Mace Hathaway playing Americana music Friday at The Stable – The Pantagraph

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Mace Hathaway performing at Jon Griffin’s Summer Solstice Super Jam in 2018 in Decatur Illinois.
The Highway (Hathaway)
This Ol’ Bar Room (Hathaway)
Eagle River Rapids (Hathaway)
Waltz of the Rodeo Clown (Hathaway)
Old Dawgs and Hobo’s (Hathaway)
Trouble County Line (Hathaway DDR)
Copper Coil Daydream (Hathaway DDR)
No Love Today-(cover by Chris Smither)
Don’t Know How To Change (Bezy/Costello/Hathaway)
Bight Of the Bend (Hathaway)
Whisky Again (Hathaway with Mike Tasch on Melodica)
Train Song (Hathaway)
The Cape- (Cover by Guy Clark)
The Traveler (Hathaway)
Wrong Side Of The Woods (Hathaway/Bezy)
Boxcar Blues (Hathaway)
She’s My World (Hathaway)
This Here Stretch of Road (Hathaway)
Born For The Storm (Bezy/Bezy/Hathaway)
Origin Of Species (Cover by Chris Smither)
BLOOMINGTON — Mace Hathaway said his song repertoire is like trail mix: “A whole bunch of stuff held together with some hippie spit.”
That ball of music is built of 200 original songs he’s written, plus a bit of “old-timey” country music and Grateful Dead covers.
The former “roadie” moved to Mason City over the summer, and is headed for an opening set Friday at The Stable in Bloomington. Hathaway will be supporting Chicago bluegrass band Miles Over Mountains.
As he was getting ready to drive back to Illinois on Sunday, Hathaway told me he just “snatched up all these suitcases and briefcases of all my songs” so he could digitize them.
Mace Hathaway, of Mason City, performs August 2022 at Bourbon On Division in Chicago.
While the music is all his, Hathaway said some of the songs are other people’s stories that he just put a melody to. He said he can read their words, and see: “That’s real life, man. That writes itself.”
His musical subjects range from whiskey and old bar rooms to rodeo clowns, and how you don’t hear train songs on the radio anymore. In “Train Song,” he supposed that people just aren’t “listening to the chug-a-lug in time” of steam engines rolling down the line.
Hathaway said he’s a “hobo at heart.” He grew up in the small town of McClelland, Iowa, watching rail cars creep by. He said he’d see a circus train and imagine joining them.
Those dreams came from the music Hathaway likes to listen to, he said, because it does such great storytelling. He said he hopes to write music that gets people to stop and listen.
In “Waltz of a Rodeo Clown,” he said some might see the song’s name, but not entirely hear that the song isn’t just about rodeo clowns.
“He paints his face and runs the race / and he narrowly averts each piercing embrace / He survives every risk by the hair of his chin / But there’s a permanent frown beneath the painted-on grin.”
Hathaway said everybody can relate to that same situation if they’re asking themselves, “Why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep re-doing this?” It’s because there’s some great, huge draw that keeps them there, he said, and it isn’t want they really want to do, but it’s what they’re doing.
And that’s what the rodeo clown sadness is.
From 2000-08, Hathaway crewed over 800 shows with Dark Star Orchestra, a cover band that recreates Grateful Dead concerts. He said he wore many hats: driver, merchandise seller, road manager, tour manager and tour planner.
Hathaway said he had opportunities to open for DSO, which was a huge boost. He also joined the band for a show on his birthday.
Now 53, Hathaway said he’s been writing songs since he was 18. He said he started thinking about performing on his own after former Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux read his material and asked why he was driving a van.
About a year later, he said DSO gave Godchaux a surprise. Hathaway said the band asked her to sing her song “Sunrise” with them.
She said, per Hathaway, she couldn’t, because it’s in a key she can’t sing anymore. Hathaway said the band then transposed the song to a key she could sing, but didn’t tell her.
Hathaway said when DSO started playing “Sunrise” with Godchaux already on stage, she first doubted herself, but then nailed her vocal parts after he encouraged her to sing. And the crowd of several thousand went nuts, he said.
Afterward, he said Godchaux didn’t bask in the moment. Instead, she walked up and grabbed Hathaway by the shoulders, telling him: “God doesn’t give people a voice like that to push road cases around.
“You need to be making different decisions.”
Hathaway said when he lived in Omaha, it wasn’t the easiest scene to perform in, explaining the city is really supportive of certain genres, but others are a struggle.
But after moving from Omaha to Mechanicsburg about two years ago, he said Central Illinois has been super kind to him. He credits that to a foundation laid by Edward David Anderson and Chicago Farmer.
