Since 1969, the good ship Clearwater has been giving many thousands of Hudson Valley schoolchildren the chance to learn firsthand about sailing, the Hudson River, what lifeforms it supports, what environmental factors threaten them, and what ordinary individuals can do to help protect them. This winter, the ship is perched atop a barge at her homeport on the Rondout waterfront – next door to the Hudson River Maritime Museum – undergoing the third and final phase of a massive restoration project. The 106-foot-long gaff-rigged sloop has been showing her age for a while now.
Critical components of the forward third of Clearwater’s hull were replaced in 2009-2010, the aft third in 2012-13. Now the midsection of the hull and the transom are up for reconstruction. Even relying on a considerable amount of volunteer labor and donated materials, the cost of tbhis phase is estimated at $850,000. A grant from the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is supplying half that amount, but the rest must be raised via donations to Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. (HRSC).
From the time when it was just a glimmer in Pete Seeger’s eye, fundraising for the Clearwater has always been an excuse for concerts and potlucks. The next of those to benefit the “Float the Boat” campaign takes place this Sunday afternoon, January 24, at the Rosendale Recreation Center. It will feature a star-studded lineup of talent. The snow date for the concert is two weeks later, Sunday, February 7, at the same time: 2 to 6 p.m.
Why Rosendale? It’s not on the Hudson River, after all. But it is on a major tributary with environmental issues of its own, the Rondout Creek. HRSC’s environmental action director, Manna Jo Greene, is a Rosendale resident. So Greene is acting as the local sponsor for the Tribute to Pete Seeger Benefit on Sunday.
Attendance is expected to exceed the 200-person legal capacity of the Rec Center, so part of the action will spill over into the outdoor pavilion. And just outside the picnic structure, a big pot of Stone Soup will be bubbling away, a longtime Clearwater tradition. If you go, remember to bring an ingredient to toss in.
Why should you go, besides wanting to support a cherished local cause? For the music, of course. Anyone who has ever attended the Clearwater Festival held each June at Croton Point Park knows that topnotch talent is always attracted to that cause – perhaps even more so now that Seeger, the organization’s founder and a true musical icon, has passed from the world.
Headlining the Rosendale tribute to Pete Seeger is the great bluesman Guy Davis. The son of actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, he’s a genuine polymath who established a solid career in theater before shifting his focus to country blues guitar. Guy Davis is a much-lauded master of his artform, and his name on the marquee is reason by itself to buy a ticket.
So too, in this fan’s estimation, is the promised presence of brilliant musical parodists Mikhail Horowitz and Gilles Malkine. If you go, bring liniment for your jaw joints, because Mik and Gilles’s wickedly satirical songs and poetry will make you laugh so hard that your face will hurt – guaranteed. Also on the bill are hip-hop artist Decora, local faves Betty & the Baby Boomers, Dan Einbender, David Bernz, Kelleigh McKenzie and more performers yet to be announced.
Running from 2 to 6 p.m., this family-friendly fundraising event will also include a silent auction and a potluck featuring that famous Stone Soup. Ticket prices range from $20 for kids age 12 and under to $500 premium admission that includes reserved seating and parking, a reception with the performers and other goodies. The $50 level includes a year’s membership in the organization. Any amount greater than $20 will be recorded as a tax-deductible contribution to HRSC.
To purchase tickets, visit www.tickettailor.com/checkout/view-event/id/41856/chk/f408?widget-disable=trueor. To find out more about the sloop restoration project, visit www.clearwater.org. For more on this Sunday’s concert, check out Tribute to Pete Seeger in Rosendale on Facebook. The Rosendale Recreation Center is located at 1055 Route 32.