top entertainers in the rock and folk music fields had become a closely-knit package; jamming together, eating and sleeping together, and partying together.
The Friday night party comes to an end well past dawn. Everyone gets a few hours sleep before heading out to McMahon Stadium for 12 continuous hours of music.
The party resumes Saturday night after Miss Joplin brings the on-stage day to an ecstatic close. The guests include the same entertainers who are just as generous with their informal jamming.
At 5:30 a.m. Sunday, the last of the merrymakers hit the sack. Out to McMahon again at noon for another 12 hours of music, sunshine, and whatnot.
Sunday night the party is subdued and thinned out. It comes to life with members of the Sha Na Na picking up their guitars and violins. The hectic weekend quietly comes to an end at 3:30 a.m.

The Festival Express is over but thousands of people in its path will long remember its run from Toronto to Winnipeg and on to Calgary.
Asked Ken Walker, co-promoter of the festival, whether he would do it again but he replied: "I don't know."
There were a mountain of headaches for Walker during the festival but when bags were being packed in Calgary for homeward journeys, entertainers and others agreed he had done "one hell of a job."
Many agreed the idea to gather big name singers and musicians and carry them across Canada on a train was "beautiful" and should be tried again.
If there is a Festival Express Revival, hopefully the Vancouver area will be able to accommodate it somewhere.

(by John Cosway, from the Richmond Review (Richmond, BC), 10 July 1970)

(Picture captions from this article: "McMahon Stadium in Calgary where more than 20,000 young people took in 24 hours of music, sun and fun last weekend. Nudity was briefly visible during a short shower early Saturday morning. Police looked the other way when drinking and pot smoking were done openly." "Mellow sounds come from soft-spoken Tom Rush, performing under sunny skies... Popular Canadians Ian and Sylvia were among the favorites during the festival. They appear with their backup group, The Great Speckled Bird. The dynamic duo, married for six years, have been performing together for 10 years." "Several encores were demanded of Delaney and Bonnie and Friends Sunday night. The super-group was followed by The Band which brought the Toronto-Winnipeg-Calgary festival to a close. Rain threatened in Calgary but never fell.")

(The 7/6/70 Nanaimo Daily News (BC) also reported:
"A few minor disturbances were reported, but an estimated 20,000 young people generally did what they came to do at McMahon Stadium Saturday and Sunday...
Residents and businessmen in the stadium area had expressed fears that the show would lead to trouble.
About 9,000 persons turned out Saturday and 11,000 Sunday. Another 1,000 listened outside the stadium, apparently unable to afford $10 to $16 for a ticket.
Wine and beer were consumed openly, with police looking the other way...
Personnel at medical drug centre set up at the stadium reported fewer casualties than expected, but noted that several youths appeared to be suffering from malnutrition."

* * *


NEW YORK - While the actual dollars and cents figures, loss or profit of the recent Festival Express hasn't yet been released, the success of the Festival was immense from the standpoint of the performers.
After being cheated out of the Montreal market, because of St. Jean Baptiste Day, a supposedly holy day, and suffering some losses in Toronto because of a near riot by penniless thousands spurred on by professional agitators, the Festival Express thundered out of Toronto, on time, and displaying the showbiz thing. It was partying all the way with jam sessions keeping the artists and musicians happy until they hit the windy city of Winnipeg. They didn't gather up all the bucks they had hoped for in the 'Peg and moved on to Calgary, where again it was nip and tuck insofar as profits were concerned.
After the last act appeared on the stage in Calgary, Janis Joplin called promoters Ken Walker, Thor and David Eaton, and Dave Williams, on stage. The performers had gotten together a little bread and mounted a mini-train on a plaque with a suitable inscription to the promoters for "putting together one of the best shows they've ever been honoured to participate in." Said Miss Joplin: "If you don't hire us the next time, please invite us." She then made her own personal gift presentation, a case of Tequila, which was broken open on stage and a scene similar to the finale of "Hair" took place.
Considering the money taken at the gates, the monies paid out to the performers, including the no-play Montreal date, the chartering of the train, food etc., it's hardly likely any money was made by the promoters.
Prior to the Toronto date, the Police Chiefs and their Deputies were invited at the promoter's expense, to fly into Toronto to pick up pointers on how to overcome any problems, should there be any, when the Festival appeared in their areas (Winnipeg and Calgary). They also arranged for the hiring (on loan) of John Saji from the newly organized Toronto Police Community Relations Force, to fly ahead and organize "freak-out centres" in the other cities. In view of the expected hundreds of acid trips for the shows, valium for antidotes were arranged which, according to the reports, kept the bad trips to a minimum.
When Terry David Mulligan, flown in special from CKVN Vancouver, to host the last show, brought the curtain down, profit in dollars and cents may not have been evident, but profit in experience and good relations with the odd exception, was exceptional. Noted one observer, "the clash between the rebels of the system chalked up big gains for the establishment who, unbeknownst to most, actually acted as arbitrators between the two warring factions."

