PiercingMetal.com was on hand this past Thursday, June 4th as Warner Home Video celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the “Woodstock” Film by holding a gala celebration at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. The event was set to feature a number of key figures who had been involved in the production of the film along with several musical guests of note. As you see by the photo below, the entire tourist and business populace of the Times Square area were made aware that something special was happening inside this evening and being a part of it was indeed an honor.
After we walked into the Hard Rock Cafe we were led to the “Green Carpet” area where various media outlets were at the ready to bring the story about this event to the public. I stood off to the side and jotted down notes while Peter Parrella (aka “Skeleton Pete” shot all of the carpet happenings.
About The New DVD: “Woodstock” 3 Days Of Peace And Music is an Oscar winning documentary that not only captured an incredible music festival with amazing bands but also gave a keen insight to the way that America was back in 1969. The films director originally worked with almost 300 hours of film and from this a rather lengthy and gripping view of sixties culture was delivered. The show drew together a half a million people and was one of the largest gatherings for a single concert performance and would hold this title for many, many years to come. The Director’s Cut of the DVD now features an additional two hours of footage that was never before seen and offers up some musical performances that were omitted from the original. There are a number of versions that the discerning consumer can purchase.
In addition to the celebrities involved we also had the chance to enjoy some actual artifacts from the historic festival event such as authentic Woodstock clothing and a t-shirt that was purchased by Graham Nash who had also performed at the show. There were posters and some guitars as well.
Overhead numerous screens played the new Director’s Cut edition of the “Woodstock” film and as the celebrity guests began to wander in, they were all catching the attention of not only the media, but also the wide gamut of visiting tourists who had come into the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square to eat and wander about its corridors. The first person we caught a glimpse of was Jocko Marcellino (an original member from the 50’s Tribute Act Sha-Na-Na).
I had to admit that I always felt that Sha Na Na was one of the more interesting inclusions to the Woodstock concert roster but having loved their television show when it aired some years later I will assume that they did a good job of entertaining the hundreds of thousands of concert goers that weekend. The next person up was Stu Cook, a founding member of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Those of you who have already seen the “Woodstock” film might recall that CCR while a band that had played the show were NOT featured in the original cut of the film. The Director’s Cut edition remedies that issue and delivers a performance from Creedence. It’s just one of the many additions to the DVD that now will feature two hours of music and bonus content. Next up was Michael Lang, the “Woodstock” producer.
He was a really pleasant guy and not only happy to be there but oh so willing to talk to everyone around him that was hoping to snare either an interview about the film or just to wish him well. Here is another shot of Michael along with Artie Kornfeld and Joel Rosenman. Both Artie and Joel were Festival Producers. As the whole thing was taking place I heard Artie muse aloud that there was nothing like being around good friends. You got that right Mr. Kornfeld. As they made their way down the line Michael Lang was taking a lot of photos with his friends and even stopped for some of the tourists who asked to do the same. He was very pleasant to speak to and when Joel came over I asked about when he felt the “super premium ultra magnificent” version that had even more footage could be expected and he laughed when I said “perhaps for the 50th anniversary”. I had to say that these guys were very pleasant to listen to and hear the answers they were giving to some of the posed questions.
Another musical guest to appear on the carpet was Richie Havens who many might remember as being the first performer for the show. Richie came out armed with only a guitar as he sang songs like “Freedom” and in the spirit of the evening Mr. Havens was seen brandishing an acoustic guitar. I had to say that he looked great.
The man you see here in the next photo is non other than Mr. Michael Wadleigh, who was the Film’s Director. Peter captured him in front of an original Woodstock poster at first and you might notice that he is holding a camera in his hand. During the event, both Michael Wadleigh and Michael Lang were snapping a lot of photos of their friends and those others who were there to take part in it. Clearly they were not going to let the chance to snap some special memories go by so easily.
I really like this shot of Wadleigh and Havens who were enjoying mugging it up for the media folks and all the curious tourists who were in the Hard Rock Cafe. The smiles on everyone’s faces this evening were only a small sampling of the actual joy that was happening in the room tonight.
