This Sunday, September 9, Saugerties will have yet another reason to assert its conferred status as a “Top Ten Coolest Small Town in America” when Horseshows in the Sun, Inc. (HITS) caps off Championship Weekend at its show grounds in Saugerties with a concert performance by five-time Grammy Award-winner Michael McDonald. After all, what’s cooler than a juxtaposition of the unexpected?
Michael McDonald doesn’t have anything to do with horse shows (we checked), and HITS isn’t usually a place that one associates with concerts. Put the two together, though, says Chris Silva of the Bardavon (which is producing the concert in association with HITS), and charge one ticket price that includes the entire thing, and you’ve got yourself a full day of entertainment suitable for the entire family. Kids under age 12 are even admitted free with an adult paid admission.
Tickets cost $25 in advance or $30 the day of the show. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Family of Woodstock organization, which provides services and support to area families in need. Ample parking is available, free of charge.
The gates at HITS will open at 8 a.m. The first competition of the day – the HITS $250,000 Hunter Prix Final – goes off at 9 a.m., followed by the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final at 11 a.m. No previous knowledge of horses or show-jumping is necessary to enjoy the events – just an appreciation for the spectacle of beautiful and powerful, well-groomed horses with glossy coats soaring over hurdles with grace and finesse, ridden by equestrians (some of them Olympic athletes) who come from all over the world to take part in the competitions. The biggest show-jumping event of the day, the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, takes place in the main ring at 2 p.m. Riders at HITS have been working toward this event all summer, with only the best-of-the-best qualifying.
At 4:30 p.m. in an adjacent ring, general admission festival seating for the Michael McDonald concert will open, with the show beginning at 5 p.m., rain or shine. Concertgoers should bring a blanket or lawn chair to the outdoor event.
Silva says that, while it’s true that not everyone thinks of HITS as a concert venue, this is actually the third year that the horse show grounds have hosted an end-of-summer concert event at the site in Saugerties. (John Fogerty performed at HITS in 2010, and last year the Temptations headlined there.) Michael McDonald is expected to draw thousands of concertgoers to Saugerties this year, says Silva, and visitors can anticipate a full-length 90-minute concert with full band and backup singers.
McDonald is one of those performers who has so many hit records ingrained in one’s consciousness that it’s easy to take him for granted, and forget how good the music is. After playing with Steely Dan in the mid-1970s, McDonald joined the Doobie Brothers in 1977, recording some of the biggest hits of the day: “Minute by Minute,” “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “What a Fool Believes.” In his subsequent solo career, songs like “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” “Sweet Freedom” and “On My Own,” a duet with Patti LaBelle, continued to keep McDonald’s distinctive husky vocals and sophisticated, jazz-infused “blue-eyed soul” music close to the heart of his audience, many of whom think of him today as being part of the soundtrack to their lives. Of late, he’s been touring with Donald Fagen and Boz Scaggs as the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue.
The HITS-on-the-Hudson venue includes full bar and assorted food available for purchase, but food may be brought in if packed in a clear, one-gallon plastic bag. Factory-sealed water bottles up to one gallon in size are permitted, as are strollers, binoculars and rain gear, but visitors are asked not to bring alcohol, coolers or cooking equipment, pets, laser pens, weapons, illegal substances, fireworks or glass of any kind.
HITS, Inc. and the Bardavon present Michael McDonald in concert at the HITS show grounds in Saugerties on Sunday, September 9 at 5 p.m., rain or shine. Tickets are general admission festival seating, $25 in advance or $30 at the gate. The ticket price includes admission to all equestrian events at HITS beforehand, with the gates opening at 8 a.m. and jumping events beginning at 9 and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Children ages 12 and under are admitted free with adult admission. Parking is free, at gates D & E on Washington Avenue in Saugerties, just outside the village. Tickets are available through the Bardavon at www.bardavon.org or (845) 473-2072; the Ulster Performing Arts Center at (845) 339-6088; TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com; or HITS in Saugerties. A limited number of VIP tickets are available. For more information, visit www.hitsshows.com or call (845) 246-8833 prior to the show or (845) 246-5515 during the show. The HITS-on-the-Hudson venue includes a full bar and assorted food available for purchase.