Kingston After Dark: New year, fresh canvas

Low Lily didn’t expect to be caught inside the Damask Dimension, but they were. Oh yes, they certainly were.

Happy New Year to all of the Hudson Valley and beyond. I am actually writing this about 30 or so hours before the ball drops — I hope we arrived with nary a nick or a bruise and that only a few of you (the ones who really deserve it) have hideous hangovers. I am feeling good about 2019 for a variety of reasons, from Democrats gaining major ground in their ability to hamper Trump’s awful antics to the fact that I have two albums planned for this year to yet again seeing Kingston flourish in exciting directions. For all our bumps, scrapes, warts and whatnot, we’re a beautiful collection of human beings and the story of this place inspires far more often than it disappoints. After all, either way we only have ourselves to congratulate or blame. Let’s try and stay positive, welcoming and firmly planted in the 21st century, shall we? 

The Pop Up Gallery Group of Kingston (or PUGG) is hosting an Alumni Art Exhibit at City Hall, as part of a new Series of Exhibits planned for 2019. 

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Over the last the years PUGG has transformed underutilized spaces in Midtown Kingston into exhibition opportunities for KHS alumni artists. It is very cool that City Hall is now showcasing and validating these same individuals. Saturday, Jan. 5 you can see the show from 3-5 p.m. and the exhibit will continue to run through March at the ground floor of City Hall. Sample the vibrant and varied works of Amy Ackerman, Scott Ackerman, Kelli Silik, Frank Pesko, Rebecca Hellard, Chris Gallo, Matthew Pleva and Vincent Pidone and leave better for it.

For my first concert plug of 2019, we’re going to take a look at a stirring folk-influenced concert in nearby Woodstock. It’s nice when you can start out a year right away with the promise of invigorating entertainment. Low Lily, from Vermont and New York City act Bobtown are visiting the area on Thursday, Jan. 10 at the popular Colony Café venue and are the perfect way to start the New Year keeping that warm and merry feeling going before the wind chill really goes to shit. 

“Sovay” by Low Lily has such a pretty and compelling vocal that winds your brain like yarn unspooling in some fanciful tale. I was quite taken by the song when I heard it in anticipation of this piece. The pairing of Low Lily and Bobtown is perhaps a sleeper show compared to some of the larger acts that have come through the area lately, but often those can be thrilling entertainment. Low Lily were even chosen as Falcon Ridge Folk Festivals “Most Wanted” band in the not so distant year of 2016.

“We recently hit our 10-year anniversary of being a band in Bobtown, and it’s been an interesting progression for us,” says Katherine Etzel of Bobtown. “We began as an a capella quartet, and then gradually started adding instruments. If we didn’t play it, we learned it. Our music, still anchored in folk, has progressed to include bits and pieces all sorts of music genres. This is not a money game for us, it doesn’t put bread on our tables, but it feeds our souls. Our goal is to be a similar source of sustenance for our audiences. We recently played a sold-out show in Phoenicia [at the Flying Cat music series], and were blown away by the folks in this area and their deep connection to live music. At The Colony, we hope to be one with that community again.”

“Low Lily grew out of the convergence of myself and Flynn Cohen (a husband-and-wife musical team) with our pal and longtime music colleague Lissa Schneckenburger four years ago,” says Liz Simmons of Low Lily. “Bringing the string trio sound together [guitars, mandolin, fiddle] and blending with the three unique voices has been so much fun, with such an array of musical possibilities. Individually, we have been touring with different groups for almost two decades, so there is a diversity of experience that we each bring to the table. We’ve played in Hudson Valley before [at Ashokan, and Eighth Step at Proctors], and we’re excited to collaborate with Bobtown for our first show at the Colony!”

Until next week, find that something in your life that will brace you for the coldest months, keep you feeling possibilities instead of dwelling on past mistakes and failures (however much we must learn from them) and generally lean into that which points you in the right direction. I firmly believe on some fundamental level we all know when we are bullshitting ourselves, so don’t break your New Year’s resolutions just yet and maybe even try to keep a few this year. We could all use more to be genuinely proud of in our community and personal lives, especially in an age when pomp, pose, vanity and empty calories, thoughts and speech are the go-to means of control. That is a toxic mantra for society and so any way you can stake claim to your own patch of sunshine, integrity or ambition, go for it. Blessings to all.

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