Rockfest 70 News Archive. Background Picture of Powder Ridge Rock Festival, Middlefield, CT 1970


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MELANIE REMEMBERS THE 1970 POWDER RIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL

Excerpt of 1978 interview by Steve Hunnington -WQSR-FM radio

STEVE: Yeah! Let me tell my favourite Melanie story, and I hadn't even thought of it in about - ah it's been years, but sitting hear listening to your music and suddenly it went POP right in my head that it was the summer of 1970 and I went to a thing called Powder Ridge in Connecticut.

MELANIE: You saw me at Powder Ridge!

STEVE: I sure did, it was a strange time to be alive let alone a strange time to be young and long haired, the summer of 1970, was right after Kent's day and it was one year after Woodstock and every promoter in the North East was just looking to make it happen again. There were ones in Jersey, ones in Canada, Strawberry Fields and there was Powder Ridge in Connecticut, it was the last weekend of July / first weekend of August in seventy - I bought my ticket in advance, I got ripped off at twenty dollars and it turned out to be the Powder Ridge drug festival, it was terrible (laugh). There was a whole lot of people there, about twenty or thirty thousand and there was a court injunction or something . . .

MELANIE: Yes, they tried from where I remember it from, I heard on the radio as I was leaving to go that they're not allowing the festival to go on, and I said nonsense, 'cause they're gonna allow it, I mean all those people there - they said on the radio there was a hundred thousand people there - I don't know maybe that wasn't right, but that's what they said on the radio, and there were all these kids that had paid twenty dollars to go see a concert, that were going to be very disappointed because there was a court injunction that said no concert would go on at Powder Ridge, and I said 'I just got a feeling the court injunction will be lifted and everybody's gonna have a concert, 'cause how can they do that you know after they take the money, and the people are there already anyway, I mean why bother . . .

STEVE: As it turns out, they did it . . they had control of the electrical power. . .

MELANIE: They said any performer who showed up was gonna be arrested with a possible ten year sentence, oh, they can't arrest singers I said to myself because that's ridiculous, you know, they won't do that, and what I did, I ended up -- everybody said don't go, it's dangerous and you shouldn't do it because you're gonna be arrested and go to jail for ten years, Me? In jail? How could that be? So I went and I snuck in - because they wouldn't let me in as me - so what I did is I combed my hair back, I hid my guitar in the trunk and I just rode in with the WINS news team, I went in with their limo - they all knew they were harbouring a refugee . . .

STEVE: Smuggling in a musician . .

MELANIE: A rock person, I got in to the festival, I didn't know what I was gonna do there, I just thought there were a lot of people, and I am one of the people they came to see and I'm gonna be there, so I parked myself on the top of a hill, and I do have a loud voice, I can project maybe for at least five hundred people without any kind of amplification, so I decided I would entertain in spots, pick a hill this time, then I'd go to another hill and pick another hill.

STEVE: Ah! So you did a few eh? 'Cause I saw you with the help of an ice cream truck!

MELANIE: That's right. What happened was they heard I was there and I'd gotten in, and the Mister Softee people with the only electric of any kind that had gotten in, so they hooked me up to a -- they hooked up makeshift kinda sound system to a Mr Softee generator . . .

STEVE: It's the truth - you gotta believe her - I was there!

MELANIE: One microphone, no guitar mic . .

STEVE: As a matter of fact - if I remember the wording correctly . . they said they were going to arrest any musician that even stepped on the main stage...

MELANIE: Absolutely not, you were definitely not allowed to do it, no way . .

STEVE: So you avoided the main stage - came right over to where I was camped, I was sitting in front of my tent and suddenly it was Melanie and her ice cream truck!

MELANIE: Yeah! Me and Mr Softee did the Powder Ridge festival single handed!

STEVE: And I remember "Beautiful People" being so good!

MELANIE: That was fine, I just performed for as long as I thought people could stand me, so I was at the festival that never was. Anyway I still do "Beautiful people" and I don't -- a lot of people thought of this as a Woodstock nation song, but I really don't agree with that - I never did agree with that, when I wrote it, it was, it definitely has a humanitarian theme, but I thought, because of the times we were going through that it was perceived a little differently than the way I had intended it to be -- I wasn't ablissing running around the streets kissing everybody, you know what I mean - I wasn't an idiot! I was young, I was sixteen when I wrote this song, by the time I got to perform it I was nineteen, in front of large audiences, the first time I ever recorded this song, the man who's playing the classical acoustic guitar over there, Sal De Troia played on this session with me, and I think we had to record the song - I think we did about fifty takes to get it! By the time the fiftieth take came I was so exasperated - I knew what I wanted out of myself . Everybody was really patient, and Sal was really patient, everybody just went it, and fifty takes later we recorded the song, and I still sing this song now! I think I got more understanding of the emotion that I was feeling then and it's a valid now as it was then. So it ends now in "Beautiful People" . . .

Full interview here

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