2018 has been a hugely emotionally challenging year for many people. Considering all the draining forces at play in what passes for the sphere of public “discourse” these days, it is a wonder that in the upcoming O-Positive we have a homegrown festival that helps us redirect our conversations and concentration toward wellness and creativity. The theme of the ninth annual festival (can’t believe it’s been so many already) focuses on “Shadow” — it sounds gloomy, but it’s often an essential part of the healing process. Everyone wrestles with some form of balance between their internal light and dark voices of encouragement or discouragement, so it’s wonderful that Kingston’s premiere festival is focusing on diminishing stigma. It’s a message especially fresh in the wake of the loss of another talented artist to depression in “Self Care” MC Mac Miller.
This week and next, we’re going to count down the days until this year’s edition of the beloved festival by showcasing some of the people involved this year and perhaps also play a drinking game seeing how many local racists come out of the woodwork to say that non-white murals are bad. We see you, local racists.
Anyway, Oct. 5-7 is a great time for the festival to occur as summer recedes and the crisp joy of autumn brings an invigorating urge to enjoy the perhaps most famous tourist season of the Hudson Valley.
This year’s 27 participating artists and artist-collectives will respond to the theme of Shadow. Some entries that seem especially interesting to me include New York City artist Annie Poon’s stop-motion animation video about mental illness and the mixed media and collage of New Paltz local Delilah Jones (who has a very engaging and colorful Instagram).
“The art committee is thrilled to highlight art projects interpreting the theme both literally and conceptually, as shadow implicates the existence of a duality,” says O-Positive Director of Art Denise Orzo. “No light, no shadow. Our focus this year is predominantly on locally based artists. We are excited to offer interactive and participatory projects as well as murals, light and shadow projections, and surprising temporal site-specific installations throughout the city of Kingston.”
Sweet stellar sounds
A harmonic force of nature, The Star Sisters communicate the deep love rising from our own undulating hearts and are self-proclaimed shepherds of a new perspective here to help heal humanity. No word on if songstresses Ella Kondrat, Liana Gabel and Madeleine Grace are fans of the 1987 Trio album featuring Dolly, Linda and Emmylou, but rest assured their sound will move you. Head to opositivefestival.org/team/the-star-sisters/ to hear some soulful three part harmony folk from the artists.
“We are excited to be able to be part of a festival that truly cares about creating community, as it aligns with our own mission as a band to bring people closer to their hearts,” the Star Sisters offer in a joint statement. “We are three uniquely talented songwriters who began collaborating after we realized the common threads that weave through each of our songs.”
I cornered local warlock Earl Walker Lundy of mighty stoner grunge psych rockers Shadow Witch to see how it feels to be the sludgiest mind-melters on the roster this year and if they were stoked to rearrange some brains.
“Yeah bubba, the witches are psyched to be able to take part in O-Positive again, especially as we’re sharing the bill with our little brothers Sun Voyager,” Earl tells me. “And also to make it a little mo’ special this time, we’re breakin’ out the black lights. Sort of an early Hallows present.”
Blues punks The Bobby Lees are a hot ticket act on this year’s festival, with almost everyone I have spoken to saying they want to check them out. That’s pretty cool considering their youth and that we have some well-respected headliners like Evan Dando, Marco Benevento and Janeane Garofalo. Glad people are remembering to give love and spread some buzz to smaller participants as well.
The Bobby Lees’ album Beauty Pageant, produced, recorded and mixed by Albert di Fiore, is one of my favorite records of 2018 or many a recent year.
“This is our first time playing O+ and we can’t wait! The whole concept of trading music and art for medicine/wellness and people caring about the collective community in Kingston is just so cool,” says singer Sam Quartin. “We’re really excited to be a part of it! We’re playing the all-ages venue at The Beverly on Friday, Oct. 5 at 9 p.m.”
OK, folks. That about wraps us up for this week’s edition of Kingston After Dark. I am going to head back over to my mental refuge of Netflix and catch up on Black Lightning. Hope you are as excited for the rest of the year as I am, despite the horror of what is going on in politics. Let’s remember that often after darkness comes the light — if we can lift one another up. Every week hearing your stories or seeing your faces and smiles around town as we discover and choose what Kingston’s future will be, I am reminded that this is a very special little corner of the United States of America.