The iPad was made for apps such as Dan Garson’s Woodstock Experience. As a photography and music-obsessed 17-year-old from New Haven, CT, Garson snagged press credentials and attended the now legendary “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music.” This app shares what he saw during that time.
DGWE reconstructs Garson’s long, strange trip to Max Yasgur’s farm with diary entries, various ephemera, as well as the coup de grace: a photo gallery featuring the images he shot during the festival’s run.
DGWE captures so much more than pictures of rock legend Jimi Hendrix, though the pictures of Hendrix are so beautiful it hurts to look at them for long. It provides an unmediated look back at a young man’s gutsy adventure at the mother of all all rock festivals.
Even now, more than 40 years after the original festival, Woodstock needs Dan Garson’s fresh perspective. There is barely a soul in this country who is old enough to drink, vote, or even drive that hasn’t heard about Woodstock. Were I to conduct a man-on-the-street style poll, public opinion would surely reveal that our ideas about Woodstock are both cemented and stale.
Rona Elliot’s essay and gallery text provide the app with much needed context. Especially since Garson’s story — went to Woodstock, took some photos, put them in my parent’s basement — is cut off much too soon, as we learn Garson passed away from cancer suddenly at 40. Without the passion of Garson’s co-worker, this story might have stayed buried in Garson family home permanently.
Though the project was released as a printed book in 2009, viewing Garson’s story on the iPad is unparalleled. The app includes narration by Elliot and a member of the Garson family. Users have the freedom to zoom in on photos and other included images, as well as the ability to view the photos as a grid.
Perhaps the most important angle to Garson’s story is the one that will likely get the least attention: Garson himself. An everyman who modestly executes an extraordinary feat, Garson was just a kid who’d spent his Bar Mitzvah cash on a Brownie camera, yet he bootstrapped his way into the front row of the biggest festival in history. Woodstock may still be for hippies, but Garson — though he eschewed the festival’s drugs and quaintly tries to ignore the naked girls — is punk rock. Garson blends insatiable curiosity with unabashed innocence and though his life may never become a Hollywood movie, a la Cameron Crowe, it is no less important or compelling.
Download Dan Garson’s Woodstock Experience from the App Store for $9.99.
What I liked: Dan Garson’s Woodstock Experience was a pleasure to peruse. It peels back the layers of overexposure that Woodstock has suffered to tell a story worth knowing.
What I didn’t like: Nothing. It’s obvious that this app was a labor of love, and that sentiment pervades as the user enjoys it.
To buy or not to buy: At $9.99 Dan Garson’s Woodstock Experience is on the pricier end of the App Store’s offerings. However, this book app does not disappoint. It is sure to appeal to music lovers, 20th Century history buffs, or anyone who can still keep his cynicism in check long enough to watch one young man’s dream come true.
- App Name: Dan Garson’s Woodstock Experience
- Version Reviewed: 1.0.7
- Category: Books
- Developer: love you live digital arts
- Price: $9.99