Festival Friday: The Texas International Pop Festival

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On the Labor Day Weekend of 1969, just two weeks after Woodstock, many of the same artists showed up to the Dallas International Motor Speedway to play the Texas International Pop Festival to over 100,000-120,000 people.

Much like Woodstock, the festival is remembered for beating the odds and remaining peaceful despite the worries of the locals. Apparently, the town’s chief of police was initially displeased by the idea of the festival until the audience’s profoundly good behavior moved him to the point of coming to the stage and give a little speech of praise.

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Other similarities to Woodstock include the participation of Wavy Gravy and The Hog Farm, Chip Monck serving as the MC and sets by Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, The Incredible String Band, Santana, Sweetwater, Sly and The Family Stone and Ten Years After. That summer hosted many, many festivals and it was just another stop on the tour for these artists, so their set lists are pretty similar to what they performed at Bethel earlier that month.

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However it’s the eclecticism of the other artist on the bill that is really intriguing.

Just imagine hearing Jazz-fusion flautist Herbie Mann hit the stage between R&B duo Sam & Dave and Led Zeppelin. It just staggers the musical imagination. led_zeppelin_robert_plant_1969_by_mike_porter

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The Zeppelin set is really damn good and particularly noteworthy for this era of their career for diehards. “Dazed and Confused” is particularly good here. It’s kind of odd hearing Chip Monck introduce them as “THE Led Zeppelin,” though.

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Only one death occurred (reportedly due to heat stroke) and there was one recorded birth as well. Unlike many festivals then and now, though, it somehow didn’t even rain.

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It’s a shame how little this festival has remained in the public consciousness over the years. It seems like a great show that changed some minds and turned some heads in the conservative South at a very divisive time for the whole country. Like I said previously, the fact that it was just one of many festivals held that summer and the lack of any officially released audio and video are what’s to blame for the TIPF staying in obscurity.

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At least, by 2011, a historical marker was placed by the state to commemorate the event (even if the original site is completely covered by businesses and homes).

Who Played:

  • Grand Funk Railroad** (According to Wikipedia, they opened all three days)
  • Canned Heat
  • Chicago (known then as Chicago Transit Authority)*
  • James Cotton Blues Band*
  • Janis Joplin
  • B.B. King**
  • Herbie Mann*
  • Rotary Connection
  • Sam & Dave*
  • Delaney & Bonnie & Friends*
  • The Incredible String Band
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Santana
  • Johnny Winter
  • Nazz
  • Sly and The Family Stone
  • Spirit
  • Sweetwater
  • Ten Years After
  • Tony Joe White
  • Space Opera

(Crosby Stills, Nash & Young are featured on some posters but did not perform)

*=Played sets on two days of the festival

**=Played sets everyday of the festival

Video:

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The festival was filmed and edited for a documentary. It has never been officially released and some have said that it wasn’t officially completed either. However, prints of it have been bootlegged over the years in varying quality. There are a few different uploads of the film on YouTube that seem to have a few added tracks thrown in on top of still images (probably by the bootleggers themselves).

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This one seems to be the best version that is currently on YouTube:

This features clips of Janis, GFR, Zeppelin, Canned Heat and many others as well as interviews and some intermingling with the audience.

It’s a shame that the quality for this footage is almost always muddy and slightly garbled; there are some excellent performances here.

Audio:

Luckily, it seems that nearly the entire festival was recorded, yet somehow no audio from that weekend has appeared on anything other than bootlegs.

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However, bootleggers have done a great job with releasing material from the festival through stand-alone sets by individual bands and wide-encompassing, various artist box sets. Luckily for those of us who want to hear these recordings, you can track down (surprisingly decent quality) audio of full and partial sets on YouTube. Here’s a selection of some of my favorites:

 

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Next week, we’re going to take you down to a festival where nothing is real.  

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