Pete managed to raise a few hundred dollars that day, and returned to the area year after year, bringing more friends, and drawing bigger crowds each time. For the first twelve years, the festival moved to a different location along the Hudson (including a time when it took place on a boat appropriately named, Sloop Clearwater). In 1978, Seeger and friends found a long-term home at Croton Point Park in Westchester County, where they hold the festival today.
Naming the Festival
In 1978, Seeger dubbed his festival The Great Hudson River Revival, but that got changed about five years ago when a new marketing director came on board. Realizing that nowadays, folks associate a revival with an evangelical religious event, the name became, officially, Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Music & Environmental Festival. However, according to Festival Director Ron Aja, most folks just call it Revival for short. Others will refer to it as Clearwater Hudson River Revival, or simply, The Festival.
Folk is a word theyre trying not to use. After all, as Aja will tell you, all music is folk music. As other festivals toy with the notion of removing the word folk from their titles (because no one can agree what it means, and also because the younger generations are afraid that folk music isnt cool), Aja has adopted the policy of referring to his festivals line-up as Traditional and Contemporary American Roots Music.
This seems like a more appropriate assessment, considering the festival has hosted an incredibly diverse pool of musicians over the years. Prior performers include Bonnie Raitt, Holly Near, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Janis Ian, Dizzie Gillespie, Marilyn Horn, Leon Redbone, Mose Allison, and Odetta. Last year, the Indigo Girls graced the main stage. The year before that Ani Difranco.
Preserving the Environment
Revival, is all about diversity. Its six stages have been run using renewable resources (two operate on solar energy, two use biodiesel, and the final two harvest the wind).
In 2004, a local solar energy provider brought a huge rig, and set it up a week ahead. The rig harvested so much solar power during that week that they had to sell the energy to the County. In effect, Clearwater not only managed to raise awareness and funds for local environmental preservation in 2004, but they also managed to harvest some green power for their neighbors.
The festival also hosts a juried crafts show featuring around 50 local and regional craftspeople. Theres a marketplace of various manufactured and imported goods, and 16 food vendors many of whom have been frequenting the festival for decades. Theres also the Green Living Expo, going on its third year. This features products and services that help promote a more sustainable, environmentally friendly economy.
Clearwater draws folks of all ages, most of whom hail from the tri-state area. There is no alcohol for sale, and no on-site camping which, Aja admits, distinguishes the flavor of the festival from others like Falcon Ridge, where people go with the intention of staying up late, having parties and jam sessions.
Five Stages of Entertainment in 2006
Even though its a daytime affair, Clearwater has plenty of jam sessions. 2006 will be the first year when the festival will combine the Circle of Song and Workshop stages into one Community Stage. This will include showcases, open mics, song circles, and sing-alongs. Another feature of the 2006 festival will be the talk. Last year, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now gave a 40 minute talk on the main stage. This years speaker will appear on the community stage.
Other features include the Family Stage offering entertainment for all ages and Story Grove, a Clearwater institution. The festival draws great storytellers from all over the US to tell stories all weekend long.
Of course, theres also a Dance Stage. But, says Aja, its not just for contra dancing anymore. This area offers boogying opportunities for fans of all types of danceable tunes from jam bands to swing, Salsa, Zydeco, and, of course, contra too. And finally, the Main Stage, which features some of the most popular national acts.
Clearwater, says Aja, is more than just your average summer festival with music and food its the worlds fair of environmental music festivals.
The Clearwater Music & Environmental Festivals 40th Anniversary will take place June 17 & 18, 2006 at Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Keep an eye on the Clearwater Festival Web site for this years line-up and ticket information.