Fifty years after Woodstock helped define a generation, one of its original organizers is planning an anniversary to remember. After months of teasing, Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang has officially announced a 50th anniversary concert is coming to Watkins Glen, New York, this summer. The three-day festival will take place Aug. 16-18, to celebrate the legendary "3 Days of Peace & Music."
Called Woodstock 50, the festival "will give generations of fans the opportunity to join together in the festival's foundational intent of harmony and compassion," according to a press release.
"The original festival in '69 was a reaction by the youth of the time to the causes we felt compelled to fight for – civil rights, women's rights, and the antiwar movement, and it gave way to our mission to share peace, love and music," Lang said. "Today, we're experiencing similar disconnects in our country, and one thing we've learned is that music has the power to bring people together."
But it could be a war of the Woodstocks — CBS New York reports a competing festival held at the original Woodstock location about 150 miles away will take place the exact same weekend. That event, at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, will include "prominent and emerging artists spanning multiple genres and decades" as well as talks by "leading futurists and retro-tech experts," the organizers said.
Lang's team insists, "Woodstock 50 will be the only authorized commemoration of the iconic 1969 festival."
The lineup will be announced next month when tickets go one sale, but organizers say the festival will feature more than 60 rock, hip-hop, pop and country artists. "It will be primarily contemporary talent, but the legacy acts will be represented and honored," Lang said in the press release. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Lang alluded to tribute performances to Janis Joplin, the Band, Jefferson Airplane and Joe Cocker, among other Woodstock legends.
But if you're hoping Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young will come back together for the event, Lang has some bad news. "I've talked to them all individually," he said. "And it's a mess."
The festival will also evoke its predecessor through activism, with sustainability efforts and screenings, panels and art installations by non-profit organizations. "The Woodstock 50th Anniversary will be about sharing an experience with great artists and encouraging people to get educated and involved in the social issues impacting everyone on the planet," said Lang.
"We want this to be more than just coming to a concert," Lang told The New York Times. "And hopefully a lot of the bands will become part of this effort to get people to stand up and make themselves heard, to get and out vote. And if they don't have a candidate that represents their feelings, to find one — or to run themselves."