He’s the unspoken king of Woodstock.

Folk singer and guitarist Richie Havens opened the legendary 1969 festival with a marathon three hour set of acoustic folk tunes. When he ran out of material, he began improvising songs on stage. One of the improvised tunes was the celebrated song which came to be known in later years as “Freedom,” wherein Havens continuously intones the word freedom, interspersed with lines from the old spiritual “Motherless Child.” It’s pretty rad. No one who has ever seen footage of the 1969 Woodstock festival can ever forget the site and sound of the sweat-drenched Havens soulfully playing his way through that historic set, which magically captured all the idealistic hopes of the 1960s.

Many famous names have graced the stage at Grant Street, but this will be Havens’ first. Richie Havens plays Grant Street Dancehall tonight, May 6. Doors open at 7:30, concert starts at 8. Tickets are $25 at the door.

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