David Bromberg headlines Summer Hoot

(Zakee White | Ashokan Center)

Much like the Clearwater Festival and a handful of others, the Ashokan Center’s Hoots exemplify the idea of the music festival as a philosophically coherent, multifaceted expression of community values, as well as a full-featured good time. Set at the Ashokan Center – a venerable leader in environmentalist education, folk music curation and the preservation of a variety of traditional arts – the Hoot effortlessly combines live music with traditional dances, juggling workshops, crafts, film, locally sourced consumables and some serious talks about pressing issues and solutions. Why, it’s as if they have been doing it for years or something.

What makes it all work, however, is the adventurous and well-connected curation of the music lineup. Produced and hosted by folk-roots musicians Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar Merenda of the Mammals (formerly known as Mike + Ruthy), the Hoots are never content with retro folk purism, though there is always plenty of the old authentic on hand. The lineups revel in a gloriously global definition of roots and in the contradictions of folk, where it is often the youngsters who are doing it the old way and the oldsters who are trying to make it new.

The 2019 Summer Hoot goes down between August 23 and 25, a Friday-to-Sunday span that will be filled with nearly 30 performances and presentations as well as all the on-call activities and attractions that make the Ashokan Center such a…hoot. Music headliners include a bona fide legend of American music in David Bromberg, a Grammy nominee in Courtney Hartman, the Mammals themselves and a variety of formidable local and touring acts including songwriter and storyteller David Gonzalez, Latin dancer Drew Energy, the family band that is Elizabeth Mitchell and You are My Flower, the Arm-of-the-Sea puppets, Ashokan stewards and well-known Americana act Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, local rock trio of touring pros the Restless Age, New York-by-way-of-Mexico’s Radio Jarocho, Occupy Wall Street co-creator Micah White and on and on. To name a few is to slight the rest, so please visit the website.


Almost more community than festival, the Hoot defies easy description. Similarly, ticketing and lodging options are many. Weekend passes start at $75. Single-day passes are available, and lodging packages range from a bunk in a longhouse to a sweet suite.

Summer Hoot
Friday-Sunday, Aug. 23-25
Ashokan Center
477 Beaverkill Rd., Olivebridge