By Jeanne Sager
BETHEL July 28, 2006 The second trip to Bethel will be like coming down to earth for Robby Takac.
A founding member of the chart-topping alternative rock group the Goo Goo Dolls, Takac played the former Woodstock site in 1998.
The Goos shared the stage with alternative rockers Third Eye Blind, one-hit wonders Marcy Playground and Callicoon Center resident Joan Osborne (who returned to Bethel herself in early July on tour with Phil Lesh).
But Takac called the experience surreal.
There was no facility there, it was a bunch of trailers, he recalled. No one knew what to do that day there was no process there.
Although there was an adequate system, no one was familiar with it, he continued. It sort of felt like you were sort of on a wing and a prayer!
Takac reveled in the chance to play on what he called hallowed ground, singing the Goo Goo hit of the moment Iris on the very spot where Jimi Hendrix played a historic rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.
It was there, playing on the third day of A Day in the Garden in August, that Takac met another music legend punks own Joey Ramone was recording something for a radio show on the grounds that day.
That was the first time I met him . . . aside from the time he tripped over me down in New York City, Takac recalled with a laugh.
He meant that literally Takac was hanging out in the East Village when Ramone came scrambling by, falling over the bassists legs.
Takac, lead singer and fellow founding member Johnny Rzeznik, along with drummer Mike Malinin, will return to Bethel on August 9 to play a part in the inaugural season of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
Theyre sharing top billing with The Counting Crows, a pairing thats been a big success.
We are giving people two full headline rock shows, Takac explained.
The Goos will play a 75-minute set, as will the Crows, with a 25-minute intermission to allow for a redesign of the stage.
We both travel with our own stage identity, Takac explained.
The Goos are promoting their eighth album, released in April.
Let Love In has already produced three top 40 hits the Goos cover of Supertramps Give a Little Bit hit number 1 after appearing on their Live in Buffalo album.
This tour is also a chance for the Goos to give back for the third time, theyve paired up with USA Harvest to collect food for the hungry.
It started with Rock and Wrap It Up which donated leftover food service from rock shows to food pantries in the area.
Then the Goos heard about an all-volunteer organization based in Kentucky that works with local organizations to get the food into the mouths of the people.
A national group can get food into a city, but its hard for them to know where its going to do the most good, Takac explained.
USA Harvest depends on individuals in those communities to get the food to the people who need it.
Takac puts a lot of focus on giving back he considers it his duty.
Most peoples influences end at the end of their fingers, but were lucky to have a little bit more reach, Takac explained.
A founder of Music Is Art, a non-profit in Buffalo, his hometown, that puts instruments into the hands of public schoolchildren, Takac said promoting USA Harvest is something small he can do.
All it is is two minutes of me not talking about myself, he explained. This is no time out of my day.
Its getting to a point in this country where people need to really look out for each other, he said.
After September 11, there was what Takac called a glorious time, when people stood side by side and petty differences went out the window.
Its so important for people to care, he said.
Booths collecting food will be set up at Bethel Woods on August 9, but sometimes you gotta look a little bit for them, Takac warned.
The Bethel Woods performance comes on the heels of the Goos appearances at the Jones Beach amphitheater and a performance at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Takac expects the experience will pale in comparison to their 1998 show.
Its going to be a bit more ordinary now with the amphitheater, Takac admitted. I think that having the venues all sort of be similar to each other does let you sort of know what its going to be like each night you perform, but it does take a bit of the charm.
He was happy to hear that Bethel Woods was open, however, because it will keep the spirit of Woodstock alive.
Its one of the pivotal points in music history, Takac said. And theres still music being played there.
Tickets are still on sale for the Goo Goo Dolls/Counting Crows show. The doors will open at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, August 9, with the show beginning at 7 p.m.
For information, visit www.bethelwoodslive.org. Tickets can be purchased at Steves Music Center in Rock Hill or at the Bethel Woods box office.