Music Styles for Every Taste
Albany, N.Y. - Most people think of heading to big cities to catch the best musical performances, but every summer, the cities and towns of New York State - small and large alike - celebrate with some of the biggest and most important music gatherings in the country.
Music festivals, featuring sounds from classical and country to bluegrass and jazz will be among this summer’s hottest events. They include Camp Bisco, one of the world’s top gatherings for electronic music, and Clearwater’s Hudson River Revival, one of the country’s best known folk gatherings. Some festivals, such as Moe.down (jam rock) and Music from Salem (chamber music), have a devoted niche following, while others, such as the Old Songs Festival, have great appeal for families. Among the headliners of this year’s music festivals are Arlo Guthrie, Steve Winwood and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Cotton.
For lovers of Broadway-style musicals, the hills of New York State will truly be alive with the sound of music this summer. While the Broadway musical The Sound of Music won’t be performed at this year’s first annual Musical Theatre Festival in the Finger Lakes, Kiss Me Kate, My Fair Lady and Nunsense will.
Add some of the most stunning outdoor settings where mountain pines scent the air and vast, clear lakes create the perfect backdrop for a picnic of local wines, cheeses and fruit and it’s no wonder that many of New York’s music festivals are some of the most popular. Many multi-day events offer camping and cottage options with music informally continuing long into the night around campfires under the stars. Others are intimate gatherings that might take place in a restored barn or in the parlor of a private home.
Most festivals offer opportunities to interact with the performers, often through Q&As or workshops. Some even invite onlookers to sit in on jam sessions! And others offer special kid-specific entertainment as well. Whether you’re a music enthusiast traveling to hear a favorite performer or simply want to catch a concert while vacationing, you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy music in New York State this summer.
Here’s a sampling of festivals happening across the state this summer:
Folk Music in the Hudson Valley: The Hudson Valley hosts two of America’s most attended and renowned folk festivals every year.
- Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, June 16 - 17, 2012, an annual music and environmental festival, held on the banks of the Hudson River at Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson. Inspired by folk great Pete Seeger’s passion for cleaning the Hudson, this 30 plus- year event draws big name performers. This year’s headliners include Arlo Guthrie, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Peter Yarrow and Tom Chapin. The event helps raise funds for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater’s environmental research, education and advocacy efforts to protect the Hudson River and the environment. Tickets range from $60 for a one-day pass purchased in advance to $200 for the weekend including camping.
- Caramoor International Music Festival, June 23 - August 8, 2012, the 67th annual festival features the Orchestra of St. Luke’s as orchestra-in-residence. Formed here in 1979, OSL’s musicians return to perform at the Venetian Theater each summer amidst Caramoor’s beautiful Italianate estate and gardens in Katonah. Other highlights this summer include an American Roots Day with music by Hot Tuna Acoustic, David Bromberg and others as well as the Paquito D’Rivera Latin Jazz Sextet. Ticket prices start at $10 to $15 for many events.
- Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, July 27 - 29, 2012, a three day celebration of folk music and dance, held annually at Long Hill Farm outside Hillsdale in the foothills of the Berkshires. The event draws up to 15,000 attendees, many of whom camp on the grounds. Music ranges from authentic bluegrass to pop rock with performances on several stages. Popular events include workshops, a showcase of emerging artists, kid-friendly performances, and a dance tent featuring group and partner dance styles including contra, swing, zydeco and square dancing. In addition to official performances, music often continues informally around the campground. Tickets range from $40 for a one day pass without camping, to $155 for three days with camping. Children 12 and under are free.
Camping in the Catskills: The pristine Catskill Mountains are home to the original 1969 Woodstock Festival as well as the setting for the intimate Catskill Chill Music Festival.
- Belleayre Music Festival, June 30 - September 1, 2012, a variety of genres from folk and opera to classical music will be featured at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in Highmount. Performances will include Puccini’s La Boheme, a celebration of Lionel Hampton, America’s Got Talent sensation The Texas Tenors, and name bands such as The Spinners. Tent ticket prices range from $25 to $66.
