Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Give Peace a Chance at Bluestem

Music | August 14th, 2019

Fifty years ago a music festival took place. Held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York, approximately 400,000 people gathered for “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” alternatively referred to as the “Bethel Rock Festival."  Thirty-two acts performed despite the less than ideal weather conditions, without realizing that they were taking place in what would come to be considered a linchpin of American counterculture, and eventually, a pivotal moment in the history of American pop music history.

Of course, the festival in question would come to be better known by the name “Woodstock,” due to its location 43 miles southwest of Woodstock, New York. Though most of us only know of this piece of American music history secondhand, through the score of books, documentaries, and more that followed in its wake, a number of Fargoans saw fit to try to recapture some of the magic of that rainy weekend in 1969 on its 50th anniversary. Spearheaded by Merrill Piepkorn (who I interviewed around this time last year about his preparations for the event, which were already in motion), “50th Anniversary of Peace and Music” is set to take place over two days at the Bluestem Amphitheatre in Moorhead. A number of North Dakota and Minnesota musicians will be covering the bands and sets that made history at Woodstock with their own loving renditions.

“We older music lovers will never forget the meaning of that moment in time,” said Richard Torrance, a “first generation hippie” whose vast resume includes recording albums with Shelter Records as Richard Torrance and Eureka as well as with Capitol Records and will be performing in the groups covering Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Carlos Santa, and Jefferson Airplane. 

“We knew history was being made. We saw the dramatic performances," Torrance said. "These bands were young, rebellious, and standing up for their strong feeling against the Vietnam War, the politics, the establishment. We were saying it’s time for a change and we want it now! We, as a society, celebrate some of the silliest moments in history under the name of ‘honoring our heritage’. So, to celebrate how we felt back then, to remember our feelings of freedom and equality, yes, it is right to remember the greatest music festival that ever was.”

Gregg “Smokey” Temple recalled the festival with a strong feeling of nostalgia as well, albeit tinged with a slight bit of realism. 

“It remains as a singular encapsulation of an amazing time of upheaval in American youth culture as young people dealt with the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, resisting the ‘establishment’, with a huge dose of optimism fueled by remarkable music, the sexual revolution, and of course, drugs," Temple said. “It was also a disaster of epic proportions," pointing out that despite helping launch the careers of several artists and cementing itself in American cultural history many of the artists involved spoke of it as one of the worst performances of their career.

A long-time friend and musical collaborator with Piepkorn, Temple started the band Skunk Hollow with him in the Twin Cities after college, and 13 years ago they started a Western band called “The Radio Stars” that has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. At this festival, Temple will be responsible for coordinating the artists and stage gear and assisting with stage management, as well as performing in several of the tribute sets: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the John Sebastian solo acoustic set, a song from Ten years after, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and accompany the winner of the Prairie Public Joe Cocker contest.

Although the original Woodstock festival was undoubtedly more geared towards adults, “50th Anniversary of Peace and Music” will be open to all ages, from children to those who may have actually been at the original. There will be vendors selling merchandise and food. And of course, just like the original, the show will go on regardless of rain or shine. For those of us born too late to make it to Woodstock, “50th Anniversary of Peace and Music” presents the perfect opportunity, both for the musicians and the audience, to capture a piece of Americana, and for those who lived through it, it offers a chance to wholeheartedly embrace their nostalgia. 

Recently in:

By Laura Simmonslaurasimmons2025@u.northwestern.edu Dr. Stephen McDonough researched why North Dakota had the highest COVID death rate and cases in the fall of 2020. His investigation accumulated into a 1,000-plus page book titled…

By Michael M. Miller michael.miller@ndsu.eduOne of the most important books published about the Germans from Russia in North Dakota is “Along the Trails of Yesterday: A Story of McIntosh County” by Nina Farley Wishek, published…

photo credit: Jessica GavinSeptemberOktoberfest: Now-October 3Wurst Bier HallStein-holding competition, happy hour Mon-Fri from 4-6, wear your dirndl or lederhosen, German music.https://wurstfargo.com/Papa’s Pumpkin…

By John Strandjas@hpr1.comOur Opinion: Thank you, Reader readers, for 29 fulfilling yearsChugging along, The Little Newspaper That Could commences its 30th volume and year with this issue. Simply getting here speaks volumes. Just…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comIs Cruelty a Part of Nature—or Is It Just Part of Human Nature?Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has been my economics guru for many years for his pithy columns in The New York Times. In…

We are looking for 55-gallon plastic food grade barrels, do you have ideas or connections?We use these barrels to teach our resilient yard workshop series including Make Your Own Rain Barrel and Make Your Own Compost Tumbler. If…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.comMy new venture as a master’s degree student has got me thinking…again about food. Although I’m in an online program with the University of North Dakota, I thought it would be handy to list and…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comThe Melvins formed in 1983 Montesano, Washington, founded by singer/guitar player Buzz Osborne. The group is known for its heavy sound mixed with a dose of punk, forming its own subgenre.…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.comFilmmaker Jacqueline Castel’s “My Animal” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in January, but its vibes are better suited to the rising blood moon of autumn’s spooky season. Now…

By HPR Staffsubmit@hpr1.comThe Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists’ much-lauded neighbor lovin’ Studio Crawl is just around the corner – October 7 and 8, noon to 6pm. During the free event, the people who add culture and vibrancy…

By Eric Dallmanericd@hpr1.comWe recently watched “The PROM” at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, and it was an experience that left a lasting impact on us. The story, a heartwarming yet familiar one, follows a group of Broadway stars…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.com AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Faye Seidlerfayeseidler@gmail.com On the first day of the month I ask people to thank a journalist they know or someone who contributes to papers in some meaningful way. When I grew up, my best friend's father was a journalist…