"Welcome to Kutsher's" plays the Big Eddy Film Festival

At the Big Eddy Film Festival in Narrowsburg next weekend, filmmakers Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg will attend the Catskills premiere of "Welcome to Kutsher's," their documentary about the legendary Borscht Belt resort that inspired the film "Dirty Dancing."

"Welcome to Kutsher's" takes a close look at the last chapter of the 100-year history of Kutsher's Country Club, which was sold and demolished in 2014 to make way for an Ayurvedic wellness center.

The film reminisces about the resort's role as a mainstray of American Jewish culture for an entire generation, and explores how Kutsher's influenced the development of comedy, professional basketball and vacationing.

From the documentary's promo materials:  Read more

Biennial Drum Boogie Festival brings the beat to Woodstock

Above: COBU performing at the 2013 Drum Boogie Festival. Photo courtesy of the Drum Boogie Festival.

It’s one of the oldest truths in music, and maybe in consciousness: Rhythm is an intense natural high, and brings people together like nothing else can. So prepare to be uplifted and moved at the the Woodstock Drum Boogie Festival, happening this Saturday, Sept. 12 at Andy Lee Field.

The festival taps into a rich regional vein of star power. Grammy winner and National Endowment for the Arts fellow Jack DeJohnette will perform with Gambian-born kora drummer Foday Musa Soso and jazz bass player Matt Garrison.

Above: NEXUS perfoming at the 2013 Drum Boogie Festival. Photo courtesy of the Drum Boogie Festival. 

Mandara, a quintet of instrumentalists and vocal artists directed by Valerie Naranjo, a veteran percussionist who has played in the Saturday Night Live Band and in the Lion King orchestra on Broadway, will be joined by dancer Hettie Barnhill as a special guest.

Famed vibes player Joe Locke will be there, as will COBU, a Japanese taiko percussion group. The NYU Steel Drum Orchestra will take you on a voyage to the outer limits of Caribbean steel pans, and Aanadhha with Dibyarka Chatterjee will do likewise in their chosen realm of Indian tabla. You’ll hear American fife and drum and Balinese gongs. Big Takeover will serve up smoldering reggae.

The Drum Boogie happens every other year, and this is the year. Woodstock Chimes founder and CEO Garry Kvistad will be there again jammin’ out with his own band Nexus, a four-virtuoso ensemble that got started with an improv session back in 1971. They’ve since been dubbed “the high priests of the percussion world” by the New York Times.

Kvistad first dreamed up the Drum Boogie in 2008 while brainstorming with New York State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill about how to have some serious fun while raising the profile of local good causes and erasing the lines that separate folks. During the festival's first year, 2009, thousands showed up to catch the rhythm.

We talked with Kvistad about the festival's fourth iteration.

Watershed Post: Why do you think the human urge to beat drums is so universal, and the experience of rhythm so powerful?

Garry Kvistad: Drumming is fairly unique, in that anyone can beat a drum without any training while specialists have taken many styles of drumming to extreme limits of expertise. Everything in our bodies is pulsating, from the tiniest sub-atomic particle to our heartbeats. Rhythm is universal. Percussion is so much more than pulse, however, and the Drum Boogie Festival exposes the audience to a large array of percussion instruments and styles, including melodic percussion played on xylophones and tuned drums.  Read more

Olive gets $150K in grants, just in time for Olive Day

Above: Arm of the Sea Theater performs at Olive Day. Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Shephard.

The Ulster County town of Olive has a lot to celebrate this week.

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, State Senator James L. Seward announced that the town will receive $150,000 in grants to buy new police equipment and to replace the roof of the town highway garage. The grants will help the town make improvements without raising property taxes, Seward said in a press release.

This Saturday, Olive celebrates its 42nd annual Olive Day at Davis Park in West Shokan with a "food and farms" theme. There will be food vendors, dancing and games, and Ben Rounds, The Pontiacs and the Spillway Band will play live. The highlight of the day is a puppet show performance of “The Rejuvenary River Circus” by Arm of the Sea Theater, sponsored by the Olive Free Library.

Olive Day. Saturday, Sept. 12, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Davis Park, West Shokan, Olive.

Festival of Women Writers comes to the Hobart Book Village

Above: The Hobart Festival of Women Writers enters its third year. Photo via  

For a few days each fall, the Delaware County town of Hobart is ground zero for the Festival of Women Writers, a weekend dedicated to female poets, novelists, memoirists and more from the surrounding region and beyond.

Hobart is already steeped in literature: With only about 400 residents, the self-styled Book Village is home to an impressive six bookstores.

