The Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Festival is a bit under the radar despite the size of its lineup. With artists like Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Punch Brothers, Sara Watkins, The Guthrie Family, Dawes and Deer Tick, Clearwater shares plenty with the Newport Folk Festival. If you consider its location, on the other side of Connecticut in Westchester County, Clearwater might be considered a Newport’s sibling or a rival, akin to the split in Connecticutian sports fans due to proximity to either Boston or New York sports teams.
Clearwater has clear mission though that it has pursued since the 1960s. It draws inspiration from Pete Seegers’ dream to clean up the Hudson River and is an celebration of environmental preservation, restoration and activism (read more here). Proceeds from the Festival are used to help support revival efforts, educational programs and support the non-profit organization throughout the rest of the year.
The festival engages crowds of all ages to get its message across. Older attendees can check out boats and ships when not hearing the music and their children could participate in face painting, juggling or other activities at the Family Stage, just one of seven bio-diesel powered stages. Additionally, the promoters are welcoming a “Traveling Musical Petting Zoo” this year which will give people some hands on time with instruments. Other mainstays are here again, like the Environmental Action Tent and the Discovery Tent. And like so many other festivals (Sweetlife, Googa Mooga) have been doing, Clearwater will continue to offer artisanal foods from local vendors.
But the music still remains a huge draw and this year’s acts look exciting: Tuareg-Berber musicians Tinariwen will be making one of their infrequent US appearances, the Punch Brothers will be performing on the tails of their well-received latest album, Who’s Feeling Young Now? and The Guthrie Family will recognize the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie. And like any other festival, the Festival will serve as a musical melting pot where new collaborations will be born and artists mingle in others’ sets. Just a train ride outside of New York city (where a shuttle will take you to the venue), Clearwater is well worth exploring.
The full lineup (as of now) for Saturday June 16th includes: Béla Fleck, Dawes, Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thiele, Arlo Guthrie & The Guthrie Family, Tinariwen, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band, Joan Osborne & The Holmes Brothers, Donna The Buffalo, Tom Paxton, Aoife O’Donovan, Tim O’Brien, Tom Chapin, Joanne Shenandoah, Sara Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Raul Midón, Guy Davis Band, David Amram, Tao Seeger Brass Band, Melissa Ferrick, Joel Rafael, The Chapin Sisters, Forro In The Dark, Jay Ungar & Molly Mason and Jesse Lege & The Bayou Brewe.
Sunday June 17th’s lineup is equally enthralling: Ani DiFranco, Martin Sexton, Dawes, Balkan Beat Box, Deer Tick, Loudon Wainwright III, Alejandro Escovdeo, The Klezmatics, Peter Yarrow, Tim O’Brien, Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely, Jill Sobule, Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek, Ollabelle, Holly Near, Joe Purdy & The Giving Tree Band, Dala, Bhi Bhiman, David Wax Museum, Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys, Vanaver Caravan, Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole, David Amram, VaJose Conde, Alsarah & The Nubatones and Brave Combo.
Tickets, which range from $60 for a single day pass to $200 (a weekend pass including camping) and further information about Clearwater Festival are available on their website http://www.clearwaterfestival.org/.