Woodstock 50 could be free. That’s assuming ‘the bands come’ at all

Nardine Saad
Los Angeles Times

The anniversary celebration for the landmark Woodstock music festival will now be a free event — if it happens at all.

Woodstock 50, the beleaguered three-day concert set to take place Aug. 16-18, reportedly has morphed from a for-profit festival into a fundraiser in support of voter turnout and climate change nonprofit organizations. This comes after months of logistical and financial setbacks that led to the cancellation of the festival and the loss of its star-studded lineup.

The event, co-produced by original Woodstock promoter Michael Lang, is now slated to take place at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, in Columbia, Maryland. Concert tickets will be free and valid for a single day only, according to a Monday report from Washington, D.C., radio station WTOP.

Festival organizers did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment on Monday.

The festival is still on shaky ground due to its lack of lineup, though.

“Woodstock 50 approached Merriweather about hosting their event here in Columbia, Md.,” Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. and operator of the Merriweather Post Pavilion, said in a statement to The Times on Monday. “The Woodstock folks are working on securing the artists now. If the bands come, we’ll produce the show. We’re looking forward to getting an update as soon as Woodstock 50 has one.”

Just because the concert is free doesn’t mean it’ll be a free-for-all: Tickets will still be required for admission, a Woodstock 50 spokesperson told WTOP.

“Merriweather requires ticketing,” the unnamed spokesperson told the radio station. “For the peaceful enjoyment of all, thoughtful logistical planning has taken place for Woodstock 50 at Merriweather.”

Tickets reportedly will be distributed through HeadCount and participating artists’ foundations and local charitable partnerships in D.C. and Baltimore.

The amphitheater, designed by architect Frank Gehry, is nestled in the forest between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. The new location is much smaller than Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York, where the first Woodstock music festival became a pop-culture touchstone in 1969, with historic performances by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Sly & the Family Stone.

When the 50th-anniversary festival was first announced, the impressive lineup included Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, Chance the Rapper and the Black Keys, as well as original Woodstock-era performers David Crosby, Santana and John Fogerty. However, Woodstock 50 reportedly has released the entire previously announced performers from their obligations.