Another Falcon Ridge Folk Festival has come and gone. Those who attend this annual festival in Hillsdale, New York, are die-hard music fans who enjoy the community. It’s a place to return year after year to meet old and new friends. You get to know the volunteers who work in the parking lot or the Lost and Found tent, sell the “funny money” or the merchandise, as well as the many vendors selling their wares or their scrumptious food. For many festival attendees, the countdown for the festival begins as soon as the final song is sung on the main stage.
Weather is always a touchy subject at Falcon Ridge. Will it or won’t it rain? Precipitation is generally plentiful over Dodds Farm, a huge parcel of land right on Rt. 22 where the festival has been located since 2006. Before that, another nearly identical farm down the road hosted the festival. This year as in years past, torrential rain made an appearance but so did a lovely rainbow.
I’ve come to realize that the main stage acts aren’t what bring me back to Falcon Ridge year after year. It’s the aforementioned community. I am among kindred spirits—those who will brave the elements and traverse up and down the muddy midway or slog up and down the hillsides to support musician friends. My community of friends keeps expanding every year. I get to chance to catch up on the last year and talk about music, music, and some more music. There are others who bring their instruments and get to jam with friends they haven’t seen all year. Song and drum circles form all over the campgrounds. There’s nothing like the feeling of crawling into your sleeping bag an hour or so before the sun rises and still hearing the sound of gentle guitar strums or rhythmic djembe beats.
Although the main acts are not always why I make the three-hour trek to this festival, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of my highlights this year.
- The Emerging Artists showcase is always one of my favorite parts of the weekend. This is when 24 acts (selected by three music industry judges) get to sing two songs each on the main stage. The festival attendees get to vote for three acts that they Most Want to return the following year. I was familiar with many of the acts already and wish that I could have voted for at least ten of them. Below are pics of Heather Maloney and Sarah Blacker with Eran Shaysh who have played at the me&thee.
- And, of course, the Most Wanted set the following day is always a delight. Top vote getter, Pesky J. Nixon, was joined by runner-ups ilyAIMY and Blaire Bodine. Another Most Wanted artist, Louise Mosrie, was unable to attend due to a death in her immediate family.
- The Dance Tent is always a MUST when The Grand Slambovians play. Everyone lets loose and dances as if there is no tomorrow. The energy is palpable and it’s impossible not to have fun
- Two tributes to singer-songwriter, Dave Carter, were highlights as well. Dave passed away jus prior to Falcon Ridge in 2002. Tracy Grammer, Dave’s long-time partner and collaborator gave an intimate performance on the Workshop Stage where she talked about her history with Dave and she provided interesting anecdotes about his creative process. She sang some of Dave’s most loved songs that tugged at our heartstrings and helped us remember his incredible genius. The second tribute occurred at the Saturday night finale in which Tracy once more took the stage along with her band and invited several guests on stage to sing some Dave songs: Katryna and Nerissa Nields, Pesky J. Nixon, Rod MacDonald, Storyhill, and Pat Wictor. The set ended with Tracy and guests singing two of Dave’s most memorable songs: “The Mountain” and “Gentle Arms of Eden.” Tracy Grammer (below) is possibly the most eloquent and passionate interpreter of Dave’s songs and is doing a tremendous job keeping his legacy alive.
- Sunday Morning Gospel Wake-Up is always a great way to start the last day. Joy and more joy.
So, Falcon Ridge….I’ll be coming back to you in a year! Can’t wait!