(from Cash Box, 25 July 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/07/junejuly-1970-festival-express.html (Rolling Stone overview)
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/07/junejuly-1970-festival-express-in-news.html (more Calgary Herald reports)

July 3, 1970: free festival, Prince's Island Park, Calgary


Speaking over the guitars and drums of the band on stage, high school student-cum rock festival organizer Gerry Sylvan is ecstatic.
"We were pretty optimistic about this festival," he said towards the end of the day, "but what happened has surpassed our optimism."
What happened was a free rock festival on Prince's Island Friday which drew together one of the larger gatherings of young people Calgary has seen. About 3,000 were on the island to listen to nine local bands and one from Montreal make their kind of music.
Some were from Calgary, and licence plates in the island's parking lot indicated others came from all northwestern states in the United States as well as Missouri and Maryland.
Prince's Island was, in the vernacular, liberated. And in the minds of many people in the audience, Calgary's image was changed drastically - for the better.
"I feel free," said Rick Smith of the Blue Jay, one of the Calgary bands that played at the free festival. "It's the first time I've ever felt free in Calgary."
And the new arrivals who came onto the island, pitched their tents, unrolled their sleeping bags, and settled down to take in the music, shared the feeling.
"It's probably the best campground in Canada tonight," agreed one girl, glancing, while the music played incessantly, at the campfires and 35-40 tents pitched by nightfall at the island park's west end.
Coming the day before the Festival Express show in McMahon Stadium, Friday's free festival was a tremendous scoop.
"This is the real festival," said organizer Sylvan, emphasizing the term "real" and echoing words often heard during the ten-hour musical happening.
"It's not big business," he said. "We're not herding people into a stadium, giving them a bit of music, and herding them out again."
Gerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, one of the bands in the Festival Express line-up, agreed: "This is more of a festival than tomorrow's is going to be," he said, visiting the site late in the evening. "Tomorrow is just going to be a gig - another concert."
It's difficult to see the atmosphere of McMahon Stadium outdoing that at the Prince's Island free festival in approaching the spirit of the immortal Woodstock holiday, although the Festival Express entertainment line-up is more star-studded.
(Perhaps taking off from the Woodstock (the film) idea, two film companies - one from Calgary and one from Rome, Italy - had camera teams on the island for the festival action.)
Not only was the entertainment free on Friday, but the food which was distributed to first-takers during the festival was bought with pennies, nickels and dimes collected from the participants. Apples and oranges were passed out as well as a hot meal of rice and vegetables.
And, before the crowds arrived, one fellow from Victoria, B.C., had taken up a collection from the approximately 200 overnighters in the park. After one hour, he had enough to buy bread and hot dogs to feed the campers a midnight snack. Another person was walking about with a trayful of soft drinks, passing them out to thirsty neighbors free of charge.
Many of the people wandered into the Bow River for a cool, quick swim in the hot afternoon. No bathing suits, they swam stripped to the jeans, or even fully clothed, and a very few young children went into the water au naturel.
(Some bandaged feet later in the day testified to the odd piece of sharp pollution lurking on the river bed.)
In a more lazy mood, those who weren't swimming or dancing to the music or running around with the dog population at the festival, just relaxed by their tents. Chatting quietly among themselves, snoozing, strumming on a handy guitar, or reading off and on from the Georgia Straight, they passed a tranquil day.
The tents - from pup tents to eight-sleepers to makeshift plastic over wooden frame concoctions - popped up continuously throughout the day. And by nightfall, between the tents, many had just unrolled their bedrolls to sleep under the stars and battle with mosquitoes.
(Permission has been granted by the city to camp on Prince's Island throughout the weekend festival.)
Many travellers had tales of being stopped and searched by RCMP and border officials. One Denver, Colorado, man said his toothpaste and peanut butter was searched at the border for "no-no's."
Arranging to get the bands who played in Friday's festival was done in three days, say those who had a hand in it - a loose body of about 30 high school students who make up the "Pooh Free School." A permit to use the park was granted by the city free of charge.
Publicity of the event was, of course, unwittingly given by promoters of the McMahon stadium rock festival. Out-of-town music fans came for the bigger two-day festival: some said they have or will buy tickets, others mentioned gate-crashing.
(The Pooh Free School - who've rented a house at 518 Eau Claire Ave. as a meeting and study place - suggested Friday in a circular distributed at the island that instead of gate crashing, people should bring whistles and any other instruments they have to a spot on the east side of McMahon stadium. Then they will "astonish all those straight pop-freaks with our unamplified improvs," the circular reads.)
Reaction from older people who had wandered down to the island for a look at the gathering ranged from "It's great" to "I don't think much of it." One woman who straightforwardly termed herself "a bit prejudiced" against what was happening said she had come down to try and understand what the young people are up to.
They seem very well behaved, she judged after glancing around. She added it would be "a real feather in Calgary's hat" if everything stayed peaceful throughout Calgary's two rock festivals.
There was not a hint of trouble at Friday's festival. Only two security guards were on the site and they were chatting amiably with members of the young audience.
"We've had no problems," said one of the guards who has been on the island since it opened officially last Wednesday.
"They know me," he said.
Meanwhile, sitting among a group of people, the Denver man spots a twelve-string guitar and before picking it up to play, asks who owns it.
"Nobody owns it," comes the reply from a Montreal girl in the circle.
That's freedom.

