Status update: Woodstock 50

Headliners for the festival include Miley Cyrus, the Killers, Santana and Jay-Z

Woodstock: Yea or nay? Go or no? Since announcing that the festival would no longer be taking place in at Watkins Glen, the concert’s promoters, including original Woodstock producer Michael Lang, have ardently maintained that Woodstock 50 will happen, and will be special. Neither snow nor rain nor the acrimonious withdrawal of support by the original plan’s primary financier, Dentsu, can keep the people from their Woodstock.

With a court settlement in their favor, a new sponsor in Oppenheimer & Co. and some leads on replacement venues (Vernon Downs racetrack), word from the organizers seemed upbeat; according to a recent article in Billboard by Dave Brooks, however, the signals are still decidedly mixed, and time is short. Brooks reports that, to date, the Woodstock 50 organizers have yet to contact artists with the details of a new site, or of anything else.


Brooks also suggests that the move from Watkins Glen gives the performing artists all the legal pretext they would need to pull out from the event, if the withdrawal of Dentsu, with whom the contracts were negotiated, hadn’t already accomplished that. According to Brooks, word from the agencies representing many of the Woodstock 50 seems increasingly dire. “Each artist will have to make a decision about whether this is something they want to take on, now that so much has changed,” a source tells Billboard. “Often, the artist will feel compelled to play because they don’t want to disappoint their fans, but in the case of Woodstock 50, no one has bought tickets.”

And in news that will comes as no surprise to Hudson Valley locals, a Rolling Stone story published on June 25 finds Michael Lang upbeat and defiant, even as he realistically addresses the absurdly tight, Fyrelike window in which he has to work. Will Woodstock 50 fail to happen? “No,” Lang told Rolling Stone. “I am not gearing up for that. That’s not how I approach things anyway. I’m kind of an optimist. And yes, it definitely helps in this case.”

Stay tuned.