Summer festival season taking shape
by Seth Rogovoy
(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., April 9, 2003) – Earlier this week snow fell and spring seemed way far off, much less summer. But truth is the summer festival season is really only a few weeks away, and most of the major area music festivals are preparing to officially release their lineups in the next few weeks. This is some of what they will announce.
Once again, the Berkshire Mountain Music Festival, or BerkFest (www.berkfest.com), will feature an overwhelming preponderance of jam-based bands. Headliners at the three-day camping festival, which will take place at Butternut Basin from August 15 to 17, include the Roots, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Steve Kimock Band, the New Deal, Percy Hill, Reid Genauer and The Assembly of Dust, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, the Cuban Free Jazz Project, the Aaron Katz Band, Peter Prince and the Trauma Unit, and the Jimi Hendrix Traveling Museum Red House Tour. Classic gospel artists the Blind Boys of Alabama, who performed at the Mahaiwe Theatre last year, will return to town to perform at BerkFest, as one of the few non-jam artists slotted for the event.
The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in nearby Hillsdale, N.Y., celebrates its 15th anniversary this summer from July 24 to 27, and the lineup reflects that celebratory mood. Artists who will appear at the four-day festival include longtime favorites Greg Brown, Patty Larkin, John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky, Vance Gilbert, Katryna and Nerissa Nields, Eddie From Ohio, Dar Williams, Richard Shindell, and the Kennedys. Holly Near, Richard Thompson and Tom Paxton make long-awaited returns to the Falcon Ridge stage at Long Hill Farm, and the Berkshires’ own Arlo Guthrie makes his long-overdue Falcon Ridge (www.falconridgefolk.com) debut. As always, the music festival will also include a
parallel dance festival, featuring dance bands like George Marshall with Wild Asparagus, the Clayfoot Strutters, Nightingale, and Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie. Falcon Ridge’s sister festival, Winterhawk, goes on hiatus for the summer.
Once again, the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival (www.greyfoxbluegrass.com) – which takes place at the Rothvoss Farm in nearby Ancramdale, N.Y., on July 17-20 -- will be hosted by the Dry Branch Fire Squad and feature a who’s who of traditional and contemporary bluegrass, including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, Del McCoury, Jerry Douglas, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Rhonda Vincent, and a reunion of newgrass pioneers Hot Rize, among others.
This summer the annual Berkshire Jazz Festival (www.jazzforumarts.org) will move to the last week of July instead of taking place the week before Labor Day – where it was overshadowed by the Tanglewood Jazz Festival the following week. This year’s festival, taking place on July 25-27, features artists including the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Donald Harrison, Houston Person, Claudio Roditi, Charlie Persip, Leroy Jones Quintet, Chico Hamilton and Euphoria, Roberta Gambarini and the Richie Hart Trio, Giacomo Gates, Lori Hartman, Dave Glasser, Christian Sands, Steve Kirby, Jay Messer, Stephanie Nakasian and Hod O’Brien.
In addition to the previously announced Wynton Marsalis, Marian McPartland, Gato Barbieri, Michel Camilo and pianist Hiromi, the Eagle has learned that Shirley Horn will be making an encore appearance at this year’s jazz festival at Tanglewood, which takes place August 29-31, and which will conclude with a blues concert.
Jazz fans seeking a little more variety and spice than what is being offered in the Berkshires proper might look to nearby festivals. The Freihofer Jazz Festival at the Saratoga (N.Y.) Performing Arts Center (www.spac.org) on June 28-29 includes David Sanborn, Dave Brubeck, Shirley Horn, India.Arie, Wayne Shorter, the Crusaders, and Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, the Zawinul Syndicate, among many others. The Litchfield Jazz Festival (www.litchfieldjazzfest.com) at the Fairgrounds in Goshen, Conn., on August 1-3 features Wayne Shorter, the Heath Brothers, Soulive, Brad Mehldau, Kevin Mahogany, Benny Green and Russell Malone, Vanessa Rubin, Mulgrew Miller, Taj Mahal, and Jane Bunnett and the Spirits of Havana.
Up in Greenfield, the annual Green River Festival (www.greenriverfestival.com) takes place July 18-19, featuring They Might Be Giants, Patty Griffin, Chip Taylor, Brave Combo, Slaid Cleaves, Terrance Simien and Balfa Toujours. And up at SPAC, a parade of classic rockers, including The Dead and Steve Winwood (June 20), Santana (June 22), Neil Young (July 4), James Taylor (July 6), Bon Jovi (August 3), and Steely Dan (August 29) will vie for baby boomers’ ticket dollars.
[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on April 11, 2003. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2003. All rights reserved.]
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