(by Peter Leney, from the Calgary Herald, 4 July 1970)

* * *


"This is more of a festival than tomorrow is going to be. This is festive. Tomorrow is just going to be a gig. Another concert."
Jerry Garcia, spiritual founder of the Grateful Dead, fresh from a press reception, was slapping mosquitoes and the hand that feeds him - the Festival Express show that has arrived in Calgary after a sometime-troubled tour across Canada in a chartered train.
Surrounded by the thousands of young people under the stars on Prince's Island, Friday, he was opening up in a way he refused to when he was facing the reporters.
"It's a drag seeing 2,000 people standing outside the gates and wanting to go in and not being able to. They are really asking too much bread for what it (the Festival Express) is.
"I was really expecting something to happen in Toronto. But it was gentle, really. Something like that happens in the states and there are deaths."
In Toronto, reacting with young people to the $14 to $16 price of admission to the Festival Express show, the Dead and other groups played free to provide entertainment for those unable to pay.
They didn't play on Prince's Island Friday, mainly, Garcia explained, because their equipment was in a truck that couldn't get through a locked gate to the stage.
"But it doesn't need us," Garcia commented of the effects of the day-long free festival on the island.
"It's really great. A real success. People are dancing and laughing and having a good time. It's okay."
"The star thing is nonsense. It's not essential at all. The people here are having a really good time with local bands."
Which is the message the young people on Prince's Island set out to teach the promoters. And the message the promoters are getting in the slow tick through the turnstiles at McMahon Stadium today.

(by John Gibbs, from the Calgary Herald, 4 July 1970) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

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)

June 27-28, 1970: CNE Stadium, Toronto (Festival Express I)


TORONTO (CP) - Coronation Park outside the Canadian National Exhibition grounds was turned into a huge tent city Friday night by an estimated 8,000 waiting for a weekend rock festival to get under way.
Cars, buses, and vans, many overloaded, rolled into the park steadily all night and newcomers hastily set up tents or makeshift tents for shelter from wind and driving rain.
Festival Express 70, billed as the first trans-continental pop festival, starts today and will continue through Sunday. It is expected to draw about 50,000.
Police said they have had no problems keeping the crowds in check.
But promoters expected trouble later today, mainly from the May Fourth Movement, which has vowed to gather between 1,000 to 5,000 people to crash the gates at the CNE grandstand.
Tickets to the festival, which highlights performers such as The Band, The Grateful Dead, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, and Miles Davis, are $16 for two days and $10 for one day.
Promoted by George and Thor Eaton and Ken Walker, three young Torontonians, the festival is scheduled to be in Winnipeg July 1 and in Calgary July 4-5.