- The 24th Annual Honest Brook Music Festival, July 14 - August 12, 2012, a summer series featuring young musicians and well known artists in an intimate, converted dairy barn between Delhi and Meridale in the Western Catskills. This year’s performers include The Claremont Trio on July 14, pianist Anastasia Rizikov on July 21, cellist Soo Bae and pianist Pei-Yao Wang on August 5, and the Horszowski Trio, August 12. Tickets are $25 each; $85 for the series. Children through 12th grade are free.
- The 3rd Annual Catskill Chill Music Festival, September 7 - 9, 2012, an intimate three-day lakeside event at Camp Minglewood in Hancock. The 2012 event will host over 40 bands on three stages and also features an open mic stage, yoga, drum circles, live art and a communal bonfire each night. Music ranges from jam bands, reggae music, funk, jazz, blue grass and electronica to rock and roll. The line-up includes Yonder Mountain String Band, Lotus, Conspirator and Soulive. Camping is available on site. Tickets (advance purchase) start at $115 for a weekend pass including camping and parking.
Jamming in the Adirondacks: The pristine six-million acre Adirondack Park, home to more than 3,000 lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, sets the scene for both a folk music festival and a rock and roll festival.
- The 23rd Annual Adirondack Folk Music Festival, August 12, 2012, an afternoon of free performances at the Boathouse Theatre, 20 Deck Street, in Schroon Lake. The festival will include performances by Dan Berggren & Ed Lowman, Peggy Lynn & Dan Duggan, Possumhaw, Patti Casey & Bob Amos and The Modern Grass Quintet. There will also be kid-friendly activities and crafts exhibits. The sponsor, the Schroon Lake Arts Council, also will bring in Doo Wop, jazz, folk and country bands for its series of free Monday Night Boat House Acoustic Jam Sessions.
- Moe.Down, August 10 - 12, 2012, a three day camping and music event held at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin (about 32 miles north of Rome and 76 miles from Syracuse) brings a more rocking style of Jamming to the Adirondacks. Moe. was a leader in the improvisational and jam band movement of the 1990s. Like the Dead’s “Dead Heads,” Moe. has a devoted following who call themselves “moe.rons.” Featured artists include Moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and Soja. Tickets, $120 for the full event, include camping and music.
- Great South Bay Music Festival, July 13 - 15, 2012, a three day” American Themed” music, art & cultural family event on Long Island at the Shorefront Park in Patchogue. The event will feature over 45 musical artists on three stages, presenting top name and local up-and-coming artists in contemporary & classic rock, jazz, jam-band, country, folk, zydeco, funk and all types of American music. A Kidzone will provide educational children’s entertainment all day Saturday & Sunday and an artisan market draws a diverse collection of interesting handmade and imported creations. Brews and wine tents will feature local wines and beer. One-day passes are priced at $29.99; weekend tickets are $75. Children 10 and under are free. VIP tickets and senior and college student discounts are also available.
Chamber Music and more in the Capital-Saratoga region: Opportunities for hands on learning are a draw at the chamber music and folk events, while Camp Bisco is one of the world’s largest electronic rock events.
- Music from Salem, June 10 to August 4, 2012, with chamber music concerts on June 10, July 7, 8, and 15 and August 4 as well as open rehearsals followed by a Q&A session, children’s workshops and other events. The program draws musicians from around the world who come to rural Washington County to work together at the Brown Farm in Salem, exploring, rehearsing and performing chamber music and sharing with interested visitors. Most concerts are held at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge. Admission to each event is “pay what you can” with a suggested amount of $20.
- The 32nd Annual Old Songs Festival, June 22 - 24, 2012, a family-friendly festival of folk, traditional, Celtic and World music on the Altamont Fairgrounds in Altamont. The festival includes 120 workshops by performers as well as a juried craft show, food and instrument vendors and a children’s activity area. Featured performers include Sharon Katz and The Peace Train, Scottish troubadour and BBC radio host Archie Fisher, and folksinger John McCutcheon. Audiences can also participate in a jug band, drum circle, open mic performances, contra dancing and after concert sings and open jams. Camping is available and tickets range in price from $25 to $125, depending on length of stay.
- Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, June 30 - July 1, 2012, 20 hours of live jazz on two stages at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs. Performers are slated to include Chris Botti, Maceo Parker, Mingus Big Band, Trombone Shorty and more. Ticket prices start at $55 for adults; children under 12 are free on the lawn.
