Woodstock NY Plays Host to a Perfect Storm of Music & Culture Anniversaries Dubbed 'Megaversary'
The 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music fest and 90th anniversary of the opening of the Colony are the main courses of this once-in-a-lifetime 'Megaversary'
Woodstock, N.Y.: Every so often there's an anniversary of a pop-culture event that not only serves as a touchstone for every living generation, but coincides with many other historic anniversaries, including one that dates back to the Silent Generation. And the kicker is this "Megaversary" is real, is all being celebrated under the banner of Woodstock, New York.
The master of ceremonies of the Megaversary was thoughtto be the 50th anniversary of Woodstock: An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music until that event was cancelled just weeks prior to when it was to be staged.
Rounding out the Megaversary, and being celebrated in Woodstock, New York, is the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Colony, the 100th anniversary of the opening of Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM), the 20th anniversary of Center of Photography at Woodstock artist-in-residence program: Woodstock AIR, and the 20th anniversary of the Woodstock Film Festival, which will be feted in early October.
Why the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and 90thanniversary of the Colony are so important is that both tie back to iconic years: 1969 and 1929. The former was the year several zeitgeist events occurred, two of which are cited in Billy Joel's post-WWII, 20th-century-recap hit "We Didn't Start the Fire" (Woodstock and man walking on the moon).
And 1929, of course, saw the end of the Roaring Twenties, the first year of the Academy Awards and, more consequential to upstate New York, the opening of Colony, the live-music venue that, along with Levon Helm Studios, is considered by many the cultural heartbeat of the Woodstock music community.
For the 90th anniversary of the Colony, owners Alexia & Neil Howard, who purchased the venue in 2015, have restored the nightspot to its Prohibition-era glory and improved on areas that demanded contemporary flourishes or weren't quite up to building code all those years ago.
For one thing, the beautiful wraparound mahogany balcony that was once the only line of defense between second-floor patrons and the spacious main floor, where legendary musicians and comedians now perform, had to be augmented with a wrought iron railing to make it safer.
"People were shorter in those days," jokes Neil, who was born just days before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and was named after the late astronaut. "We don't have many nights when it's standing room only up there, and the iron railing addition made it much safer and more comfortable for the crowds."
Another crucial alteration to Colony was to significantly upgrade the venue's sound system to maximize the sonic punch and space, so every attendee—regardless of their sightline—is able to enjoy the same, crisp audio output.
Otherwise, the Howards' goal for the Colony was to, as Neil says, "make it look like it had never closed." When the Howards acquired the Colony four years ago it had been opened only sporadically for special events, such as comedy or film festivals. From the outset, they made sure all materials and fasteners were true to the early 20th century architecture, inclusive of using gray grout, because no venue of this era would have ever using the more contemporary black and white.
Alterations to the Colony are ongoing, with tentative plans to turn the 3rd floor—previously home to hotel rooms—into natural-light-filled open spaces ideal for yoga or cooking classes.
Further, more plans are taking shape to celebrate the Colony's 90th anniversary, including a gala event in the fall, a screening of the Woodstock movie at the end of August, and other festivities to mark the occasion
Of Woodstock's many momentous years, 2019 will unquestionably prove to be among them. Recently, Fodor named the Catskills and Woodstock on their Go List of top destinations to travel in 2019, while SmartTravel.Tips named Woodstock the best place to live in New York.
Located in Woodstock, NY, the Colony is a historic live-music venue that first opened its doors in 1929. It plays host to a vast array of artists, inclusive of artists, musicians and comedians, who have lived, performed and created in this hamlet for decades. Open Thursday through Monday, the Colony has a full-kitchen and serves up a unique menu of bar-food delicacies. The space is available for weddings and private events.