A healthy dose of art + music: O+ Festival this weekend in Kingston

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It is early October, and that means that the O+ Festival is upon us. The innovative transactional festival of music, art and wellness services and programs takes over the streets of Kingston on October 9 through the 11th, filling the venues with national and local talent and redecorating the city’s surfaces with mural art, site-specific installations, multimedia and performance art. Now in its sixth year, O+ is an established and influential music and art festival as well as a proven, widely publicized and imitated new model of community resource-sharing and creative-class economic adaptation. Of all the festivals that enliven our region (and the list is getting pretty staggering), O+ is the one that could be fairly called visionary.

As a dispersed, multi-art, multi-venue festival, the O+ event lineup can be sorted in a variety of ways, as evidence by the O+ website, where all scheduled events are color-coded and can be filtered by venue, time and type (art, music, health et cetera). Participating venues this year include the Anchor, BSP, Outdated Café, Keegan Ales, the Seven21 Media Center and the Stockade Tavern. Once again, BSP will host performances on both of its stages: the small front-room club and the cavernous back-room theater, where a number of the festival’s headliners will perform.

The 2015 music lineup is a strong collection of 60 acts. This year’s most celebrated performers include the Screaming Females, the heavy-punk trio fronted by singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster; the Saugerties-based rootsy dream-pop outfit Widowspeak, who are supporting their excellent new release All Yours; the reunited Hoboken New Wave legends the Bongos; and former Living Colour frontman Corey Glover. Other well-known groups and performers include And the Kids, C. P. Stelling, the Loom, Shellshag, Prince Rama, Roz & the Rice Cakes, the Brooklyn murk-punk duo Shellshag and many more.


Per usual, the O+ curators do an exemplary job of blending local and national and of assigning and sequencing acts to venues. The local talent pool is especially well-represented this year, and the representation is perhaps more diverse and balanced than it tended to be in the Festival’s proof-of-concept early years.  New Paltz is amply represented by the inclusion of Los Doggies, Pecas, Upstate Rubdown and It’s Not Night; It’s Space. Next-gen Woodstock standouts such as Elijah Wolf, Lindsey Webster and Connor Kennedy and Minstrel are featured as well. The full lineup is exhaustive. Visit opositivefestival.org/kingston for acts, venues and times, as well as for sound samples of all performers.

More than 25 artists, chosen by an O+ curatorial team, will make work for the 2015 Festival. They have been asked to respond to this year’s festival theme: “The Other.” The art curatorial team welcomes back international street artist Gaia, who created the Artemis Emerging from the Quarry mural in 2013. In response to this year’s theme, Gaia will make another mural for the city that focuses on Ulster County-born abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth and Kingston-born neoclassicist painter John Vanderlyn. Other featured artists and installations include the Cave Dogs collective’s Light/Shadow installation, Kate Hamilton/Tona Wilson, performance artist Linda Mary Montano’s Seven-Hour Art/Life Counseling, the Illuminator’s Expansion interactive projection and much more. Consult the website for the location of work and the times of art performance events.

Wellness events include yoga, aromatherapy, gong meditation, a variety of informal lectures on subjects of personal and public health and of course the Wellness Expo on Wall Street. This year, O+ has moved to a “pay-what-you-can” model, but also offers several premium donor levels, described in detail at the website.


O+, October 9-11, Kingston;
Printed schedules will be available at HO+ME Base (corner of Wall and North Front streets) beginning early evening on Friday.