Woodstock, the era-defining 1969 music festival, celebrates its 50th anniversary tomorrow.
To give listeners a chance to experience every second of the three-day shebang, radio station WXPN in Philadelphia, home to NPR’s World Cafe, is broadcasting the entire festival.
“WXPN is going to pay the most effective tribute to the music, the way it was originally performed, at exactly the same times the sets were performed to give our listeners a feel for how it all really went down,” said Associate General Manager for Programming Bruce Warren.
This is all thanks to the massive box set, Woodstock — Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive, which was released earlier this month after a painstaking, 14-year restoration by producers Andy Zax and Brian Kehew.
For this milestone, critics and fans alike have been reminiscing about and unpacking the mythology of Woodstock, ensconced in both the 1970 documentary film and its accompanying three-disc soundtrack. Even with an original runtime just over three hours (and a director’s cut adding a fourth), a large part of the three-day festival remained covered in a thick layer of dust until now.
Other 50th anniversary events have been wracked with difficulties, as the 1969 festival promoter Michael Lang failed to secure gathering permits for Woodstock 50 at the farm in Bethel, New York, that originally hosted the event. After sponsorship backed out, artists were released from their contracts and the festival was reduced to one free day of music at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland before finally calling it quits for good.
You can tune in starting tomorrow, August 15, at 5:07 pm ET at WXPN. Cyrena Touros
Editor’s note: This writer was an employee of WXPN in 2018.