TORONTO (CP) - The May Fourth Movement, a radical group of young people whose stated aim is "power to the people," warned Friday that possibly as many as 5,000 persons may attempt to crash this weekend's rock festival at the Canadian National Exhibition grandstand.
Victor Klassen, a spokesman for the group, told a news conference that "1,200" young people from California and "four busloads" from Montreal had already arrived expecting to attend a free festival.
The festival, consisting of two 12-hour concerts today and Sunday, is sponsored jointly by Eaton-Walker Associates Ltd. of Toronto and Maclean-Hunter Ltd. Tickets for the two days cost $16 at the gate and a single day's admission is $10. Advance tickets sold for $14 and $9.
Police said 200 off-duty policemen hired by the sponsors and 100 on-duty police would be used from 4 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday.
Police at the festival site said "75 to 100" persons, mostly Americans, had arrived Thursday night and were camped in a park near the CNE grounds.
A police spokesman said that while most didn't have tickets, they seemed to be there intending to buy them when the gates open.
The May Fourth spokesmen said many people coming from the United States believed this was the "peace festival" announced by Beatle John Lennon in Toronto last December.
That festival, which Lennon later backed out of after its promoters announced there would be a $15 admission for three days of concerts, was called off this week after promoters had difficulty obtaining a site in time for the announced August dates.
This weekend's festival, called Festival Express 1970, was to have opened in Montreal Wednesday but was cancelled by civic officials there fearful of St. Jean Baptiste Day disruptions.
By Wednesday night about 50 persons, most of them from Quebec, were camped out in a park behind the Ontario Legislature. They said they were going to see the festival for free. One of the group said he was returning to Montreal and bringing "1,000 guys" back with him.
The May Fourth spokesmen said they "do not advocate violence except in self-defence," but that they were getting through the festival gates "any way we can."
"If we don't get in here, we'll go to Winnipeg and get in there. If we don't get in at Winnipeg, we'll go to Calgary and get in there."
The festival, billed as the first transcontinental pop festival, visits Winnipeg July 1 and Calgary July 4-5.
One May Fourth spokesman said that when "the people with single day tickets" see them get in free today, they will join them Sunday and others will force the festival organizers to refund their money.
A precedent for the refunding of money to ticket holders after gate-crashers got in for free was set at last year's Woodstock, N.Y., rock festival, where concerts were held in a fence-enclosed field. Concerts here are within a 30-foot concrete enclosure.
The Festival Express organizers have refused to disclose the number of advance sales.
The CNE grandstand holds 33,135 persons for football games.

(both articles from the Lethbridge Herald, 27 June 1970)

* * *


TORONTO - The expected jam of hundreds of thousands of Festival addicts to Toronto's version (Festival Express) June 27 and 28 didn't come off as planned. A little bit of violence, a little bit of peace, and a lot of empty seats at the Toronto's Grandstand. According to some of the figures thrown around, the promoters Eaton, Eaton and Walker had to draw at least 26,000 for each day to break even. Some figures have 8000 for the first day although CKFH, host radio station, guessed around 15,000, and about 20,000 for the second day. Some of the people who came from many States in the U.S. as well as several Canadian Provinces didn't have a pot to sit on or a blanket to cover themselves during the damp periods.
These were the people talked into a little bit of violence, but the Toronto Police, besides cracking a few heads, came up being tagged "gentle pigs." There was much marijuana in evidence but police only confiscated the joy drug and made no drug arrests. When it looked as if the violence might remain all weekend, Police talked the promoters into letting some of the acts play a free concert in an adjoining park. This put the lid on any further violence.
Polydor Records came up with one of the most unique and compassionate promotions of the weekend. Three catering trucks loaded to capacity with sandwiches and coffee drove into the "free" concert area about 7 A.M. Sunday morning and in the shade of large signs reading "From Polydor With Love," approximately 5000 sandwiches and an equal number of cups of coffee were turned out to a peaceful, grateful and queued crowd. The idea was the brainchild of the label's ad chief, Allan Katz, and executed by their director of artists promotion, Lori Bruner. Things went so well during the giveaway, Katz and Bruner and Dieter Radecki unloaded over 200 albums of their Rock, Soul, Blues Explosion, a free LP featuring cuts by John Mayall, Deep Purple, B.B. King, Amboy Dukes, Ten Wheel Drive, and others. Bruner was amazed at the politeness of the crowd who thanked them for the records and even organized a cleanup crew to look after empty cups, etc.
Meanwhile back inside the grandstand stockade, the many groups were attempting to be heard through an inadequate sound system (Hanley, the same as was used at Woodstock). Some of the belters, like Montreal's Charlebois, could be heard, but Eric Andersen was just lost, which was a shame because of his excellent version of "Let It Be." Janis Joplin was in top form, as were Ian and Sylvia (Great Speckled Bird) and The Grateful Dead. The latter two were among those who performed for the "free bees."

