Two Dark Birds plays for the Woodland Playhouse

This Friday, the rock-soul-folk band Two Dark Birds is holding a benefit concert for the Woodland Playhouse preschool in Phoenicia. The band's front man, Steve Koester, emailed us about why the preschool, which his daughter has attended, it so great:

Woodland Playhouse is a community minded, play-based pre-school just outside of Phoenicia run by an incredible group of women. Our daughter spent the last 3 years there and we are so grateful for the experience that we wanted to help them a bit with next year's arts & science budget.


Resurrecting the "Bedell NY" sign

Quick: Where is Bedell, NY? 

According to the Historical Society for the Town of Middletown's Tin Horn blog, there used to be an enormous sign with letters 20-feet high answering that question for strangers approaching the intersection of Little Red Kill Road and Big Red Kill Road in the town of Middletown in Delaware County. 

(Have no idea where that is? It's nestled between Fleischmanns to the south, Roxbury to the east, and Halcott to the north. And you're excused for wondering -- this part of Delaware County is very confusing. My attempt at mapping its location is here.)

The Bedell sign was on Linda Kelly Armour's great-uncle's land in Bedell. Armour was intimately familiar with just how much effort it took to keep the sign's giant letters visible, she writes:  Read more

Irish Arts Week in East Durham kicks off this Sunday

See video

Video: Session at Furlong's Pub, Irish Arts Week, 2007.

For decades, records and digital downloads have trained us to be passive consumers of music. But for most of human history, music has been a collaborative effort, with plenty of sharing, jamming, and chiming in.

And in East Durham, it still is. If you're the sort who can't hear a favorite tune without feeling an urge to pick up the nearest noisemaker, you might want to check out Irish Arts Week, a Greene County tradition that's grown from a one-day event to a week-long celebration of the vibrance and diversity of Irish music and culture.  Read more

Catskills locals take NPR by storm

Astute WP reader Laurie McIntosh alerted us to a fun fact today: In the past week, National Public Radio has been crawling with Catskillians.

Case in point: David Krajicek, front man of Blues Maneuver, a Catskills band that features a horn section to die for, was interviewed on All Things Considered yesterday about the phenomenon of the "perp walk" in the wake of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal. (Krajicek's  trombone skills were incidental to the subject of the interview; more relevantly, he's an expert on media crime reporting, a former journalism professor, and a special correspondent for the New York Daily News.)  Read more

This weekend: Mount Tremper Arts Festival

There's something about Shandaken and A-list performing arts talent -- the town is home not only to the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice, but also the Mount Tremper Arts Festival, a magnet for expert dancers from New York City who come up to perform for a Catskills audience on weekends throughout the summer. In May, the New York Times praised the festival as a must-see:

If your summer has room for only one quick dance getaway, you won’t do better than this interdisciplinary, artist-run festival in the Catskills, where the atmosphere is decidedly low key, and sumptuous food offerings are paired with sophisticated contemporary dance. This year’s lineup includes previews by Tere O’Connor, Brian Rogers and Young Jean Lee.

The Mount Tremper Festival opens its season this Saturday with a pig roast and a difficult-to-describe visual and performance arts piece called "Productive Steps," which the festival press release depicts like this:  Read more

This weekend: Jim Caruso's Cast Party

This Friday, Cast Party, a weekly cabaret and variety show that usually spends its Monday nights entertaining crowds at the legendary Manhattan jazz club Birdland, is coming to Belleayre for a little Borscht Belt nostalgia.

Veteran emcee Jim Caruso (above) -- a bud of Liza Minnelli's, who sometimes drops by -- and veteran pianist Tedd Firth will man the stage as a procession of towering Broadway talent performs alongside talented local Catskills artists. Donna McKechnie, who inspired the musical A Chorus Line, will rub shoulders with MARK Project director Peg Ellsworth while singer Sally Mayes will exchange the mic with 13-year-old Mackenzie Wright. For a full list of the acts, see the Roxbury Arts Group website.

Cast Party's night in the Catskills is part of a weekend of Broadway glitz organized jointly (a first!) by the Roxbury Arts Group and the Belleayre Music Festival. The night after the cabaret, Broadway directory and choreographer legend Tommy Tune will take the stage with The Manhattan Rhythm Kings. 

We called up Jim Caruso last week and got him to dish about cabaret, coaxing good performances out of anybody, and coming to the Catskills. Here's our interview below:

Q: Why the Catskills? Have you ever been up here before?

A: You know, I was out there 15 years ago, but I think that was before my constant obsession with being online and being connected. But that's why people come up there, right?

Q: Tell me about Cast Party.

A: It’s crazy. We get these extremely talented people, mostly because the musicianship is unbelievably high. Because I have Tedd on the piano and Steve Doyle on the bass.

Q: Monday night is usually a Broadway performer's night off. Why do they spend their Mondays singing with you?  Read more

Forty-year-old John Lennon and Yoko Ono photos surface in small Catskills gallery

Above: A photo of John Lennon, taken in 1972 by Lou Gaudiosi, from a series to go on exhibit this weekend at Andes Art and Antiques.

Tomorrow, a set of photographs taken of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which apparently have been languishing unseen for nearly forty years, will go on exhibit at the Andes Art and Antiques Gallery, a small gallery in a rural Catskills town.

Photographer Lou Gaudiosi, who was a teenager when he took the photos of the couple in their apartment in New York City's West Village, said that he took them on assignment for Rock Magazine, and that most of the photos from the day's shoot were never published. Gaudiosi was only in the music photography business for a short time, but he said that during his brief career, he photographed some of the musical icons of the day, including Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.

"I spent many times with a lot of rock-and-roll people, and John and Yoko were some of the most lovely people I spent time with," he said.  Read more

Got fireworks? A round-up of Fourth of July festivals in the Catskills

Looking for 2013 fireworks? Check out our Catskills Fourth of July Guide here. -- Ed

Photo via Flickr user bayasaa.

So many fireworks, so little time, so many miles to travel.  If you're seeking the rockets' red glare this weekend, you can find it in all five Catskills counties, either as a stand-alone event or capping off other festivities. Here's our guide to finding Fourth of July festivities in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster counties.  Read more

This weekend: Vodou rocks the WKC

Above: A member of RAM, a Haitian rock/vodou band that will play the West Kortright Centre this Saturday. Photo used with permission.

Last year it was bhangra. This year, it's Haitian mizik rasin music -- traditional vodou folk music mixed with rock 'n roll -- that is coming to the West Kortright Centre's lawn for its annual Gala Under the Stars. 

The Meredith arts organization has booked the 14-member band RAM, a legend in Haiti, to play what promises to be a fantastic show. From the WKC's press release:   Read more

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