As I roamed the Upper Delaware valley over the last week, I kept hearing about the plethora of events occurring simultaneously ‘round every bend. Concerts, art exhibits, plays and poetry readings were (and are) popping up all around us. Clearly, we can’t make them all. But I have chosen to highlight a few that I have been to, as well as gaze into the crystal ball and preview what lies ahead, hoping that many of our faithful River Reporter readers will meet up with me (and Dharma, of course) along the way.
As for the music scene, there was a distinct twang in the air last Friday over Bethel Woods (www.bethelwoodscenter.org ) when a huge country lovin’ crowd showed up for the Brad Paisley Virtual Reality Tour. Paisley’s all-star extravaganza includes efforts to stock local food pantries all along the tour route, and his stop here provided an opportunity for fans to contribute (and ya’ll did, by the truckload) to the Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless. The needs continue throughout the year, and folks can call 845/794-2604 for information on how to help the soup kitchen, food pantry and bank.
“American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery opened the show, and it became clear why this 18-year-old took home the prize. Polished, professional and powerful, McCreery sauntered into the audience and sang his heart out to the fans, showcasing his signature bass voice, while displaying his prowess with the guitar at the same time—and I became a convert instantly. Any thoughts of this kid being a “flash in the pan” were dispelled, and his future looks incredibly bright. At one point, McCreery paused and walked the runway into the audience. “I owe it all to you, New York!” he declared. “Thank you for voting me through to the end on ‘American Idol.’ Without your support, I wouldn’t be singing here tonight, in beautiful Bethel!”
Singing siblings “The Band Perry” followed Scotty, and proved why the group has quickly garnered multiple awards, including the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year (“If I Die Young”), the 53rd Grammy Awards “Top New Artist” prize and the Country Music Awards “Breakthrough Video of the Year.” As the band’s fans sang along, lead vocalist Kimberly Perry encouraged them by shouting out “C’mon New York, help us out. Y’all sound beautiful tonight!” Although new to the scene, the family already has several platinum-selling albums and number-one chart toppers under their rhinestone belts, and their future glimmers.
The man himself, Brad Paisely, put on an incredible show and made his intentions clear from the git-go. “Hello Bethel!” he cried. “We’re gonna stay ‘till they kick us out! Let’s rock this place!”—and he did just that for an extended set that included a hysterical video montage of what life could be like (“We celebrities are idiots, sometimes we do stupid things.”) if he placed himself alongside the likes of bad-boy Charlie Sheen or self-proclaimed “media darling” Kim Kardashian. Paisley is (IMHO) a terrific showman, gave the fans an awesome concert and sang nonstop for close to two hours as the crowd continued to holler for more. This being his third visit to Bethel Woods, it seems likely that he’ll return in the near future.
More country fun is just ahead at Bethel Woods in the form of another idol, Kelley Clarkson, whose first single, “A Moment Like This” made the biggest leap to number one in the history of the “Billboard Top 100” chart. With a worldwide fan base breathlessly anticipating the country phenom’s every move, Clarkson’s future appearance looks to be a sold out evening here in the country.
The 1969 Woodstock Festival anniversary celebrations are currently taking place on the hallowed grounds this week as well, and I have plans to make a stop to check out the special exhibit of photography, continual screenings of the movie made about the three-day event and costume contest now happening at the museum to commemorate the iconic concert that helped put Sullivan County on the map.
Over in Livingston Manor, I made a pit stop at RM Farm Realty for a final glimpse at a group exhibit (www.theoutsidersstudio.com ) of paintings, sculptures, photography and mixed media. Among a group of impressive works, I found myself particularly drawn to the fanciful robots created by Mark L. Larrison. The fact that it was Mark’s first exhibit was intriguing. He told me that he has been “making these guys for quite a while, but never displayed them in a public setting before this,” and that he was “so pleased that people seem to like them.” Larrison informed me that there are more (and some “found-object ray guns, too!”), so we have those (and all of the collective’s talented artists work) to look forward to in the coming months.
What’s next? I have reservations for the musical sensation “The Producers” now playing at the Rivoli (www.scdw.net ) in South Fallsburg, as well as upcoming performances of “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” the final production of the 2012 season at the Tusten Theatre in Narrowsburg, NY, produced by the DVO (www.delawarevalleyopera.org ). Speaking of reservations, I’m a bit nervous, but committed to participating in the St. Baldricks Foundation “Line of Hope/Conga against Cancer” event September 9 at the Corner Grill in Eldred, NY. Coordinated with similar events simultaneously spanning the country, the New York event “will encompass entertainment, the Human Line of Hope and [this is where I come in] the shaving of heads in solidarity for all kids with cancer.”
Anyone wishing to participate and/or sponsor my personal head shaving experience, visit www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/572419/2012  or call 888/899-BALD. Every dollar helps in finding a cure. I’m fairly sure that my hair will grow back. In the future.