“Clearwater Generations” was the theme of the 33rd annual Clearwater Hudson River Revival Folk Festival at Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson. The festival showcased some of America’s greatest folk music families performing both together and separately. Also featured were over 100 other musical acts, playing music that ranged from children’s songs and sea shanties to free jazz, indie rock and rap. And it was all spread across five stages, a storytelling area and sing-along area over the course of two days.
Peter Yarrow presented the more traditional side of folk music. His daughter Bethany appeared with her band the Bethany and Rufus Roots Quartet playing a wild amalgam of roots music from America, Haiti and Niger.
Arlo Guthrie played a solo set and, as usual, told his amusing stories to introduce such oldies as “ Coming into Los Angeles.” His daughter Sarah Lee appeared with her husband Johnny Irion and their band.
David Amram performed at the fest both solo and with his children several times during the weekend.
Toshi Reagon gave a powerful performance with her band Big Lovely and with her mother Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, the founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock. Their performance highlighted a true contrast in delivery. Both had inspiring messages of truth, struggle and justice. Dr. Reagon giving her patient explanations of the background of the music and the struggle. Her daughter presented a powerful more direct voice. Both were equally effective and moving.
Other families appearing at the festival included Tom Chapin and his niece Jen Chapin (daughter of the late Harry Chapin), Jay Ungar & Molly Mason with Jay’s daughter Ruthy.
Albany’s own Thomasina Winslow (daughter of the late Tom Winslow) made her first appearance at the festival since her father’s passing a few months ago.
Pete Seeger himself appeared at the various stages throughout the festival. He made three main stage appearances, including the grand finale performances on both days featuring the musical families. His grandson Tao Seeger also made several appearances. The highlight of the festival was Tao’s band jamming with poets/rappers the ReadNex Poetry Squad (Tao plugging in his banjo)!!!!
The folk tradition carried by Pete Seeger is not only being preserved, it is being carried forward into the 21st century and remains relevant and ever more important in all its various modern forms.
Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
Additional Rudy Lu photographs of Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy at AlbanyJazz.com