I often like to preview upcoming music or art events in this column but this week let’s fondly gaze back on some recent things that already went down. It is good to reflect on awesome happenings and lately the Hudson Valley has been abundant with them. Driving home from a friends’ surprise birthday party in Woodstock the other night I was struck by how lucky I feel to walk down Tinker Street and have so many great memories of growing up there or times spent in Kingston. New memories are still being woven into the tapestry. It’s kind of surreal. The amount of cool people and major talent that passes through or inhabits this area is nuts.
I was pleased to meet singer Adrien Reju the other day at the first annual Ashokan Summer Hoot. It was put together by beloved folk performers Mike & Ruthy and was a great celebration of nature and the region. Growing upm my family had a goat who retired to the old Ashokan Field Campus in her twilight years and I fondly remember blacksmithing there on a field trip in elementary school. It is just a wonderful place and was ideal for a mini-festival that included acts like The Big Takeover and Burnell Pines. The day I went Pete Seeger played and it was so humbling to see him still pouring passion into the cause of conservation and community. Pete gave a memorial speech for his recently departed wife Toshi and it was very touching. People sang along with Seeger and their voices drifted over the trees full of hope. Shortly after this I met Reju, herself a brilliant talent, who played the Hoot.
“I’m grateful that Mike & Ruthy asked me to play at the first Summer Hoot Fest,” Reju says. “It was a blast and it was wonderful to be a part of the cause of continuing and building the success of the Ashokan Center and its programs that connect children with nature. I’m new to the Hudson Valley area so to have been a part of this festival was like an induction into the vibrant music community here. I spent many of my formative years as part of the music scene in Philadelphia which I consider my hometown, so to have made the decision to move here and to find such welcoming and warm people makes it feel like I’m home again. There’s something about the Hudson Valley that draws artistic people like a magnet. It’s still very much a colony of artists, musicians and writers as it was during the folk music revival of the 60’s. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I think it has a lot to do with the scenery, the mountains and lakes.”
Adrien Reju’s recent EP, Lucky Ones, was a sublime and inspiring pitch-perfect little pop record that I wish was a full length! “In Too Deep” is hypnotic and I listened to it a lot this past week.
“I have a diverse collection of musical influences from Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell to Sarah Vaughn, Diana Ross & The Supremes and Sam Cooke to Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin to modern day songwriter pop, a la Feist and The Bird and the Bee,” Reju divulges. “I have always wanted to make a pop record, so I sought out Jack Dishel (Only Son, Regina Spektor) to produce the latest Lucky Ones EP. Right now I am working on a new record which will be full length. It is still in the recording phase. Other than that I am playing shows here in there and will also be joining A.C. Newman as part of his band for a show at Radio City Music Hall opening for Neko Case on Sept 26. I’m psyched about that. You can follow my whereabouts and musings on my website, www.adrienreju.com.”
Kingston itself has been lots of fun lately. People have been gearing up for O-Positive, Michael C. Hall of Dexter fame is friendly and has been strolling around a lot and we even had a fast-rising leading light of the technical death metal scene hit town the other night. Boston’s Revocation are acclaimed speaker scorchers who must be seen to be believed. The band drove from Columbus, Ohio to grace BSP Lounge on a Tuesday night with locals Clover and My Bitter End and it was ferocious. Revocation are touring in support of their recent Relapse Records self-titled LP.
“We just like playing music. That’s always been the driving force,” says singer/guitar hero David Davidson. “As it was coming together we felt like this was our strongest album to date and this line-up is our strongest so far. It just made sense to self title it. We just try and let our songs develop naturally. There is no exact formula.”
The former power trio have expanded to become an unstoppable four piece. Check out their recent video “Invidious” for some monster groove blurring into a crazy banjo part before razor edged thrash riff kicks in. Five-string bass, nuts solos and forward thinking technicality that doesn’t forget about actual songwriting? Horns up!
Lastly, head on over to Facebook.com/Surmiserband. The semi-new noise rock act are a lot of fun and guitarist Jay Andersen is a longtime scene dude and a sound guy who makes custom guitar pedals.
“I’d say we are a spacey sort of noise band with a twist of what was fun about 90’s alt-rock and a bit of doom,” says Andersen. “Basically we’re on a mission to bring something different to the pot-luck music luncheon. Ours is the one next to the shrimp mold, back by the bean dip.”
OK. It is almost midnight and I need to go back to listening to Iron Maiden’s “Sea Of Madness” in my underwear. Have a rocking week, Kingston.