Old Songs Festival: ‘Music With Roots’

Celebrating its impressive 35th anniversary this year, Old Songs Festival brings its mix of traditional music and dance, entertainment and education to the Altamont Fairgrounds this June 26-28. This festival is unique in that it is more focused on learning and hands-on experiences than simply providing passive entertainment. Beginning at 2:30PM on Friday and 9:30AM on both Saturday and Sunday, festival-goers will have the opportunity to take workshops on an incredibly wide range of topics, including shape note singing, songwriting, Cajun dancing, and learning to hone your instrument-playing skills, whatever that instrument may be. Stretched across ten “areas”, these classes will be interspersed with performances and jams throughout the day.

After a long yet fulfilling day of musical education, treat yourself to an evening of entertainment and dance. To kick off the weekend’s entertainment, at 4:00PM on Friday, there will be a performance titled “Down With the Rent!” which offers a bit of history about the Anti-Rent Rebellion that took place in this area of New York State. Beginning at 6:30PM on Friday and Saturday and 4:00PM on Sunday, the main stage will be graced with the presence of musicians from all over the world who specialize in treating their audiences to folk, traditional, Celtic, and world music, including Brother Sun, Magpie, and Ken Whiteley & The Beulah Band.

As if the already numerous activities of the day haven’t worn you out, it is definitely worth staying up for the huge contra dances, which begin at 11:00PM on both Friday and Saturday. Don’t worry: if you are only a beginner contra dancer, there will be plenty of opportunity during the days to take some workshops on the subject, so you can use what you learn during the day to show off your new-found skills at night.

Tickets to this event are currently for sale, with adult tickets costing $130 for all four days, and a youth ticket for those between the ages of 13 and 18 accompanied by an adult costing $60 (children 12 and under are admitted free). It is possible to purchase a ticket with camping included for a nominal additional fee of $20 for the entire four days. Old Songs is an extremely family-friendly event, but if you are camping out, you might want to choose one of the quiet areas if you are hoping to get some sleep, as the jamming will go on throughout the night in certain camping areas.

For those interested in being both educated and entertained in ways that only folk and traditional music can provide, then Old Songs is definitely the festival for you. So hop on over to the Altamont Fairgrounds to celebrate this worthy festival’s 35th year.