TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown Tour delivered New Orleans to the Catskills last weekend at Bethel Woods.

Hippies and bagels and bears—oh my!

There are scads of reasons to love my job. Among them are the incredible opportunities I have to attend a wide variety of fantastic events being held at any given moment, scattered throughout the Upper Delaware River region. In fact, I’m so busy at this time of year that I invariably run into folks who seem downright astonished to see me pop up in their neighborhood. “Didn’t I just see you in Honesdale?” asked a passerby after running into me in Monticello. “Or was it Jeffersonville?” she added. “Wait a minute, I remember!” she exclaimed. “It was White Lake, and you had just dropped your cell phone in the water. That was you, right? Did your phone ever dry out?”

Simultaneously nodding and shaking my head, I explained that it was indeed me and that no, my phone was literally dead in the water. I also pointed out that if she saw me in all of those places, it meant that she was as busy as I. “Oh gosh, yes! There’s so much to do at this time of year!” she responded enthusiastically, patting the dog and grinning. “Are you going to Bethel Woods to catch ‘Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown Tour’?” Assuring her that I would be there, we parted ways.

Realizing that I did not know the woman’s name, I marveled at the camaraderie that is so prevalent here in the country. That feeling of belonging to something larger than yourself is always evident when folks gather to celebrate the anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival, which took place exactly 49 years ago today. Each year, hippies, both young and old, migrate to Sullivan County to relive the ‘60s experience and make new memories with like-minded individuals, often in the rain and mud, just like the old days.

Cursing my fate over the waterlogged (it’s a long story) phone, I bravely faced the world without. I pretended that it was 1969 all over again while spending some time in Bethel, NY, at the Woodstock Oasis on 17B, where original festival alums gather yearly to reminisce, while Mark Moore serves up a hearty breakfast. And then it was off to “the farm,” to snap pics of wet hippies, many of whom were dancing in the rain while listening to a seemingly endless array of cool bands playing for the three-day-long Yasgur Road Reunion. It’s hosted by Jeryl Abramson and Zack Howard, who know (IMHO) how to throw a party.

Because of the constant rain, I had (gasp!) left the dog at home, and when I pulled into the drive, she was barking, barking, barking. It didn’t take long to see what all the commotion was about, for there was a bear cub in the yard, doing his best to get into the compost barrel and raising a ruckus. Camera at the ready, I took some photos while doing my best to convince Yogi to move on. But he hung around for a while, knocking down bird feeders and having fun, while Dharma barked her adorable head off. I love living in the woods.

Without my “smart phone” to guide me, its miraculous that I remembered to get myself to Bethel Woods and the aforementioned Trombone Shorty, who was slated to headline in the Pavilion with several other New Orleans jazz bands, including “Galactic,” “Preservation Hall Jazz Band” and the “New Breed Brass Band.” The last features Cyril Neville, Kermit Ruffins and the legendary Walter “Wolfman” Washington, who howled at the audience while they howled back. In addition, songstress Erica Falls slayed with out-of-this-world vocals as people of all ages danced rhythmically in their seats, having the time of their lives. Not to be outdone, Trombone Shorty and his band were just-plain-glorious reveling in their big brass sound, reminding me why I love all things New Orleans and how fortunate we are to have Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in our own backyard.

While nodding off after the show, I swore that I could hear Monticello Bagel Festival vendors, musicians, organizers and volunteers chanting in unison for the rain to end before the festivities were to begin the following day. Apparently the bagel gods were listening, and the sun came out, bathing Monticello’s “Bagel Blvd.” in golden light. Thousands took to the streets, enjoying the live music, games, car show, bouncy houses and food for every palate. Reading that the Bagel Capital’s mission is to “raise funds through entertainment and events for the purpose of giving grants and scholarships  to other Sullivan County non-profits,” I couldn’t help but be impressed. Did I mention that I love my job? Well, most of the time. Oh, my!

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