Haight-Ashbury Officially Designated A “National Treasure” By National Trust For Historic Preservation
Last week, the National Trust For Historic Preservation officially declared the corner of Haight Street and Ashbury Street in San Francisco a “national treasure.” As the Trust explained in their announcement, “San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood contains an awe-inspiring amount of impeccable Victorian homes, but it’s best known for its ties to the counterculture revolution of the 1960s.”
While the physical street corner has remained a go-to attraction for tourists more than half a century after its brief period of true cultural prominence, the new designation aims to preserve one of the neighborhoods main landmarks: the Doolan-Larson building, former home to Mnasidika, the area’s first hippie clothing boutique. Run by Peggy Caserta, a close friend and eventual lover of Janis Joplin, Mnasidika was an important site in the neighborhood during its peak. Caserta is credited with starting the trend of bell bottom jeans at Mnasidika, eventually approaching Levi’s about producing them on a more widespread scale. The store was also the site of a notable Grateful Dead photo shoot, and is said to be where Jimi Hendrix picked up his first pair of bell bottoms.
From Woodstock anthem to West Coast workingmen’s club
He wrote one of the most recognised anthems of the Woodstock era for Jefferson Airplane and has played guitar alongside some of the big names of the 1960s — and for the past month former rocker Darby Slick has been visiting friends and family in far-off Reefton.
In the heady and psychedelic days of 1960s America, Slick won fame with his band The Great Society and wrote the song Somebody to Love, sung famously by his ex-sister-in-law Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. It was one of the biggest songs of Woodstock in 1969.
Jefferson Airplane’s legendary Woodstock performance included in massive new box set
Read the full story and hear clips at Rolling Stone.
Imagine hurtling yourself back in time to the original Woodstock festival in 1969, finding a good, relatively dry spot to chill, and settling in to hear more than three straight days of music. No, not possible, but the closest anyone may come to that experience will arrive this August. Pegged to the 50th anniversary of the event, Woodstock 50 — Back to the Garden — The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive, a 38-disc box set, will include every note of music played at the festival (save for three songs), some of it released for the first time ever.
Previous Woodstock collections, starting with the original 1970 triple LP and continuing through a 2009 multi-disc box, cherry-picked select songs (or didn’t include certain acts altogether). By comparison, Woodstock 50, to be released by Rhino, has it all: every act and 432 songs, 267 of which have never been officially released before, for a total of nearly 36 hours of recordings, along with crowd announcements (“Somebody somewhere is giving out some flat blue acid,” “Please meet Harold at the stand with the blood pills”) and other sonic memorabilia from the festival.
Complete performances of the Who, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and others, along with acts who weren’t in the movie or the original Woodstock album, like the Band, the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Janis Joplin will be available for the first time. The tracks are also arranged chronologically, by day and set times, from Richie Havens’ opening set that August Friday in 1969 to Jimi Hendrix’s festival-closing set on Monday morning. To ease the overwhelming listening experience, each act is accorded its own disc.
“There have been large boxed sets devoted to particular eras or tours — the Grateful Dead do a great job of that sort of thing — but there’s never, to my knowledge, been an attempt to present a large-scale durational experience of this sort,” says Andy Zax, the Los Angeles producer and archivist who co-produced the set with Steve Woolard. “The Woodstock tapes give us a singular opportunity for a kind of sonic time travel, and my intention is to transport people back to 1969. There aren’t many other concerts you could make this argument about.”
The box — which will also include a Blu-ray of Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock movie, a guitar strap and a replica of the original program, among other items — will cost $799. More condensed versions — a 10-disc set and a 3-disc one — will also be available. In the mega-box, the 38th disc includes various audio flotsam. The “Groesbeek Reel,” named after festival sound recordist Charles Groesbeek, includes comments from random attendees taped by Grosbeak–like, Zax laughs, “this one guy moaning about what a disappointing experience it was and that it was a sell-out. It’s a great slice of real people in the moment reacting to it, which pleases me immensely.”
In late 2005, Zax visited a Warner Brothers storage space in Los Angeles, where a pile of tapes from the Atlantic Records vault in New York had been shipped. There, he found dozens of boxes of one-inch eight-track recordings from Woodstock. “From the moment I saw those tapes, I was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s so much more than I’d ever thought,’” he says. “It was clear to me that no one was exploring this stuff and dealing with it in totality. Here was this vast trove of material not treated correctly.”
Zax said he initially considered a complete festival box but didn’t have “institutional support” back then and opted for the 40th anniversary 2009 box, which at least contained more unheard songs than ever before. But Zax and Woolard still had their work cut out for them. They had to deal with what Zax calls the “Woodstock first-song curse.” “There are tons of instances where they would forget to turn on a vocal mic,” he says, “so the song starts and someone’s voice isn’t audible until 45 seconds in, or the drums disappear.” To compensate, Zax used alternate tapes from the soundboard to fill in certain gaps.
Zax also found that the reel of Sly Stone’s performance was cut up and spliced into “100 small pieces,” he says. “It was like old-school film editing — bits of tape hanging like a million No-Pest Strips.” The original tapes of Havens’ set, which were handed over to the late folksinger about 20 years after the festival, mysteriously vanished, so Zax and his team had to opt for a superior copy instead of the original tape.
