Herb Staehr at the legendary
Woodstock Festival 1969
"I came to Woodstock by taking 128 North, the
Massachusetts Turnpike West to Albany, 87 South to
Middletown and 17 West to White Lake - probably about
5 hours on a good travel day!
Seriously, we had a "caravan" of 2 cars and
left about 6PM on Thursday night - 3 hours later than
planned, but nobody cared - we were young and carefree.
Early Friday morning (or late Thursday night), we
somehow managed to navigate around all the
cars that were already backed up on Rt.17 - by driving
on the soft shoulder. I remember managing to stay
awake nearly the whole night except for the last hour
or so. We arrived at the "campsite" about
6:00 AM when my brother shook me awake and said,
"We're here!!".. There were only 100
or so tents when we set up but, after sleeping for
about 6 hours, we awoke to 10 times as many "neighbors"
and the population continued to grow exponentially
over the course of the next three days.
We arrived at the Festival site in the early afternoon
on Friday - I still remember the pastoral beauty
of narrow Hurd Road, lined with trees and the vast and
gently sloping farm fields - and, around a corner, it
suddenly opened to the surreal scene of the stage,
light towers and (already) several thousand people. Richie
Havens started sometime thereafter - we were right at
edge of the stage. I only remember bits and pieces of
the whole trip - the crystal clear voice of Joan Baez
late Friday - closing the evening as we tryed to find
our way back to the campsite....my brother and I took
a wrong turn and got hopelessly lost,
hitching a ride with Arlo Guthrie's limo driver (honest)
who was also lost...finally finding "home"
again and waking up with what seemed like 2 inches or
rainwater in the tent on the next (Saturday) morning.
The highlights on Saturday were Santana (the stage
hands threw left over pieces of 2x4's into the crowd
and everybody was clapping them together in beat to
"Soul Sacrifice"). Canned Heat were also
great, they actually performed twice that afternoon.
In the evening, I remember that the Grateful Dead
played an incredibly long and terrible set - but they
were followed by Creedence Clearwater Revival, with
John Fogerty's distinctive voice howling up the
hillside after the opening notes to "Born On The
Bayou"... and everything was instantly good again!!
If I am not mistaken, many of us came just to see CCR
- because they were huge at the time.
I remember very little of Sunday, we left in the early
afternoon because we all had to be back at work
or school (I was in my senior year at Mass Maritime
Academy) and, by then, were all very tired, hungry and
wet. I believe Ten Years After took the stage about
8:00 PM on Sunday night - the first act after an
extended rain delay. I was already nearly home
about that time and missed them - but, no matter, I
had seem them 2 weeks before in the intimate confines
of the "Boston Tea Party" and that in itself
was an unforgettable experience."