Blast From The Past And Shoot For The Future: Woodstock Revival IV
Written by: Candace Mittel
It’s very rare these days for a parent and child to even enjoy the same music, let alone groove to the same music at a concert in public. Add grandma and grandpa into the picture, and you’ve got a glimpse into last Thursday’s Woodstock Revival IV festival at Jerusalem’s Kraft Stadium. Authentic hippies from the 60’s retrieved their vintage Woodstock gear and braided their long, grey hair, while the next generation interpreted their own hippie style with flowing skirts and borrowed tie-dye t-shirts, while the third generation, tagging along with mom and dad, hoola-hooped around the field, wearing flower stickers and colorful beads. How endearing to watch the grey-haired man in front of me, sporting his original woodstock t-shirt and a rainbow kippah, bop to his favorite Grateful Dead song alongside his 8 year old grandson, the two holding hands in true Woodstock bliss, whirling and boogying to some of America’s best rock – timeless music indeed.
The lawn was covered with towels and lawn chairs, families, couples, and friends – old, older, young, and younger, secular, religious, and everything in between – relaxing under the cool summer evening, enjoying the best of Woodstock, the staples of peace and love. Many left the comfort of the lawn to dance close to the stage, where the most serious Woodstock fans could be found rocking out. It was a most fitting event for Tu Ba’av, the Jewish Day of Love, as many of the bands reiterated the holiday spirit in their performances. For example, at the end of The Elevator’s Grateful Dead set, the lead singer shouted to the audience: “All you young couples out there – get married! We’ll play at your wedding!” He paused for a second before adding, “for cheap!”
Besides psychedelic music and committed dancing, there were many other Woodstock activities to enjoy. At one corner of the field a pale green van covered in flowers and peace signs was stationed and inside, a photo-booth, where one could dress up in crazy wigs, afros, bright boas, and other retro costumes for the picture. On the other side of the field were stands selling records, colorful beads, and hippie clothes. For the children, there were activities such as spray-on tattoos, face painting, light-up hoola-hooping, and “Juggling Super Charlie.” In between Crystal Ship’s performing the Doors and Libi and the Flashback singing Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, a “Best Dressed Hippie” contest brought the most outlandish and genuinely dressed hippies to the stage decked out in beads, braids, feathers, tie-dye, bell-bottoms, and belly-shirts. During the same break, Abigail Yasgur inspired the crowd by reading from her children’s book “Max Said Yes.”
Abigail Yasgur, the cousin of the famed American Jewish farmer, Max Yasgur, who allowed the 1969 Woodstock Festival to be held on part of his 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, decided about 20 years ago to write a children’s book honoring her cousin. The book came out in 2009 commemorating Woodstock’s 40th anniversary, and now Abigail travels to Jerusalem’s Woodstock Revival almost every year to sell her book at the festival. The book, “Max Said Yes,” is written in verse, “so kids can rap it like any Dr. Seuss book,” remarked Abigail. She is thrilled and proud that the book has won the Mom’s Choice Award for its values, and Abigail says that her overall message is “to value kids and their big ideas, as my cousin did.” Indeed, Max believed strongly that people had the right to express their opinions, so even though he supported the war in Vietnam, he permitted the hippies to hold their concert on his farm, which turned the kids’ dream of a peace and love concert with a few thousand attendees into a half-a-million strong legendary 3-day extravaganza that radically transformed popular music and culture and will forever be remembered all over the world. As so many others have commented as well, Abigail mentioned how amazing it is for kids and adults alike to enjoy Woodstock, evident at Jerusalem’s Woodstock Revival and other similar festivals around the world that cater to children. Part of the idea behind Abigail’s book is to pass the Woodstock message of peace and love to our children and allow those ideals of the 60’s to live on and inspire the future generations.
Like Abigail, when Libi from Libi and the Flashback (see this article for more on Libi) took the stage, she began by commenting that, “this really is a continuation of the Woodstock Nation. Look at the three generations here!” Libi went all out in authentic hippie attire, earning herself a spot as one of the contestants for Best Dressed Hippie. She wore jeans, black fringed boots, a crazy fringed vest that flew wildly when she spun in performance, beads in her long black hair, and, of course, a splash of tie-dye. In the middle of her set, she excused herself from the stage and came back as Janis herself, complete with red velvet pants, round sunglasses, a fur hat, and “Mercedes Benz,” entrancing the audience, who avidly sang along. Throughout her passionate, crowd-riveting performance, Libi shouted to the audience wonderfully concise statements such as “this is fun” and “life is groovy.”
The night was indeed fun and groovy. The spirit of the event every year is inspiring and uplifting in its dedication to ageless music and fostering of timeless messages. If you missed this years’ Woodstock, that’s too bad – just make sure to leave your calendar free next summer for a night of peace, love, and rock & roll.