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‘Woodstock’ documentary premiere at Schenectady's Central Park to serve as local 50-year celebration

‘Woodstock’ documentary premiere at Schenectady's Central Park to serve as local 50-year celebration

Music Haven partners with local vendors — free granola expected
‘Woodstock’ documentary premiere at Schenectady's Central Park to serve as local 50-year celebration
Roger Daltrey and The Who perform at Woodstock in 1969, and the poster for the new documentary.
Photographer: copyright 1969 Jason Laure Courtesy PBS Distribution

Woodstock and granola are synonymous. 

Sandro Gerbini knows this. And he’s done his research.

After searching through Google Scholar for documents on Woodstock’s granola, which was available during a food shortage at the 1969 festival, he came up empty with recipes.

So he got creative. He found every document mentioning the granola, and used attendee quotes and his knowledge of what was popular at the time to determine what the recipe was.

“We’re trying to make it the most true-to-form granola representative of the time period,” Gerbini said.

He’s not just doing this for fun, though. He’s preparing for Music Haven’s Friday premiere of “Woodstock: Three Days That Defined A Generation.” The documentary, directed by Barak Goodman, takes a look at the iconic 1969 music festival and the attendees which made it a cultural milestone, now 50 years after the fact. 

The free showing in Schenectady’s Central Park will include samples of Gerbini’s Woodstock-specific Gatherers’ Granola product, servings of Ben & Jerry’s “Totally Baked” ice cream (along with two other flavors) and $1 hot dogs from Mike’s On A Roll (starting at 6 p.m.).

Attendees are also encouraged to show up in tie-dye clothing as Music Haven Assistant Producer Michael Eck will hold on-stage interviews with locals who were at the original Woodstock before the 8 p.m. showing.

“It’s meant to be a fun gathering of people to view a high quality documentary like so many that appear on PBS,” said Music Haven Producer Mona Golub. “But it really kind of became this opportunity for us to create this theme around the documentary.”

The documentary, which premieres on PBS on Aug. 6, doesn’t focus on the countless iconic musicians that performed. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who aren’t the main acts in the new Barak Goodman film, which emphasizes the audience’s perspective of the 1969 festival with archival footage. 

Film co-producer and co-director Jamila Ephron says the classic Michael Wadleigh 1970 “Woodstock” documentary already covered most of the action on stage, so her team wanted to instead touch on the crowd, something that hadn’t been done to that extent before.

“It was sort of an unexplored story, how it pulled half a million kids to a park in Upstate New York” Ephron said. 

The film touches on the political climate of the time and what drew so many young kids to the festival. Ephron called it the story of “people putting their values to the test” and learning to “prevail.” It recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Ephron was thrilled with some of the feedback audience members gave her. Some, who attended the 1969 festival, thanked her for capturing their history.

With the recently cancelled Woodstock 50 festival no longer taking place at the site of the 1969 festival in Bethel, N.Y., Golub wanted to assure that attendees get “a little piece of” what made Woodstock special, as this may be the closest they can get to a celebration.

“That’s what makes for the magic,” Golub said. “It’s that collaboration.”

And Gerbini wants to make sure his collaborative efforts and free granola samples not only showcase the quality of his product, but highlight the “synergy” of the event. He also hopes his 200 pounds of walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and olive oil will help get more residents to come.

“[I’d do] anything I can do to help the next generation of musicians and residents have access to good music,” Gerbini said.

Eck, a “student of music history” who has conducted interviews at several events where he has served as master of ceremonies, said he grew up admiring Woodstock.

When he was in the fourth grade, his teacher Michael Wood told his class about Woodstock and his experience at the festival. Wood went back to the festival grounds in 1979 to walk around and reminisce. 

Wood was moved by his experience and Eck soon became fascinated with his teacher’s story.

On Friday, Eck will take a “loose approach” when interviewing Woodstock attendees before the premiere. He doesn’t personally know everyone he’ll be talking to on stage, but wants the event to feel personable. 

Given that the documentary is focused on the audience’s perspective, Eck will ask the attendees about the event’s rain, food shortage and how the local community around Bethel pitched in to help feed festival goers in 1969. He won’t forget to ask about their favorite acts, though.

"That’s what the festival was all about, the music,” Eck said.

The celebration kicks off in Central Park at 7 p.m. Friday with Eck’s interview session. The documentary itself starts at 8 p.m. and attendees are encouraged to wear tie-dye and grab some free granola samples.

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