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Down in Monterey…

Concertgoers relax in the warm California sun as they enjoy the music at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, June 16, 2017

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Half a century ago, before the massive rave at the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), before the hipsters of Coachella, even before the legendary three days of peace, music, and love at Woodstock, there was a festival that was the opening act of the Summer of Love – The Monterey Pop Festival.

Monterey Pop was a three day music festival that began at the Monterey County Fairgrounds from June 16-18 in 1967 with its sole purpose to spread the message of peace and love and to recognize the genres of rock, folk, and psychedelic rock as artistic forms, just like Jazz and Blues.

Monterey Pop was an astonishing feat and it became a pivotal event in the lives of not only artists like Jimi Hendrix, the Mamas and the Papas, and Janis Joplin, but to the actual concertgoers with flowers in their hair. This three day wonderland was organized by Lou Adler, a famous record producer from Los Angeles, and the band the Mamas and the Papas, but what was really fascinating that in seven weeks they were able to get more than 30 performers, most who played for free and all revenue went towards charity.

The pop festival was a pioneer for the antiwar movement that spread through music and flower power which led to the country-wide migration of young liberal teens to the sunny West Coast and to cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles into what is now recognized as the Summer of Love.

Every year since the ‘67 debut, the city has hosted the same event and invited a number of artists, and with each performance a new memory was added to the history of the festival. This past June the city hosted the 50th anniversary of Monterey Pop and it brought thousands of concertgoers as well as local artists and businesses to the three day extravaganza.

To celebrate the half a century old event the performers were scheduled to do tributes of the original songs and performances and boy did they really knock the socks off people, if they even had socks at all. This year’s lineup of performers were Langhorne Slim and the Law, Dr. Dog, Jim James, Father John Misty, Regina Spektor, and Leon Bridges to name a few, but the star attractions of the festival were Norah Jones whose father, the mystical Ravi Shankar had performed in the original festival, and Eric Burdon who also performed 50 years ago with The Animals.

Each performer gave their own renditions to the tribute songs and truly made them their own all while honoring the greats that came before them. Some of the tribute songs were “For what its Worth” by Buffalo Springfield, “Piece of my Heart” and “Ball and Chain” by Janis Joplin. The festival each day began around noon and lasted all the way up to a little bit over 11 pm, with each performer getting roughly about 45 minutes to perform.

For the 50th year, the committee of organizers tried to make the Pop festival as similar as the first one and displayed across the fairgrounds there were “hippie-esque booths” along with the Morrison Hotel exhibition that housed original photographs of the historic event and the theater with groovy bean bags and the 1967 documentary of the event.

Although the price tag for this event was pretty pricey ($110 for a one day ticket), that did not prevent hoards of people from every age and background to attend this momentous event and there was a mixture of young and old, rich and poor, even people who had attended the festival in 1967, it was  a wonderful event where people came together to listen to some groovy music and spread peace and love.

The Monterey Pop Festival started the revolution against conformity and social injustices and gave way for future music festivals that the world enjoys so much. The festival has stood strong for half a century and it will be a historic event that shall live on for many years to come. Monterey Pop was an unforgettable experience in history as The Animal’s’ own Eric Burdon wrote about in his everlasting song called “Monterey”, “The people came and listened, some of them came and played, others gave flowers away, yes they did…Down in Monterey.”

By Krystal Herrera

 

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Down in Monterey…