Clearwater Festival – The Great Hudson River Revival Featuring Mavis Stapes, Ani DiFranco, Railroad Earth Hits This Weekend (PREVIEW)

Clearwater Festival – The Great Hudson River Revival – is the place to be this coming weekend. Whether you’re looking for a chill festival with great musical acts, a gorgeous place to hang on Father’s Day, or the opportunity to honor the legacy of Pete Seeger (and celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday), you can’t go wrong. A sprawling festival in the Croton State Park, a verdant peninsula jutting into the Hudson River, Clearwater has an expansive spread of music, waterfront activities, food offerings, environmental and green living expos, crafts and makers market, activism, story-telling, and other family friendly activities.

With Clearwater’s folk roots, you get a roster of legends, journeymen, and up and comers in that genre.  But the Americana-focused line up is broad enough to include roots rock, blues, singer-songwriters, bluegrass, reggae, all genres of folk dancing music and a solid roster of Native American musicians, not to mention a smattering of international acts. With two main stages that run continuously, an intimate shaded stage with smaller acts, a dance tent with a real wood floor, a workshop stage, the Story Grove, a family stage and an entire area devoted to themed and artist-led participatory singing, it’s hard to make time for any of the other activities. So whether you set up at the main stage with your people, or tuck yourselves in the cool shade under the old growth trees, or spend the day on your feet catching all you can, you can’t go wrong.

The festival runs from 11:00AM to 8:45 PM on both Saturday, June 15th and Sunday June 16th and tickets are $90 for the day or $155 for the weekend, but with a tax deductible membership ($55 individual or $65 family) you save $20 -$30 on each ticket and support a great charity.

Here are some acts not to be missed:

Mavis Staples – If you want to find someone with the history, impact, and staying power of Pete Seeger, civil rights activist and singer Mavis Staples is his peer and she does not quit. Whether she’s recalling her history with the protest gospel of The Staples Singers or belting out her large canon from her fourteen studio albums (including cuts from 2019’s We Get By), this 79 year old still delivers. Catch this legend every time you can.

Ani DiFranco – I can’t imagine a better time and place to see DiFranco than at Clearwater this weekend. Her work has become increasingly political and passionate, and her band is top notch. She is wowing audiences on her current tour with inspirational sets of music that celebrate diversity, call for unity and demand engagement. Do not miss her updated version of “Which Side Are You On” which has become the centerpiece of her performance and has the perfect combination of urgency, inspiration and gravitas – Pete Seeger will be proud.

Birds of Chicago – This up and coming husband and wife act might not be up and coming for much longer. Birds of Chicago features the perfect combination of Allison Russell’s sublime voice with JT Nero’s raspy one. Together they write wonderful songs full of characters who demand to be remembered and which deliver a sustaining dose of hope for us all. Look for them to feature “American Flowers” a song that was inspired by Woody Guthrie and is rife with messages of unity and community.

Guy Davis – Bluesman Davis always delivers a genuine show and does it with a warm smile, beautiful stage presence and gorgeous deep voice. You will walk away from his set feeling happier than when you arrived.

Joel Rafael – Rafael’s set at Clearwater in 2017, working with John Trudell’s Bad Dog, was unbelievable. Not sure what he’s presenting this year, but check out this singer-songwriter.

Immortal Technique – If Clearwater is having underground rapper Felipe Coronel at its folk festival, I want to be there. Highly political, he will certainly offer a different view of New York and an alternative approach to protest music.

Railroad Earth – Fronted by Todd Schaeffer (formerly of From Good Homes), this upbeat bluegrass/roots rock band has enough energy and musicianship to get more than your toes tapping.

But also check out the side stages – Margo Thunderbird is offering a set of Native protest songs, Joel Rafael is presenting the music of Woodie Guthrie, James Maddock is bestowing songs chocked full of colorful characters, and Scott Sharrard is remembering Gregg Allman. Go dance along to La Cumbiamba NY, Deadgrass, or the surreal party that is Slambovian Circus of Dreams. And how can you not participate in the Native American Sundown Ceremony to close Sunday night.

If folk music and its distant cousins are of any interest to you, there is no kinder and more inclusive festival than Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Festival – The Great Hudson River. Bring the family and come pass some time. Go the festival’s website for additional information…..

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