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Published: 2012/07/02
by Gerry Hardy

Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Festival, Croton Point Park, NY – 6/16-17

The 2012 Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival celebrated Woody Guthrie’s 100 birthday with performances from 95 artists on 4 stages, including Dawes, The Balkan Beat Box, Sara Watkins, Deer Tick, Alejandro Escovedo, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, The Guthrie Family Reunion, The David Wax Museum, Ani DeFranco, Joan Osborne with the Holmes Brothers, and the Punch Brothers with Chris Thile.

Set on the banks of the Hudson River, the festival‘s four stages were active over two days, this year marking, in addition to Guthrie’s 100th birthday, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s 50th anniversary. The New Orleans institution, begun by Allan and Sandra Jaffe in 1961, is now managed by their son Ben Jaffe. He has skillfully managed to expand on the traditional music of New Orleans, widening the repertoire and bringing in artists like Jim James and Tom Waits for guest appearances. The band backed up Pete Seeger’s grandson Tao Seeger on the Hudson stage before doing their own set on the larger Rainbow stage.

The dance tent was full all weekend with dancers moving in several variations of dance to Donna The Buffalo, Steve Riley, Brave Combo, the Klezmatics, and Cedric Watson with Bijou Creole.

Following the lead of the Newport Folk Festival’s producer Jay Sweet over the last few years, the organizers expanded on traditional definitions and limitations of folk music by mixing traditional sets from Arlo Guthrie, Peter Yarrow, and Toshi Reagan with sets by The Balkan Beat Box, Deer Tick, Melissa Ferrick, and Alejandro Escovedo.

The mix seemed to please everyone, there was more dancing than I have seen at a folk venue before. Credit The Balkan Beat Box and Dawes. The only dissent heard was a stage manager muttering that Deer Tick’s set was “too damn loud” as she tried to cut their set short. Singer John MacCauley responded by launching into a raucous La Bamba sending the crowd even higher at the close of their day-ending set.

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