“It was much more than a 50th anniversary,” Kenjamin Franklin said of a celebration at Bethel Woods in upstate New York to commemorate Woodstock, a peace, love and music festival in 1969 that has been idolized in American counterculture ever since.
Franklin, a Port Washington resident during his years attending Long Island University, was 13 years old during the summer of 1969, the summer of Woodstock.
And a camper at the time, he was only 30 miles away from the festival grounds on the weekend of Aug. 15 to 18, 1969, the three days of the legendary festival.
Of course, Franklin was frustrated he missed out, he said, but he has been able to enjoy Woodstock through the many live music recordings and films of the festival’s performances, which ranged from Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin to Jimi Hendrix, the last act.
But he didn’t miss the anniversary and made his way to Bethel Woods Pavilion from New York City for a three-day 50th-anniversary celebration that saw performances such as Ringo Starr and Santana, who played at the 1969 music festival.
Franklin said the Woodstock experience also went deeper than the music. “There was a desire in attendees to rekindle the spirit” of the original Woodstock, he said.
A lot of attendees hadn’t been born yet in the summertime of 1969, Franklin said, but the time we live in now sadly reflects some of the turbulence that was affecting young Americans back then.
But over the weekend, people of all ages were dancing to the music in their tie-dyed and hippie clothes and it was like “going back in time when the scene was love and peace,” Franklin said.
“Maybe once again music can heal the wounds of the United States as it did 50 years ago,” he said.
Franklin of RadioActive Talent Inc. also does bookings, licensing and song placement in the music industry, and American Nomads, one of the bands he works with, performed Friday on the nonpavilion stage.
He described American Nomads as an eclectic folk band whose latest single, “1969,” is reminiscent of the song by the same title by Crosby, Stills and Nash, who performed at the original Woodstock.
And aside from working with an act for the 50th-anniversary celebration, Franklin has also done song placement for Henry Gross, one of the youngest performers at the original Woodstock, when he played with his band Sha Na Na.