This next gentleman is none other than Mr. Eddie Kramer. For Woodstock, Eddie was the Festival Location Music Engineer. He worked over the years with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, but I know him best from work done with KISS.
Here comes the Grateful Dead’s Tom Constanten who played keyboards with the band during their appearance at the Festival. Fortunately there would be a lot of musicians present this evening and that was bound to give the party goers a really good time.
Now I know some of you Glam Rock fans are thinking that you are seeing things but no, your eyes are not decieving you and this is Justin Tranter of Semi Precious Weapons joining in on the fun. I had no idea that he was going to be here tonight and its always a pleasant surprise to see him. Sadly, we were not able to catch up with him inside the Cafe but since his band plays quite a lot we are sure that we will have more news about him sometime soon.
The excitement was kicked up a notch as the next few people came out to say hello and how could it be anything less than electric when its some of the original founding members of Santana. Pictured are Gregg Rolie (vocals/keyboards), Michael Carabello (percussion), Michael Shrieve (drums) and Alphonso Johnson (bass). The first three are legacy Sanata players, while Alphonso performed with them after the event had taken place.
We mentioned that there was some serious media attention being paid to the event and here are a couple of shots of the guests being interviewed by Fox News and ABC News Radio reporters.
Here are a couple of other cool shots that we snared and the first is one of Michael Wadleigh and Jeffrey Baker, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Theatrical Catalog for Warner Brothers.
A great group shot of everyone involved who was in attendance for the green carpet. Roll call from top left to the right and down around: Fred Weintraub, Stu Cook, Michael Carabello, Alphonso Johnson, Michael Shrieve, Gregg Rolie, Richie Havens, Michael Lang, Michael Wadleigh, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, Jocko Marcellino, Eddie Kramer and Tom Constanten.
Complete Gallery of “Green Carpet” Festivities: http://piercingmetal.com/gallery/gallery_woodstock40-hardrock_060409.htm
As the “Green Carpet” time completed it was now time to enjoy the celebration and to be in the company of these great people. They would hold the party inside the space of the Hard Rock Cafe where there is a full stage set up and I had been here a couple of times for some shows. One of which was Skid Row. The affair was started off by the Warner executives and we first heard from Jeffrey Baker, the SVP of GM of Theatrical Content who we mentioned only a few lines ago. He was in good form and started off by saying that he was curious about who among us had attended the original Woodstock festival. He got a nice amount of cheers for this, but when he continued and asked, “ok, and of that number who paid to get into the Festival” he was answered by chuckles and crickets. He then teased everyone by saying that the entire evening was a ruse to draw those folks out into the open so the festival organizers could collect the owed ticket money as they had been searching for these folks for forty years. He said that after the party they would be expected to pay the $8 per day for the three days for a total of $24. Imagine that, a festival like Woodstock was only $8 per day and while I know that this was forty years ago, it still amazes me about how such an amazing event cost less money than a couple of beers would cost us today at any of the establishments around us.
Mr. Baker would bring out a number of the gentlemen that we had already seen on the green carpet and now it was their chance to absorb some attention from the rest of the world now that the media folks had done their thing.
The introductions of Lang, Rosenman, Kornfeld, WadleighIt was amusing to see this going on because while Mr. Baker was bringing everyone on to the stage, Michael Wadleigh was running all around with his camera capturing the moment forever on his Nikon. When Jeffrey called out his name the Film Director popped out from the other side of the stage and climbed on top of one of the bass cabinets. I didnt snare a shot of that as it happened too quickly, but there is nothing like a little Rock & Roll showmanship at any event if you ask me. I was very pleased to witness the amount of applause that everyone was getting. After the formalities had been addressed we saw Jocko Marcellino once again and he was the emcee for this portion of the fun. Many of the guests this evening were wearing traditional hippie garb and there would be a contest to win a signed bass guitar for the best outfit. While I didnt snap any shots of that, I had to say that there were some good ones.