Hathaway played bluegrass with the Dirty River Ramblers for around five years. Recently, he played in the OG Acoustic Trio with “Stumpy Joe,” who plays a single-stringed bass, plus mandolinist Wes Duffy of Still Shine. On Friday he’ll be joined by cellist Benjamin Brockway.
Hathaway said Brockway “listens to the story and he becomes part of it.”
In Riverton, he said he discovered a kind of venue that makes a musician feel spoiled. The Backroom Lounge, 713 N. 7th St., is a “listening room” spot where audiences are not allowed to talk during shows, he said.
Mace Hathaway performs Americana music in fall 2022 in Mitchell, South Dakota.
Hathaway said Central Illinois is super lucky to have a stage like that, adding the Backroom Lounge has a congregation of people who “really sit on the edge of their chair and just want to hear every word of every story.”
When someone comes up after a show to say they loved a single song, Hathaway said he survives on that — it makes him go home, practice differently, and prepare to present himself anew.
“If I didn’t have at least somebody catching it every now and then at all of these off-gigs, it’d be hard to keep doing it, regardless,” he said. “Because, you hope at least someone is getting it.”
When asked what advice he has for aspiring musicians, Hathaway said to spend time with your craft and your instrument, and analyze what you’re doing.
He also said don’t be locked in to your original idea, and be ready to turn it inside out. Spend just a little more time developing that notion, Hathaway said, and you might unlock something new, like solving a Rubik’s Cube.
Before anything else, Hathaway said, just try to be a good person. That’s the biggest part.
“The music industry just kind of eats people up and turns people into things that they’re not,” he said.
WHAT: Miles Over Mountains, with Mace Hathaway opening
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9
WHERE: The Stable Music Hall & Lounge, 236 E. Front St., Bloomington
TICKETS: Starting at $10. Available online at
Three days. Thirty-two acts. Five hundred thousand people…and 600 porta-potties.
The 1969 festival known as Woodstock took place from Aug. 15-18 in Bethel, New York, and would’ve been the biggest disaster in music festival history if not for the fabled musical performances and the harmonious spirit of the attendees. Rain delays messed with the schedule and muddied the festival grounds; it was nearly impossible to find friends if you split up; there were two deaths and numerous arrests for hard drugs, and a tractor crushed one fan. Despite these setbacks, some of the most legendary artists in rock history gave performances that have since been immortalized in the pop-culture imagination. 
Woodstock 1999, the festival planned for the 30th anniversary of the original, literally went down in flames, and Woodstock 2019, the festival planned for the 50th anniversary, fell apart at the seams. We might never get another music festival like the original Woodstock. The original had its issues, too: The festival was banned from its first location, Wallkill, New York, after local residents rejected them. They were also rejected from the town of Saugerties and barely got the permits from Bethel in time to set up the necessary structures. With large gaps in fencing, the organizers were forced to make the festival free as hundreds of thousands of fans descended on the festival grounds, kicking off a muddy, dirty, overcrowded, unsanitary, legendary three-day spectacle. 
In honor of the original Woodstock, Stacker rounded up 20 facts and figures that sum up the original three days of peace and music. From the number of babies allegedly born during the festival to the amount artists were compensated, this is our inside look at the greatest music event of the century. 
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All in all, around 500,000 people attended Woodstock over the three days of the festival. Whereas Yankee Stadium, for example, has one toilet for every 62 fans, Woodstock only had one toilet for every 833 music fans. 
186,000 tickets were sold in advance, with prices ranging from $120 in today’s dollars in advance and $160 at the gate. When hundreds of thousands of fans unexpectedly showed up, combined with fencing that couldn’t keep them out, the only option was to open the gates and let everyone in for free. 
The weekend-long event cost $18—about $120 in 2019. In comparison, a three-day pass to this year’s Coachella music festival in California cost $429 for general admission. Coachella’s headliners were Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande, compared to Woodstock’s notable acts like Crosby, Still, Nash & Young, The Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, Jefferson Airplane, and 28 others. 
There were two deaths among Woodstock’s 500,000 attendees. One death was from a drug overdose, and the other was death by tractor: Someone set up a sleeping bag under a tractor, which was started by its unwitting owner and moved, crushing the festival attendee. 
More than double the amount of ticket holders showed up at Woodstock’s proverbial gates. This spelled out a problem for the event’s organizers, who promised authorities from the town of Bethel, where the festival was held, that no more than 50,000 people were expected to show up. When they were eventually forced to make the festival free, they were left nearly bankrupt, but subsequent documentaries and live recordings paid them huge returns. 
