The Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music from 1969-1970 is being released as a 3-CD boxed set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the counterculture era music festival. Following a smaller edition on June 28, 1969 within the city of Bath, U.K., featuring Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin, among others, the organizers held the second one at the Royal Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England on June 27-29, 1970, where Pink Floyd, Santana, and others appeared, along with the returning Led Zeppelin.
It’s available to order here; see the track listing below.
The 1970 festival started at midday on Saturday, June 27 and finished at about 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning. A DJ played records for early arrivers from the Friday evening and continued to do so between many of the sets until the end. The festival featured a line-up of the top British and west coast American bands of the day, that also included Hot Tuna, Country Joe McDonald, Colosseum, the Byrds (acoustic set), Dr. John (acoustic set), Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Canned Heat, It’s a Beautiful Day, Steppenwolf, Johnny Winter, John Mayall with Peter Green, Fairport Convention, Keef Hartley, and others.
Watch some silent from the festival of a Robert Plant lookalike
Though the line-up approached the level of the more famous Isle of Wight Festival held in August of the same year, it attracted less press coverage at the time and has generally received less attention in the years since.
Both editions of the Bath Festival were the brainchild of promoter Freddy Bannister and his wife Wendy. The 1970 show attracted a significantly larger crowd, estimated at 150,000, than the 1969 debut, which created some serious on-ground difficulties. The logistics proved to be too vast for the Bannisters’ small team to adequately cope with, and the security staff stole large amounts of gate receipts, resulting in a far smaller profit than expected.
Watch some more (silent) footage from the 1970 festival
Getting to the festival became a problem for many fans. The country roads were blocked by cars, and many of the bands’ equipment trucks could not get to the site. On Sunday morning, Donovan walked onto the empty stage to address the bored crowd who were drying out from the overnight rain.
The audience wasn’t there to see a folk singer, and he engaged in a bit of small talk, stalling for time. When he reportedly played “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” it apparently raised the crowd’s enthusiasm and he continued with some of his classics like “Mellow Yellow’ and “Sunshine Superman.” Donovan’s impromptu performance and stall tactics eventually helped to fill several hours.
The festival was seriously behind schedule and many of the bands ultimately performed to smaller crowds in the early hours of Monday morning. Not unlike Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock a year earlier, the last act, Dr. John, hit the stage at dawn.
The limited edition box set contains three CDs featuring restored recordings from both festivals, a numbered certificate signed by Wendy Bannister, 1969 and 1970 program reproductions, tickets for both festivals. reproduction posters for both festivals, and a 16-page anniversary book with text written by Freddie Bannister, along with photos.
Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music ’69-70 50th Anniversary Box Set Tracklist
1. Ten Years After – I Woke Up This Morning 2. Ten Years After – Good Morning Little Schoolgirl 3. Blodwyn Pig – Ain’t Ya Comin’ Home 4. Blodwyn Pig – Cats Squirrel 5. Taste – Same Old Story 6. Colosseum – Walking in the Park 7. Fleetwood Mac – Blues Jam 8. Fleetwood Mac – So Many Natural Ways 9. Fleetwood Mac – Red Hot Mama 10. The Nice – Karelia Suite 11. The Nice – She Belongs To Me
1. Donovan – Mellow Yellow 2. Steppenwolf – Sookie Sookie 3. Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild 4. Johnny Winter – Guess I’ll Go Away 5. Johnny Winter – Johnny B Goode 6. Johnny Winter – Have You Ever Been Mistreated 7. The Byrds – Rock n Roll Star 8. The Byrds – Bugler 9. The Byrds – Black Mountain Rag 10. The Byrds – Mr Tambourine Man 11. The Byrds – Antique Sandy 12. The Byrds – You Ain’t Going Nowhere 13. The Byrds – Baby Do You Want Me to Do
1. John Mayall – It Might As Well Be Raining 2. John Mayall – Crazy Woman 3. Canned Heat – Reefer Blues 4. Canned Heat – Something’s Gotta Go 5. Frank Zappa – Mom And Dad 6. Country Joe – Silver and Gold 7. Country Joe – Martha Lorraine 8. Country Joe – Fixing to Die Rag 9. Santana – Black Magic Woman 10. Santana – Incident at Neshabur 11. It’s A Beautiful Day – White Bird