(from Cashbox, 11 July 1970)

* * *


TORONTO (CP) - Protesters against high admission prices to a weekend rock festival were provided with a free festival Saturday after hundreds of them had gatecrashed to the main event at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.
Eaton Walker Associates Ltd. of Toronto and Maclean Hunter Ltd., the festival organizers, provided another festival near the CNE free of charge after police ran into trouble containing the surging crowd.
But before the free festival was provided, about 20 youths and nine policemen were taken to hospital with various injuries sustained during clashes as groups of persons climbed fences or barged through gates to the main event.
Among the more seriously injured was a policeman who suffered a broken nose when he was struck by a brick and fell off his horse. A youth was taken to hospital with a broken leg after he jumped down a wall to gain admittance to the festival.
At least 21 persons were arrested and of those, seven were charged with assaulting police, four with common assault, one for possession of an offensive weapon, one for mischief, and one for theft.
The free festival was held  at Coronation Park near the CNE and was attended by about 2,000 persons who listened to musical groups who also performed at the main festival, called Festival Express 1970.
Police said if the free festival had not been provided, the confrontation between police and the youths would have been worse.
Organizers of Festival Express charged $14 for advance tickets to the two-day event and $16 Saturday. Admission for one day was $10.
Many of those who gate-crashed the main event, some of them members of the radical May Fourth Movement, accused promoters of being capitalists who wanted to extract the highest possible price.
A crowd varying from 10,000 to 15,000 attended Saturday and Sunday's 12-hour concerts in the CNE Stadium listening to such performers as The Band, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Delaney, Bonnie and Friends, Traffic, and Ian and Sylvia.
About 1,000 at the stadium concert Saturday were persons who broke through gates and outran police and security personnel to get in free.
Festival organizers would not give out ticket sales figures, but an Eaton Walker spokesman said last week a daily attendance of 25,000 was needed to "even come close to breaking even."
The festival was originally scheduled for Montreal but civic officials there cancelled it.
From Toronto, the festival goes to Winnipeg for a July 1 concert and on to Calgary for concerts July 4 and 5.
Organizers have touted the festival as a $1,000,000 venture, with half of the sum going to performers alone.

(from the Montreal Gazette, 29 June 1970)

(The Winnipeg Free Press added that the festival "also was marred by bad drug trips, with about 400 persons being treated for adverse reactions to narcotics. It began almost as a game Saturday as police tried to thwart individual gatecrashers. But it ended with police calling reinforcements in with horses and motorcycles to disperse the crowd of about 2,500 young people outside the stadium...
Nine arrests were made Sunday, most of them on charges of causing a disturbance, but the concert's second day remained virtually free of incidents due to the combination of increased police security and a free show in a park near the festival grounds."
It estimated that 37,000 attended the CNE concerts. -- "Gatecrashing at Festival Leads to Injuries," 6/29/70 Winnipeg Free Press) 

* * *


TORONTO (CP) - Undeterred by drug-taking, arrests and injuries that came with the weekend Festival Express concert, two managers of the Canadian National Exhibition say they could see no reason why another rock festival should not be held at the site.
Howard Tate and David Garrick said the majority of young people who attended were "real nice" and blamed problems on a small group of troublemakers.
"The small amount of troublemakers were kept under control by the police," said Mr. Tate. "The CNE is an ideal place to hold such a festival and I can't see why there should not be another one."
But Toronto Mayor William Dennison said he was disgusted by violence at the concert, which led to 30 persons, including nine policemen, being treated in hospital after they clashed with youths trying to gate crash.
The mayor said he would not recommend an outright ban on future rock concerts, but he said they should not be held in the city proper.
"The CNE was the best type of place for it."
Police Chief Harold Adamson said he feels certain violence will again mar similar festivals.
"This is only the beginning. It's an indication of the growing militancy of youth... They don't want to go along with anything that smacks of establishment and they take out their vengeance on the police."
The event brought to the city young people from virtually every state in the United States and every province in Canada. Hundreds camped out in Coronation Park, site of the free festival.
Police ignored the obvious drug scene, in which about 50 of the estimated 400 persons who suffered bad trips were taken to hospital.

