Ani DiFranco headlines Ashokan Center’s remote Winter Hoot this Saturday

Joakim Lartey

One of the mid-Hudson’s reliable bright spots during the post-holidays dead of winter is the Ashokan Center’s annual music-and-dance extravaganza known as the Winter Hoot. Organized by the neo-Americana duo Mike (Merenda) + Ruthy (Ungar), it usually goes on for a whole weekend, with overnight accommodations available in the sprawling park’s cabins. Great communal buffet meals, Colonial crafts demonstrations, snowy treks to an icicle-festooned canyon and basks in a wood-fired sauna augment the fun…in a normal year.

Since we can’t safely enjoy all that sort of congregated activity during a pandemic, the ninth annual Winter Hoot will go on as a three-hour virtual concert, broadcast live from the Ashokan Center, with lots of special guests chiming in from their international home bases. Billed as a Resilience Revue, it begins at 4 p.m. this Saturday, February 6. Watching the livestream is free, but attendees are encouraged to make an online donation toward the Center’s programs and the performing artists who will participate.

Besides Mike + Ruthy, the mainstage at the Ashokan Center itself will play host to Jay Ungar & Molly Mason on fiddle and guitar, Ghanaian storyteller/percussionist Joakim Lartey and anthemic pop trio the Restless Age. Special guests performing remotely include iconic singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco (New Orleans), blues diva Dawn Pemberton (Vancouver), reggae/ska vocalist Coolie Ranx (NYC), indie-rocker José Ayerve (Quito), alt-folk duo Lyre (London) and rock bassist/singer Gail Ann Dorsey (Paris).


Mike and Ruthy.

The show will conclude with curated archival highlights from past Winter Hoot festivals. Music will be interspersed with real-time peeks at live ice-carving by master sculptor Thomas Brown.

“In this global pandemic, the healing power of music shines brightly, and with new technology, we can trade songs and stories with musical friends around the world,” say Ungar and Merenda about the event. “Viewers at home will be treated to an uplifting, international song circle on the theme of resilience!”

For more information about Winter Hoot from Home: A Resilience Revue, the artists in the lineup and the Ashokan Center itself, visit That’s also where you’ll find a link to the festivities on the day of the event.