How is it possible that March has just begun and I’m already exhausted? I’m guessing that old age, creaking bones and battling cancer have something to do with it, but come on… …
How is it possible that March has just begun and I’m already exhausted? I’m guessing that old age, creaking bones and battling cancer have something to do with it, but come on… spring has not even sprung yet. The first honking of geese overhead lifted my spirits this week, since they are one of the first signs of seasonal changes in the air. I don’t necessarily want them in my yard, because Dharma the Wonder Dog loves the aroma of fresh you-know-what, but I welcome the geese home nonetheless.
Feeling uncharacteristically optimistic, I once again went to Rafter’s Tavern in Callicoon, NY last Friday night where The River Reporter’s (TRR) featured artist of the month Kali Seastrand was appearing there as part of TRR’s River Recordings series, which features artists on both sides of the river. Prior to appearing at either Here and Now Brewing Company in Honesdale, PA, or the aforementioned Rafter’s Tavern in Callicoon, each featured artist records their tunes for a video at TRR headquarters, which can then be viewed online. Admittedly, I did not do that and chose instead to be surprised by Seastrand, who plays the dulcimer and performs covers and original songs, sometimes backed by musician Sean Murray on bass who joined her during the second set. Honestly, I was less than thrilled to hear that Seastrand is a huge Joni Mitchell fan (hence her love of all things dulcimer) but became an instant convert as she breathed new life into songs that I never really cared for until Kali came along.
Seastrand’s impressive command of the instrument, coupled with an amazing voice that resonates with a tone I never appreciated from Joni, immediately engaged me and the enthusiastic audience who wildly applauded her impressive technique and vocal prowess. Seastrand is a storyteller and while her fresh interpretation of tunes like Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” was really, really good, her original song “First Avenue,” inspired by “New York City’s Washington Square days of Dylan and company” is indicative of a major talent on the rise. Take that, Joni Mitchell: There’s a new girl in town.
Another indicator of seasonal change is the annual Greater Barryville Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) “Winter Warm-Up” which more than lived up to its name last Saturday night, heralding temperatures that rose exponentially over the weekend, nearing 70 in my neck of the woods, where Dharma was gleefully rolling around (uh huh) fresh from the groomer and feelin’ fine. Every year, the GBCC achieves its goal, which is “to build a healthy, growing local economy by facilitating cooperation between businesses, government and residents.” The organization’s mission statement aims to “promote a positive environment that preserves the special character of our community in order to attract new businesses, new residents and creating a welcoming environment for tourism.” Check, check and check.
The event serves as a fundraiser for the GBCC Community Volunteer Scholarship program, streetscape maintenance and local beautification projects, and this year’s honorees included community leaders Shain Fishman (Highland Yoga and Dance), Susan Smith (Floral Cottage Weddings and Events), the Town of Highland’s Highway and Roads department and the revamped Barryville Farmers’ Market. The market has undergone a renaissance of its own, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers and Barryville’s always amazing Debra and John Conway, who have teamed up with the United Methodist Church to create a “special place to meet friends while supporting local farmers and businesses.”
As a result of the efforts of all involved, the farmers’ market (www.barryville
farmersmarket.org) will continue to remain “a community gathering place with live music, family activities and so much more each May through October, rain or shine.” With a major tip o’ the hat to the GBCC, Barryville, NY has got it goin’ on.
This year’s scholarship winners, Brenna Knibbs and Jissela Labuda, are shining examples of community spirit, determination and living proof that education and hard work pay off in spades. Before each graciously accepted their awards, guest speaker Dan Paradiso addressed the crowd. A 1997 Eldred High School graduate, Paradiso graduated Summa Cum Laude from East Stroudsburg University with a BS in hotel, restaurant and tourism management. He spent nearly 20 years honing his skills before returning to the Upper Delaware River region, where he now serves as the director of sales and marketing for the Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark.
Paradiso spoke eloquently and delivered an inspirational speech about hard work and the resort’s dedication to hiring hundreds of local residents, regardless of their previous experience in hotel management. “Coming to us with the best of who you are,” he said, referring to their active on-the-job training, “is greater than any experience learned. As much as we need people to learn and listen, we need to continue, as business leaders, to open a dialog with our employees. We all have personal life challenges, but the goal of our community is to be absolutely successful.
“While a ‘welcome home’ definitely feels good,” he said of his return to the region, “I share with you an even greater feeling, which is being proud to be home.” I couldn’t agree more.
To view more photos from the GBCC Winter Warm-Up, visit The River Reporter on Facebook.