Jim Siergey: Stardust & Golden

August 18th, 2019

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of that eponymous music festival, Woodstock. Now the original attendees are not only stardust but truly golden as well.

Lansing, the Illinois town located smack dab on the Illinois/Indiana border celebrated this notable occasion a week earlier. It took place at Fox Pointe, a brand spanking new outdoor entertainment venue located in the middle of town.

At this mini-Ravinia-like venue Lansingites held their own mini-Woodstock weekend complete with tribute bands corresponding to some of the bands that played at the original event. It was a tribute Woodstock.

All that was missing was the tribute mud.

My wife, Cindy, and I, with friends, attended Friday’s opening night. “The Fortunate Sons”, a CCR tribute band opened and, boy howdy, they were damn good. They got the crowd choogling.

The next tribute band was to be “Marrakesh Express” who covered the songs of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  I thought that emulating just the harmonies alone, not to mention the musicianship, would be quite an ambitious attempt. It’d be interesting to find out how they did.

Now, somehow word got out that Cindy and I were attendees at the original Woodstock festival. It is, after all, a small town. The manager of the Marrakesh Express contacted me and asked if the two of us would appear on stage during the band’s break to select the winner of the evening’s raffle. The concept made me chuckle so we agreed.


Jim’s in there somewhere…


Break time arrived and, after being introduced, so did we…to a smattering of applause, if any. Being show biz novices, we did not know how to milk the crowd for applause, laughs, etc. , so we stuttered our way through some unprepared remarks we were asked to make. Being the low key folks we are, our reminiscences caused not a ripple.

Or so it seemed to me.

It turned out there was another fellow in the crowd who had been at Woodstock, as a high school junior who, as all high school juniors do, lied to his parents about spending the night at a friend’s house and took off for the happening.

As the MC droned on, we huddled behind him and spoke among ourselves, telling stories that were better left not spoken publicly. Finally, the big moment arrived and Cindy withdrew a raffle ticket from a big ticket-filled jar.

I thought I would get to read off the winning number so I planned to first interject some sort of Woodstock-related humor by making some announcement about bad Metamucil being passed around or to watch out for the brown antacid. My wife warned me that no one in the crowd would get it.

A’course, that’s something I’m quite used to.

But, I never got a chance. The manager/MC read off the number and, of course, the ticket holder, was not present.  Neither was the holder to the next drawn ticket. The half time event was an utter failure, another thing I am quite used to.

So, the MC continued to prattle on until he was interrupted by a bunch of people with a birthday cake. It was his birthday so everyone sang Happy Birthday while the three of us Woodstock “celebs” skulked off stage.

But, I gotta say, the Marrakesh Express band came back on and if there was a roof on the place they would have blown it off. The singers and musicians were incredibly talented and their renditions of tunes from the CSN&Y library were exhilarating. Their version of “Ohio” chillingly put me back in time.

However, something very strange did occur toward the end. I don’t know if it had anything to do with Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” but as they broke into that song, a sea of yellow appeared in front of the stage.

It was, as far as I could tell, an ever-growing throng of women clad in yellow baseball caps and yellow shirts and/or jackets with every one of them sporting blonde hair. All of that imagery plus the jutting yellow ball cap bills made them look like a brood of yellow chicks (which, in a way, they were, if you’ll excuse my sexist term for femdom but I am also speaking farmdom) dancing in front of the stage until the end of the set.

If I had seen such a sight at the original Woodstock festival of 1969 I would have dismissed it as a hallucination but this, this was actually happening.

The next night was to feature tribute bands of Santana, The Who and Jimi Hendrix. Since we left the original Woodstock festival before Hendrix played, we were obligated to stay until the end this time.

And we did.

The whole thing was almost like deja vu all over again. Peace, love and music, man. You can’t beat it.


Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was The Garden



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