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Woodstock music fest co-creator Kornfeld appears today
Monday, April 07, 2014

Woodstock music fest co-creator Kornfeld appears today

Artie Kornfeld, co-creator and promoter of Woodstock, will revisit the iconic counterculture festival on Monday, April 7, at 6 p.m. in 202 McEwen Hall. See a video preview here.

Artie Kornfeld, co-creator and promoter of the legendary Woodstock Music and Art Fair, will revisit the iconic counterculture festival at SUNY Fredonia on Monday, April 7, at 6 p.m. in McEwen Hall Room 202. The talk is free and open to the public, thanks to the generous support of DFT Communications and Waring Financial Group.

“Woodstock has become part of our cultural fabric. Students know about Woodstock. It’s an historical event, and the person who actually co-created it is coming here to tell us about it,” said Armand Petri, coordinator of the Music Industry program that is hosting Kornfeld’s talk. Though their parents were probably too young to be part of the “Woodstock Generation,” celebrations marking the 30th and 40th anniversaries of the festival and reissues of the film that won an Academy Award for Best Documentary have introduced new generations of students to Woodstock.

“It just doesn’t go away,” Petri said. “It always seems to be relevant because, I believe, it encapsulated what the ’60s were about.”

Petri was able to contact Kornfeld through a mutual friend, Bruce Moser, of Buffalo-based Could Be Wild Promotions, which was one of the biggest independent radio promotion companies. The company launched Tracy Chapman’s career and introduced U2 to American audiences.

Now in his 70s and living in Florida, Kornfeld will reflect with the campus audience on those “three days of peace and music” and the book he wrote about the experience, “The Pied Piper of Woodstock,” published in 2009.

“He’s done a lot of interviews about Woodstock and his career in the music industry,” Petri said of Kornfeld, who started out as a songwriter. Two of his compositions, “The Pied Piper,” by Crispin St. Peters, and “The Rain, The Park and Other Things,” by the Cowsills, established him in the industry.

“We’ll discuss his career as a songwriter, Woodstock, and his career after that,” added Petri, who also discovered Kornfeld’s credit on “Just A Room,” on a Turtles’ album.

More than four decades have passed since Kornfeld, who began his career in the music business in the mid-1950s, formed Woodstock Ventures, an unlikely partnership, with Michael Lang, a small-time concert promoter, and a pair of Wall Street venture capitalists with Ivy League pedigrees, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman. At the time, Kornfeld was a vice president at Capital Records in New York City. All were in their mid-twenties.

Conceived to generate money to create a recording studio and retreat in rural upstate New York, the outdoor concert was beset by a myriad of problems, not the least being the loss of the host site just five weeks before the opening. A frantic search mounted via helicopter yielded a 600-acre dairy farm near Bethel, N.Y., that was available.

Somehow, Woodstock magically came together during a turbulent time in American history. The nation was torn apart by the anti-war movement and civil rights riots. Promoted simply as “three days of music and peace,” Woodstock ultimately attracted 500,000 young people – more than 10 times original estimates – and resulted in the closure of the New York State Thruway due to massive traffic jams that stretched for miles. For three days, the town of Bethel was the third largest municipality in New York State.

The impressive lineup of talent, drawn by a then unprecedented offer of $12,000 per group, included: The Who, Santana, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Grateful Dead, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone and, in only their second live performance together, Crosby, Stills Nash & Young. The feature-length film, “Woodstock,” was both a commercial and critical success.

Kornfeld has promoted over 100 platinum records, working with diverse artists such as Chapman, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith and Bruce Springsteen. He also hosts his own radio show on the ArtistFirst Radio Network.

“Woodstock, to me, was about getting rid of all the bull that was happening with the right and the left, and saying, no matter who you are, come, come to Woodstock and experience three days of peace, love and music,” Kornfeld said.

For a video preview, visit the Music Industry home page.

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