LIVE: The Dance Flurry Festival @ Saratoga Springs, 2/18/12

Review by Bokonon

“Some can’t dance and I guess I’m just one of the unfortunate few…”

Thus spake Tom T. Hall, describing me to a…well…T.

But you don’t need to dance to enjoy the Dance Flurry, especially since the annual festival books all sorts of concerts, workshops and jams that have nothing to do with the old soft shoe.

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My Saturday morning started out early, in an easy, way beautiful way, with the Bernstein Bard Quartet at Caffe Lena. Chocolate chip cookies, peppermint tea and Jobim’s “Dindi.” That, my friend, is living in any language. Steve Bernstein’s mandolin makes jazz but it doesn’t blow, at least not in the downtown sense.

Instead, the band merges the delicacy and song sense of folk with the bent corners of bebop. The result is such that the melody never disappears, it just hovers somewhere at the horizon – a very good place to be.

The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” too, found wonderful new angles and ways to fly, and bassist Robert Bard’s “Tango in Blue” was the perfect tonic to end breakfast.

The rest of the day, hmmm, a whirlwind.

Annie & the Hedonists doing that hoodoo that they do, with Peter Davis’ resonator tenor guitar rockin’ like steel underneath Annie Rosen’s mighty mouth. Lucinda Williams, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, they all found voice within Annie’s multitudes.

Later, George Wilson, fairly channeling Huddie Ledbetter with a program entitled “Woody’s Buddy, Lead Belly.” He explained the tuning, all thunder and clang, but told the truth with the picking, all wonder and damn!

“Dancing with Tears in My Eyes.” Somebody, somewhere at the Flurry was feeling that for sure, but we all were when Wilson romped.

Vanaver Caravan’s long-time tribute to Woody Guthrie, “Pastures of Plenty,” gathers even more significance in this his centennial year, but it felt rusty at the Flurry, with missed cues and uneven sound. Still, Woody, man, oh man.

What else?


Red Hen jamming in the lobby with Whistling Wolves harmonica master Trip Henderson; Phil Drum bashing out Blind Lemon in the big blues jam; local legend Bernard Mulleda bringing Django to the people; and the Windborne Trio making music for the heart rather than the feet.

It was, well, a flurry.

“But just for a little bit, baby, I’d come out and dance with you.”

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