LIVE: Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival @ Croton Point Park, 6/17/17 (Day One)

Nick Lowe

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival was about a liberal state of mind. The festival’s intent was to mix both music and the environmental concerns into a wonderful two-day event in the lovely Croton Point Park on the banks of the great Hudson River. In truth, it mirrors the late founder Pete Seeger’s concerns and life’s work both as a folk musician and also as a social, environmental and political activist. The festival has many tables and tents set throughout to dish out information about all these concerns and how to get activated for the good cause.

However, most of the festival-goers who come from NYC, Albany, Boston and all over the Eastern Seaboard for the two-day festival, have primarily come for the music. They pick and choose the national and international artists they want to hear and see perform. Many trek around the grounds between seven or eight stages and groove to everything from poetry to Native American stories to internationally beloved artists.

To boot, there are areas set up for children of all ages to partake in different activities. And there is lots of food from all over the globe to enjoy. You want Thai, it’s there. And so is Greek, Mexican and plain old American hamburgers and hot dogs. In other words you won’t go hungry, and they don’t charge an arm and a leg for you to eat well.

In any given Clearwater Festival it’s hard to gauge what were the highlights because so many different artists are performing all types of music. Some years back the organizers wisely opened the doors to world beat, indie-rock, Afro-pop, Latin salsa and various other musical styles that don’t always fit under the “folk” umbrella. And that really made it truly international. For those who crave diversity in their music it was a new lease on life for the festival in the musical sense. It no longer was just a singer-songwriter folk event; it became an electric, exotic-instrument and folk kind of event, filled with worldwide sensibilities.

Saturday’s highlights on the Rainbow Stage included Nick Lowe doing his post-punk singer-songwriter acoustic thing; Joan Osborne mixing her vocals with the blues and so much more; Orchestra Mendoza; contemporary songster Josh Ritter; Los Lobos’ hybrid Tex-Mex-blues-rock thing and the vocally driven jazz-meets-pop of Lake Street Dive.

The Hudson Stage had long-time Bob Dylan/Levon Helm sideman Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams presenting some of the finest singer-songwriter duo music of the day; the bigger-than-life vocal stylings of Toshi Reagon & BigLovely with folk royalty Holly Near and Native American Grammy Award winner Joanne Shenandoah finishing out the evening.

The intimate Sloop Stage presented Black-Native American dynamo Martha Redbone, acoustic-blues master Guy Davis; one-man-band extraordinaire the Suitcase Junket; and African-American folk diva Thomasina Winslow.

And the Dance Stage showcased the music of NYC subway jump-jazz revivalists the Lucky Chops; zydeco torchbearers Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas and lots more. The other stages had much to offer, too, but you had to venture out to partake in their offerings…

Josh Ritter
Joan Osborne
Joan Osborne
Holly Near
Guy Davis
Toshi Reagon
The Suitcase Junket
Plena Libre
Orkestra Mendoza
Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas
Lucky Chops
Los Lobos’ David Hidago

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