By Michael Schneider
According to Billboard magazine, Seth Hurwitz, of Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club and I.M.P. Concerts, was quoted as saying that “Michael Lang called me [on July 19th] about doing the show in D.C.” Hurwitz suggested the Merriweather Post Pavilion, a small amphitheater in Columbia, Maryland, which he operates: “We made a deal quickly, contingent on him putting a show together and dealing with the fact that we have a [Smashing Pumpkins] show booked on one of those dates.” According to Pollstar magazine, Hurwitz is willing to make the necessary arrangements “if [Woodstock 50] is real.”
In a bizarre turn of events, Rolling Stone magazine announced on the 29th that, if Woodstock organizers are able to pull off the event, it will be a free festival. The venue requires that all attendees have tickets in-hand, and with a limited number of tickets available, festival-goers will only have the opportunity to attend one of three days of the festival. If and when the tickets are available, they will be distributed through HeadCount, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has partnered with Woodstock 50.
On July 26th, Billboard also reported that the organizers have released all of the performers on the bill from their contracts, officially giving them the option to drop out of the festival. Jay-Z was the first to withdraw, with Carlos Santana, John Sebastian and The Raconteurs citing scheduling conflicts, given that the new location for the festival will be three hundred and fifty miles south of its original location.
John Sebastian told Variety magazine “I was with them all the way until the location changed. And it pisses me off because I feel like a blood brother with Michael, and I would love to be able to join him.”
Woodstock Veterans John Fogerty and Country Joe McDonald, both of which have pulled out, are taking things a little more personally. In a statement to Billboard, Fogerty’s management announced that “Fogerty knows where he will be for the anniversary weekend … The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.” McDonald told Variety that he has not heard from the festival producers in weeks, telling The Baltimore Sun “I’m not interested in getting on a ship that’s sinking.”
In addition, The Lumineers, along with headliners Miley Cyrus and Dead & Company have all pulled out of the festival. With reports swirling about the organizers attempting to book new artists, it appears as if a large number of other performers are no longer planning to play the festival.
According to the Poughkeepsie Journal and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, the festival is tentative, at best. Sources with Variety claim Woodstock 50 is likely to be scaled down to a one-day event with attendance numbers as low as 30,000. Worse yet, attendance capacity at Merriweather Post Pavilion drops to 20,000 people on Fridays, as a way to avoid disrupting the residents of Columbia, Maryland.