The multi-stage, multi-attraction Rosendale Street Festival (RSF) returns on July 15 and 16 from a one-year hiatus with a stacked roster of musical talent spread across seven stages, each with a geoculturally descriptive name like Mountain, Creekside, Canal Lock, Midtown and Café. With so many years of curation and scheduling under their belt, the Festival’s savvy organizers have developed a loose and non-binding but undeniably distinctive aesthetic for each of the stages.
The Mountain Stage – furthest removed from town, with an expanse of municipal parking lot on one border and Joppenbergh mountain on the other – is kind of the quarantine unit. Here is where the RSF locates the music most likely to upset children and the elderly. This year, the Mountain Stage features a robust assortment of dangerous acts, ranging from offbeat roots outfits like Red Nekromancer and worldgrass aces Los Thujones to Earl Lundy’s first post-Voodelic rock outfit, Shadow Witch, and the RSF flagship rock act, the psychobilly power trio Pitchfork Militia.
The Midtown Stage carries with it a bit of the sense of the marquee. Many of the artists who will tread it this year are RSF and regional royalty, including the likes of 3 frontman and acoustic/prog star Joey Eppard, Kingston indie-scene mainstay Kyle & the Pity Party and a couple of the most enduring area artists in the Kurt Henry Band and the mid-Hudson Valley’s original New-Waver Les Vegas, joined here by his son Michael’s own longstanding local attraction the Big Heavy.
The Creekside Stage is…down by the side of the creek. It has always been a favorite retreat of mine. Among other things, it provides the shadiest environment on what can be a brilliantly hot weekend. They’ve also managed to tuck one of the beer tents down at the end of the side street, so chill prevails. The Creekside Stage features full ensembles with drums, but ones that tend toward the singer/songwriter-and-roots side of the spectrum (well, the whole damn festival tends toward the roots side of the spectrum). This year’s acts include dark surf legends Purple K’nif, the ’70s-styled David Kraai & the Saddle Tramps, blue-collar rock poet Billy Manas, the uproarious Pogues tribute band County Hell and a two-hour block late Sunday during which one of my very favorite of all local singers, Katy Kondrat, will not leave the stage, gutting out consecutive sets with Mama’s Little Helper and the amazing trio the Horned Angels.
It is impossible to do justice to the range of 80+ acts, or to name all the ones that deserve naming: the swank cabaret of Soulia & the Sultans, the folk/punk bard Seth Davis, the exotic world ensemble Datura Road, the Rosendale Improvement Association Brass Band, Dean Jones’ Dog on Fleas and, of course, the Street Fest Allstars, a group featuring festival organizers and some players who played the first Street Fest ever in 1978! The band is made up of Charlie Kniceley on bass, Jimmy Eppard on guitar, Jimmy Atlee on keys, Chris Bowman on drums, Bob Shaut on sax and Carrie Wykoff on vocals.
The website does a fabulous job of organizing the chaos, with schedules and bios of bands and a complete list of venues and attractions. Welcome back, Rosendale Street Festival! Summer ain’t the same without you.
The Rosendale Street Festival will return on Saturday, July 15 and Sunday, July 16, with music beginning on most stages at noon. The Festival will end at 9 p.m. on Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit https://rosendalestreetfestival.org.