Bold beats and folk icons, hand-crafted delicacies and gorgeous produce, unexpected art installations and an old-school working waterfront. Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival, also simply and affectionately known as the Clearwater Festival (June 15-16, 2013; clearwaterfestival.org), unites major musical figures and green activism, building a creative community in one of the most scenic spots on the Hudson River.
Founded by Pete Seeger and nurtured by over a thousand dedicated volunteers, the event embraces the changing, increasingly hip, locavore, and eclectic spirit of the Hudson Valley. Old-school R&B (Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings) and new scions of gritty Americana Son Volt and Drive-By Truckers (now gone solo) Patterson Hood and Jason Isbell will play side-by-side with gospel soul legends like Mavis Staples, an unplugged Hot Tuna, and veteran legacy artists like Judy Collins and David Bromberg. New voices, including the Virginia mountain-top chamber pop of The Last Bison and the harmony-rich Brooklyn country of The Lone Bellow, will ring out alongside Seeger himself. Seeger will be performing with long-time collaborator Lorre Wyatt in a special festival appearance, one of several strong collaborations at this year's festival: Jorma Kaukonen & Steve Kimock and Keller Williams & The Travelin' McCourys.
In addition to American roots music, the festival has long welcomed world music. This year is no exception, with Afrobeat intensity (Antibalas), uplifting Afropop (Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars), Bhangra-powered brass (Red Baraat), virtuosic Malian desert blues (Vieux Farka Touré), and funky Celtic-Asian fusion (Delhi 2 Dublin). Native American artists-Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joanne Shenandoah, and roots-soul vocalist Martha Redbone-are also a major component of the festival lineup.
"We're still a folk fest, in that we feature artists from around the world," explains festival director Steve Lurie. "Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, with his background, is still folk. Sharon Jones is, too, as she plays R&B from a particular time, a particular scene. I use the broad sense of folk music as a guiding light."
The festival's other guiding light is changing the way people relate to the river, and to the environment and community in general. Along with prominent names on stages, the festival has an artisanal food and farm market, juried crafts fair, roving performers, traditional storytellers, an activist area, and a chance to ride on river craft like those that have traversed the Hudson for centuries. All in one two-day, zero-waste, bio diesel- and solar-powered festival in lush Croton Point Park, to support the mission of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc, one of the nation's preeminent environmental organizations and a key mover in promoting policies to restore the Hudson to its former, teeming glory.