Arts

Legislators and celebrities hope to expand film tax credits to Catskills and Hudson Valley

Above: Director Tansy Michaud and cinematographer Adam Carboni shoot “Enjoy Your Intermission," a film about the Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre in the Greene County town of Coxsackie, in 2014. Photo by Philip Doueihi.

Officials have spent years trying to build up the Catskill region's appeal to the film industry. Now new legislation might make things a whole lot easier.

The Hudson Valley Film Commission announced on Thursday, June 16 that state lawmakers have passed legislation this week that will extend tax credits for film productions to 12 upstate New York counties, including Greene, Sullivan and Ulster counties in the Catskills.  Read more

Hand cranked souvenir penny machine comes to Phoenicia

Above: Souvenir pennies made by the new machine in Phoenicia. Photo by Brett Barry. 

Kitsch-lovers rejoice! You can squish one of four Catskills-specific designs onto a souvenir penny in the Ulster County hamlet of Phoenicia using a hand-cranked machine that has been installed on Main Street.

The machine, which was manufactured by a company in Colorado, can emblazon pennies with one of four Phoenicia-specific designs: a Catskills black bear; a “Quill Gordon” fishing fly; a map of Ulster County and the logo of the Phoenicia Diner. The process is manual, using a hand crank and some elbow grease, and costs 50 cents per penny.

The project is the brainchild of Brett Barry, a Phoenicia resident who owns Silver Hollow Audio, an audio production that is also the force behind a series of audio tours and books that celebrate the Catskills region: “Afloat & Afoot by John Burroughs”  and “The Route 28 Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway Driving Guide.”  Read more

Margaret "Peggy" O'Connell, den mother of the 1970s Catskills music scene, dies at 82

Above: Peggy O'Connell appeared on the back cover of “Oceans between Us,” a 1978 album by the Allen Harris Band, released by Tappan Zee Records/Columbia Records. Standing left to right are: Kim Wroble (bass) Mike Kimmel (guitar/vocals), Peggy O'Connell (in the middle, in background), Mandy Rosenblatt and far right standing Allen Harris (guitar/vocals). Sitting left to right: Larry Smith (piano/sax), Robert Rosenblatt (aka Blatts) (congas), Christine Cordone (guitar/vocals) and Rob Leon (lead guitar). Photo courtesy of Christine Cordone.

Margaret “Peggy” Grant O'Connell, the owner of the Pine Hill Tavern who was a patron of the 1970s Catskills music scene and a mother to many, died on Thursday, May 12 at HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston after losing an 11-month battle with breast cancer. She was 82 years old. A celebration of her life is planned for Monday, June 6.

A lover of music, books and her dog Zorro, whose ashes will be buried alongside her, O'Connell dispensed motherly love and presided over a booming local music scene from behind the bar at the Pine Hill Tavern (now Zephyr Restaurant) in the Ulster County hamlet of Pine Hill from 1976 to 1982.

"We used to call her Mother Teresa," said her son, James Michael O'Connell, with whom Peggy lived with in the hamlet of Olivebridge for the last five years of her life.

"Mom was a people person,” he said. “She liked everybody; she never had a bad word to say about anyone."

During the 1970s, in the wake of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, bands performing original tunes flocked to the Catskills, looking for nurturing venues to host them as they honed their skills.

The Pine Hill Tavern, located on the westernmost edge of Ulster County just off Route 28, was often their last stop.

Often known just as "Peggy's Place,” the tavern was not just a bar—it was a home away from home for traveling musicians and others in need.  Read more

Tiny Arts Day in tiny West Fulton

The town of West Fulton may be tiny, but it has a lot of heart—and art.

“West Fulton is a very interesting place, made up of extremely creative people,” said Cornelia McGiver, the artistic director of Panther Creek Arts, a new arts venue in the small Schoharie County town. “And what I find special about that place is that there is a willingness to exchange and complement ideas.”

Panther Creek Arts, which is located in a former grain and feed store from 1919, is all about inspiring this exchange through artistic, recreational and educational events. The building’s upper level, known as The Hall, includes a stage and long, natural-wood picnic tables that can seat 80 to 200 people. Meanwhile, the ground level houses BITE ME, a cafe that serves delicious foods like curried chicken salad over fresh greens, gluten-free sweets, kombucha and more.

“It’s been our mission to bring world-class music and arts to that venue,” McGiver said.  Read more

Mountain Jam returns, bigger than ever

Photo via the Mountain Jam Festival's Facebook page.

