Festivals: Soulin' at Monterey

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"I'm just blowing my mind!" cried a net-stockinged coed last week on the Monterey County Fairgrounds in California. She wasn't the only one. Around her, bedecked with beads, boots, faded Levi's, granny dresses, stovepipe hats, bells and tambourines, 50,000 members of the turned-on generation celebrated the rites of life, liberty and the pursuit of hippiness. That pursuit is by now a familiar national folkway, which, as often as not, is set to the beat of pop music. Indoors, it comes complete with pulsing lights, blinding flashes of projected photographs and whorls of smoke. Outdoors, it all seems more healthy, and in this instance, the seekers at Monterey had assembled not for a freak-out but for a tune-in—the first International Pop Festival.

The festival part was plenty festive. The throngs watched psychedelic movies, strolled through a mod midway of booths offering everything from underground buttons to paper dresses, dug the din of makeshift steel bands, and scattered over the grounds with guitars and blankets to strum, sing, socialize, or simply sleep. Onstage in the 7,000-seat arena, an English group called The Who set off smoke bombs, smashed a guitar and kicked over their drums. American Singer Jimi Hendrix topped that by plucking his guitar strings with his teeth, and for an encore set the entire instrument on fire.

Hypnotic Droning. But not all was frippery and flummery. In 25 hours of sounds during the 2½-day event, there was also a surprising proportion of inventive musicality and polished showmanship. Festival Organizers John Phillips, a member of The Mamas and The Papas, and Lou Adler, a Los Angeles record producer, persuaded more than 30 acts to perform without fee, including such high-riding successes as Lou Rawls, Simon and Garfunkel, the Jefferson Airplane, and The Mamas and The Papas. The festival's $430,000 profit from ticket sales and television rights will be distributed "for the cause of music" at the discretion of a board of governors that includes Beatle Paul McCartney, Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel, and Singer and Motown Records Executive Smokey Robinson.

The variety of performers plugging into the bank of amplifiers on the arena stage during five concerts showed how many tributaries the mixed stream of pop music draws on today—from blues (Paul Butterfield) and jazz (Trumpeter Hugh Masakela) to folk (English Singer Beverly) and country and western (Johnny Rivers). Ravi Shankar, whose classical sitar playing has been so enthusiastically applauded and imitated in the U.S. jazz and pop world that he has opened a school for Indian music in Los Angeles, had an entire concert to himself. A capacity audience sat breathlessly silent during his hypnotic droning and twanging of ancient ragas, then leaped to its feet at the end to give him one of the biggest ovations of the festival.

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