July 16, 2009

40 Years after Max Yasgur's Dairy Farm

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock festival an abundance of events and a flood of products are expected. First there is the expanded and remastered Michael Wadleigh documentary Woodstock: 3 days of Peace and Music, now out on Blu-ray, which includes an interview with Martin Scorsese. Rhino is releasing a six-CD box set, Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm, with previously unreleased recordings. On August 14th the History channel is premiering a rockumentary, Woodstock: Now & Then, and there is even an upcoming comedy film from Ang Lee Taking Woodstock. Beyond the media, several books are also expected. Festival producer Michael Lang has two books out. One's a memoir, The Road to Woodstock (Ecco, 2009), and the other is a deluxe limited edition put out by Genesis Publications entitled the Woodstock Experience. Mike Evans and Paul Kingsbury's Woodstock: Three Days That Rocked the World (Sterling, 2009) also tells the tale of what went on from August 15-18th, 1969. Some of it is summarized as "three days of mud and electric shocks." Mickey is quoted as saying "It was the worst we ever played" and Bobby just remembers the "great blue spark about the size of a baseball" that lifted him off his feet. Even amidst all the myth making the zeitgeist can be cruel.

Dead Like

The hard look at the recording industry that one sees in Steve Knopper's Appetite for Self Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age, published earlier this year by Free Press, continues with Greg Kot's Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music (Scribner, 2009). Readers will find commentary on the major labels but also predictions on the future activities of bands and the use of music to sell concert tickets rather than recordings. Kot quotes Wilco's Jeff Tweedy: "In some weird way everything will be like the Grateful Dead."

Masters of Percussion

Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, who has collaborated many times with Mickey Hart, has given a very personal interview to Arminta Wallace published in the Irish Times (see http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/features/2009/0615/1224248842569.html)
He talks about the global musical journey that he has taken from Mumbai to California. It's a journey that continues through performances with the Masters of Percussion, bringing Indian percussion to a wider world. He says, "worthwhile musical collaboration is always marked by this exchange of energy."

Home Before Daylight

We're still breathlessly awaiting the acting credits to appear for the upcoming film Home Before Daylight: My Life on the Road With the Grateful Dead. Adapted from Steve Parish's 2003 biography, the film's announced production team should prove stellar with Parish and Michael Grais as producers, direction by Allan Arkush, and music coordination by Bob Weir. Grais, who is also writing the screenplay, previously produced the Jerry Lee Lewis music bio Great Balls of Fire. Parish's book co-written with journalist Joe Layden (St. Martin's Press, 2003) got terrific reviews for its intimate first person narrative about music and friendship.