A musical tip of the hat to the festival that never happened


Take a trip back in time this weekend to the festival that never happened.

The 50th Anniversary of the Powder Ridge Festival will be Saturday, the same date and with the same ticket price as the 1970 festival at the Middlefield ski resort.

And this festival will go on, and bring live music back to the resort in a time when music fans are craving the tunes.

The 1970 Powder Ridge Rock Festival was canceled by a legal injunction when the town worried about the mass of concert-goers scheduled to show up. A crowd of 30,000 still showed up for the event, much to the dismay of local officials.

The festival had scheduled three days of music featuring performers Eric Burdon and War, Sly and the Family Stone, Fleetwood Mac, Mountain, James Taylor, Joe Cocker, Allman Brothers, Van Morrison, Jethro Tull, Janis Joplin, Grad Funk Railroad, and Richie Havens. Most of the performers heard of the strife in Connecticut and didn’t show up. At the time, music festivals were associated with the hippie movement and counterculture and communities were worried about crowds coming to town.

Presence CT, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, will perform Saturday at the Powder Ridge Festival , which salutes the 50th anniversary of the original festival in Middlefield that didn’t happen as planned.

Singer-songwriter Melanie was also on the bill at the first festival, and was one of few performers who did arrive on site 50 years ago. The folk legend, who performed at Woodstock, was best known for her 1972 hit “Brand New Key.” Melanie was the only national artist to ignore the court injunction banning the festival. She played for the crowd on a homemade stage powered by Mister Softee trucks.

An Aug. 3, 1970 article in the New York Times describes the event as not as memorable as Woodstock:

“What struck observers that had been both places, however, was not the visible differences but the contrasting mood or spirit of the two festivals. The gentle euphoria – the grins, the small smiles and exchanged ‘V’signals – of people milling though muddy fields of Bethel seemed to be missing at Powder Ridge.”


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Unlike its predecessor, the 2020 festival will go on, and will pay homage to the original festival with two performers. The 70s Project will play an unplugged show at 4 p.m. with songs from the era of the original festival. At 8 p.m., Presence CT, a Led Zeppelin tribute, will take the stage to perform note-for-note versions of Zeppelin classics.

Tickets are $20 for lawn seats. Kids ages 5 and younger are free. Bring blankets and chairs for the lawn, which has plenty of room for social distancing. No outside food or beverage is allowed.

For information, visit powderridgepark.com/event/powder-ridge-festival-2020.

NEW SHOW: Nick Fradiani will perform an outdoor live show with The Alternate Routes on Aug. 28 at the Ridgefield Playhouse. Tickets are on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at ridgefieldplayhouse.org.

Connecticut’s Nick Fradiani, a winner of ‘American Idol,’ will perform an outdoor live show with The Alternate Routes on Aug. 28 at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield.

Nick Fradiani rose to fame on “American Idol,” claiming the champion title, and releasing his debut solo project, “Hurricane.” The Guilford native recently played Lorenzo in the North American tour of the smash Broadway musical “A Bronx Tale,” which stopped at Waterbury’s Palace Theater.

The Alternate Routes bring their folk-tinged rock sound to the show. Comprised of vocalist Tim Warren and guitarist Eric Donnelly, the Connecticut natives have collaborated with a wide range of artists including singer-songwriter Patti Griffin, director Lisa Cholodenko and guitarist Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket. They’ve performed on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” and have been repeat guests on NPR’s “Mountain Stage.”

This event is rain or shine. This concert will be seated under a tent with a start time of 7 p.m. on The Ridgefield Playhouse field, 80 East Ridge St., Ridgefield.


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JAM FOR JERRY: A “Very Jerry Jam” will be Saturday in Southington. Rob Glassman Band and Legion of Jerry will team up for a double bill on the patio at Crystal Bees with the music starting at 6 p.m.

The performance will feature the music of Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead and the music they covered.

Crystal Bees is located at 240 Spring St., Southington. Call 860-276-2337.

THIS WEEK IN ROCK: On this day in 1975, The Eagles scored its second number one hit, “One of These Nights,” which was written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey.

Send your music news and happenings to [email protected] or see @kellie3lambert on Twitter.


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