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July 26, 2014
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There’s no place like home

Marty Zuybora (left) and Dan Haggerty perform as “John Henry’s Hammer” at The Kitchen’s house concert in Sackett Lake, NY.


Where on earth can one weekend encompass an art show featuring collages and lighting design, followed by an intimate evening of original music, topped off by a Brazilian adventure at a world class entertainment venue? Welcome to the Catskills!

Even though I could see my breath this morning, I’m glad to be home after my whirlwind foliage tour of greater upstate New York. My inbox was flooded with invites to a wide array of events, and I chose an assortment which reflects the diversity of our region. Just off the beaten path in Youngsville, NY, Domesticities & Cutting Garden (www.thecuttinggarden.org) proprietor Anne Hart welcomed guests seeking to peruse what her unique destination has come to exemplify: unusual, one-of-a-kind gifts and artwork designed with creativity and style.

Claire Coleman’s (www.clairecolemanart.com) colorful and beautiful assortment of paper collages evoke an emotional response and serve as a perfect complement to Kathie Fitzgerald’s (lighttouch2011@gmail.com) original light fixtures, which incorporate repurposed bases paired with shades that are created out of old maps, vintage wallpapers and whimsical photographs and fabrics. Both Coleman and Fitzgerald were on hand to explain the processes involved with creating these alluring works of art and I was (once again) reminded of the talent that resides here in the Upper Delaware valley.

Making a mental note for future holiday shopping, I made my way toward home, but stopped just short of Monticello, choosing instead to check out the latest craze making a resurgence on the music scene: a “house concert” in my neighborhood. Perusing the internet, I found this Wikipedia description: “A house concert is a musical concert or performance art that is presented in someone’s home or nearby small private space such as a barn, rec room, lawn, or back yard.

The logistics of holding a concert in a 21st century home can be complicated, depending on a number of factors. These include audience capacity, collecting cash or donations, whether the proceeds will be split with the host, marketing and whether to publicize the venue, to provide refreshments or to hold a potluck, whether to have one show or present a series and the choice of musicians.”

Common in the historical past, but now unusual in the age of large concert arenas, a house concert is almost invariably described as an “intimate” experience. With the cold weather upon us, this concept appeals to me and my experience at The Kitchen in Sackett Lake was cool. Emcee/musician Tony Penn (www.facebook.com/tony.penn) invited the crowd (after a sumptuous meal) into the salon, which was replete with lighting, an excellent (IMHO) sound system and extremely comfy seating.

The opening act, “John Henry’s Hammer” (Dan Haggerty and Marty Zuybora), presented “a mix of traditional, acoustic blues and originals” and I found Zuybora’s style extremely appealing and particularly engaging. Headliners Mike Baglione and Anne Loeb (bluegrass,traditional,old-timey jams) are clearly so deeply in love that I fell head over heels myself. Dueling guitars (hand made by Baglione) and gorgeous harmonies combined with incredible charm and charisma exemplified this “match made in heaven” as the duo serenaded the audience with their down-home-in-the-country song styling and breezy banter, perfectly suited for the setting. For future house concert dates in The Kitchen, call 845/791-4051.

With a song in my heart, I made my way to the Event Gallery at Bethel Woods (www.bethelwoods.org) for the season’s penultimate performance of their World Stage Series, concerts performed in tandem with activities for the family. The show, “Minas: Brazilian Adventure,” was billed as “a fun way to learn about Brazilian culture, combining music, participatory singing, and authentic samba percussion in a lively performance.” The press release encouraged families and youth groups to “make a day of it—come early and create a traditional Carnival mask that you can wear during the concert.”

Orlando Haddad and Patricia King are not only accomplished musicians, but certainly know how to hold the attention of youngsters, who (after the mask-making workshop) were not only clearly excited to experience Brazilian Jazz, but attentive, involved and enthusiastic. They took their cues from the duo, who informed and entertained the adults as well with their stylish interpretations of traditional samba rhythms mixed with original ballads in a musical salute to Carnivale.

These fabulous family concerts are free to the public and serve as another reminder of what the Catskills has to offer. Music, art, crafts and design all flourish here in the mountains in a never-ending flow of creativity, which draws visitors to our neck of the woods, while reminding residents of why we call this corner of the world home. The Upper Delaware Valley continues to enthrall and amaze and (even though I can now see it in the brisk morning air), still takes my breath away.