Organizers finally cancel troubled Woodstock 50 festival

Woodstock 50 organizers announce that the troubled music festival, which hit a series of setbacks in the past four months, won't take place next month.

Event hit a series of setbacks in past 4 months leading to cancellation — organizers

Woodstock 50 is officially cancelled, organizers said Wednesday, after the troubled music festival hit a series of setbacks. (Stephen Chernin/The Associated Press)

Woodstock 50 is officially cancelled.

Organizers announced Wednesday that the troubled music festival, which hit a series of setbacks in the past four months, won't take place next month.

The three-day festival was originally scheduled for Aug. 16-18 — fifty years after the original — but holdups included permit denials and the loss of a financial partner and a production company.

Last week, Jay-Z, Dead & Company and John Fogerty announced they wouldn't perform at the event after organizers said it was moving to Maryland from New York.

"We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined with the great lineup we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating," festival co-founder Michael Lang said in a statement Wednesday.

"We released all the talent so any involvement on their part would be voluntary. Due to conflicting radius issues in the DC area, many acts were unable to participate and others passed for their own reasons."

Organizers said they were planning to make Woodstock 50 a free benefit concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., before announcing they had cancelled the festival altogether.

Lang announced the event in March alongside Fogerty and rapper-actor Common, two acts that were to perform.

Other artists who were booked for the festival included the Killers, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons, Chance the Rapper, Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, David Crosby, Janelle Monae, Brandi Carlile and Halsey.

Woodstock 50 was originally supposed to take place across three main stages at Watkins Glen International racetrack in Watkins Glen, N.Y. — about 185 kilometres northwest of Bethel, the site of the 1969 concert — but the venue pulled out. Tickets were supposed to go on sale on April 22, which was Earth Day, but that was postponed.

The anniversary will still be observed, however. Ringo Starr, Santana and Fogerty will perform at a smaller event, not connected to Woodstock 50, at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

The original Woodstock, a festival pushing the message of peace, love and music, was a groundbreaking event that featured performances by Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, the Who and other iconic acts.

Lang asked Woodstock 50 artists who were already paid to donate 10 per cent of their earnings to HeadCount, a non-profit group that registers voters at music events, or to another organization.

"Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount's critical mission to get out the vote before the next election," Lang said in his statement.

"We thank the artists, fans and partners who stood by us even in the face of adversity."


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