Is Garry Kvistad a businessman who plays percussion, or a percussionist who runs a business? In recent years, the percussionist, who was always active to the extent that his business permitted, has been experiencing a resurgence, playing with local ensembles like the Esopus Chamber Orchestra, the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice and the Maverick Chamber Players.
On Saturday, September 12, the founder of Woodstock Chimes and the full-time member of the percussion group NEXUS – both Kvistad – collaborate in the fourth biennial Drum Boogie Festival, an all-day (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) all-percussion free concert at Andy Lee Field. Returning to the site of the 2013 Festival, this year’s installment offers a wide diversity of international styles intended to show the range and glory of music for percussion. Five food trucks will be on hand to supply meals and desserts.
Kvistad says the festival grew out of discussions with assemblyman Kevin Cahill about the possibility of providing free music. “Kevin and I began thinking about creating an event that would highlight Ulster County as a major destination for art and cultural activities, and support human service programs in the Hudson Valley,” says Kvistad. Soon they also involved the great jazz drummer and local resident Jack DeJohnette. The two men were talking about the number of percussion players in the area and the general lack of exposure for and understanding of the range of percussion music. (Although it’s called the Drum Boogie Festival, some of this year’s performances include other instruments, dancers and singers.) They both decided to do something, and DeJohnette has since been a participant in every festival. Milton Glaser, another local celebrity artist, designed the Drum Boogie Festival logo and came up with its name (from a 1941 Gene Krupa tune featured in the 1941 movie Ball of Fire).
Kvistad’s statement of purpose is: “Music is a universal language helping to erase lines of hatred and bigotry through the exchange of diverse cultures.” The diversity is vividly demonstrated in this year’s lineup:
11 a.m. Woodstock town supervisor Jeremy Wilber will present the Key to Woodstock award to Jack DeJohnette during Drum Boogie’s opening ceremony. Past recipients of this honor include Levon Helm and Artie and Happy Traum.
11:15 a.m.: POOK (Percussion Orchestra of Kingston) and the Energy Dance Co. (both programs of the Center for Creative Education, based in midtown Kingston). Although all these performers are school kids, their quality level in past performances has been gratifyingly high.
11:45 a.m.: Great American Fife and Drum Band (“one of the leading interpreters of innovative rudimental drumming”).
12:15 p.m.: Gamelan Giri Mekar All-Stars with Special Guests (performing on a collection of authentic Balinese instruments, including percussion and flutes, with Balinese dancers).
1 p.m.: Aanadhha with Dibyarka Chatterjee (Indian tabla drumming).
1:50 p.m.: Joe Locke (“An institution in the world of vibraphone players”).
2:40 p.m.: Cobu (a New York City group that mixes Japanese traditional taiko drum and American tap dance).
3:30 p.m.: Jack DeJohnette joined by Matt Garrison and Foday Musa Suso (legendary Gambian griot and kora master who has collaborated with some of the greatest jazz musicians over the past five decades).
4:20 p.m.: NEXUS (described by The New York Times as “high priests of the percussion world”).
5:10 p.m.: NYU Steel (a Caribbean steel band from New York with repertoire ranging from Philip Glass to traditional Trinidadian music).
6 p.m.: Mandara with Valerie Dee Naranjo (players from the Saturday Night Live band and the Broadway Lion King orchestra “performing the music of West and Southern Africa and the diaspora, and original works on instruments from many countries”).
6:50 p.m.: The Big Takeover (a reggae fusion ensemble. Two percussionists will join their regular drum set player for this special performance.).
The Drum Boogie Festival charges no admission. But its enthusiastic support from local business – including, of course, the Woodstock Chimes Fund – results in a substantial donation after each Festival to Family of Woodstock. The Festival staff for the day is made up of Family volunteers, and the donation will benefit Family’s domestic violence program.
Drum Boogie Festival, Saturday, September 12, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., free, Andy Lee Field, Rock City Road, Woodstock; https://www.drumboogiefestival.com.
Free Woodstock Festival on Saturday to feature percussion greats
The fourth biennial Drum Boogie Festival takes over Andy Lee Field in Woodstock on Saturday, September 12 starting at 11 a.m. While the lineup features a fair share of Bacchanalian revelry (especially when local reggae favorites the Big Takeover do just that with their festival-closing set around 6:30), Drum Boogie is somewhat misleadingly named. Kicked off as usual by Woodstock’s living jazz legend Jack DeJohnette and Garry Kvistad, the founder of Woodstock Chimes and member of the percussion group NEXUS, the Drum Boogie is as concerned with drumming as a global language, a political act and a spiritual exercise as it is with partying, though they are not mutually exclusive.
The master of ceremonies, Ulster County Chamber of Commerce president of Ward Todd, will introduce DeJohnette, who traditionally reads a poem to initiate the festivals. Also featured will be New York State assemblyperson Kevin Cahill, whose support helped establish the first festival in 2009. The harmonic throat singers of Prana will present Baird Hersey’s song “Hallelujah” just prior to the free day of performances of music, singing and dance.
Performing this year are the kids’ music ensemble POOK (Percussion Orchestra of Kingston) and the Energy Dance Company, the Great American Fife and Drum Band, vibraphonist Joe Locke, Japanese taiko player Cobu, the modernist percussion ensemble Nexus, African jazz band Mandara and many more. For the full schedule and more information, visit https://www.drumboogiefestival.com.
– John Burdick