A bevy of events throughout the summer hope to wax nostalgic about the landmark Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, which drew at least 36,000 people to the Mountain Play's home Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre on June 10-11, 1967. That event, which pre-dated the Monterey International Pop Festival and Woodstock, featured performances from The Doors, The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Hugh Masekela, Canned Heat, Dionne Warwick, Country Joe and the Fish and many more.
But in a creative twist, on June 9 the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts' "Art Film Friday" series is serving up a prequel of sorts to that famous summer, screening Mill Valley filmmaker Eric Christensen's "Trips Festival" documentary, which chronicled the sprawling psychedelic event that took place in January 1966 in San Francisco’s Longshoreman’s Hall.
“It was the proverbial lightning bolt that hit the primordial soup," the film's narrator, Peter Coyote, says in the documentary’s opening lines. "Just the right ingredients, just the right spark to create a new life form. This one event gave birth to a new idea, and all were invited to join. A mix of music, lights and entertainment, a happening both planned and unplanned that would evolve into the way entertainment would be presented from that time forward.”
Through a series of interviews with the likes of Bob Weir, Mountain Girl and festival mastermind Stewart Brand, Christensen’s film explains why a crazed event with 10,000 folks on LSD was able to work: it was organized and run by some very bright and innovative people. Indeed, the alumni from the Trips Festival would go on to play vital roles in communes, Sierra Club, develop the Whole Earth Catalog, create the influential online group, The Well and more. Bill Graham got some real experience and, Oh yeah, those Grateful Dead guys did okay, too.
‘It was a breakthrough event in that it was the first time you paid as much attention to what was going on in the audience as you did on stage,” Christensen recalled. In telling the Trips story, he assembled footage and photos from the Trips Festival, the Human Be-In, the Beat scene and other historic events, including sound recordings from the Acid Tests, one of which was staged in Muir Beach.”
The 411: Art Film Friday - "Trips Festival," a documentary by Eric Christensen, screens Friday, June 9, 7pm at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts, 616 Throckmorton Ave. Tix are $10. Christensen will be on hand for a post-screening conversation. MORE INFO & TIX.