With all the hubbub about who is and who isn’t celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, and who will and won’t be playing it, and why Mountain Jam isn’t on the mountain anymore, it might be easy to overlook the fact that another storied festival that is part music, part activism – namely, Croton Point’s Clearwater Festival – is back for more in 2019 and has made its own preliminary lineup announcement. One should never sleep on Clearwater. Over the years, it has quietly become the most inclusive and progressive of all the major New York summer festivals, belying its reputation as a weekend of Pete Seeger’s two favorite things: banjos and garbage cleanup.
After a brief hiatus caused by, erm, administrative reshuffling, Clearwater has been back for a couple of seasons now, and its lineup routinely unites some of the widest-ranging styles of music. If anything, the 2019 roster reads more like an affirmation of the festival’s core values than a real imperial salvo into other markets, as some other years this decade have been. Headliners include Clearwater veteran Ani DiFranco, whose self-managed, politically volatile career is really a model in the Seeger mode. Tom Chapin and Tom Paxton are two stone-cold icons of American folk music. The Wailers, of course, are synonymous with one the world’s great roots music traditions. Josh White, Jr. is a major talent and the son of one of the most culturally important of all American entertainers.
You get the picture. There are no real incongruities in this initial lineup; Clearwater is owning its legacy as politically conscious folk festival, broadly defined. And there is nothing wrong with that, or with this excellent lineup of talent.
The Festival runs June 15 and 16. For more, see www.clearwaterfestival.org.
Great Hudson River Revival aka the Clearwater Festival, June 15 and 16, Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson, www.clearwaterfestival.org