- The 10th annual Camp Bisco 2012, July 12 - 14, 2012, a three day music and arts festival founded by The Disco Biscuits at the India Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, about 30 minutes from Albany. One of the country’s largest electronic rock festivals, this year features a 100+ performer lineup at the multi-stage camping festival. Performers include The Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar; Skrillex; Amon Tobin ISAM, and many more. General admission tickets cost $170 in advance.
Broadway and Blues in the Finger Lakes: The new Musical Theatre Festival comes with a full season of musicals, while the long-running Grassroots, Jazz and Folk festivals are concentrated long weekend events that are popular for their impromptu jamming as well as their formal and internationally renowned performances.
- The first annual Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, May 30 - October 20, 2012, brings “on, off and beyond Broadway” musicals to the 501-seat Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn throughout the summer. At the same time, the Auburn Public Theater will showcase off-Broadway shows, while the 199-seat Theatre Mack, housed in a turn-of-the century carriage house at the Cayuga Museum of History will provide an intimate cabaret-style setting for original works. This year’s festival will include performances of 9 to 5: The Musical, Cabaret, Nunsense, Altar Boyz, My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wedding, and more. The Fingerlakes Musical Theatre Festival also invites Broadway show creators to pitch musical ideas where audiences can provide critiques and input to show creates at The Pitch. Merry-Go-Round subscriptions are priced from $152 with discounts for youth and seniors. Flex passes are priced from $168 for four tickets. Single tickets vary in price by performance.
- Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance, July 19 - 22, 2012, a four-day event on four stages, along the west side of Cayuga Lake on the Trumansburg Fairgrounds, Trumansburg, (about ten miles north of Ithaca), draws more than 60 bands, from well-known to emerging roots-related and world music. Performers include Donna the Buffalo, George Jones, Khaira Arby and Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band. Limited onsite and nearby camping is available. Tickets are priced from $95 for four days; single day and youth tickets are available. Children 12 and under are free. Onsite camping, $75 is limited and must be reserved in advance.
- The Golden Link Turtle Hill Folk Festival, September 7 - 9, 2012 at the Rotary Sunshine Campus (809 Five Points Rd. Rush, NY 14543), is less than a half hour’s drive south of Rochester. Performers scheduled to appear to date include Robin and Linda Williams, Claudia Schmidt and Sally Rogers, John Roberts, Castlebay and Scott Alarik. There are also daytime workshops, and evening concerts are followed by informal jamming and campfire singing with covered space in case of rain. Rough camping is available at no charge; cabins cost $10 per person over 12, and tickets range from $10 for one day for members to $65 for the full event for non-members.
- Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, June 22 - 30, 2012, now in its 11th year, presents more than 1,000 artists performing at 18 venues and outdoor stages, in 300 concerts, of which nearly 70 of are free. With musicians such as Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa and Queen Latifah, Daryl Hall, Keb’ Mo, Steve Martin, Esperanza Spalding Radio Music Society and Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, the festival boasts one of the most dynamic and extensive international lineups of any U.S. jazz festival. All headliner shows are hosted at the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre (unless otherwise noted).
Opera on the lake and more in Central New York: Aida is among the featured productions at Cooperstown’s Glimmerglass Festival this summer.
- The 2012 Glimmerglass Festival, July 7 - August 25, 2012, is a series of opera and musical theater productions at the Alice Busch Opera Theater, set along the shores of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown. This year’s main stage productions, Verdi’s Aida, Willson’s The Music Man, Lully’s Armide and Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s Lost in the Stars will run in rotation. There are also special performances, concerts and lectures throughout the season. Single tickets range from $26 to $132 depending on seats and dates; youth, or student, educator and senior discounts and season passes are available.
Free Blues and Jazz Festivals in the Greater Niagara area: Every year, jazz and blues lovers have the chance to enjoy big name musicians perform at no charge in a lovely outdoor setting.
- Historic Lewiston Jazz Festival, August 24 - 25, 2012, a free event at venues throughout historic Lewiston. Artists will be announced in July.
