McCartney Times

Whately photographer visits Woodstock site on music fest’s 50th anniversary

Whately photographer visits Woodstock site on music fest’s 50th anniversary

Whately photographer visits Woodstock site on music fest’s 50th anniversary
August 28
10:16 2019

Fifty years ago, Doug Potoksky wanted to go to Woodstock, but real life — attending college — got in the way.

So when the 50th anniversary of the fabled music festival rolled around a couple weeks ago, he made sure he went out to the small towns of Bethel and Woodstock, New York, right by Yasgur’s Farm, the site of the festival during Aug. 15-18, 1969. A series of concerts, at the nearby Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, was staged to recall the spirit of the original one.

“I went this time because I had to go — I wanted to go,” said Potoksky, of Whately. “I just felt this sense of energy, like something pulling me there.”

Potoksky, who once lived in Boston and worked as a musician, is also a longtime photographer who has published two books of photography: one of memorials to victims of 9/11 in New York, and another of the memorials to victims of the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013.

An image from the latter book ended up in a documentary about the history of the Patriots Day Marathon, while 28 photos from the 9/11 book are now in the permanent archives at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Potoksky has also photographed musicians such as Robert Plant, Jerry Garcia and Willie Nelson for various publications, including Rolling Stone.

So when he headed to Bethel two weeks ago, Potoksky made sure he had his camera. He was hoping to get a few pictures of some of the performers — among the musicians there were Arlo Guthrie, Ringo Starr, Santana, Edgar Winter (brother of Johnny) — but more important was to see the original concert site and some returning Woodstock attendees from 1969.

“I wanted to see people, I wanted to talk to them,” he said.

Among the pictures he snapped was that of a couple who, in a gift shop at the site, found a framed photo of a shot of the 1969 concert in which they were able to identify themselves. “They’d been looking for a photo of themselves for 50 years,” said Potoksky. As well, there’s a picture of the field where the crowd sat to hear the original concert, and a message board where concert returnees left their thoughts.

Potoksky also got a good shot of Arlo Guthrie, one of Woodstock’s original performers — “He was so down home, so Arlo,” said Potoksky — and another of Valley percussionist Tony Vacca, who played at the Bethel Center with a jazz-flavored band.

But Potoksky was mostly struck that weekend by the good vibe and optimism of the crowd. “Don’t think it’s all over, folks — there’s a whole new energy out there,” he said. “Be positive.”

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.

Source: Whately photographer visits Woodstock site on music fest’s 50th anniversary

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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