(from the Montreal Gazette, 30 June 1970)

* * *


On the 27th and 28th of June, a rock festival - the Festival Express - was held in Toronto, Canada, which included Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Sea Train, and a great variety of others. Sounded good, so I tripped up to Toronto a week early to go and see it. At the time it was supposedly John & Yoko's Peace Festival - or at least that's how it was widely advertised around New York. When I got into Toronto I picked up a leaflet about how this Festival Express was ripping us off for our culture, and how the backers were Eaton and Walker, owners of a large department store chain.
YIPPIE! This was all I needed, so I spent the day finding the group who was putting out the leaflet to see if I could help. The group was called M4M, May 4th Movement, and was basically a Yippie bunch. They invited me to jump in. So we leafletted and told people what was going on and to crash the gate. A lot of kids showed up with no place to stay in town and there was this huge park next to Parliament. So we got all the kids to go and crash there and proclaim the park people's turf. The pigs didn't know how to handle a few hundred yippies in a park! When they chased us we would dive into the fountain and they wouldn't follow because they would get their uniforms wet. And it rained the night before and there was a lot of mud around. So while the pigs were pussyfooting through the mud, we were throwing mudballs at them.
The day of the rockfest about 10,000 people were inside and about 15,000 outside and Eaton and Walker needed 20,000 to break even. It was beautiful...we were screwing THEM! About 2/3 of those outside were Peace & Love freeks who dug what we said and wanted to crash, but wouldn't fight the pigs. The rest were screaming yippies who were out for a fight. We crashed any way we could and that experience radicalized lots of Peace & Love freeks who had never been exposed to pigs before as pigs. We crashed thru the sewers, over the fence, ripped off a rubber stamp and got in and then fought the pigs to let in more sisters and brothers. When we got in, it was bad. The amps kept breaking down, the bands were late, etc. So we said this was bullshit and set up an alternative festival for the next day and got everyone to play at a park near there and it was a lot more free. Woodstock Nation is alive in the hearts of Yippies! 

(by Curt the Wanderer, from the Madison Kaleidoscope, 15 July 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/07/june-27-28-1970-festival-express-toronto.html (Toronto articles)
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2018/03/june-27-1970-cne-grandstand-toronto.html (show review)
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/07/junejuly-1970-festival-express.html (Rolling Stone overview)

Jul 10, 2018

1967: Rolling Thunder


SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) - The Indians have gotten together with the hippies.
"When I saw those long-haired people, I knew they had lost their greed," said Chief Rolling Thunder Wednesday after a visit of several days with hippie leaders.
"These people are our children, and we are going to adopt them as blood brothers."
Rolling Thunder, chairman of the traditional tribal council of the Western Shoshone nation, came here to join a caravan of 32 Indians who have crossed the nation from New York.
The caravan has been visiting tribes and preaching "red nationalism," or Indian unity, in a fight against a bill pending in Congress.
Last week 300 hippies gathered in what they call the Straight Theater with Rolling Thunder and Soldier Woman, a leader of the Winnebagos, and some others.
"It was a beautiful weekend for everybody," said Ron Thelin, a prominent hippie figure.
But Indians from some other tribes were not so pleased with the hippies, long fascinated with the Indian way of life and given to wearing Indian garments and jewelry.
Chief Beeman Logan of the New York Tonowanda-Seneca shunned invitations from the flower children after observing their stormy meeting in Golden Gate Park with Michigan Gov. George Romney.
"They just read about the Indians," Chief Logan said. "They don't know the Indians personally."
And after sleeping a few nights on the floor of the house here of the Grateful Dead, a hippie rock band, Rolling Thunder's son, Spotted Eagle, 14, said, "I think they are a little lost.
"They dropped out of society and are trying to find a free one and they are still looking."
But the hippies passed around petitions to protest the pending Congressional proposal, the so-called omnibus bill, which would allow Indians to borrow money on their lands.
"They won't be able to pay back the loans," said Rolling Thunder. "It's a trick to get the last remaining Indian lands."
"The stealing of our lands by the whites is still going on," he told the hippies.