- The 5th Annual Niagara Falls Blues Festival, September 7 - 9, 2012, titled “Blues on the Brink,” is a free event held on Old Falls Street the weekend after Labor Day. The event, which this year features Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Cotton, is popular with blues enthusiasts, who come from as far away as Australia and Alaska. Last year’s event drew an estimated 10,000 attendees.
Bluegrass in the Thousand Islands-Seaway: Bluegrass enthusiasts can enjoy their favorite bands and participate in workshops in a lovely outdoor setting.
- Madrid’s 22nd Annual Bluegrass River Festival Weekend, June 22 - 24, 2012, held in a community park along a serene, scenic stretch of the Grasse River in Madrid. In addition to great bluegrass music, the weekend events include a race, children’s fishing derby, chainsaw wood carving, fireworks, a guitar raffle and other events. Featured musicians include Amy Gallatin and Stillwaters, Remington Ryde, Atkinson Family, Delany Brothers, Spare Change and more. Admission is $32 for the weekend; children 12 and under are free and rough camping costs $7.
- The 25th Annual Harborfest, July 26 - 29, 2012, a four day, admission-free festival held at riverside parks and town squares throughout Oswego. Kenny Loggins will be among the performers, along with a national tribute, jazz and blues bands and an emerging artists showcase. Plus, a Harborfest Family Park will feature a children’s musical along with other activities for families. Each year there is a different cultural theme; in honor of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, this year’s will be French culture.
Pops, Jazz in the Streets and more in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region: This summer will bring a variety of musical styles to Victorian villages such as Ellicottville and Bemus Point and beautiful Lake Chautauqua.
- Bach & Beyond Festival, June 8 - 10, 2012, a lively celebration of Baroque music held in the Victorian-era 1891 Fredonia Opera House (about 46 miles from Buffalo). In its 17th year, the festival features pre-concert conversations, which are free to ticket holders and performances by Baroque specialists. Tickets are $45 for three concerts over three days, along with an invitation to a reception with the musicians following the Sunday performance.
- The Summer Music Festival, June 29 - July 1, 2012, will include over a dozen performances throughout the Village of Ellicottville (about an hour south of Buffalo). The main slope side stage at Holiday Valley will feature Sister Hazel on Friday night, the Buffalo Philharmonic on Saturday, which will end with the “1812 Overture,” including fireworks and “Stars and Strips Forever.” The Guess Who take the stage on Sunday. Tickets start at $25 per performance in advance. The town will also host a Jazz and Blues Weekend starting July 28, with bands playing in the town’s restaurants, bars and nightclubs as well as street side and in the village square.
- The 21st Annual Great Blue Heron Music Festival, July 6 - 8, 2012, a three-day event in a 300-acre rural setting in Sherman. More than 100 performers are expected, including Donna the Buffalo, The Town Pants, Toubab Krewe and Entrain. Events include a main stage, large dance tent, old-time jams, songwriters’ circle, instrumental workshops, drum circles and swimming. Weekend passes are priced from $75; one day passes from $30. Children under 12 are free. Parking is priced from $10 to $55 per vehicle and tent camping is free.
- Bemus Bay Pops Summer Concert Series, June 24 - September 1, 2012, a series of outdoor concert events held every weekend from on the Floating Stage on Chautauqua Lake. Classical, swing, jazz, country and modern musical acts perform, including a tribute to Elvis presented by his son, and tribute evenings featuring the music of Bruce Springsteen, Shania Twain, Rod Stewart, the Eagles, the Doobie Brothers, Chicago, the Bee Gees and more. There’s also an Irish music day (August 5) and weekdays bring movie nights, comedy troupes, and more. Individual show tickets are $15 for Saturday evening performances; $10 for Sunday afternoon and Monday night Chautauqua Lake Idol shows, except special events.
About New York State
New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions. New York’s attractions span from landmarks such as Niagara Falls, to the wine trails of Hudson Valley and treasures like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Whether it’s wide-ranging outdoor activities for the whole family like fishing, hiking and boating, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers diverse activities for all travelers. For more information, visit http://cts.vresp.com/c/?M.SilverAssociates/b38aa0bdf3/46dd633bbb/4a762e354f. Media can find press releases and more at thebeat.iloveny.com.
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