Catskills Corner Jan 23-29
The line-up for our region’s annual three-day rock festival, the Mountain Jam held on the Hunter ski slopes over Memorial Weekend, has just been announced, and it lives up to its name. Jam band fans will no doubt rejoice. At my end, the only new addition to the bill about which I can get even barely excited is that of the Hold Steady, though I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to see Michael Franti & Spearhead again, and there may be those among the iJamming! readers who would equally be interested in Ray Lamontagne or Coheed and Cambria. The rest of it is for the hippies. This is a shame: last year saw Sharon Jones, the Felice Brothers and the Drive By Truckers freshen up the bill. Presumably there will be some more acts added down the line. Tickets go on sale this Monday. More info here.
I’ll be at the beautiful UPAC Theater in Kingston this Friday, January 23, for a big screen, $5-only showing of Monty Python & The Holy Grail. I saw this when it came out, in 1975, at a big cinema in London, and the only time I can remember laughing equally hysterically throughout a movie was for the Return of the Pink Panther – which, I now note, came out the same year. Eleven, clearly, is a good age to watch somewhat silly comedies starring the funniest people on the planet. But 44 shouldn’t be a bad age either. Even if I didn’t have a kid in tow, I’d probably attend this for the communal fun of it all. More info here.
I know several people who will be saving their visit to UPAC for Saturday night, January 24, for “An Evening With Steve Winwood.” The former Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith singer is highly respected round these parts, receiving regular airplay on WDST and WKZE, and the concert has been sold out for months. A lone pair of front row seats are being auctioned off at the WDST.com web site with every penny benefiting the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, a damn good cause. The bid price as I type is $300. More info on the auction here.
To keep things in rather worrying perspective in this economic crisis, it will cost you no less than $300 to pick up a pair of tickets for Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble at his home studio barn in Woodstock; in fact, they’re $150. But after finally getting to witness a ramble two weekends ago, I can vouch for the intimacy, quality, and, if you measure value by time, the length of the concert too. This Saturday, January 24, the Levon Helm Band is joined by the Reddan Brothers Band. More info here.
Modfest 2009 kicks off this week at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, which is not really the Catskills. Nor does Modfest have anything to do with a certain perennial British “youth” culture. Rather, it’s the name of “a yearly celebration featuring art created in the 20th and 21st centuries.” (“Modern music” is not quite the same as “modernism.”) There are eighteen events in all this year, with renowned 72-year old composer-musician Steve Reich at the center of several, including a lecture on Thursday January 29 on Steve Reich and His Music, presented by Harold Meltzer, composer and member of the Vassar College Department of Music. And this Saturday, January 24, at 2pm, percussionist and storyteller Joakim Lartey will host a Workshop on Ghanaian Drumming. (Reich traveled to Ghana in 1971 to study with master drummer Gideon Alerwoyie.) All but one of Modfest’s 18 events, including Reich’s upcoming concert, are free, and open to the public. More info here.
At a very different end of the music demographic, Dog on Fleas headline this Saturday morning’s Kidtopia concert at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock. The upstate New York trio has just released its fifth family-friendly CD, Beautiful World, which they recorded down the road in Rosendale. Judging by their web site, they’re past and proven experts in the kids music format, and as evidenced by my recent video report, the Kidtopia event is always great fun anyway. The Bearsville Theater site claims a 1pm start time; I believe it is in fact at 11am. Parents with toddlers can’t them out of the house quickly enough on weekend mornings! More info here.