Odds, ends, bits, pieces, seeds, stems, etc:
In the summer of 2010, I researched the history of the Wadena Rock Festival, which brought Woodstock to northeast Iowa in 1970. Last month, I exchanged a bit of e-mail with a reader who was there.
She came to the festival with a group of people from Kansas City who had heard about it on KAAY’s legendary Beaker Street show. When they arrived, they sneaked in through a hole in a fence and were promptly met by “these awful ‘rangers’ on horseback,” she remembers. “They intimidated us, made fun of the guys’ long hair and made sexual comments about the girls. That was frightening, like they would give us a pass if we did something with them.” She remembers the open-air drug market, and a gas mask-style bong somebody bought, as well as performances by Chicken Shack, Rotary Connection, and Johnny Winter. “It was blanket-to-blanket, wall-to-wall people,” she says, although her most vivid memory is of a cloud of Frisbees being thrown in the air at one point. “I was afraid of getting hit by one and not knowing how to throw it back because I was by then in an alternate universe (inside and out).”
In our various festival posts, we noted how brief the era of impromptu mass festivals was. It wasn’t just that authorities used existing regulations or created new ones to stamp them out—rather like authorities today are trying to scuttle the Occupy protests going on around the country, it occurs to me—but that the energy that inspired the festival era dissipated quickly. (It seems likely that the two factors are related, which doesn’t bode well for Occupy.) In any event, “I knew the party was over in 1972,” our reader friend reports. “I went about the business of life, completing my college education and moving out to California.” But the energy lingers, too: “The rocker hippie is still in all of us,” she says.
On Another Matter: Regular readers of this pondwater know that we’re all about 1976, and so we noticed that Andrea True died earlier this month at age 68. Her song “More More More” reached #4 that year, and it can still bring back the humid early summer nights on which it first lit up the radio. What’s not widely known is that the Andrea True Connection hit the Hot 100 three other times in the next two years, although only “New York, You Got Me Dancing” made it back into the Top 40. I’m a fan of “Party Line,” too, mostly because it sounds like six extra minutes of “More More More.” An obit full of fascinating details about True’s career is here.
On Another Other Matter: The announcement that Bob Seger is releasing yet another compilation featuring the same songs he’s reissued umpteen times before and again ignoring his early catalog generated a collective “oh fer chrissakes” from those of us who dig the early stuff. Our friend Jeff at AM, Then FM, decided to create his own Seger compilation, with a little help from some friends. What I hope is only part 1 is here.
On Yet Another Other Matter: I have started a new feature over at WNEW.com called “World’s Worst Songs,” in which I am trying to prod the readership into action by saying uncomplimentary things about songs and bands people like. The feature launched a couple of weeks ago with Harry Chapin’s “Taxi” and took on the Beatles’ “Mr. Moonlight” this past weekend. I hope you’ll keep an eye out for these posts via my Twitter feed or at the site, and comment if you’re inclined to.