Monday, June 20, 2011

June 18-19, 2011 The Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Festival

The annual Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Festival at Croton on the Hudson was held this past weekend. It is that unusual eclectic mix of activism, music, food and vendors that has come to characterize it. The demographics of the attendees speaks volumes about the reach and scope of the Clearwater Festival: families with children in tow, young people, old people, people with disabilities, veterans, and activists. The festival has something for everyone--story tellers, children’s music, folk music, rock music, dance music—all going on at four separate stages around Croton Park with the backdrop of the Hudson River and the Hudson River Sloop the Clearwater's noble symbol of the organizers' ongoing effort to remove toxic PCPs dumped by GE into the river. There is variety of food spanning the global palate and vendors selling wares of every nation, activists’ booths educating the concert goers to everything from local issues like the Hudson River clean up, the aging Indian Point nuclear reactor, the proposed fracking for natural gas in New York that threatens our water supply, to world issues like the four wars our nation is currently engaged in as the economy sinks toward a new recession or worse. Of course, it is the wide variety of music that draws people forcing the concert goers to make choices they’d rather not make with so much going on during the same time slot. On Sunday, when I was there, the listeners were torn between John Sebastian, James McMurtry or Joe D’Urso; Jorma Kaukonen, Tao Seeger or Buskin and Batteau; Suzanne Vega, David Amram or Jeffrey  Broussard and the Creole Cowboys. How do you choose?  Like a fool I ran around trying to get a taste of everyone. I was disappointed by John Sebastian whose voice has seen better days, lifted up by James McMurtry with his driving sound, mesmerized by Jorma Kaukonen fiery fingers, vaguely interested in Suzanne Vega who has become the standard bearer for Carson McCullers, wished I had spent more time with the Creole Cowboys, and ended the night with Drive-By Truckers who have captured the unique voicing and intonation of Richard Manuel as they eloquently sang about the hardscrabble life that typifies the heartland of America. All in all, the Clearwater Festival was a great success thanks to Pete Seeger who proves that the total of a life can be greater than the sum of its parts.  

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