Charles Jarrett was a 19-year-old college dropout living in Columbus, Ohio, and playing drums with a rock band in 1969.
In August of that year, his girlfriend and the girlfriend of a fellow band member suggested the foursome attend an “arts and crafts fair” the women had heard was scheduled to take place on a farm in upstate New York.
The four of them set off for the festival in a Volkswagen Beetle. They traveled to New York City and bought their tickets in Greenwich Village. However, by the time they arrived at Max Yasgur’s dairy fair in Bethel, those tickets would be of little value as anything other than souvenirs — the fences were down and people were streaming in by the thousands.
En route to the festival, there was little discussion of music, Jarrett said. In fact, “We didn’t even know there was going to be music,” he said.
But, oh, was there ever music.
The event, of course, was the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, known simply as Woodstock to most folks. During the sometimes-rainy weekend, a total of 32 acts, including some of the biggest names of the day — Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Grateful Dead and Santana among them — performed outdoors before an audience of nearly 500,000 in what would come to be regarded as a watershed for the counterculture generation.
Jarrett’s attendance at the festival was captured for posterity by a photographer for Life magazine. Jarrett — shirtless and wearing a sheepskin vest — is in one of the crowd photos published by the magazine in its Aug. 29, 1969, edition.
Like many others who attended Woodstock, Jarrett said he left the festival a changed person. He re-enrolled at Marshall University, where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and went on to earn his doctorate at Ohio State University. For the past 30 years, he has taught sociology at Ohio University Southern.
On Wednesday, Jarrett, brought a little bit of Woodstock to the campus of OUS, where he has taught for the past 30 years, with help from some friends and colleagues and some of the school’s fine-arts major.
A Woodstock tribute band consisting of Jarrett on drums, Catherine “Cat” Cirner on lead vocals and guitar, Phil Osborne on lead guitar, Barry Gillum on bass and keyboards and Kim Keffer on backing vocals performed two shows, at noon and 6 p.m., in the Riffe Center Main Rotunda as the fourth program in the 2014 OUS Kennedy Lecture Series.
According to Jarrett, the series is designed to encourage students and faculty to work together to produce programs. The noon performance was also part of OUS’ Wednesday “brown bag” series of lunchtime concerts, Jarrett said.
The group kicked off the noon set with the counterculture anthem “For What It’s Worth,” originally performed by Buffalo Springfield, and segued from that into Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With.” Undergraduate Michelle Dotts joined the band onstage to belt out a soulful version of “Me and Bobby McGee.”
The event even featured “protesters” — students clad in period hippie garb — who marched through the rotunda carrying signs and chanting “Make art, not war!”
Jarrett also challenged popular misconceptions of Woodstock through critical dialogue with the audience and invited audience members onstage to win prizes by answering Woodstock trivia questions.
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or