Meeting Topic: Women Who Worked at Woodstock 1969... In their own words!
Moderator Name: Dan Mortensen, Rona Elliot
Speaker Name: Ticia Bernuth Agri, Rona Elliot, Jeanne Field, Carol Green, Lisa Law, Joyce Mitchell, Gail Rodgers, Amalie Rothschild
Meeting Location: Zoom, originating from Seattle WA
PNW Section took a nostalgic trip back to 1969 with hours of personal reminiscences by a group of women who, though largely unsung, helped pull off the most famed music festival in history. A marathon 4+ hour Zoom session on August 20, 2022 combined two of the PNW Section's usual activities: a monthly Section meeting and the more casual weekly Tea Time Topics meetings. About 82 persons attended at various times, with an estimated 33 being AES members.
Much has been written, filmed and discussed about the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival in the last 53 years, but this appeared to be the first such gathering of the "Women of Woodstock" for an extended discussion. Some of these people had never met or talked together, as they all had duties during the festival - despite many reunion activities over the years. This Zoom was organized by PNW Chair Dan Mortensen and Rhoda Rosenberg, wife of Woodstock sound provider Bill Hanley, and included guests from around the world. Deftly moderated by Rona Elliot, who worked Community and Public Relations for the festival, detailed stories of these women's Woodstock experiences were told, as well as how their lives were later affected. They all had vivid memories of what they did, with many never-before-heard anecdotes, and a few tales out of school. A few men were also included in this discussion, including festival photographer Elliot Landy. Others had also told some of their Woodstock stories at several previous PNW meetings, and included sound provider Bill Hanley, site infrastructure manager Chris Langhart, Fillmore East sound engineer John Chester, and lighting designer Chip Monck.
Participants included (alphabetically):
-Ticia Agri - personal assistant to the late Michael Lang, festival visionary and organizer. She described her job as trying to get Michael to his appointments and deflecting any negativity away from him.
-John Chester - then chief sound engineer at the Fillmore East, was traveling from a Bill Graham event at Tanglewood with other Fillmore crew, and decided to drop by Woodstock and lend a hand.
-Rona Elliot, moderator - hired as publicist/PR early on by Michael Lang, and subsequently has been an archivist of the event.
-Jeanne Field - worked as a film crew assistant, with Woodstock as her first film. One early job was to get recording engineer Eddie Kramer to the site.
-Carol Green - worked as a Fillmore East candy counter girl, selling concessions, and was hired to cook offsite for the festival crew.
-Bill Hanley - hired to provide the sound system and original sound recording.
-Elliot Landy - hired as a stills photographer.
-Chris Langhart - hired to oversee building infrastructure at the site, including power, water, sanitation, staging and phones.
-Lisa Law - a member of the Hog Farm commune which had been tasked with jobs like security, but ended up organizing the free kitchen which served hundreds of thousands of free meals for the crowd. She also helped run "trip tents" for those having bad LSD trips.
-Joyce Mitchell - Michael Lang's first hire as his assistant and Woodstock Ventures office manager, taking care of business operations large and small, before, during and after the festival.
-Chip Monck - hired as the lighting designer (he also lit the Monterey Pop festival earlier), but due to well documented problems virtually no stage lighting could be built, leaving just the 12 follow spotlights. He became one of the announcers/emcees whose voice became well known in the film and albums.
-Gail Rodgers - was a Fillmore East staffer ("candy counter girl"), whom Bill Graham hired for Woodstock security, promising $100 and a place to stay. She started working security but after the festival turned free, worked backstage since gate security was no longer an issue.
-Amalie Rothschild - photographer and filmmaker, was hired with the Fillmore East's Joshua Lightshow for Woodstock, but they could only perform the first night due to stage infrastructure problems. She stayed around and ended up shooting still photos and film.
Many talked about their lives after Woodstock, some remarking about realizing what an incredible thing they were involved in. Some of the participants remarked that as soon as the sound system started up, they knew everything would be all right. 3 days of peace, love and music!
Afterwards, attendees were encouraged to unmute, tell us about themselves, tell their personal Woodstock story or otherwise chat.
A complete media links resource will be on the PNW Section website archive area.
Written By: Gary Louie