Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, John Sebastian, seen on a lobby card for the 1971 concert film, Celebration At Big Sur, filmed September 13–14, 1969 during the 6th annual “Big Sur Folk Festival.” Other guests included Joan Baez, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Incredible String Band. Tickets were $4/day, with proceeds going to the Joan Baez Institute for the Study of Nonviolence.
Woodstock had taken place the previous month, and there are some interesting contrasts – starting with the audience size: only 15,000 people were at this one. Joni had obviously not attended Woodstock, but she introduced her song about that festival to the audience here. (She tried to lead a sing-along to it that didn’t go especially well.) While Neil Young had performed at Woodstock, he did not allow himself to be filmed. Here, however, he’s seen in a couple of numbers, including a 7-minute excerpt from a blazing CSN&Y rendition of “Down By The River.”
Epic? No, but sweetly intimate, with some terrific performances (including a surprise appearance by Traffic’s Dave Mason) and certainly a more typical reflection of the musical festival scene of the time. Well worth seeking out.
(Note that a 2010 DVD released retitled it Big Sur Celebration 1969.)
An evocative look at the end of the sixties - David Crosby, Stephen Sills, Graham Nash, Neil Young playing to a sea of hippies experiencing good and bad trips at Big Sur. Celebration at Big Sur (1971) was produced by my friend Carl Gottlieb. A fascinating document.