Woods of Dartmouth Pop Music Festival, 1970

Woods of Dartmouth Pop Music Festival, 1970
Authored By John Nicholson

With so many students making up much of the regular festival crowds, it was inevitable that college’s would seek to put on their own gigs too, organised by students.

Of course, many college principals were against the kids getting their groove on and this led to stand-offs between student entertainment committees and the squares. Inevitably though, there were always some staff who felt the kids should be allowed to celebrate their new and groovy culture and thus one way or another, a show was put on. The fear of a massive drugs freak-out and that there’d be people getting it on in the streets, was ever present with the older generation but it was almost always overblown and an overreaction. 

So it was in early May of 1970 when UMass Dartmouth hosted an outdoor music festival that attracted over 100,000 hairy freakers to the campus. Held in a field by Cedar Dell Pond the “Woods of Dartmouth,” was obviously modeled after Woodstock (which festival wasn’t after 1969?!) and it was organized by students, so obviously it lost money, where the money went, well who knows man, we ain't no bread heads, dude. Money is like the wind, it’s everywhere and nowhere, baby. 

However, they did sell a lot of tickets at just $3 per day and put together three days of great bands. On May 1st: Transition, Ides of March, Ten Wheel Drive, Rhinoceros and The Neptunes played;  Ten Wheel Drive was reported as going down an absolute storm. Always loved them. Genya Ravan‎ was a helluva singer.

For May 2nd’s show, they managed to book Crosby, Stills, and Nash! (maybe that’s where the money went? They can’t have been cheap) Also on the bill were  The Jefferson Thomas Show, The Byrds, Country Funk, Transition (again), Street Scene, The Neptunes, Spring Flood, Eastern Sound Company, Federation Nyne, Tombstone Blues; 

The final day featured Fleamarket, Guess Who, Manfred Mann, Orpheus, Street Scene, Grand Funk Railroad, Benefit Street. 

Reports suggest the Guess Who took away the honours as best band of the festival. They had released American Woman two months earlier and it was already a big hit on FM radio, also making 49 on the Billboard 100. 

The weather was not the best but it is fondly remembered all the same. There were many of these college organised festivals which did much to perpetuate the scene and grow the culture of rock and roll. 

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