Country Joe, John Sebastian pull out of Woodstock 50 'sinking ship'

Two iconic performers of the original Woodstock are the latest to pull out of the beleaguered Woodstock 50 festival, which sources tell Variety is now tentatively scheduled to take place as a one-day event at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland.

Country Joe McDonald and John Sebastian, both of whom were scheduled to appear at Woodstock 50, told the Baltimore Sun on Monday that they will not be performing. While Sebastian said he had a scheduling conflict with another concert in the area — a source tells Variety that radius clauses have complicated matters for several performers — McDonald was more critical, saying he hasn’t heard from festival producers in weeks.

“I have no airfare booked. I have no hotels. I have nothing planned,” McDonald said. “I’m not interested in getting on a ship that’s sinking, and I don’t see any indication that this ship is not sinking.”

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Spectators attend the Woodstock 25th anniversary concert August 13, 1994 at Winston Farm in Saugerties, NY. An international media event that helped launch the careers of many gold and platinum-selling artists, the Woodstock 25th anniversary festival was attended by over 350,000 spectators and spawned a platinum-selling double, live CD and home video, as well as the highest grossing music pay-per-view broadcast in history. (Photo by Remi Benali/Liaison)
Aug 99 Bethel, New York Woodstock Anniversary. The Crowd Fills The Rolling Meadow Of Sullivan County In Front Of The Stage At The Original Woodstock Festival Site In Bethel, New York August 15. Several 1969 Artists Returned For 'A Day In The Garden' Celebrating 30 Years After The Original Festival At Max Yasgur's Farm. (Photo By Joe Traver/Getty Images)
BETHEL, NY - AUGUST 14: A plaque marks the original site location as the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival approaches August 14, 2009 in Bethel, New York. On August 15-17 in 1969 an estimated 400,000 music fans gathered on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, N.Y. for the most celebrated music festival ever. The 40th anniversary concert will take place tomorrow. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Detail view of paintings adorning a Hippies 'Magic Bus' on display as part of 'The Story of the Sixties and Woodstock' at the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a museum built on the site of the 1969 Woodstock music festival, May 28, 2008. The museum, which is schedule to open to the public on June 02, 2008, explores the experience of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, via photos, artifacts and multi-media exhibits. On August 15 to 17 August, 1969, some 500,000 spectators gathered in a field to attend the Woodstock music festival, a landmark musical display reflecting the cultural transformation of American youths at that time. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Memorabilia from the Woodstock music festival is displayed at 'The Story of the Sixties and Woodstock' on May 28, 2008 at the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a gallery built on the site of the 1969 Woodstock music festival in Bethel, New York. The museum, which is scheduled to open to the public on June 02, 2008, explores the experience of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair via photos, artifacts and multi-media exhibits. On August 15 to 17 August, 1969, some 500,000 spectators gathered in a field to attend the Woodstock music festival, a landmark musical display reflecting the cultural transformation of American youth. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
BETHEL, NY - AUGUST 12: A post of signs notes the 25th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock music and arts festival held on Max Yasger's farm in Bethel, N.Y. A free concert is being held on the site this weekend. (Photo by John Bohn/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 14: Richie Havens sits at the monument, erected in 1984, where the original Woodstock festival took place in 1969 at Bethel, N.Y. Havens was scheduled to play the 1998 Woodstock festival., (Photo by David Handschuh/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: The rock band The Who's original 'premier' bass drum skin from Woodstock Music Festival 1969 at the Rock And Roll Pop Culture Auction at Gotta Have It! store on December 4, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)
E 354803 017 26Jul99 Rome, New York The Sun Sets In The Western Sky As The Red Hot Chili Peppers Close The Woodstock Music And Arts Festival In Rome, Ny, July 25. The 30Th Anniversary Festival, In Its Third And Final Night, Was Staged At The Former Griffiss Air Force Base. (Photo By Joe Traver/Getty Images)
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McDonald said that his contract required him only to perform at the original Woodstock 50 site in Watkins Glen, New York, which pulled out of the festival several weeks ago.

A source tells Variety that the concert’s move from Upstate New York to Maryland, a distance of several hundred miles, has caused radius-clause issues for several artists who’d originally signed on to perform gigs in the Maryland area. That was the case for Sebastian, he said.

“I was with them all the way until the location changed,” he said. “And it pisses me off, because I feel like a blood brother with [Woodstock producer Michael Lang], and I would love to be able to join him.”

Headliners Jay-Z and Dead & Co., along with original Woodstock performer John Fogerty, have pulled out of the festival, and sources tell Variety that a large number of other performers are no longer planning to play.

Woodstock 50 lost its original site in Watkins Glen, New York and a second alternative in Vernon, New York due to permit issues, and now has a tentative hold on Merriweather Post. The Smashing Pumpkins are scheduled to play at Merriweather on Saturday, Aug. 17 and would have to either join the lineup or reschedule their show if it takes place over the weekend (as opposed to just Sunday; on Friday capacity at Merriweather drops to 20,000 so as not to disrupt the resident of Columbia, Maryland. Seth Hurwitz, of Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club and I.M.P. Concerts, who operates Merriweather, has been tasked with putting on the show, “if it’s real,” he told Pollstar.

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