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October 22, 2016
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Running on empty

Shelley Cushing and her dad, “Buzz” were attending their 91st and 45th DMB concerts, respectively. Having driven from Beverly, MA for the concert, Shelley gushed that “Bethel Woods is the most gorgeous venue we’ve seen the band perform in, by far.”

Sitting at my desk to write about the past week is a welcome respite, since (for something different) I have been racing around like a headless chicken. On Wednesday last, I took advantage of the opportunity to take a seat at the Forestburgh Playhouse (www.FBplay house.org) and bask in their fun production of “Legally Blonde - the Musical.” For my full-scale review, visit the “Arts & Leisure” link on our website (www.riverreport eronline.com )

The next morning, I checked the gas gauge and zipped over to the government center in Monticello to listen in as Sullivan County Chamber Chamber of Commerce V.P. Cathy Paty, joined by chamber president Terri Ward and founder Jessica Gardner, as they announced the new “think local, buy local, stay local” county-wide campaign (www.catskills.com) designed to encourage residents and visitors to spend and keep our dollars right here at home. Stressing the importance of shopping locally, Ward shared that money spent in the county “provides revenue for our fire departments, libraries, road maintenance and parks.”

“This campaign is designed to raise awareness” Paty said, “and if even a small percentage of the population changes their spending habits, we will consider it a great success.” Noting that it is easy to find most items needed right in our own backyards, rather than roaming afield, the chamber’s message couldn’t (IMHO) come at a better time.

That same night, in anticipation of the weekend’s sold-out Dave Matthews Band (DMB) appearance, I put a bit more gas in the tank and stopped by the Catskill Distilling Company (www.catskilldistilling.com) in Bethel, NY. Matthews has many interests, among them a “collaboration with acclaimed winemaker” Steve Reeder, in the form of Dreaming Tree Winery (www.dreamingtree wines.com), based in (surprise!) Sonoma, CA. Although Matthews had not yet arrived in Sullivan County, the winery’s “restaurant specialist” Chandler Webber was in the house, to offer up tastings and commentary on the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and North Coast “Crush.”

I don’t drink, and know virtually nothing about wine, but the crowd was impressed, and I overheard raves about the product. Partner Reeder is quoted (in the promotional material) as saying, “When you’re working with Dave, you want to make sure whatever you’re doing has soul.” I kept those words in mind as I made my way to the pavilion (www.bethelwoodscenter.org ) for the DMB concert, having already done a bit of research on the band and its founder.

Formed in Charlottesville, VA in 1991, the band’s official website (www.davematthewsband.com) has a lot to say, including that their “lyrical themes focus on topics ranging from love, sex, and the enjoyment and appreciation of life, to ending racism and political and antiwar statements.” Best known for their annual summer-long tours and live concerts, I quickly discovered that the DMB audience is also big on tailgating parties and a “peace-love-happiness” mentality that, quite frankly, I did not observe during my stay at the show.

The concert was populated mostly by young, “new age” hippie wannabes, and the parking lot was filled with clouds of smoke and expensive vehicles, with nary a flowered VW bus in sight. Decked out in shiny, brand new (expensive looking) shabby chic, the DMB Facebook fans had voted on line for their set list choices, and at least 75 of them had won the right to be standing (and swaying and swooning) in the pit, as close to the lip of the stage as the press. Attempting to get a good shot with our cameras, the “in crowd” was less than accommodating and pushed the photographers (myself included) out of their way, regardless of the fact that we had informed them that we were only present for a few minutes.

Snarling and rude, these rabid fans left me missing the kind, loving and charitable attributes that I had heard so much about, and the ushers (who were busily policing the grounds) seemed to be on a constant vigil for gate crashers and seat squatters, who were (apparently) in abundance. After the umpteenth check of my tickets, I gave in and complained to the house manager, who apologized on behalf of the staff and made sure that I wasn’t bothered again, but by that point, my evening was in tatters.

Clearly, there were many talented musicians on stage, and the show was visually stunning to look at—but I am apparently far too old (along with a healthy dose of “been there-done that”) to appreciate what so many others wax rhapsodic about. I didn’t get it and found myself (gasp!) anxiously looking forward to the upcoming Doo Wop festival. In short—the DMB was not my cup of tea. ‘Nuff said.