The following text appeared in a flyer published for the Toronto stop of the Festival Express, June 27 and 28, 1970. No byline was printed and the source is unknown.
ROLLIN' ROCKThe last big project of producers Ken Walker, Thor and George Eaton was the first major Revival of Rock 'N' Roll. Now they're doing the first Rolling Rock show, Festival Express 1970.
Stretching railroad steel across Canada wasn't easy but it linked the country together with vital communications. Getting Festival Express rolling hasn't been without its problems either. But Eaton Walker Associates Ltd. believing Rock to be the vital communication of today pushed ahead, with the moral and financial support of Maclean Hunter Ltd., another Canadian company that believes communication is vital.
Following the two day CNE stadium Festival in Toronto June 27 and 28, it's all aboard for Winnipeg and the July Festival in Winnipeg Stadium where the show is presented by Manisphere. Across the prairies to Calgary then for the windup Festival Express July 4 & 5.
IMAGINATIVEThe Festival Express has been called the most imaginative concept in pop music history. It's also been called a number of other things. An Alberta columnist referring to the "Calgary Clambake" wrote "In the U.S. the direct legacy of the so called rock festivals has been murder, rape, drug peddling, drug addiction, seduction, and in the city proper, a tremendous increase in car thefts, hold ups and street assaults. Name any vice listed on the calendar of a modern decadent society, and it will flourish into full bloom a rock festival."
The three youthful principals of Eaton Walker were also producers of 1969's two major pop festivals, Rock 'N' Roll Revival and Toronto Pop Festival.
KEPT THE PEACEHere's a few excerpts from press comment on those shows: "at the city's first mammoth pop festival, a two-day celebration of triumphant, happy sounds, the kids-50,000 a them-kept the peace. They flocked into Varsity Stadium, 25,000 seat football field in the centre of the city, decked out in their beads and brocade, striped pants, buckskin jackets ant graceful Victorian shawls, in orange and purple and yellow sunglasses with two-inch wide lenses, in culottes and bell bottoms and microskirts, in every shade across the rainbow from salmon pink to Grannie Smith apple green. They came and sat on the grass and in the stadium's seats and they radiated good, warm vibrations that lasted the entire weekend." —The Canadian Magazine.
SMOOTHLY PRODUCED"The Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival, Saturday at Varsity Stadium was the most exciting, most beautiful event to have hit Toronto since the Pop Festival They promised Kim Fawley, as emcee. They promised The Doors, Filmmaker Leacock Pennebaker, Lord Sutch, Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band,..everyone of them happened. Seasoned by the Pop Festival, the organization was smooth and without hassles." —Globe and Mail.
"In all ways, Toronto's Pop Festival was a winner. There were no incidents between police and crowds, which have marred similar U.S. pop festivals; no on-stage obscenity (which city hall feared and, consequently, had withheld its whole support); and no third-rate music. The police were competent and, mainly, sympathetic and the audience respected them. What the festival achieved was the unique gathering of Toronto - and North American - youth in one place to hear an unusually wide cross-section of con-temporary music. It may also have been the final emergence of pop as an important Canadian cultural activity." —Winnipeg Tribune.
STADIUM HERE FIRSTContrary to earlier incorrect statements published in the press stating that local citizens around McMahon Stadium were forming vigilante groups to block the festival in Calgary, the feelings of that city were expressed by one middle aged man in this way.
"There is certainly the possibility of problems for us because we live so close to the stadium, but we have to remember the stadium was here before we were and that many of us take advantage of it for other events. I notice a lot of people who go across the road with me to football games, and we usually have a little nip of rum. Some of us sometimes have too much maybe, but we raise hell for a few hours and have a lot of fun."
"That's our kind of entertainment" he continued, "and I don't think we have, any right-especially after hearing the precautions that have been taken-to condemn this kind of entertainment."
MONTREAL SEPARATESActually the Montreal cancellation came about because of the intervention of a few civic authorities: To quote a Toronto paper: "Evidently there was fear that holding a pop festival with an expected attendance of 30,000 on the same day as the St. Jean-Baptist parade would invite violence."
Montreal papers expressed the sentiment that it was not for Montreal politicians to decide for its citizens who could participate in holiday activities. A French language Montreal paper also noted that there is no evidence of a relationship between recent bombings and the people who traditionally attend pop festivals.
All groups booked for Montreal will be paid. All advance ticket money will be refunded, All Quebec kids will get a-warm BIENVENU at other Festivals.
CROSSROADSToronto's Globe and Mail in an editorial said that the pop festival phenomenon "seems to have arrived at the critical point which will determine whether it survives or vanishes". Will society quietly throttle it, the paper asks, or "will we accept it as inevitable and devise ways of accommodating it?"
The answer may be summed up in this excerpt from Weekend Magazine, 1969:
It seems to me that you can tell a lot about a city by the sound of it, both the noise and the music the people make. In this issue we feature "the Toronto sound" (page 6) and if you area rock music fan you'll know about that. So maybe you don't like rock. The fact remains, as the picture with this column shows, that thousands on thousands of young people do. The kind who accept the electronic age automatically, born to it, geared to it.
"That this should happen in Toronto doesn't surprise me. The old sedate Toronto, the Sunday-quiet Toronto is now a boyhood memory of middle-aged men. Today's Toronto moves to a raucous rhythm, a young rhythm. It is the kind of beat that says 'this town is alive, this city is a city.'"
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