That population is expected to nearly double in size this weekend, when dozens of writers and hundreds of attendees will pour into the tiny town for three days of workshops, readings and events.

Now in its third year, the festival is the brainchild of two literary sisters—poet Cheryl Clarke and novelist Breena Clarke. They started the FWW in 2013 with the idea of bringing female writers together from across the Catskills, and from Delaware County specifically.  Read more

Reggae comes to a Bloomville dairy field

Above: Terry Blaine comes to Bloomville during the Dairy Field Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 5.

The last place you'd expect to find a reggae festival is Bloomville, a hamlet in the middle of rolling dairy country. Here, you're lucky if you can get a strong radio signal, and if you do, you'll hear country or rock, or maybe bluegrass and folk. Jamaicans in the Catskills are few and far between.

One of them is artist and woodworker Michael Milton, who runs the Turquoise Barn B&B in Bloomville with his wife, Michelle Premura. In 2013, Milton brought a lineup of reggae acts to a field near the barn. The daylong festival was a surprise success, attracting “happy campers dancing barefoot into the small hours,” according to Conde Nast Traveler.

Despite some setbacks--last year's festival was rained out, and one of the organizers is no longer involved--the concept has stuck.  Read more

This weekend: The Bethel Woods Harvest Festival

Above: Carriage rides at the Bethel Woods Harvest Festival, via the Bethel Woods website. 

Harvest season is upon us. This Sunday, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in the Sullivan County town of Bethel kicks begins its weekly Harvest Festival, which brings live music, country games, animals, a corn maze, a craft village and a farmers' market to the famous site of the Woodstock Festival. This weekend Project Identity and the Dan Brother Band play.   Read more

This Weekend: Ashokan Center's Summer Hoot

Above: A girl hula hoops at the 2014 Summer Hoot at the Ashokan Center. Photo by Rosalind Dickinson. (This image is featured on one of the covers of our 2015 Catskills Outdoor Guide.

Three days of concerts, music making, camping and camaraderie at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge begin today, Friday, Aug 21, during the center's annual Summer Hoot festival.

The weekend features lots of local musical luminaries including Amy Helm, Elizabeth Mitchell, 22-year-old fiddling phenom Dylan Foley, songwriters Ira and Laurie McIntosh and the Ashokan Center's own Jay Ungar and Molly Mason and Mike + Ruthy.

Big acts visit the rustic outdoor stages, too. There will be clog dancing by Vanaver Caravan, jams from Professor Louie & The Crowmatix, banjo virtuosity by Tony Trischka, songs from Loudon Wainwright, reggae from The Big Takeover and an appearance by folk music legend Baby Gramps from Seattle.   Read more

Scenes from the Delaware County Fair

Above: The start of the Delaware County fair's Demolition Derby on Monday, Aug. 17. Photo by Michael Wentland.

The Delaware County Fair opened for a weeklong celebration of agriculture, carnival rides and demolition derby smashups on Sunday, Aug. 16 in Walton.

Photographer Michael Wentland, who carries his camera wherever he goes and uses a photojournalistic style to document the Catskills and its events and people, was at the fair this week. Here are a few of his shots. You can follow Michael's photography on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To see larger versions of these photos, check out our album on Flickr. 

Above: The rabbit barn at the Delaware County Fair.   Read more

Bespoke lampmakers alight in Delhi

Above: Julian Peploe and David Ryan, the founders of Stone and Sawyer. Photo by Rocky Casale.

On a recent sunny morning, a fan was going full blast in the ceramics studio of Stone and Sawyer, a new lamp-making business in the Delaware County town of Delhi—but it wasn’t for the benefit of the proprietors, David Ryan and Julian Peploe, or this visiting reporter.

Rather, the breeze was aimed at a plaster mold airing out on a table. An interior design firm had commissioned a prototype for a tall, custom table lamp for a new hotel in Washington, D.C., and the stoneware body for the lamp had to be slip-cast, using the mold in question, before it could be sanded, washed, fired, sanded, washed, glazed and then fired again.

Above: Current Stone and Sawyer lamp designs. Photo courtesy of Stone and Sawyer.

“This mold needs to dry!” said Ryan, re-positioning the fan.  Read more

Double rainbow, over the farm

Reader Robert Moses caught this great shot of a double rainbow spanning the sky over Harvey Morse's farm on Dingle Hill in Andes on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

This is the second rainbow photo we've gotten this month, and it's not just us--it really is rainbow season. The Times Herald-Record has received so many rainbow photos this week that the newspaper made a special photo gallery just to showcase them.

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