From the “Legend of Zelda”-covering Bit Brigade show at BSP (which featured a full prog-metal show live soundtracking the classic video game in real time) to people wandering out at earlier hours to recreate as the weather gradually tends towards warmer throughout this overcast April, there’s already a decent level of excitement, flow and glow to weekend activities in Kingston. I’m listening to Tori Amos sing “Past the Mission” currently and trying to adjust mentally to the shift from winter’s last push to the eager activity of sunnier days and gardening season. Will we ever get new plants in the ground without worrying about a cold snap? The weather has been waffling on becoming welcoming almost daily. Remember to stretch and drink water, though, people. At some point we all have to shake off the last vestiges of hibernation and get around to putting the spring back in our step. Aldi’s has some good savings right now and so I managed to get a week’s worth of shopping done in one fell swoop, stocked the pantry and made ready for the coming week of fresh activity.
Speaking of impending activity, O+ Kingston Festival artist submission time is now. Head to opositivefestival.org/kingston to sign up to be considered to play this year’s edition of the popular health and wellness-oriented fest. A reminder also that Radio Kingston, 1490 on your AM Dial, has its weekly O+ Radio Hour about wellness, the arts and activism every Tuesday at 8 p.m. The theme of this year’s festival is going to be “Shadow,” so I am sure there will be plenty of room for artists of all types to discuss ways of navigating being a creative, empathic type and still keeping your head up or healing through harder times. Sometimes fingers dancing along strings and a beautifully wavering voice can be the turning point between shadow and light. But “shadow” is open to interpretation and can also mean a mystery or a place of safety.
On that note, this week I wanted to let you punk fans know that genre legends Strung Out will be releasing their new acoustic EP on May 11 via Fat Wreck Chords. Black out the Sky is the effort, a spare collection of six un-released and two previously released songs.
“Black out the Sky was inspired by a two day binge in Los Angeles after looking up at the sky and not seeing a star in sight, but surrounded by a haze of artificial illumination,” explains vocalist Jason Cruz. “It made me realize how much we’ve lost our connection to not only the stars, but where we come from. So many people chasing things that are bright and shiny, afraid of the dark and what it reveals when you stand alone in it. Loss of intuitive guidance and stellar navigation. Things like that.”
If you like things you shouldn’t feed after dark, Gremlins is playing at UPAC this Friday, a perfect way to spend 4/20.
Even if you are alone and have no date it is only $6 and at 7:30 p.m. You can probably get home safe before midnight.
Also on Friday the 20th, fans of psychedelic far-ranging melodic rock should check out the sultry sounds of The Sweet Clementines along with supporting guests Stephen Clair and The Pushbacks at Snug Harbor Bar and Grill at 38 Main St. in nearby New Paltz. One of the Hudson Valley’s most invariably excellent groups, The Sweet Clementines bring their all to every poignant performance.
Americana act Megan Jean and The Klay Family Band will be returning for a special area appearance at the end of the month. April 28 will find the authentic and vibrant group gracing The Anchor’s stage once again. You can’t go wrong with Megan Jean’s harrowing and emotional voice, capable of dazzling octave leaps, paired with the rustic yet alive and breathing playing of her husband Byrne Klay on banjo. With Nina Simone finally getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (with a stirring speech from Mary J. Blige, no less), maybe the public will start giving more respect to singers with a real spiritual sense of vitality and life in their voices again. It would really be a nice change from some of the Styrofoamy quality or internalized misogyny in a lot of mainstream music these days.
With the uncertainty of day to day events, it is important to try to focus on having faith, working towards your goals and taking timeouts to appreciate what you have. It is always easy to feel like things are bad or not enough, but when we can sip some good coffee in the morning, look our loved ones in the eye, wave to a friendly neighborhood bohemian with smoke coming out of their ears or are even just plain still above ground, there is always hope. A lot of miracles happen every single day and night, if you really think about it. Our city is whatever we choose to allow our city to be.
Seeing the Trans, LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter flags proudly hanging beneath Old Glory outside the Old Dutch Church this week really moved me. I love that my city has this inclusion-minded show of flags outside a huge historical church that George Washington himself visited in 1782. America is at our best when we support human rights, healing, togetherness and diversity rather than embracing the most shameful parts of our past and present. Stay beautiful, everyone.