Hudson Music Fest: It’s Not Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, But You’ll Like It
by Betsy Miller
Organizers of music festivals tend to follow the Woodstock model—one outdoor site, many acts scheduled over the course of several days. This weekend, impresarios in the city of Hudson will test a different construct: 10 restaurants, 2 performance venues, 5 tents, 1 radio station, and 4 miles of sidewalk will be the site of the first annual Hudson Music Fest. Beginning at noon on Friday and continuing through Sunday, the entire town will showcase music, from the lone guitarist strumming on a street corner to a 7-piece band on a spot-lit stage.
“Last year we had a creative economy workshop in town and about 50 people participated,” says photographer Chad Weckler, who, with Midhudsonmedia.com‘s Rob Johanson co-founded the Fest. “Out of that came the discussions about the music festival.” The co-founders sent out an open call and over one hundred musicians responded, including The Last Conspirators (psychedelic punk), Jugstompers (jug band), Mamalama (anglo-European and medieval), Zumbi Zumbi (calypso and Brazillian), and the songwriting team, The Compact.
With the exception of Helsinki, Basilica and American Glory, who are booking their own acts, the musicians are playing for free in exchange for the exposure and the chance to win a prize for Most Promising. The judge: Henry Hirsch, Lenny Kravitz’s longtime producer and owner of Hudson’s Waterfront Studios, whose staff will scout each of the performances, will select one act to record, mix, and master a single, all by Sunday afternoon. “It’s a 5 or 6 hour free recording session,” says Weckler. “That’ll help the artist, for sure,” as will Weckler’s follow-up interview with the recipient, broadcast during his show on local radio station WGXC.
Highlights of the fest include a free CD release party on Friday at 10 p.m. at Club Helsinki for the rock/blues duo Chris & Lolly, right. Chris plays bass, drums, piano and 6- and 12-string steel guitar; Lolly has been described as “Amy Winehouse without the drama”—a distinctive voice that doesn’t need a mic. For a $5 cover charge, The Basilica, which is quickly establishing itself as a showcase for cutting edge art, will offer up Nautical Almanac and Bunnybrains, two groups known for “bleeps, bloops, oddball noise” and psych/noise/punk. All weekend in a tent at 5th and Warren, American Glory BBQ Restaurant will be serving up Mississippi blues along with 20 ice cold microbrews. On Sunday, Jazz aficionados will find the Hudson Jazzworks workshop at the Hudson Opera House and the sounds of gospel at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.
Ten of the town’s restaurants are expected to feature music from classical to gypsy, acoustic guitar to reggae. Weckler is hoping to get street-corners players to “echo a tune up-and down Warren Street.” So far, they’ve signed 70 acts, 100 musicians, 30 venues, and 100 scheduled performances. “We’ve made a real effort to cover the spectrum,” he says. And this is just their first year.
The 1st Annual Hudson Music Fest
August 12 – 14
Mostly free. Check listings for venues w/ admission fees