Returning to Croton Point Park after taking last year off, the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival (Clearwater Festival), the country’s oldest music and environmental festival started by none other than folk legend Pete Seeger, came back full force in 2017. Taking place during its usual Father’s Day Weekend, Clearwater continued its tradition of being one of the most family-friendly festivals out there, making it the ideal location to take dad on his special day.
From the kid-oriented Story Grove and Family Stage, providing entertainment and education to people of all ages, to the Dance Stage and Circle of Song, giving folks the opportunity to actively participate in the music, to the “new this year” Workshop Stage, giving audience members the chance to see artists in a more intimate setting and learn more about their backgrounds and how they got into music, not to mention the main Rainbow and Hudson Stages, featuring some of this event’s biggest named artists to date, Clearwater has something for everyone.
Saturday’s line-up featured Clearwater favorites Toshi Reagon, Holly Near and The Kennedys to ring in this year’s festival, helping to bring everyone back into the spirit of this folk gathering. Day One also included Woodstock locals Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, a Hudson Valley Song Swap, indie/folk singer Josh Ritter, NYC’s dance brass band Lucky Chops, the soulful and sultry Joan Osborne and bluegrass-influenced Lake Street Dive. And this is all on top of the lovely and varied crafts, jewelry, and clothing to be found in Handcrafters’ Village, the Artisanal Food & Farm Market, where everything from tempeh reubens and kombucha to shiitake mushroom starter kits could be purchased and, perhaps most excitingly, the sending off of the Sloop Clearwater on a historic sail to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate to our country’s officials that clean water is a right for all.
Sunday, the hotter but drier day of the two, saw its own share of big names mixed with festival faves like David Amram and Jay Ungar & Molly Mason (based out of Ashokan, from right here in our backyard). A day of commemorations unfolded, including Story Songs of Harry Chapin, featuring Harry’s equally talented brother Tom Chapin, Songs of Leonard Cohen, which climaxed with an emotional sing-along of “Hallelujah” and a 50th anniversary celebration of the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band given a New Orleans twist by Brother Joscephus and the Love Revolution. Acts on the main Rainbow Stage included the Dolly Parton-meets-Beyonce, Valerie June, ‘60s British folk rocker Richard Thompson and folk trio Cry Cry Cry, consisting of folk legends Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell, performing together for the first time in 18 years. To top it all off, with a beautiful sunset as the backdrop on the Hudson River Stage, jamband The Barr Brothers flawlessly meshed guitar, bass, percussion and harp in a bluesy-folky blend. And perhaps the most fitting way to end the festival on the Rainbow Stage was Arlo Guthrie with his signature political folk stylings.
Clearwater provides a plethora of musical entertainment, tasty food choices and unique shopping options, and plenty of opportunities to learn more about environmental issues and ways to help make this world a better place. You can feel good about buying your ticket to this festival as all proceeds go directly to support Clearwater’s environmental research, education and advocacy efforts to help protect the Hudson River. For those who haven’t been able to make it to a Clearwater Festival yet, this is definitely one you’ll want to be sure to add to your calendars for next year’s Father’s Day Weekend.