Jack DeJohnette, Paul Winter, So Percussion & many more perform at free Drum Boogie festival in Woodstock

Jack DeJohnette (photo by Rudy Lu)

Percussionist and businessman Garry Kvistad runs the Drum Boogie Festival every other year, but it wasn’t his idea. Eleven years ago, Kvistad had a meeting with assemblyman Kevin Cahill, who asked if he had ever done a percussion festival. Cahill suggested that Kvistad start one, and he offered to apply for a state funding grant. From that suggestion, the Drum Boogie Festival (named for a jazz standard by Gene Krupa and Roy Eldridge) began a decade ago in Kingston. After two daylong festivals two years apart, Drum Boogie moved to Andy Lee Field in Woodstock. The sixth Festival will take place there on September 7, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“Our percussion world is pretty tight-knit,” Kvistad says. “People know each other pretty well. The first person I called was [jazz star] Jack DeJohnette. I told him, “People love to hear you play.” He agreed to play, and has been at every Festival. When I told other players that Jack was going to be there, they wanted to join in also. After playing with Steve Reich for over 40 years, I have a lot of friends in the percussion world. They like to come and hear each other play. Jack usually stays for the whole day. We take advantage of all the variety in percussion by inviting people who play such different styles of music. People are blown away when they realize there is so much diversity in percussion. It’s not just backbeat. We have a lot of dance, too.

“Last time, beatbox [percussion done with the voice and body] came from New York and it was a big hit. This year they are bringing break dancers. We’ll have an African-American street band with drumming and brass. Paul Winter is on at 3 with his My Brazil Quintet, and Philippe Petit will introduce him. And at 5, my group NEXUS and So Percussion will combine to play Steve Reich’s Drumming, complete. It lasts an hour.”


“We don’t have to go very far to get the greatest musicians. Many of them live in our area, and nobody is coming from any further than New York. It’s going to be a beautiful collective day.” In addition to the music, Drum Boogie features some excellent food trucks and art vendors. The complete schedule is listed on the Festival’s website.

Drum Boogie Festival, Saturday, September 7, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Andy Lee Field, Rock City Road, Woodstock; www.drumboogiefestival.com.