The Marc Black Band has been playing at the Bearsville Theater on the Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend for a number of years, and now it’s building on that tradition by offering a full-fledged offering of gratitude to the community. Held Saturday, November 30 at the Bearsville with doors opening at 8 p.m. and the show starting at 9, the musical lineup for the inaugural Woodstock Festival of Thanksgiving includes: pianist Warren Bernhardt (most recently with Simon & Garfunkel and Steely Dan), Happy Traum (world-famous guitarist and folklorist), Amy Fradon (chanteuse and lead singer with Face the Music), Gary Kvistad (percussionist and founder of Woodstock Chimes), Mike Esposito (original lead guitarist for America’s first psychedelic band, the Blues Magoos), Don Davis (alto sax for the Microscopic Septet) and Eric Parker (drummer for Joe Cocker, Paul Butterfield and Stevie Winwood).
The Woodstock Festival of Thanksgiving will also feature blessings from Lama Tashi Topgya, cantor Michael Esformes, pastor Gywneth Murphy and a poetry reading by Mitch Ditkoff. Twenty percent of the proceeds will be donated to Family of Woodstock.
Students from the Woodstock Elementary and Highwoods Schools will be participating as well: Displays of their artwork, inscribed with a line from each child artist about something that they’re grateful, will be on view at the Woodstock Library, where Black, who has been playing with his band in the area for the past 40 years, will give a free concert at 3 p.m. on November 30. In addition, some of the older students from Highwoods will join the adult musicians onstage at the Bearsville Theater Saturday evening.
Black (pictured on the far left, along with musicians Amy Fradon, Eric Parker, Michael Esposito and Don Davis) said that he has been thinking about hosting an event keyed to the holiday’s theme of gratitude for a while, and was particularly motivated by a couple of TED talks about how gratitude is such a strong pathway to happiness. “If you have a friend who is particularly critical of you, you kind of shrink – as opposed to somebody who is not blind to the negative, but focuses on the positive things, which enables one to grow,” he explained.
Black added that Thanksgiving is a day he has always cherished. The weekend after “always seemed like an interesting time, because the big day is over and people are just hanging out. We got the idea to tuck the music into the bigger idea.”
Event co-founder Evelyne Pouget – founder of One Voice Global, a painter and wife of poet Mitch Ditkoff – is involved in a program in which local high school kids are raising money for an orphanage in Laos, and she had the idea of including the children in Woodstock Festival of Thanksgiving.
The response has been so positive that Black said that he sees the Thanksgiving Festival spreading to other towns. “I’d be more than happy to help,” he said. “The time is right to celebrate the power of gratitude – not just in our family gatherings, but in our communities via music, dance, and art.”