(from the Capital-Journal (Salem, OR), 28 September 1967)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

A 1981 interview with Rolling Thunder:

Jul 5, 2018

1970: Workingman's Dead review


Considering a rock group as a separate sociological entity may sound a bit intellectually pretentious, and it probably is, but anyway, some groups are just groups of assorted personages collected around a common musical concept, while there are others who transcend the normal concept of what a group is, in reality.
One such unit is The Grateful Dead. They are not a rock group, they are a complete family unit. And this separates them from the rest of their field by the simple fact that as a family they can only play good music. Also, as a family they show the many human foibles so subdued in a majority of minor rock and roll country bands. They are human and so is their music.
Now, the Dead are not one of the richest groups around. They sometimes ask enormous sums to perform simply because they need this money to enable them to continue their music. Being a rock and roll band is a very expensive business. You have to pay for equipment managers, equipment, food and clothing for a group consisting of over 30 people. They are also famous and as such have been arrested numerous times on various charges and this takes a lot of money to straighten out. So the Dead is really a rock band in serious financial difficulty most of the time.
Yet they still won't hesitate to do a free concert for a cause they believe in. What it all boils down to is that to be a serious rock and roll star you are usually very poor and always very hassled by everyone who wants to grab hold of a little of your fame and spotlight.
Being one of the more famous bands around, the Dead have a long history of problems. Yet, despite all of their problems they will never disappoint their fans and listeners. They have won their highly respected position in the rock hierarchy through thought, word, and deed.

All this leads up to the fact of their new album Workingman's Dead. This album is judged by many as the best Dead effort to date, as well as the one Dead album that took the shortest time to get together. And it is evident that the lp is a work of love, frustration, and pressure.
Having all these legal and financial troubles, they seem to have decided to pack away their accumulated pretentions and set their problems aside and sit down and put together an album of happy, easy flowing, relaxed music.
So this is what Workingman's Dead is all about. The Dead have recycled and gone back to the style and mood of their first album.
Most of the albums they've put out have had something wrong with them. They seemed capable of only getting it together on one side of each album. For example, in "Anthem of the Sun" the first side of the record is perhaps the best piece of rock montage work ever done while the other side is good but certainly is not the quality of genius presented on the first side.
On "Aoxomoxoa" the first side with "St. Stephen; Dupree's Diamond Blues; Rosemary; Doin' That Rag; and Mountains of the Moon" is truly a superb blending of musical rhythms and textures, while the second side has an interesting but totally out of place electronic piece called, "What's Become of the Baby."
On "Live Dead" the sides which contain "Dark Star; St. Stephen" are exactly what the Dead are all about in live performance, while on another side they put on an entire side of "Turn On Your Love Lights," a Pigpen song which is cool because Pigpen is dynamite, but it just doesn't fit with the overall mood of the lp.
When finally making it to "Workingman's Dead" we witness a true rarity. This Dead lp fits together, there is not one song which takes itself out of the mood of the album. This is why I consider this album the best (along with Dave Mason's Alone Together) recorded effort of this somewhat dismal year.
This album is an example of musical texture. It's an album about fluids. It's an album which sets up a definite musical texture and proceeds to explore the finite possibilities of that texture.
As a whole the album is full of many pleasant surprises. This first surprise is the unusual harmony which the group sets up - it's a jumpy harmony which goes off in one direction and in the next instance sets off in an entirely different direction. The other surprise is the exquisite quality of the acoustic guitar which the group shows here for the first time with any dominance. Both Garcia and Weir are knockout acoustic players. Still another surprise is the amazing beauty and quality of Phil Lesh's bass work. The bass lines on this lp are like no other this reviewer has heard in a long time. And yes, Lesh is a helluva better bass player than Jack Casady.
Still another pleasing surprise is the fact that for the first time we are treated to an entire lp of Bob Hunter's lyrics. Hunter has been the poet wordmaster behind most of the Dead's great hits such as Dark Star and St. Stephen.

Usually it's very boring and hard to sit down and write about individual cuts on an album, but in this case not only is it a pleasure but a necessity.
Each cut on the album is a separate entity working within itself as well as with the entire overall concept of the rest of the album.
"Uncle John's Band" is an easy listening tune. It has many enjoyable moments such as the harmony work of the group and the part where they easily slip into a little section where they change into a complex 7/4 time. Complementing the music are the ever present Hunter lyrics:
Come here Uncle John's Band
Playing to the tide 
Come with me or go alone 
He's come to take his children home.
Sort of like the Beatles' cry in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Dead are telling us they are a band who plays for its fans as well as for themselves.
Oh, ho, I want to know 
How does the song go.
The next song "High Time" seems to tell us a little about what it means to be a rock and roll star:
We could have us a hard time 
Livin' the good life.
Well I know.

