Once upon a time, the City of Kingston was able to cover the extra costs of putting on festivals. Those days are gone, but fortunately, after a bit of a lull, volunteers, businesses and private donors have in many cases filled in the gap. “The organizers have really taken ownership of their own event,” noted Katie Cook, Kingston’s director of tourism. “They’ve managed to get more volunteers and raise the extra funds so that the event can happen.” Here’s what’s on the festival schedule this fall:
The Wall Street Jazz Festival, scheduled September 2 and 3, is unique in that founders Peggy Stern and John Bilotti wanted to all the band leaders to be women, having noticed a dearth of female leaders at other jazz festivals. Friday evening’s concert, located at the BEAhive, starts at 8 pm and features a pair of duos, resulting in some very adventuresome improvisations. Vocalist Judi Silvano plays with pianist Marilyn Crispell, and vocalist Teri Roiger plays with bassist John Mengon. Admission is $12.
Saturday’s free concert, held on Wall Street from 6 to 10 pm, features Peggy Stern on piano and “Sweet” Sue Terry on saxophone; the Amy Shook Quartet (Amy Shook on acoustic bass, accompanied by Pat Shook on tenor saxophone, Frank Russo on drums and Tim Young on piano; and the Francesca Tanksley Trio (Tanksley on piano, Otto Gardner on bass, and Jeff Siegel on drums). At 9 pm dancing starts in the street when Estrella Salsam, featuring Sue Terry, Freddie Jacobs, Claire Daly, Amy Shook, Peggy Stern, Tomas Martin Lopez on timbales, and Renato on conga, take the stage. For more info visit www.wallstreetjazzfestival.com
The Hooley on the Hudson, Ulster County’s only Irish festival, is held at Gallo Park on the Kingston waterfront the next day, Sunday, September 4, from 11:30 am to 9 pm. Now in its ninth year, the festival is hosted by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Three stages will be set up, two featuring music and the third dedicated to the spoken word. The line-up is too extensive to list in its entirety here, so here’s a brief sampling: the NY Showband with Tommy Flynn, the Ulster County AOH Division 1 Pipe, Drum and Honor Guard, the Andy Cooney Band, Vince Fisher and Tommy Kiernan, and spoken word artists Kate Dudding and Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi. Also taking the stage will be Irish dancers, from the Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance and the Michael Farrell School of Irish Dance. All concerts are free, and there will be food and craft vendors and children’s entertainment. For more info go to www.ulsteraoh.com
Two weekends later, on Saturday, September 17 (rain date September 18), the second Drum Boogie comes to Cornell Park, after a year’s hiatus. Executive producer Garry Kvistad, founder and owner of Woodstock Percussion, Inc., said the event is not your usual rock drummers’ get-together. “It’s a very multicultural event, with men and woman of all cultures playing Caribbean, tap, ragtime, African, contemporary modern, and rock and roll,” he said. The headliners are Jerry Marrotta, whose group includes the lead guitar player from the David Letterman Show; Nexus, whose drummer played for Peter Gabriel and Orleans, among other top acts; Jack Dejohnette, “the biggest name in jazz”; Liam Teague, “arguably the best steel pan player in the world,” who will also perform with the NYU Steel Band; local percussionists extraordinaire POOK; and Native American Singers and Drummers.
Kvistad said the park, which is shaped like an amphitheater facing the Hudson River, has ideal natural acoustics. People should bring a blanket or chair; food vendors will be at the site. A portion of the proceeds raised from the numerous local businesses that support the event will be donated to Family of Woodstock’s cancer treatment program, in memory of the late Kathy Janeczek, Kingston’s beloved former town clerk. To make a donation, visit www.drumboogiefestival.com.
October kicks off with a two month long Dream Festival. The Dream Festival is an international celebration of dreams and dreamers curated by Kingston based author and dream facilitator Ione. Going on its 16th year, this global community event includes artwork, performances and workshops by world-class artists, everyday dreamers and inspired beings.
Then the Italian Festival happens on Sunday, October 2. Lower Broadway and the Strand will be festooned with colorful, light-strewn arches, in an echo of New York’s famous San Gennaro festival. Instead of the usual fried dough and cotton candy, however, the booths will be manned by staff from local restaurants, complementing the neighborhood eateries, offering a healthy and delicious “taste of the mid Hudson Valley,” according to Denis White, marketing director of the newly formed nonprofit organization, Kingston’s Waterfront Marketing Inc., which is hosting the event.
The musical performers include Bell’Accordio, a four-piece band playing traditional Italian music. Local artists and craftspeople will display their work along the creekside walkway as well as submit a work of art inspired by Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. A stage hosting a rally for the Queens Galley, broadcast on radio station WBPM, will be set up along Broadway. Activities for kids and adults include a pizza making lesson, spaghetti eating contest, and games of bocci. A Vespa scooter will be raffled off to a lucky winner.
On Columbus Day weekend, October 7,8 and 9, the second annual O+ Festival will transform Uptown Kingston into an arts extravaganza, with 30 bands, including Mike & Ruthy’s Folk City, Willy Mason, and TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb, performing at various venues, a photographic exhibition, large-scale wheat pastes by various artists (it’ll be fun finding out exactly what those are), a seven-hour performance piece by Linda Montano, various installations (including historical plaques by Norm Magnusson, a 30-foot high interactive red jute wall by Lisa Lozano, and hand-knitted cigarettes by Melissa Halvorson), and a screening of Marwencol, a documentary about the amazing tiny World War II town and scenes created and photographed by an artist with disabilities on the grounds of his home in Eddyville. In exchange for their offering of art, the participating musicians and artists can use the services of a mobile clinic, where 40 doctors, dentists and other specialists will donate their services. Suggested price for a wristband providing access to all the events is $25.