The City of Beacon has been a hotbed of folk music agitation since the founding in the early 20th century of the University Settlement Camp at the foot of Mount Beacon. That’s where, along with a lot of other performers of traditional Americana, Pete Seeger did a lot of his playing, singing and teaching of songs back in the bad old McCarthyite days when he was blacklisted. Pete got to like the community so much that he built a house there, where he and his wife Toshi lived until their recent deaths.
When the sloop Clearwater came along, the Beacon waterfront served as its winter berth for many a year, and the musically inclined Beacon Sloop Club grew up around it, hosting fundraising concerts and “folk picnics” to coincide with many a visit of the floating environmental classroom, including the famous Pumpkin Sale/Sails every October. When the Towne Crier Café found itself looking for a new home a couple of years ago, after a long stint in Pawling, downtown Beacon was the obvious choice.
So it’s fitting that a group of diehard folkies has decided that Beacon should also become the permanent home of a newly founded not-for-profit organization called the American Center for Folk Music (ACFM). Envisioned as “a hub for celebrating folk pioneers and sustaining the folk music process” and “a world-class destination for those interested in learning about and performing American folk music,” the new educational venture was announced at the Spirit of Beacon Day festivities in September 2015.
“Siting the ACFM in Beacon honors Pete’s teaching that the power of song can change the world and bring us together. The Center promotes and supports the burgeoning Hudson Valley art scene, contributes to the area’s economic revitalization and to the life of the Hudson Valley’s many creative communities,” say the promotional materials for the Center’s launch. While a physical address for ACFM has not yet been named, there’s a photo of the renovated Red Barn at Scenic Hudson’s River Center at Long Dock Park prominently displayed on the group’s website at www.centerforfolkmusic.org/about.
It’s also most appropriate that the Towne Crier – whose proprietor, longtime acoustic music champion Phil Ciganer, is a member of ACFM’s founding Board of Directors – should play host to the first big fundraising concert for the nascent organization. It happens this Sunday, January 10 at 7:30 p.m., and features local and regional musicians including Guthrie’s Ghost (Steve Kirkman, Fred Gillen, Jr., David and Jacob Bernz and Woodstock’s own Amy Fradon), Beacon’s youthful Solar Sound Band, singer Susan Bozso and special guests.
Though it’s a fundraiser, tickets cost a most affordable $15 for all seats (Pete would approve). To reserve your spot, call (845) 855-1300 or visit www.townecrier.com. To keep tabs on ACFM’s activities as the new organization revs up its string-powered engines, check out www.facebook.com/americancenterforfolkmusic.
Benefit concert for the nascent American Center for Folk Music, Sunday, January 10, 7:30 p.m., $15, Towne Crier Café, 379 Main Street, Beacon; (845) 855-1300, https://www.townecrier.com.