50 years ago this sum­mer

Mu­sic fes­ti­vals from the Mon­terey Pop to On­tario’s Mari­posa, a cel­e­bra­tion of much more than just mu­sic

Midtown Post - - Arts -

Fifty years ago a dec­la­ra­tion was made. Peo­ple didn’t trust their lead­ers, they op­posed wars in foreign lands that didn’t seem to have any end or pur­pose and thought it was time to get back to what they be­lieved in: a little peace, love and un­der­stand­ing. It was to be the Sum­mer of Love, and it kicked off 50 years ago in Jan­uary of 1967 at the Hu­man Be-In in San Fran­cisco when Ti­mothy Leary fa­mously asked ev­ery­one to “Turn on, tune in and drop out.”

It was also the sum­mer of flower chil­dren, of hip­pies, Hair and mu­sic at events such as the Mon­terey Pop Fes­ti­val where peo­ple had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­press their col­lec­tive feel­ings of dis­en­fran­chise­ment in a num­ber of novel and some­times phar­ma­ceu­ti­cally driven ways.

And that feel­ing of peace and love drifted north of the bor­der where our own mu­si­cal tra­di­tion was al­ready tak­ing hold. The Yorkville folk scene was the talk of the town with cof­fee houses such as the Pur­ple Onion ush­er­ing forth mu­si­cians such as Buffy Sainte Marie and Gor­don Light­foot. There was even a bona fide love-in at Queen’s Park in May of 1967 at­tended by thou­sands.

The Mari­posa Fes­ti­val was es­tab­lished in the early ’60s in Oril­lia but was given the boot by the gen­tle towns­folk, and it moved fur­ther south to Cale­don and on to Cen­tre Is­land for its hip­pie hey­day, when ev­ery­one from Bob Dy­lan to Joni Mitchell and Leonard Co­hen hit the main­stage while flower chil­dren beat their bon­gos and passed their pot­fu­elled peace pipes in rel­a­tive pri­vacy.

In 1999, the event was held in Park­dale be­fore mov­ing back home to the shores of Lake Couch­ich­ing in Oril­lia.

Toronto has seen some in­cred­i­ble sum­mer fes­ti­vals over the years from the John Len­non–driven Rock and Roll Re­vival fes­ti­val in 1969 to the sum­mer mu­sic events of to­day, such as this month’s Field Trip at Fort York and the in­ti­mate Camp Wave­length on Cen­tre Is­land and many more. Fifty years later, we could all use a little bit of that Sum­mer of Love magic.

The Rock and Roll Re­vival con­cert fea­tured Yoko Ono and John Len­non

Bob Dy­lan at Mari­posa Fes­ti­val on Cen­tre Is­land

Joni Mitchell

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