Richie Havens kicked off Woodstock at 5:15 p.m.—hours before his scheduled start time. Traffic had kept the openers from making it to the stage on time, which left Havens to go through his entire repertoire. “Freedom,” one of the most iconic Havens songs, was ad-libbed by the musician as he made it up on the fly to fill out his impromptu set.
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Woodstock hosted 32 acts over the three days of the festival, including rock ‘n’ roll legends both established and only beginning. In fact, Rolling Stone named it as one of the top 50 moments that changed rock ‘n’ roll history, calling it “the greatest rock festival ever” and “the decade’s most famous and successful experiment in peace and community.”
There were probably quite a few babies that were conceived during Woodstock’s three days, but only two births, according to the concert’s medical director: one at a local hospital, after the mother was flown out of the festival in a helicopter, and the other in a car trapped in the endless traffic jam of cars leaving the site. There have been contradictory reports of newborn-sightings, so it’s tough to say how many births did actually happen at Woodstock. 
Jimi Hendrix was the festival’s highest-paid performer; he made $18,000 in 1969 dollars for his set, which included his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and which amounts to over $130,000 in today’s dollars. Blood, Sweat & Tears and Joan Baez were paid the second- and third-most paid, at $15,000 and $10,000, respectively. 
“Woodstock,” a documentary about the events of the festival, which contains plenty of live concert footage, was incredibly popular despite its sprawling runtime, going on to earn an Academy Award for Best Documentary and a nomination for editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who edited the film alongside Martin Scorsese and others. The original theatrical cut ran only three hours; a 1994 director’s cut runs 224 minutes. 
Drug use was rampant at Woodstock. Though marijuana smoking was incredibly common at the festival, but most of the 80 arrests were drug charges for harder drugs, like LSD, amphetamines, and heroin.
When the festival organizers threw up their hands and tore down the fences, making the festival free, they were resigning themselves to bankruptcy. The organizers spent $2.5 million while collecting only $1.5 million, though payments from the documentary and subsequent works have helped them recoup the losses, and then some. 
The very ground on which the festival took place is now the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, an outdoor amphitheater that, since its opening in 2006, has hosted everyone from Neil Young to Lady Gaga. Nearby, there’s a museum detailing the history of Woodstock with archival documents and rare footage. 
All four of them 27 or younger, the four organizers of Woodstock scored a win when Creedence Clearwater Revival decided to perform at the festival, which gave them leverage to rope in more and more acts. Michael Lang had organized a music festival before, 1968’s Miami Music Festival, and Artie Kornfeld was a VP at Capitol Records. John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, the other two organizers, were New York entrepreneurs with dreams of opening their own recording studio. 
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The organizers originally wanted to build a music studio in Woodstock, New York, which remains a town with a strong connection to the arts. Though those plans fell through and they decided to go with a festival, they kept the name, and eventually found a spot in not-so-nearby Bethel. 
Generally, rankings of the largest cities in any given state don’t change overnight. However, with the 500,000 people that attended the festival, little Bethel, New York, became the state’s third-largest city for three days.
Just under 1 million dollars in today’s cash was paid out to Woodstock’s artists. Nowadays, a single headliner for a massive festival like Coachella can demand $3 or $4 million in payment.
While the festival itself had zero reported incidences of violence, there was an altercation on-stage as Abbie Hoffman grabbed the mic during a set by The Who. Hoffman bellowed about freeing Peter Sinclair from jail, but was cut short by Who guitarist Pete Townsend, who used his own guitar to hit Hoffman upside the head while shouting “Get off my stage!”
The Jeff Beck Group broke up a few weeks before Woodstock, while Iron Butterfly got stuck at LaGuardia Airport. Rumor has it the bandmates requested that they be picked up by helicopter—a request that was denied.
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Festival organizers paid dairy farmer Max Yasgur $10,000 for the use of his hay fields for the festival (not his actual dairy farm, as is commonly thought). Damages ran closer to $50,000. His business was also nearly ruined by the event: Locals boycotted Yasgur’s milk and refused him service at the town store and diner.
Contact Brendan Denison at (309) 820-3238. Follow Brendan Denison on Twitter: @BrendanDenison

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Brendan Denison is our breaking news reporter. Denison was a digital content producer for WCIA-TV in Champaign and a reporter for The Commercial-News in Danville. He can be reached at (309) 820-3238 and
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Mace Hathaway performs Americana music in fall 2022 in Mitchell, South Dakota.
Mace Hathaway, of Mason City, performs August 2022 at Bourbon On Division in Chicago.
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