The hills are alive


.I don’t mean that literally, although with the record-breaking deluge we’ve experienced in the last f.ew weeks, there’s that too. I’ve seen more bugs and slugs than ever before; the never-ending parade of creepy-crawlys slithering, buzzing, flying and biting their way through the Catskills has been epic. That said, it’s the “sound of music” to which I refer, and there’s plenty of that to go around these days.

While Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (BWCA) has become synonymous with world-class musicians and concerts under the stars, it’s not the only game in town. There is music, music, music to be heard throughout the Upper Delaware River region all summer long. The season at BW is just heating up, and I enjoyed hearing the Dave Matthews Band (DMB) put their unique spin on alternative rock driven by the smooth contemporary riffs the band has become known for. Thousands of rabid fans swayed dreamily under cloudy skies, while I took photos and did my best to figure out where one song ended and another began. DMB is adored worldwide, and although I often find the music a bit too laid-back and mellow, far be it from me to rain on their always-popular parade.

The hills may be alive, but it’s the story of “the day the music died” that’s being chronicled in “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” on stage nightly at the Forestburgh Playhouse (FP), recalling when Buddy “Peggy Sue” Holly, Ritchie “La Bamba” Valens and Jiles “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a tragic plane crash on February 3, 1959. The larger-than-life performers are vividly portrayed by Michael Siktberg, Quentin Davis Araujo and Karack Osborn, respectively. Featuring hit songs including “That’ll be the Day,” “Chantilly Lace” and “Come on, Let’s Go,” the foot-stomping rock-and-roll “jukebox musical” is a major crowd-pleaser. Although I managed to find fault with the less-than-successful sound design and sometimes clumsy set pieces, the show is beyond colorful and has something for everyone, so, far be it from me…

As always, I’m more interested in your opinion than mine, and I couldn’t help but take note of FP fan Joyce Salimeno Gitlin, who echoed the thoughts of satisfied audience members leaving the theatre humming. “Thank you [producer] Franklin Trapp for bringing such wonderful talent to your stages,” Gitlin wrote online following the show. “Loved, loved, loved this production of ‘The Buddy Holly Story.’” she said. “The playhouse is a Sullivan County treasure.” No argument here, and you still have time to catch “Buddy.” Next up? The toe-tapping extravaganza “Me and my Girl.” Sounds promising.
While I’m looking forward to hearing and photographing the likes of Peter Frampton, Jackson Browne, Gordon Lightfoot and Ringo Starr and his all-star band, Bethel Woods is just the tip of the musical iceberg. Last Saturday’s “Gala Evening to Introduce the 2019 Season” provided a “sneak peek” at what the Delaware Valley Opera (DVO) has up its collective sleeve and was really (IMHO) impressive. Singers Ken Parks (baritone) and Tshombe Selby (tenor) joined Elise Mark (soprano), Wayne Line (baritone), Mary Burkart (mezzo-soprano) and Cole Tornberg (tenor) at the Delaware Youth Center last weekend, accompanied by pianist Jeremy Chan. The program highlighting the company’s upcoming productions was solid. `The DVO 2019 season includes a “comic spoof” titled “The Telephone,” a “dramatic and compelling story of postwar survival,” called “The Medium,” and Gilbert and Sullivan’s light-opera fare described in the program as a “hilarious romp of love on the high seas,” “HMS Pinafore.” Directors Parks and Carol Castel waxed rhapsodic about the productions waiting in the wings, and if the preview is any indication, the season should be stellar.

Not to be outdone, the fourth annual Kauneonga Block Party (KBP) celebrated all genres of music last Sunday, featuring The Slam Allen Band, Jazzmosis, Laura Garone, Fisher and Kean and the Johnny Jules Band, to name a few. Keith Newman and Lynn Reno also entertained on one of the outdoor stages before The Beat Street Trio and Arial Acoustics performed. Thousands strolled the block party, sampling the variety of menus from “restaurant row” and admiring race cars and vendors’ booths, while the youngsters had their faces painted before frolicking in bouncy houses, shrieking with glee.

As the summer progresses, band shells, eateries and makeshift stages across county lines will host scores of local musicians. The gazebo in the Bethel Community Park debuts the Bethel Lakeside Music series this Thursday with song stylist Joanna Gass, and it will continue to present local acts throughout the summer, in addition to dozens of other venues scattered throughout New York and Pennsylvania, where the hills are, indeed, alive with the sound of music.

Check out our “Where and When” calendar on pages 23 and 24 to stay informed all summer long and visit our Facebook page to view photos from these and other events. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the plethora of entertainment opportunities that await. The River Reporter, online and in print—we’ve got you covered.


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