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Happy Happy Birthday Woodstock
by Haven James

The phone rang close to midnight the other night and it turned out to be a curious call, a personal invitation to Werewolves of Woodstock and all of our friends and neighbors to attend an old-fashioned Block Party. Central to Woodstock, of course, is Route 212; that's the State highway that runs into the hamlet from Saugerties and turns into Mill Hill Road as it climbs the grade to the Village Green where it there transforms into the fabled Tinker Street only to race ever onward up the Bearsville Flats and out of Dodge to points beyond. Coming up this Saturday, that's June 5th, Maple Lane where Bread Alone, Glorious Health, Pieces of Mine, and the back lot of Housts are located will play host to a birthday celebration in honor of two-hundred and twelve years of Woodstock, and you've got it, the party is just off Rte. 212 centrally located near the top of Mill Hill. Scheduled this year to honor a number of birthdays but most notably, Woodstock's very own, the event is billed to kick off casually sometime after 4 P.M. according to whichever flyer you read and/or social director you speak to and run into the evening hours. Approved by the Town Board as a bona fide event (miracle of miracles), there will be music, food, dancing, and unbridled frivolity all provided free in accordance with the street committee's adopted motto: "After 212 years of boredom, we deserve a party."

There'll be a variety of attractions but we'll scan the entertainment first; 100% pure Woodstock, the bands will perform on a stage scaffold built onto the trailer of a flatbed truck positioned near the head of the block. As the great Dr. Pepe is the "Musical Director" of the affair, it's a natural that the Pep & Molly Show will be one of the primary headliners; we love them, you love them, and if by chance you haven't heard them, you will love them. Junior Ellis will make a guest appearance on bass with Pep and Molly and his band, Sidepocket Soul will do their funk/R&B sounds too. Sham Morris' venture SPIV will provide the Brit Rock, Kenny and Hope who've been playing in town since the days when the Lake was the Lake will perform, Billy Faire will kick things off with his street banjo music, Evan Dove will sing his folk songs, and the legend before his time, Clayton Denwood, has vowed to rock out the night and will close the evening whenever that time arrives. Also Notso, as in special guests, are expected to sprinkle the stage like glitter on a starlit night.

And what's a party without condiments you might ask... Have no fear, one-thousand ears of organic corn have been donated, there will be Bar B. Q. stuff, Taco Juan will have a stand with tacos, burritos and assorted Mexican delights, local herbalist Jennifer Costa will be doing "Wild Food" pestos, Barbara Salvator is working on a Nettles beverage, Bread Alone will serve free coffee and cake, Esotec will bring China Cola and Ginger Beer, there'll be organic green tea, and "more, more, more, free, free, free," the organizers project.

Hay bails will polka-dot Housts parking lot for seating, Chinese lanterns will be strung down Maple Lane, all in all, the locale will be decorated to the max for a festive evening. The fact is that entries and donations keep rolling in as we go to press so expect some extras as this crew is determined to make this a landmark occasion and maybe that's what sets this effort apart from some of the other biggies that have claimed the Woodstock name over the years. There is no Michael Lang or other figure-head mover/shaker involved here. In the true Woodstock spirit, this is a decentralized amalgam of town folk just pooling their resources and any that they can get their hands on. "Basically, it's to bring a little fun back to the town, a little way of things used to be, and a little, just tenderness back to the town," says music maven Pépe. Peter Walther who is serving as the production manager adds, "The spirit of it is it's Woodstock's birthday and we need to celebrate in the town and people need to loosen up a little bit and come on down and have a free corn and a free nettles beer, just lighten up a little bit and party, dance in the street, and enjoy yourself cause this is Woodstock." It's Donna Kaplan's birthday too, she's somewhat the heart and soul of the event as her shop, the Glorious Health emporium, has brought back some of the sense of community to Maple Lane that we all once knew from the days of Carrie's Deli and the News Shop so bring her a birthday flower when you come too.

There will be a live radio broadcast link to WKZE at the direction of Randy Milroy, Woodstock's WATV will carry a live feed so you can get on TV if you want, plus, a consulting astrologer advises that those pesky planets will be in another one of their special alignments this weekend setting things up just right.

Helpers are welcome to get in on the act. The setup starts the day before so check in with Pete at Glorious Health if you've got some time to volunteer. Otherwise, just show up and bring good cheer and a desire to party on, the Woodstock way.

Haven James has been a consistent contributor to the Music & Arts scene around the Hudson Valley and beyond for almost a decade through his column, Werewolves of Woodstock, published weekly in the Woodstock Times

A writer, musician, philanthropist, and Mac addict; he lives reclusively, high atop Overlook Mountain with his son and a menagerie of animals, both wild and domesticated. Though currently unmarried, rumors abound as to his intimate relationships with Madonna, Sandra Bernhardt, and Eli Bach; though he insists these notions to be pure hearsay. His identity has remained a mystery to all but the closest of friends as he often travels in disguise and appears unannounced and undercover at concerts and venues in a dedicated effort to get the real story.

Go to the Werewolves of Woodstock page for more articles by Haven James.
Haven James can be contacted at

Posted on June 3rd, 1999

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