From the Editors: Facing the Music
Our leadership and our citizenry need to better harmonize
Peace, love, and music — such was the premise of the original Woodstock Music Festival, which ran from Friday, August, 15, 1969 through August 18, 1969 in Bethel, New York. Despite inadequate facilities and sometimes uncooperative weather, roughly 600,000 people partied until the cows came home on Max Yasgur's dairy farm in the shadows of the Catskill Mountains, thanks to an extraordinary lineup comprised of some of the period's greatest talents (including gone-too-soon legends Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix) and a good deal of psychedelic drugs. Excessive? Perhaps, but the first Woodstock is regarded as a pivotal moment in American popular culture nonetheless.
Repeated attempts to replicate the magic of the original have fallen short, most notoriously a very ugly Woodstock '99 marred by violence, fires, and rapes. This year's Woodstock 50, slated for August in Watkins Glen, N.Y., was canceled altogether after a major investor pulled out (although attempts are being made to resuscitate it). Luckily — thanks in no small part to seminal events such as Woodstock — concert-lovers have plenty of other places to go, as the festival scene is teeming in 2019. Both here in Erie and within a short distance, summer music festivals pervade the calendar, catering to nearly every taste and level of investment. In this issue's cover story, Nick Warren breaks it all down for you, with a comprehensive guide to the area fests and the vibes you might expect. Are you ready to rock (or folk, hip-hop, jam, jazz, and/or feel the bass drop)?
Others may or may not be so fortunate. On Wednesday, May 1, the Erie Downtown Development Corporation (EDDC), purchaser of eight North Park Row buildings last September, announced it would not be renewing the leases for three immigrant-owned small businesses: Khao Thai, Tandoori Hut, and Casablanca Hookah Lounge. Their ultimate fate remains to be seen — the EDDC and city officials have pledged to help the owners relocate while the buildings, in many cases underutilized and in varying states of disrepair, are renovated.
Prepping the stage for sweeping changes, such as those laid out by the Erie Refocused plan, may at times involve harsh feedback. If the show is to go on — and it will — it must include some element of audience participation. The EDDC's concert opus cannot proceed as a self-indulgent jam session; it must include at least one chorus everyone can sing along to. "A Better Erie" would be music to our ears — but we all need to know how the song goes. Dissonance is often a part of composition; wrong chords are occasionally struck for what are ultimately the right reasons. But how are they resolved?
Our leadership and our citizenry need to better harmonize — one way to do this is electing candidates that reflect your tastes. Jim Wertz and Ben Speggen preview the upcoming municipal primaries. Often ignored, these highly local elections most affect the pulse of everyday policies. As spring segues into summer, we have long days ahead of us — both in terms of work to be done and fun to be had. Whether you've invested in this town your whole life or just a short while (e.g., the five startups that chose to locate within the Erie Innovation District), we're all hoping for a spectacular encore.