Drum Boogie Festival in Woodstock

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

What’s your favorite musical instrument? Whatever your answer to that question, the Hudson Valley seems bent on becoming the go-to destination for gatherings of aficionados of particular instrument families. In summertime, you can explore the manifold world of song at the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice or jam with fellow ukulele fanatics at the Ashokan Center or watch rising keyboard stars compete at PianoSummer at SUNY-New Paltz. Come autumn, you can drool over handmade guitars and mandolins at the Woodstock International Luthiers’ Showcase, and in December you can haul your tuba to SUNY-Ulster to honk out Christmas carols to your heart’s content.

And then there’s the Drum Boogie Festival, returning this weekend to Woodstock’s Andy Lee Field. Of course there has to be a daylong extravaganza in these parts devoted to world percussion: Woodstock is the home base of jazz drum guru Jack DeJohnette, after all. It’s also the headquarters of Woodstock Chimes. Several gamelan ensembles thrive at Bard College and elsewhere in the area. You can hardly attend a community event in the county seat without being serenaded by the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston (POOK), or in Rosendale by the Rosendale Improvement Association Brass Band and Social Club, which typically wields more drums than brass. On balmy summer evenings as well as on Halloween, downtown New Paltz often echoes to the sound of African drumming. Banging on stuff to make loud rhythmic noises is just an urge that comes to us naturally, from toddlerhood on.

According to press materials, in 2008 Woodstock Percussion founder Garry Kvistad (also a member of the world music ensemble Nexus Percussion) put his head together with New York State Assembly member Kevin Cahill and came up with the idea of an annual regional festival “to help develop interest and understanding for the public of percussion music and the benefits of rhythm in our lives. Percussion music is the most common form of instrumental music around the world, and yet is still not known in its entirety in many parts of the globe. There is more diversity in world percussion than any other instrument, and the Drum Boogie Festival reflects that diversity.”


The press release continues, “As it is around the world, the festival will combine drumming with singing and dance as well.” That makes perfect sense, as there would surely be dancing in the audience if there were none happening onstage. Even if you’re a total klutz, it’s hard to restrain the urge to move around when a bunch of percussion artists start hitting their stride.

You’ll get your opportunity to boogie down with the drums when Drum Boogie 2017 gets underway on two stages in Andy Lee Field on Saturday, September 9 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jack DeJohnette headlines, as usual, and special guests Baird Hersey and Prana will join Nexus onstage. Also set to appear are POOK, the Creative Music Studio with jazz vibraphonist Karl Berger, the NYU Steel Drum Ensemble, the North/South Indian Music Project, the Beatbox House, the Northeast Ghana All-Stars and the Big Takeover Reggae Band. I dare you to try sitting still to all that.

Admission to this family-friendly event is free, though donations to support Family of Woodstock will be requested. Attendees are urged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. At the venue, there will be a variety of food trucks supplying carbs, calories and caffeine to help you bop till you drop – not to mention fun children’s activities.

Andy Lee Field is located on Rock City Road in downtown Woodstock. For more info on the Drum Boogie Festival, call (845) 657-0455, e-mail fatimah@chimes.com or visit www.drumboogiefestival.com.

Drum Boogie Festival, Saturday, September 9, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., free, Andy Lee Field, Rock City Road, Woodstock; (845) 657-0455, www.drumboogiefestival.com.