Jocko would engage the audience by talking a little bit about his experiences at the Festival and then muse about how Richie Havens came out only with his guitar and started playing with intensity for a couple of hundred thousand people. He then directed our attention to the big screen where footage of Havens playing “Freedom” was being shown. From my vantage point I could see that a solitary stool had been set up and I wondered if when the stage screen rose would we find Havens playing this very same song. Well, I was half correct as the screen rose and Mr. Havens was strumming away but for tonight he would be playing the Bob Dylan classic “All Along The Watchtower”. Of course, I am not complaining at all and found this to be a treat. He didnt play this song at the Festival and if you dont believe me, well feel free to look it up.
I had to say that Richie sounded great and it was awesome to see him do his thing at such a special occasion. When he left the stage, Jocko would return and be joined by some Woodstock All-Stars that included Tom Constanten, Stu Cook, Tal Morris and I believe Doug Clifford. Together they would begin to rock the house with a couple of songs that were played at Woodstock. The first one being “Jailhouse Rock” and the second “Suzie Q.”.
We snapped another dozen or so shots of the Woodstock All-Stars performing, so if you would like to see the whole batch of them just click the “Woodstock” graphic below and you will see the full gallery of each of these images.
After the All-Stars had left the stage the screen was down once again and showing us more scenes from the Director’s Cut and they kept it queued into the Santana segment, and while the party goers might not have been prepared for this, we knew from covering the green carpet that everyone was in for a treat that they would not soon forget. Jocko came out to introduce once again and started the chant of “no rain, no rain, no rain” and when the screen rose we found Gregg Rolie at the keyboards and Michael Shrieve on the drums as they opened their set with “Soul Sacrifice”.
“Soul Sacrifice” is that rousing instrumental number that Santana leveled the Woodstock audience with and it was primarily based on its killer drum solo by the then sixteen year old Michael Shrieve. Tonight Mr. Shrieve would deliver this very same solo and show that he has not lost an ounce of his edge and together they reminded us about just how amazing the older Santana material is. Shrieve would only play this one song and then return to the party and the drums would be handled by the Gregg Rolie band skinster Ron Wikso. Sadly I couldn’t get a shot of him since my battery was close to dying from all the paces I was putting my little camera through.
Gregg would engage the crowd and inform them that this was his band and the closest that anyone would get to the original Santana and its magic. Remember that both he and Carabello were founding members of the legacy group and their percussionist Areas is the son of “Chepito” who handled the timbales in the band for many years. The full set that they performed was as follows “Soul Sacrifce”, “No One To Depend On”, “As The Years Go Passing By”, Evil Ways”, “Balimos”, “Jingo”, “Black Magic Woman”, “Gypsy” and “Oye Como Va”. They were amazing and had a large part of the room on their feet and dancing and grooving. We snapped another dozen or two photos of them in action and should you want to see them just click the band logo below and you will see the full gallery. Don’t be surprised if you see a number of shots that feature Michael Wadleigh as well because he didnt put down his camera once it seemed. He was enjoying doing some shooting almost as much as celebrating the special edition DVD if you asked me. As the band finished their set I had to admit that I would enjoy seeing them again and plan on doing just that if they return to NYC any time soon.
After the band left the stage the party still rocked on for a little while and I was fortunate enough to be able to shake hands and personally congratulate some of the luminaries involved in this amazing documentary. While dressed in the normal rocker fatigues, I tried to capture a little more of the spirit of the evening by wearing an authentic sixties Peace sign. It was given to me a long time ago by my Dad.
I was also able to snap some candids for other people in the room this evening and that was cool since it is always something that I am willing to do if asked. After all, how can one say “no” to folks who might never get such a chance again all that easily.
Now that you have enjoyed both the report and the wonderful images from the celebration you are probably interested in finding out how to get this hot new Director’s Cut of the film or some of the music from it. We’ve built an Amazon.com widget to guide you to some of the key releases and present it to you again. Go back in time and in music to a Festival that was like nothing ever before and a documentary that really showcased just how amazing the whole thing was.
Watch for our reviews of the “Woodstock” releases on www.PiercingMetal.com