Raconteurs, Country Joe, John Sebastian Pull out of Woodstock 50 ‘Sinking Ship’

UPDATED: Two iconic performers of the original Woodstock and Jack White’s Raconteurs are the latest to pull out of the beleaguered Woodstock 50 festival, which sources tell Variety is now tentatively scheduled to take place as a one-day event at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland.

Country Joe McDonald and John Sebastian, both of whom were scheduled to appear at Woodstock 50, told the Baltimore Sun on Monday that they will not be performing. While Sebastian said he had a scheduling conflict with another concert in the area — a source tells Variety that radius clauses have complicated matters for several performers — McDonald was more critical, saying he hasn’t heard from festival producers in weeks.

“I have no airfare booked. I have no hotels. I have nothing planned,” McDonald said. “I’m not interested in getting on a ship that’s sinking, and I don’t see any indication that this ship is not sinking.”

McDonald said that his contract required him only to perform at the original Woodstock 50 site in Watkins Glen, New York, which pulled out of the festival several weeks ago.

Later Tuesday, the Jack White’s group the Raconteurs confirmed that they have officially dropped out of the festival. “Unfortunately, the Raconteurs will no longer be playing Woodstock 50,” a rep for the band told Variety. In lieu, they are heading to Niagara Falls to headline The Rapids Theatre on August 16th!”

A source tells Variety that the concert’s move from Upstate New York to Maryland, a distance of several hundred miles, has caused radius-clause issues for several artists who’d originally signed on to perform gigs in the Maryland area. That was the case for Sebastian, he said.

“I was with them all the way until the location changed,” he said. “And it pisses me off, because I feel like a blood brother with [Woodstock producer Michael Lang], and I would love to be able to join him.”

Headliners Jay-Z and Dead & Co., along with original Woodstock performer John Fogerty, have pulled out of the festival, and sources tell Variety that a large number of other performers are no longer planning to play.

Woodstock 50 lost its original site in Watkins Glen, New York and a second alternative in Vernon, New York due to permit issues, and now has a tentative hold on Merriweather Post. The Smashing Pumpkins are scheduled to play at Merriweather on Saturday, Aug. 17 and would have to either join the lineup or reschedule their show if it takes place over the weekend (as opposed to just Sunday; on Friday capacity at Merriweather drops to 20,000 so as not to disrupt the resident of Columbia, Maryland. Seth Hurwitz, of Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club and I.M.P. Concerts, who operates Merriweather, has been tasked with putting on the show, “if it’s real,” he told Pollstar.



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