by Dan Martinsen
There will be three days of peace and music taking place August 18 through 20, almost 48 years to the exact weekend of the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969. There will be yoga and meditation—maybe even a sighting of “Mud People,” depending on the weather. Just don’t expect any announcements warning about “brown acid” at the second annual Lovelight Yoga + Arts Festival, in Darlington, Maryland, the brainchild of original Woodstock producer Michael Lang. His goal, along with partners’ musician Wynne Paris and event producer Kim Maddox, is to channel the spirit and activism from the original Woodstock, minus the alcohol and drugs.
“We wanted to create an event based on the values of that generation but to make it appropriate for families,” Lang, now 72, said in a recent telephone interview. “This event isn’t just for millennials, it’s multigenerational—and we want everyone to feel comfortable and safe when they come, and for their peace of mind we decided to keep it alcohol-free.” He added, the festival will also be meat-free, as food vendors at the event, which is being held at Camp Ramblewood for the second straight year, will offer healthy vegan foods, drinks and snacks.
Nearly lost in the lore of the performances from the original Woodstock was the key role that yoga played, and how the event introduced yoga into the country’s mainstream consciousness. On the encouragement of artist Peter Max, Lang had His Holiness Sri Swami Satchidananda open the festival. Additionally, every morning and between musical sets, Tom Law (aka the Hog Farmer) gave yoga lessons to the more than 400,000 people that attended.
Paris, 52, says that about 1,300 people attended the inaugural Lovelight Festival last year, and while he and Lang would be happy for a repeat of that, they believe attendance could increase by 20 to 30 percent this August. The longer-term plan is to expand with other festivals in different parts of the country. Paris said one is already scheduled for Sarasota, Florida, in December. Separately, Lang is also working on a 50th anniversary Woodstock festival for 2019. Lang, whose wife is a yoga instructor, says he practices a “milder” form that helps him stay in shape.
Among the eclectic lineup of more than 30 musical acts scheduled to perform on Lovelight’s three stages are Grammy-nominated kirtan master Krishna Das, Trevor Hall, Tina Malia, MC Yogi and DJ Shango. And in a more direct nod to the original Woodstock lineup, there will be a Grateful Dead tribute band (On the Bus) performing. Lang is also working on some additional “surprise” musical guests. More than 40 workshops will be incorporated into six themed villages on-site, including one village specifically for children and families, where participants can take classes, experience artists, receive healing massages or practice meditation. The full festival lineup and ticket information is available at LoveLightFestival.com.
Paris, who has shared the stage with everyone from Krishna Das to the Dalai Lama to Mike D from the Beastie Boys, approached Lang a number of years ago about developing a festival that took the concept of the emerging transformational festivals like Burning Man but to make it more inclusive. “Yoga is the central poll to the three-ring tent that is the Lovelight Festival,” says Paris. “We are serving separate generations, beginning with the original Woodstock generation to today’s youth culture in their 20s. It will be a spectacle that includes beat poets, fire dancing, drum circles and DJs. We will feature two genres of music not yet in the mainstream—Medicine Music and IDM (Intelligent Dance Music). This is not your mom’s yoga class, but there will be a lot of moms and kids there.”
“One of the highlights for me last year was seeing how few people were on their phones,” says Lang. “It was surprising and inspiring. You go to most musical festivals today and half the people are taking selfies and videos. Lovelight allows different generations to connect spiritually in a way that promotes community, consciousness and activism. Woodstock was a time when we came together as a counterculture to celebrate the ideas we were trying to propagate and to recharge, and I think this generation of youth shares those values. There are such big things at stake for the future health of our planet, and it is critical that young people be part of the solution.”
Dan Martinsen is a freelance writer and strategic communications consultant. He is a former executive vice president of communications for Viacom’s Kids’ and Family Group.