Rosendale’s alive with the sound of music….

This past Sunday, we risked the oppressive heat and humidity and trucked on down thirty miles to the village of Rosendale for the second and final day of its 30th Annual Street Festival – and accompanying live music, spread across no less than five stages. We caught only the tail end of the event and it was none too easy on the kids, with temperatures well into the nineties. But I was glad to finally get to experience the Festival. Everywhere we turn up here, there’s another outdoor concert and if the quality of performers is not always up there at the very highest echelon, well Goddamn, it’s free, ain’t it? Super short observations follow below.

img_5299.jpg Todd Giudice has at least three things going for him: great voice, great guitar, great amp. The clarity of performance was instantly endearing. The songs? Good bordering on very good. A pleasant surprise.

img_5318.jpg Futu Futu performed on the Mountain Stage. I really enjoyed the deliberate dissonance of the horn section.

img_5310.jpg Rosendale’s Main Street

img_5340.jpgRoss Rice, publishger of local arts magazine Roll, hosted a post-Festival gig on his porch. That’s his son playing the drums.

img_5302.jpg The Rhodes were the most intriguing of the few acts we saw. The Highland-based band won last year’s Garage Rumble at the Bearsville Theater. Their clothing suggests they’ve been studying the Felice Brothers. But their performance was something else: sixties-influenced, absolutely (though themselves they claim the “rockabilly” tag) and yet they played with remarkable quietness, so that every little guitar lick and melody was clearly audible. One song sounded just like the Monkees at their commercial height; the next was like a Beatles love song circa 1963. (Think “Do YOu Want To Know A Secret?”) Though it may not be that they need to rough up the sound – I was really taken by the meticulous musicality of it all – the influences are too obvious right now to render the Rhodes more as yet than a promising prospect. But look at them: They’re young enough to grow out of it, right? So watch this (My)space. They’re playing a bunch of Manhattan and Brooklyn gigs in early August, as well as Brittany Sokolowski’s Birthday Party in nearby Hurley. Can anybody come?

The Rhodes performed on the Café Stage, out front of the (vegetarian! Yes!) Rosendale Café, where just a few weeks earlier, I’d shared a car ride with some neighbors to go see Mary Gauthier perform. Gauthier, in case you’re not familiar, is the singer-songwriter who only came into her own in middle age, after years of hard living, such as infused the song “I Drink” from the album Mercy Now. I wrote about the title track to that album when I first heard it, via an NPR All Songs Considered Podcast. The song near enough stopped my car in its tracks. (Read the full experience here. Hear the song at Gauthier’s MySpace page.) Turns out I’m not alone, as the same thing happened to a tough guy friend of mine when he first heard it; having just fathered a second son, the lyrics about family and mercy hit too close to home, forcing him to pull the car over and shed some tears.

img_7754.jpgDiana Jones (left) and Mary Gauthier at the Rosendale Cafe, June 6, 2008.

There were no tears in the house at the Rosendale Café, an incredibly intimate gig given Gauthier’s current standing on the Americana scene. (Her new album, Between Daylight and Dark, was produced by Joe Henry for Lost Highway.) There was plenty of laughter, no shortage of standing applause, and lots of loving – especially between Gauthier and her partner, Diana Jones, who played a short opening set and then joined Gauthier for much of her own. In fact, I’m not sure when I last saw such a look of admiration between onstage performers as when Gaulthier gazed lovingly upon Jones near the end of their shared set. Gauthier and Jones do not perform what you might call uplifting material: in fact they bill themselves with a certain facetious self-deprecation as the Sorrow Sisters. But any time you get the opportunity to sit just a couple of tables over from a writer and performer the quality of Gauthier, you take it. This was, apparently, Gauthier’s fourth visit to the Rosendale Café – they’ve been booking her since before the likes of me ever heard of her – and the owners clearly hope it won’t be her last. But given the village’s keen obsession for live music, I can be sure that there will always be something worth traveling down there for.

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2 Comment(s)

  1. 23 July, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    And i thought it was all dub pouring out the windows of that bit by Park Hall Road (alright, that’s the other Rosendale) lol

  2. baby jebus

    23 July, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Tood Giudice’s amp looks like a Fender Vibrolux to me- I used to have one and I certainly wouldn’t have called it great. I sold it for hundreds less than it’s now worth. Doh! Pretty maybe, but without a preamp it’s no match for a real Twin.

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