Celebrate Woodstock

(Above: The iconic Woodstock bus. Source: Vimeo video)

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Festival, so now’s a great time to watch a documentary (or several of them) about those “three days of peace and music.”

The best doc about Woodstock is undoubtedly still Woodstock, Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 Oscar-winner. But you can’t see that version of the film anymore. 

Woodstock ran 185 minutes when first released, but has been available only in a 224-minute “director’s cut” since 1994, the year that marked the festival’s 25th anniversary. You can stream that version for $3.99 from various providers.

Here, from 1970, is a rare Woodstock original theatrical trailer:

D.A. Pennebaker, the famed documentarian who died August 1 and is better known for his 1968 doc on the 1967 Monterey Pop festival, also marked Woodstock’s 25th anniversary. Pennebaker’s Woodstock Diary consisted of three hour-long episodes, each looking at an individual day of the festival, and each premiering on Showtime 25 years to the day of their actual occurrence, August 15-17. Here’s day two:

The latest Woodstock documentary, Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation, focuses on the audience rather than the music. Already running on PBS Passport, the streaming service for members of PBS stations, this two-hour American Experience presentation premieres over the air on those stations tomorrow night, August 6, at 9 pm ET (but check local listings). It will also stream free on pbs.org and the PBS Video App. 

The PBS doc features current -day comments from many who attended Woodstock 50 years ago. But one of the festival’s most iconic attendees wasn’t even human. It was, instead. a psychedelically adorned 1963 Volkswagen Microbus. And it too is back to celebrate Woodstock’s 50th.

The Woodstock Bus, premiering next Monday, August 12, on subscription streamer CuriosityStream, chronicles a recent search for the vehicle and its resurrection. The bus itself will begin a journey that same day from Baltimore, where it was originally painted, back to Bethel, NY, where the original Woodstock festival took place.

The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, located where 400,000 people gathered for three days of peace and music 50 years ago, will mark the original event August 16-18 with concerts featuring Ringo Starr and at least two artists who were part of Woodstock itself: Santana and John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival (whose Woodstock performance was finally released on audio this past Friday).  

A Woodstock 50 concert from 1969 festival co-creator Michael Lang has been scuttled, but a pair of three-day concerts called the WE2019 Experience has just been announced. Including such original Woodstock artists as Canned Heat, John Sebastian, Ten Years After, Melanie, Mountain drummer Corky Laing and Sly and the Family Stone drummer Gregg Errico, the concerts will take place August 9-11 and August 16-18 at Saloon Studios Live in West Jefferson, NC. You can stream all six days for $16.99 from WE2019.org.

Here’s John Sebastian to tell you all about it:

Have any other favorite Woodstock videos or memories? Let us know in the comments section below!

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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