The Main event: Rosendale Street Festival this weekend

(Photo by Ann Citron)

Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street: that extra-special mile of Main Street. With 74 bands on six stages, the Rosendale Street Festival rocks, rumbles and reverberates this Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22. The second annual Hudson Valley Short Flix Fest, a lineup of locally produced short films curated by the Rosendale Theatre Collective Programming Committee, will show in tandem.

The legendary annual event is run by the Music Festival of Rosendale, a not-for-profit, grassroots organization that begins planning in September for July’s Festival. Its mission: to bring great local music to the people and exposure to the bands, and to continue the 34-year legacy of its founders.

“This started out with some musicians who wanted to throw a party in 1978, who came downtown and set up and played and had a party, and this is what’s grown out of that,” said Festival chairman Charlie Knicely. Each year, musicians, vendors and the community-at-large combine in a symbiotic celebration, fueled entirely by donations –by performers, who appear for free, and festivalgoers, who fill the buckets at each end of the street.


For Knicely, a bass player who has performed at the Festival and will jam again – this year with Mr. Rusty, headed by Copenhagen-born guitarist and composer Nat Russell – playing the Festival offers experience and exposure that money can’t buy. “It’s especially nice for the musicians, because this is a musician-driven festival,” said Knicely. “There’s a stage manager on every stage to help everyone, sound people on every stage so that you get your best performance. You’ve got pros around you. The musicians all donate their services, and I have been told by some local club-owners that they come to the Festival to shop for bands, so there is some exposure – and of course, you usually have pretty large crowds.”

Thousands typically attend, filling the streets to the strains of blues, jazz, rock, R&B, soul, folk, punk, ska, metal and pop. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Knicely. “There’s just thousands of people there having a good time: families, kids, Grandmas, Grandpas, parents – just everybody. We have a children’s stage that has mostly acts for the young ones; and there’s bands for us oldsters. There’s a lot of original music, which is always wonderful. It’s a great taste of the Hudson Valley scene, and the music committee makes an effort to use local bands.” The Festival has received applicants from Nashville, Tennessee to Boston, Massachusetts, and hosts 100+ vendors selling everything from art to craft foods.

The music remains the Street Festival’s soul, and this year’s lineup promises something to please everybody. Saturday performers include Ben Lawrence, Nowadays, Shakti Pad, Peter Morrison, Mister Kick, Peggy Lawrence, Light of Day Band, Marji Zintz, Big Bowl of Soul, Acoustic Sun, Playing with Sound, Pete Santora, Long Shot, Mistre Oh! Tigerpiss, Fuzzy Lollipop, Breakaway, Mr. Roper, Ian Lloyd, Midnite Slim, Ratboy, Jr., BobKat, Amy Laber and David Kraai, iS, Pitchfork Militia, Jude Roberts, the New Lazy Boys, Too Much Fun, the Trapps, Social Hero, POOK, Mad Satta, Barrelhouse, Jonny Monster, Antidote 8, the Carl Mateo Group with Peter Dougan and Josh Tyler, Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones, the John Schrader Band, Deni Bonet, Ross Rice’s Very Sexy Trio and EGO.