Monterey International Pop Festival 50th Anniversary

Monterey International Pop Festival 50th anniversary
Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey CA
June 17-19, 2017
Photographer/Writer: Susan J Weiand

Monterey International Pop Festival, celebrating 50 years, maintained a “music, love and flowers” mindset throughout the festival grounds, with an ambiance that hearkened back to the Summer of Love. An on-site photo gallery, a tribute to the film, art exhibits and hands-on workshops also added to the scene.

It was a weekend full of big moments. Artists on this year’s lineup shared the sentiment that they were honored and inspired to represent the festival’s rich history at the 50-year celebration. They paid tribute to the 1967 performers by covering their songs, highlighted by Leon Bridges & Nathaniel Rateliff’s duet of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.”

Nicki Bluhm & Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ rendition of Big Brother and The Holding Company with Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and The Head and the Heart’s beautiful performance of The Mama’s and The Papa’s “California Dreamin” (with a surprise appearance by original member Michelle Phillips) all got the crowd roaring and bowing in gratitude.

Jack Johnson played “The Joker” by Steve Miller Band and “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix, and Hiss Golden Messenger performed “Brown-Eyed Women” by Grateful Dead. Gary Clark Jr. paid tribute to Jimi Hendrix with “Third Stone from the Sun” and Langhorne Slim performed Canned Heat’s “Going Up The County.”

Three artists who performed at the original festival in 1967, Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), Booker T. Jones (Booker T. & The MG’s), and Eric Burdon all came back to the fairgrounds to perform, as Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Booker T.’s Stax Revue, and Eric Burdon & The Animals. Norah Jones also paid tribute to the ’67 festival, nodding to her father Ravi Shankar on stage and performing a Grateful Dead cover of “Ripple.”

Jamtown’s set had everyone dancing with G. Love, Donavon Frankenreiter and Cisco Adler harmonizing and playing guitar while the latter’s father, Lou Adler, watched from the crowd.

There were also plenty of collaborations over the weekend, including Father John Misty and Nathaniel Rateliff joining Leon Bridges onstage for an epic close-out to night one and Norah Jones dueting with Jack Johnson on a stunning rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” G. Love sat in with North Mississippi AllStars and famed music photographer Danny Clinch joined in on harmonica.