Get sand in your eyes – For dark fantasy fans, Neil Gaiman is a household name and a source of prolific inspiration. Local fans feel particularly close, as Gaiman has counted the Hudson Valley as one of his homes in the past. This Friday, August 5, World’s End Comics in Kingston will be holding a special 6 p.m.-midnight premiere party for the latest Gaiman story to come to life on the screen, Sandman. The comic on which it is based came out back in 1989, and after decades of false starts and development woes, the long-awaited TV adaptation is here. Attendees will watch the first six episodes in a back-to-back binge, hopefully in costume (prizes will be awarded). Admission is free but pre-registration is required. See worldsendkingston.com to sign up.
Witness the opposite of war — Peace seems in short supply these days, so don’t miss the 12th Annual Bon Odori Dance Festival for Peace. This yearly tradition will be held on Saturday, August 6, at T.R. Gallo Park in Kingston from 12 noon to 8 p.m. It commemorates the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the 11th anniversary of the Fukushima meltdown and the 36th anniversary of the Chernobyl meltdown. There will be speeches by survivors of the Hiroshima bombing, along with Buddhist monk Rev. D. T. Kenjilsu Nakagaki Jodo Shinshu. Performers include a Japanese folk dance company, drumming by Taiko, actors Momo Suzuki and Sakura Kojima, the Spirit of Thunderheart and the Vanaver Caravan.
Enjoy evolved voices —The Phoenicia Festival of the Voice is a celebration of music made from the most humble of instruments: Human anatomy. We evolved the ability to create music for myriad reasons, and it all started with our voices. We’ve come a long way from mimicking nature to witnessing top-tier talent produce sounds of incredible beauty, with just two vocal cords and a diaphragm. And while today this miraculous instrument is often lost in auto-tune filters and vocal processing effects, this festival truly showcases the human voice in its most highly evolved form. Enjoy opera (including an exploration of opera in film), orchestral performances with huge 100-person choruses and more voice worship. The three-day festival goes from Friday, August 5 – Sunday August 7, and tickets range from $100-$250. More at phoeniciavoicefest.org.
Have a ball, Italian-style — For the uninitiated, bocce can be a little confusing. From the outside, it can kind of look like a weird combination of curling, shuffleboard, bowling, horseshoes and billiards. In actuality, the game is incredibly easy to pick up and play for any age. The basic premise: Toss a ball, and then bowl larger balls as close as you can to the first ball tossed. Simple enough, but the rivalries it creates are legendary, with the ability to knock one’s opponents balls out of the way. This Sunday, August 7, The Ulster County Italian American Foundation will celebrate the rich history of this magnificent pastime with a family bocce day held at Robert Post Park in Kingston. It’s free for anyone to attend and starts at 2 p.m.
Jazz it up on the beach — It’s a great week for lovers of outdoor concerts in Saugerties. The Village Beach is always a cool place to chill in the sun. But this Thursday, August 4 at 6 p.m., it becomes even cooler, with a free concert featuring Madeline Moneypenny and her band, The Mellowphones. The lush vocals, jazzy stylings and inventive beats are presented by the ShoutOut Saugerties program, which seeks to encourage and promote creative ventures all over town. On Friday, August 5, you can enjoy another Saugerties sunset concert at Tina Chorvas Park, featuring Maria Sebastian, Eric Sqindo and Amy Laber.
Enjoy prolific musicianship — When you write over 1,600 songs, you know a thing or two about music. Joel Forrester has accomplished much in his prolific career as a pianist and composer. You probably know him as the writer of the theme for NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, but this is but one tune in his encyclopedia of songcraft. This Saturday, August 6, he brings a virtuosic quartet of new and novel jazz artists to Barnstock in Saugerties at 7:30 p.m. To say Forrester is following his passion is an understatement. He is the living embodiment of music, and Barnstock is a great outdoor stage to showcase his wondrous works of art. Donations at the door are suggested, as are lawn chairs.
Make some noise on the dancefloor — How weird is the term “dance music”? Technically, you can dance to any music (though we’re not sure if you’d want to.) Proving this point (rather loudly I might add) are Whoah! and Grampfather, two area bands who share the common goal of starting a dance party that sounds far more like a punk/indie commotion than a four-on-the-floor Ibiza DJ set on Friday, August 5 at Keegan Ales, 7 p.m. We all know dancing is good for your health, so maybe why this is an O+ “Summer Sessions” production. As the 12th annual health-meets-art-meets-music festival gears up for October, this is your chance to get physical with two up-and-coming Hudson Valley acts.
Rock steady — What better way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Jamaican independence and Upstate Reggae’s 41st anniversary with The Big Takeover, our area’s premier reggae-roots-rock band? They are a band that’s 110% at home in a town like Woodstock, which reveres each afore-hyphenated genre. And as anyone who’s seen The Big Takeover will attest, they do more than justice to these island sounds – they have defined their own sound, with bigger and bigger audiences picking up the frequency. The Colony Beer Garden in Woodstock will be packed with partiers looking to move and groove this Saturday, August 6. Tickets are $22-$27.
Discover wellness and wonder — The Vanaver Caravan’s Youth Company is pulling up to Stone Mountain Farm in Red Hook this Saturday, August 6. The Caravan is an international dance non-profit that promotes peace and unity. But this is not an ordinary show. In fact, it’s a full-day festival with multiple performers, workshops, experiences and wellness services. The Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival will drop in with a performance amidst aerial flying and trapeze work, skin care and yoga workshops, and over a dozen other attractions. Gates open at 1 and close at 7 p.m., and admission is by donation (suggested $25 for students/children and $35 for adults). Reserve your spot in advance at www.vanavercaravan.org/tickets/summerfest.
Raise the dead – Local rockabilly punk band Red Neckromancer makes their long-awaited return to the stage this Saturday, August 6 at Keegan Ales. An underground supergroup of sorts, we haven’t seen them ‘round these parts in over two years. No word on what brought them out of hiding, but we assume it has something to do with whiskey and zombies. If you’re into rough-hewn sing-alongs and country-fried freakouts, be there at 7 p.m.