Summer Hoot returns to Ashokan Center

Mike & Ruthy

The Summer Hoot music festival returns to the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge Friday August 27-Sunday, August 29, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced last year’s event and this year’s Winter Hoot to appear online.

“We missed the experience of having people at the Ashokan Center,” said Ruth Ungar, who is not only organizing the festival, but is performing in it on Saturday August 28 at 9:20 p.m. with her husband Mike Merenda as part of the Mammals, also known as Mike + Ruthy.

New this year is a stripped down setup on Hoot Hill featuring just a single mic stand on the main stage. “Instead of having lots and lots of microphones, amps and a complicated stage set up, it’s going to be a more unplugged acoustic style which we think will be more elegant and clean,” she said. “Also building the sound infrastructure represents a lot of work and expense.”

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For some bands this will come naturally, she admitted. While for others like the local reggae act The Big Takeover set to play Sunday, August 29, at 3:55 p.m., it will represent a bit of a change, she said. “The Big Takeover is very plugged in reggae. Here they will do an unplugged roots reggae set.”
It will also be a departure from the norm for Montreal-based Le Vent Du Nord who sing in French playing traditional music and percussion, but are typically accompanied by fancy lighting and audio, Ungar said. When they take to the stage at 6 p.m. Saturday audience members will enjoy a very unique string instrument the hurdy-gurdy. “Instead of a bow rubbing the strings, it’s a hand cranked wheel,” she said.

Alisa Amador, who has released a new album, Narratives, along with a number of new music videos performs Friday, August 27, at 7:45 p.m. She fuses rock, jazz, funk and alternative folk wrapped in the spirit of the Latin music she grew up on, Ungar said. “She’s someone who is perfect on the one mic…She sounds great as if she was sitting in your living room.”
Local singer-songwriters on the bill include Elijah Wolf at 7 p.m. Friday and Jayla Kai at 1:35 p.m. Saturday.

Other highlights include Radio Jarocho specializing in traditional folk music and dance from Veracruz, Mexico at 6:45 p.m. Saturday complete with Julia Del Palacio, a percussion dancer who becomes one of the instruments in the band. “There’s a beautiful spirit to their music,” Ungar said. “Traditional folk sounds good in this unplugged environment.”

Woodstock Singer-songwriter Simi Stone and the Shaker will close out Friday with a set at 9:15 p.m. “She’s excited to do this unplugged show,” Ungar said. “We went to Onteora High School together.”

Kid friendly performances include a set by Uncle Rock at 12:30 p.m. Sunday and an appearance of Saugerties-based Arm-of-the-Sea-Theater’s larger than life puppets Sunday at 11:45 p.m.

When planning the festival amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Ungar said she could find a deal of comfort in research showing that outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor ones and the Ashokan Center offers ample opportunity to spread out. Still, some Hoot traditions like the indoor late night square dance did not make the cut.

Ungar urges anyone who is not feeling well to stay home and enjoy the livestream of the festival on the Hoot’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

Like years past, the Ashokan Center’s blacksmith shop will be open Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and the Kid’s Zone activities including games will be open both Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Del Orloske, will lead a guided hike at 4 p.m. Saturday. “He’s a well-loved Ashokan hike leader with years of experience in local forest,” Ungar said. On Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Luke Sarantonio will lead a hike examining the different kinds of mushrooms growing around the Ashokan Center.

Ellen Kalisch, who works in animal rehabilitation at Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, will offer a birds of prey program. She rescued Rocky the Owl who lived in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a story that attracted national attention, Ungar said.

There will be food vendors at the top of Hoot Hill and local beer and cider and local craft vendors at the bottom of Hoot Hill.

She said she doesn’t want the Hoot to be a place of stress and big crowds, and unlike other big musical festivals that cost hundreds of dollars, a weekend pass starts at a suggested $75. And she emphasized that’s on a sliding scale and no one will be turned away because they can’t pay it.

“Come for an hour, come multiple days,” she said. “This is a fundraiser for the Ashokan Center, but it’s also an awareness raiser.”

The Summer Hoot takes place beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday, August 27 and runs through 5:20 p.m. Sunday, August 29 at the Ashokan Center, 477 Beaverkill Road, Olivebridge. Suggestd donation is $75, but a sliding scale is available. See http://hoot.love for full schedules and more information.

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