Photographs and review by Rudy Lu
Musicians and the community coming together to save and celebrate the Hudson River – that is the essence of the annual Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival, a family-friendly festival which has been held annually since 1978.
This year’s event was a celebration of musical milestones – the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie and the 50th anniversary of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Woody’s birthday was celebrated with:
1. A special exhibition on site detailing his life and times
2. Vanaver Caravan performing choreographed dances in costumes set to Woody’s music
3. A performance of his music featuring three generations of the Guthrie family
4. Tom Paxton, Guy Davis and Tom Chapin in a performance as “Woody’s Children”
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band played a rousing set of their own and also teamed up with Tao Rodriguez Seeger as “the Tao Rodriguez Brass Band.”
The Main Stage featured performances by a multitude of singer-songwriters, including Loudon Wainwright III, Joanne Shenandoah, Martin Sexton, Holly Near and Ani DiFranco.
World music was also featured with the appearance of the Turareg band Tinariwen, in addition to other world music performers who appeared at the Dance Tent, including Sharon Katz & the Peace Train, the Klezmatics, Forro in the Dark and Jose Conde.
The sounds of indie music were well represented with stellar performances by Alejandro Escovedo, the Punch Brothers, Josh Ritter and Deer Tick.
Hudson Valley favorite Roger the Jester, as well as other clowns and street performers, entertained the audience in between the stages, while more than 800 volunteers helped keep the festival running smoothly all weekend long.
The coming together of musicians from many different genres lead to several surprising combos. For example, children’s music star Raffi made with a guest appearance with the David Amram Trio, and avant-garde jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas joined bluegrass star Aoife O’Donovan for her performance.
In keeping with the environmental mission of the fest, the sound systems were fueled by bio diesel and solar power. Recycling of as much waste as possible was also an important part of this festival.
For those who wanted a brief getaway from the fest, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the ferry sloop Woody Guthrie and the schooner Mystic Whaler provided sails to the public off the shores of Croton Point Park, where the fest was held.
Pete Seeger didn’t perform at the festival this year, although he was frequently seen touring the festival grounds with his wife Toshi beaming broadly at this annual celebration-of-life gathering.
That old saying from the ’60s – “Think globally and act locally” – is being carried well into the 21st century at the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival. Thank you, Pete and Toshi, for your dreams and ideas. They are now flowering in so many different forms and expressions.
Andrzej Pilarczyk’s review and photographs at Nippertown