This song is permeated with a number of really nice pedal steel solos and a section of perfectly beautiful high raspy harmony.
"Dire Wolf" is an ancient Dead tune which they have been doing for many years. It's an interesting song I think about the loneliness of a miner.
Don't murder me [ . . . ] 
The "New Speedway Boogie" begins by telling us: "Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothing new to say." They seem to be telling us that this is the new Dead and that it's cool:
You can't overlook the lack, Jack 
Of any other highway to ride 
It's got no center dividing line
Very few rules to guide.
In these final moments of the song we hear a faint chorus of clapping. It's really nice.
"Cumberland Blues" is sung by Bob Weir and is one of the best cuts on the album. The song is highlighted by a little banjo and acoustic guitar bridge towards the end.
"Black Peter" is a slow tempo song with a really nasty organ ever present. Yet, the highlight of the entire song is Pigpen's almost unnoticeable harp solo in the middle, followed by a pretty piece of harmony work.
The final two cuts on the album are the most typical Dead songs and are probably the best of the entire album.
"Easy Wind" is Pigpen's big song on the lp. His lead vocal fits nicely with Hunter's lyrics. Yet, the highlight of this cut comes when Garcia and Weir trade licks and Weir goes into a rhythm guitar solo.
"Casey Jones" is a song that is dominated by Hunter's lyrical mastery, the music is kind of easy listening too, with a little Honkey Tonk Woman riff thrown in for the sake of musical dynamics and energy flow.
Drivin' that train
High on cocaine
Casey Jones you better 
Watch your speed. 
Trouble ahead
Trouble behind
And you know that notion
Just crossed my mind.

Workingman's Dead is an album about what the Grateful Dead really want to be.
As Jerry Garcia was quoted in "Rolling Stone" as saying about Workingman's Dead:
"It was something, all this heavy bullshit was flying around us, so we just retreated in there and made music. Only the studio was calm. The record was the only concrete thing happening, the rest was part of that insane legal and financial figment of everybody's imagination, so I guess it came out of a place that was real to all of us. It was good solid work...man, we had been wanting to boogie for a long time."
So out of a despair created by a genre came Workingman's Dead and the new hope, the new direction, the new Dead...
One way or another,
One way or another,
One way or another, 
This darkness got to end. 
"New Speedway Boogie."

(by Joseph Fernbacher, from the Spectrum (Buffalo, NY), 12 October 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also:

Jul 4, 2018

1972: Lillian Roxon review


The way it first was and the way you'd always like it to be:
All you could see in the first 10 rows was bare skin, bare arms, bare chests, bare souls...all moving in one continuous wave with the music. Some people were crying, some were laughing, and some just stood there transported, drinking in the warmth of the sound like sunshine through the pores of their skin and getting very high on that sensation.
I don't often dance at concerts, although heaven knows I often want to, but this particular night about two years ago I couldn't keep still. Everything between my skin and the sound on stage offended me. I had come with three people I kind of liked but never really knew. By the end of the long evening I had probably grown as close to them as I have ever been to anyone. All our defensive layers, as the night moved on, had fallen off like so much dead skin.
There are no longer too many mystical experiences in rock and roll, but any Grateful Dead person reading the lines above will have no difficulty in recognizing the Dead experience. There is no other band in the world that can take you more completely out of yourself and into the stars, the past, the future, and the spirits and hearts of those beside you and in front of you.
It is an unforgettable experience and one that, understandably, you want to repeat as often as possible, hence the string of totally sold-out concerts wherever the group appears.
The way it sometimes is: unfortunately, the band IS human - mere mortals with mortal failings - and there are nights, a great many of them of late, when whatever it is that's supposed to happen, happens so late that only the most loyal and determined fans are there when the blinding moment comes. Other times it doesn't come at all.
If you are one of the unlucky people who missed the Dead at their best, or maybe were until now unaware of their power, I want to recommend to you one of the most beautiful and important albums ever made, "The Live Dead."
The group has made other albums, and good ones, too, but only this almost 2-year-old one captures what I have been talking about. As in the performances, the first of the four sides makes no attempt to seduce you, only to clear your brain of its daily debris, and open it up for what comes next. Side two is unbearably tender. If you're not with the one you love, you find yourself loving the one you're with. Side three is entirely physical. It tells you more than Dr. Reuben ever could, and not in words, either. After all that comes the end, shaken but peaceful.
If you know of any album or any group that does as much for you, I wish you'd tell me and I'll tell the world. That's the kind of information that should be spread around.

(by Lillian Roxon, from the "Top of Pop" column, the Sunday News (New York City), 2 April 1972)