Like so many kids in 1969, I had heard about a giant music festival in New York. At 13, I already was a seasoned veteran as a musician (playing piano and guitar from age 7 or 8 — who remembers specifics!) and an applied music fan from just about 1963.
The greaser music from my older cousins and Italian music from the house gave way to my being introduced to the Beatles in 1964 by one of my cousins. While I was overwhelmed by the relatively “new” sounds, I had already heard jazz music, soul music, doo wop and the true Top 40 hits, but somehow I got caught up in the excitement of the Beatles like everyone else.
By 1969, my musical tastes were quite precocious for a 13-year old. I was an avowed fan of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, but the guitar was my god; Wes Montgomery, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and B.B. King were among my first idols. And thanks to Herb Kent, “the Cool Gent”, “Pervis Spann, “the Blues Man,” and Daddio-Daly’s Jazz Patio, I was ready for all styles of music all the time.
But, the energy of rock combined with the magic moments when it really seemed the world was going to be that utopian “one family of man” caught my attention and my 13-year old notion of Woodstock and most of the music had my head and soul bursting at the seams and captivated by the magic.
Three years later came Wattstax and, as an answer to Woodstock, I found it socio-politically as fascinating as a 13-year old could comprehend, but the musical performances were edited and the focus was on the sounds of Stax/Volt Records’ artists almost to the exclusion of the other soul, funk and jazz sounds I was already digging.
Sly Stone trying to “take me higher” was replaced by Rufus Thomas trying to get me to “do the funky chicken.” That was not enough for me!
Today in 2019, I am almost turned around 180 degrees from the hope and inspiration of 1969. The Woodstock ideal has all but disappeared in these past fifty years. We have almost nothing to show for that brief opening in time; it seems we have failed both the Woodstock nation and the Wattstax nation.
So now that being said, it’s time to rekindle the flame!
I feel the way to begin is in remembering and bringing back all those old notions, desires, and vibes. As a radio station, it’s imperative we bring back the music — music in its pure form — creative, innovative and exciting.
For the four days beginning on August 15, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Woodstock Festival, we will celebrate Woodstock/Wattstax. We will broadcast not only music from the concerts, but other music from the performers as well as music those performers created in other incarnations. Wattstax playlists will feature soul, jazz, funk, doowop and more from many artists who did not perform at the festival, but were heavily influenced by the Stax/Volt sound.
I hope you tune in, stay with us and enjoy!