Ever since Pete Seeger set up housekeeping in Beacon many decades ago, his myriad contacts and admirers in the folk-music biz have flocked to the town as to a shrine. The Beacon Sloop Club’s riverfront hootenannies are a perennial draw for the acoustically inclined, and unplugged acts dominate the stage at the Towne Crier Café on Beacon’s main drag. It’s tough to imagine a more appropriate home base for the brand-new American Center for Folk Music (ACFM), which celebrates its official opening this Sunday afternoon with an all-star concert at Long Dock Park.
Established one year ago to honor folk-music legends and to sustain the “folk process” as a vibrant part of American culture – an ongoing and ever-evolving one, not merely a pop-culture trend of the 1960s – ACFM has found its headquarters: River House, the red “barn” building restored by Scenic Hudson in Long Dock Park. America has long had museums and Halls of Fame dedicated to the history of rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, blues, bluegrass and country music; now the tradition that underlies them all gets its proper place. With any luck, and adequate funding support, ACFM’s Pete Seeger Education Center and Research Archive may become the sort of cultural treasure-trove and center for ethnomusicological research that the Cecil Sharpe House is to Great Britain’s traditional music legacy.
In the proletarian spirit embodied by Pete, Sunday’s concert will offer free admission, but donations to benefit ACFM’s operations will of course be warmly encouraged. The lineup consists of singer/songwriter and hammer dulcimer wizard John McCutcheon; singer/songwriter/guitarist/actor, children’s music champion and longtime Hudson Valley resident Tom Chapin; and multiple Grammy and W. C. Handy Award-winning bluesman Joe Louis Walker.
The show starts at 4 p.m. on October 16, timed to follow the close of the Sloop Club’s annual Pumpkin Festival, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the nearby Pete & Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be moved indoors to the Towne Crier at 379 Main Street. For more information about the American Center for Folk Music, visit www.centerforfolkmusic.org.