For Zax, the experience of hearing the unreleased music was often revelatory. “There was always this perception that Joplin’s set was poor and didn’t represent her at her best,” he says. “It may not have been the greatest night of her life, but listening to it on tape, it really sounds powerful.” The same, he says, goes for the Dead. The band has famously denigrated its Woodstock performance, in part due to electrical problems onstage, but Zax says, “They were a formidable performing unit in 1969, so it’s not an embarrassment.” And Zax calls Creedence’s never-heard full set “one of the best performances at Woodstock — top 3 or top 5, for sure. The fact that it wasn’t out in its entirety until now is flabbergasting.”
In general, Zax admits that some of the acts had less than pleasant recall of playing the festival, which colored their memories of the performances and made some hesitate about signing off. “There was some skepticism, like, ‘You want to issue the whole performance? Are you insane?’” he says. “There’s not one person at Woodstock who was entirely happy with what they did. Ambivalence is about the best you tend to hear from people. And others are like, ‘That was a horror show — every minute was torture.’ But it’s a big part of people’s legacy, and 50 years is the kind of number that makes people think of one’s legacy.” (As for the missing numbers: the Hendrix estate asked that two of his songs not be included, for aesthetic reasons, and one of Sha Na Na’s performances is missing due to a tape gap.)
But according to the producer, one pragmatic argument helped convince the artists or their estates to give the go-ahead for their tracks on Woodstock 50. This January, any unreleased performances or recordings from 1969 will go into the public domain — and will thereby be legal and exploitable in Europe. “Not bootleg, but legit,” he says. “So there’s a pragmatic reason for protecting your copyright on a performance.”
Looking back over the 14-year journey to the most comprehensive Woodstock set, Zax feels the arduous work was worth it. “The movie is one version of Woodstock,” he says. “This is an audio verite documentary about the Sixties.”
Hot Tuna’s Stop at Woodstock 50 Brings Jorma Kaukonen Full Circle: Exclusive Interview
In Been So Long: My Life & Music, Kaukonen’s candid and compulsively readable autobiography from last fall, the guitarist said the experience was like an an excursion into a parallel universe “whose portal opened unbidden and closed just as mysteriously, leaving a vivid memory.”
Billed as “3 Days of Peace and Music,” Woodstock is far from the only highlight in Kaukonen’s career. With Jefferson Airplane, he composed enduring songs like “Embryonic Journey,” his fingerstyle tribute to blues and gospel singer the Rev. Gary Davis. Kaukonen’s arrangement of the folk standard “Good Shepherd” combined acoustic picking, electric shredding and alternative tuning, and has influenced countless guitarists. Later, he formed the offshoot band Hot Tuna with childhood friend and Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady, prefiguring the Americana genre – and they are still touring today.
Woodstock ’69 Artifacts Headed To Museum 50 Years Later
A bass guitar and handwritten song lyrics will be among the artifacts related to the original Woodstock concert heading to a museum for display.
The museum at the site of the concert in upstate New York says it will open for the 2019 season on March 30 with an exhibit marking the concert’s 50th anniversary.
The Museum at Bethel Woods says the exhibit will include instruments, clothing, equipment, art and photography. Highlights include a bass guitar and a tunic from Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane and handwritten lyrics for “Goin’ Up the Country” by Alan Wilson of Canned Heat.
The famous three-day concert kicked off Aug. 15, 1969, in Bethel, New York.
New Jim Marshall Documentary Show Me The Picture: The Story Of Jim Marshall, Features Jefferson Airplane And Interview With Jorma Kaukonen
Jim Marshall, the artist behind some of classic rock’s most legendary images, including Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire at Monterey in 1967 and Johnny Cash flipping the bird at San Quentin in 1969, is the subject of a new documentary film. “Show Me The Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall,” directed by Alfred George Bailey (“Gregory Porter Don’t Forget Your Music”), holds its South By Southwest (SXSW) premiere on Friday, March 15.
The film features interviews with Peter Frampton, Graham Nash, John Carter Cash, Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, actor Michael Douglas and Marshall’s longtime assistant, Amelia Davis, who worked with the photographer from 1998 until his death in 2010. Davis and her partner now carry on Marshall’s legacy and maintain his impressive archive.
Jefferson Airplane Co-Founder Marty Balin Dead at 76
Jefferson Airplane vocalist-guitarist Marty Balin, who co-founded the San Francisco psychedelic rock band in 1965 and played a crucial role in the creation of all their 1960s albums, including Surrealistic Pillow and Volunteers, died Thursday at the age of 76. Balin’s rep confirmed the musician’s death to Rolling Stone, though the cause of death is currently unknown.
“RIP Marty Balin, fellow bandmate and music traveler passed last night,” Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady said in a statement. “A great songwriter and singer who loved life and music. We shared some wonderful times together. We will all miss you!!!!”
Jefferson Airplane’s Kaukonen Is Still On Embryonic Journey
LOS ANGELES — Long before he wrote and recorded the Jefferson Airplane classic “Embryonic Journey,” Jorma Kaukonen was on a decades-long journey of discovery of his own.
From shy, sometimes bullied upper-class son of a globe-trotting U.S. diplomat in post-colonial Pakistan, Kaukonen would evolve into a hard-drinking, hell-raising teenager racing his motorcycle through the streets of the Philippines in the mid-1950s.