Troubled Woodstock 50 Could Find Home in Maryland

The troubled 50th anniversary Woodstock festival could find a home in Maryland.

Talks are underway about holding the three-day festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Howard County.

Woodstock 50 has faced a series of setbacks in the last few months, including permit denials and the loss of a financial partner and a production company. No venue has been publicly announced and tickets have yet to go on sale.

The festivities were supposed to take place across three main stages at Watkins Glen International racetrack in Watkins Glen, New York, about 115 miles northwest of the original site, but the venue pulled out.

A scramble to find a new venue led promoters to Maryland, where Howard County Executive Calvin Ball wants to make it happen.

"We're excited to be able to have a conversation with the promoters of Woodstock, with Merriweather, about the opportunity of celebrating Woodstock 50,” Ball said.

Merriweather Post Pavilion operator Seth Hurwitz also is willing to put on the festival.


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"The Woodstock folks are working on securing the artists now,” he said in a statement. “If the bands come, we'll produce the show. We're looking forward to getting an update as soon as Woodstock 50 has one."

Jay-Z and John Fogerty, who performed at the original 1969 festival with Creedence Clearwater Revival, pulled out of the anniversary event Friday.

Bill Werde, the former editorial director of Billboard, said because of the location change artists can likely back out of performing.

"Most booking contracts are site specific, so with the move to Maryland I think in all probability these artists have easy-outs. And looking at the debacle that this festival has been, I would really be surprised if a lot these artists, if not all of them, didn't start exercising those outs," said Werde, who is also the director of the Bandier program for recorded and entertainment industries at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Acts scheduled for Woodstock 50 include Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, David Crosby, Janelle Monae, Brandi Carlile, Country Joe McDonald, Halsey, the Lumineers and India.Arie. Werde said some of them may just wait for the festival to be canceled before going public. "From a management perspective, if you see this event imploding it is way more diplomatic to wait for (the organizers) to finally cancel it than sort of force the issue and announce your pull out," he said.

The Black Keys, originally scheduled to perform at Woodstock 50, announced in April that they had to cancel their performance due to a scheduling conflict.

The original Woodstock, a festival pushing the message of peace, love and music, was a seminal, groundbreaking event in 1969 that featured performances by Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, the Who and other iconic acts.

"If you're a music fan and you appreciate the history of Woodstock as a cultural, pinnacle moment, even as a brand, it's hard not to be sad about this seemingly never-ending torrent of missteps and false hopes," Werde said.

"For the sake of the legacy of Woodstock, I kind of wish they would stop. It's like watching a boxer who just won't stay down when he really should."

The festival was scheduled to take place Aug. 16-18.

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