The Big Sur Folk Festival, 1964-1971

Richard and Mimi's first professional performance as a duo had been at the first Big Sur Festival in 1964 (mentioned in Richard's liner notes to Mark Spoelstra's album, Five and Twenty Questions). The festivals were founded by Nancy Carlen, a friend of Richard, Mimi and Joan, and she remembers those three fondly in her notes to the album One Hand Clapping. The annual event started as folk music seminars, and as they evolved into concerts, they became known as well-managed, small affairs that emphasized quality and atmosphere over publicity and commercial success. Even when big names like CSN&Y or the Beach Boys appeared, the audiences were limited to a few thousand to preserve an intimate atmosphere and human scale. Although Big Sur is now sometimes remembered as the anti-Woodstock, it was originally the anti-Newport.

Background info on the Esalen Institute:
The Esalen Institute was founded in 1962 by two psychology graduates of Stanford University. Named after a Native American tribe, the institute combined Asian religious concepts with Western humanistic psychology and sought to fuse comparative religion with art and ecology. Participants included Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley.


The First Big Sur Folk Festival
Sunday, June 21, 1964
Featuring:
Joan Baez
Roger Abraham
Nancy Carlen
Malvina Reynolds
Mark Spoelstra
Janet Smith
Mimi & Richard Fariņa

Poster by Bob Muson


Second Big Sur Folk Festival
September 13-14, 1965
Featuring:

Joan Baez
The Incredible String Band
John Sebastian
Delanie and Bonnie
Dorothy Morrison and the Comb Sisters

Poster by Bob Muson


Third Big Sur Folk Festival
Sunday, July 10, 1966
Featuring:
Joan Baez
Judy Collins
Mark Spoelstra
Malvina Reynolds
Nancy Carlen
Al Kooper
Mimi Fariņa
Panel Discussion with Ralph Gleason: "What's Happening Baby"


Fourth Big Sur Folk Festival
June 28-29, 1967
Featuring:
Joan Baez
Judy Collins
Mark Spoelstra
Jade the Mad Muse (?)
Chambers Brothers
Mimi Fariņa
Al Kooper


Fifth Big Sur Folk Festival
1968
Featuring:
Joan Baez
Judy Collins
Mimi Fariņa
Arlo Guthrie
Charles River Valley Boys


Sixth Big Sur Folk Festival
1969
Featuring:

Joan Baez
Joni Mitchell
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
John Sebastian
Johanna Demetrakas
Dorothy Morrison & the Edwin Hawkins Singers
Mimi Fariņa
Julie Payne
Ruthann Friedman
Carol Ann Cisneros
The Comb Sisters
Chris Ethridge
Flying Burrito Brothers
Struggle Mountain Resistance Band


Seventh Big Sur Folk Festival
Saturday, October 3, 1970
[Held at Monterey County Fairgrounds]
1:00pm Concert:
Beach Boys (Sloop John B, Riot in Cell Block 9, Good Vibrations)
John Phillips
Joan Baez
Merry Clayton and Love Ltd. (soul music; hour, with 25-minute instrumental set)
Kris Kristofferson (with Chris Gantry and Vince Matthews) (hour)
John Hartford (half hour)

8:00pm Concert:
Beach Boys
John Phillips
Linda Ronstadt, with Swamp Water
Mimi Fariņa & Tom Jans
Mark Spoelstra
Country Joe McDonald ("drew the strongest support of the evening show")
Tom Ghent
Joan Baez
Finale: All sing "You Ain't Going Nowhere"

Joe Cocker and Leon Russell were scheduled but not announced in order to keep audience small. Both canceled.


Eighth (and final) Big Sur Folk Festival
Saturday, September 25, 1971
Featuring:

Joan Baez
Kris Kristofferson
Mimi Fariņa and Tom Jans
Mickey Newbury
Big Sur Choir
Lily Tomlin & Larry Manson

(no posters found yet)

Epilogue: Big Sur Fair
Sunday, October 1, 1972
Monterey Fair Grounds
This fair was not produced by Nancy Carlen or Mimi. I don't know if it really had anything to to with the previous festivals; I am just including it for the sake of completeness.

Featuring:
L&B Funk Band
Zitron
Estrada Brothers
Big Sur Drums
Tiernen & Carver
Indian Dancers
Michael McIver
David Milligan
B.S. Kids Choir
Mike Kerber


Recordings from the Big Sur Folk Festivals:

Celebration at Big Sur
Film, 1971
from the 1969 festival
(not available on DVD)
Celebration
Album, 1970
from the 1970 festival
(CD released only in Europe)
One Hand Clapping
Album, 1971
from the 1971 festival
(not available on CD)


An article from the Chicago Tribune, August 22, 1971:

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