Late spring in the Catskills means fishing, camping, and, if you’re a live music fan, Mountain Jam.

Originally conceived in 2004 as a one-day celebration of Woodstock radio station WDST’s 25th anniversary, the festival soon expanded to two days, then three.

Apparently immune to an anemic economy, Mountain Jam 2016 extends to four days, Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 5, boasting headliners Beck, Wilco, the Avett Brothers, Train and Thievery Corporation.

The marquee is impressive, but Mountain Jam co-producer/WDST president Gary Chetkof recently spoke most enthusiastically of the newer faces at this year’s event.

“In 2015, we had more women-fronted bands [Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Lake Street Dive],” he said. “That was really cool. But for this Mountain Jam, I’m excited about the songwriters.”  Read more

The winners of the 2016 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Above: "Waterfall on Trout Creek" by Steve Aaron, the grand prize winner of the 2016 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest. 

It's Memorial Day weekend, and our print 2016 Catskills Outdoor Guide has hit the streets! Copies are being dropped off at dozens of locations around the Catskills. See what it looks like and download a digital copy by clicking here.

Each year, we ask readers of the Watershed Post and our Catskills Outdoor Guide to send us their best photos of the Catskills great outdoors. This year, 51 photographers entered our 2016 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest  Read more

Poetry workshops come to West Hurley’s new Poetry Barn

Above: A poem written on a paper airplane, a prototype for "Skywriting: Poems & Planes," a workshop to be held Saturday, May 28 at the Poetry Barn in West Hurley. Photo by Lissa Kiernan.

Poet and teacher Lissa Kiernan makes her students’ poetry fly, both literally and figuratively.

On Saturday, May 28, from noon to 5 p.m., she’ll bring that skill to her new venue, the Poetry Barn in West Hurley, with inaugural course “Skywriting: Poems & Planes,” the first of several “Last Saturdays at the Barn” events. And the poems will, in fact, fly.

To explain how the work will defy gravity, Kiernan, a recent émigré from Brooklyn, met Watershed Post for coffee at Bread Alone in Boiceville, and gave a brief history of the building.  Read more

Funk ambassador in the Catskills: Jon Cleary and the Monster Gentlemen

Above: Jon Cleary and the Monster Gentlemen. Photo via the West Kortright Centre.

When Jon Cleary and the Monster Gentlemen return to the West Kortright Center, you won’t be faulted for thinking you’ve been transported to the Big Easy.

“He played here in 2006,” West Kortright director Martha Van Burek said of the crown jewel of her season. “And he brought the house down. He was amazing. Been trying to get him back ever since.”

Appearing with Cleary at the West Kortright Center will be the uber funky rhythm section of drummer A.J. Hall and bassist Cornell C. Williams, aka the Monster Gentlemen. This duo is an integral aspect of Cleary’s recent album “Go Go Juice,” (his eighth), which netted him the 2016 Grammy (his first) for Best Regional Roots Music Album. In addition, OffBeat Magazine named him 2015 Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Best Keyboardist, and awarded his song “Boneyard” Song of the Year; and he was named New Orleans’s Big Easy Entertainer of the Year.  Read more

Dozens of Memorial Day events kick off summer in the Catskills

Above: An honor guard leads the 2015 Liberty Memorial Day Parade. Photo by John Kocijanski of Catskill Photography, shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr pool.

Memorial Day Weekend 2016 brings a flood of enticing opportunities to come together, celebrate, and get the Catskills summer season started off right. Here’s our five-county guide to what’s happening where from Friday, May 27 to Monday, May 30.

DELAWARE COUNTY

Parades and Ceremonies:

Roxbury 

Parade: May 30, 9:30 a.m., Route 30 North

Grand Gorge 

Parade: May 30, 11 a.m., Route 23 West  Read more

Twyla Tharp, legendary choreographer, returns to the mountains

Above: Twyla Tharp. Images provided by the Catskill Mountain Foundation.

Since its 1998 inception, the Catskill Mountain Foundation has tried to make Greene County an international destination for dance. This weekend, with world-renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp presenting the results of her six-week residency in Tannersville, the organization has reached a whole new level.

The legendary Tharp, one of the country’s most famous choreographers, has spent the past six weeks in Greene County working on three old and new dances that will be presented to the public on Saturday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the CMF’s historic Orpheum Film and Performing Arts Center in Tannersville. The one-time performance is completely sold out.  Read more


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