Falcon Ridge Folk Festival

September 11, 2014

Falcon Ridge

The term Folk music came from England where they took the German word “volk”, meaning people and applied it to the common people and peasants who passed on stories and legends through music. The term has been around since the 19th century, but folk music has existed for hundreds, or probably even thousands of years. The music is generally considered an expression of life in the communities where it was developed.

It is believed that one of the first folk festivals in North America took place in 1928 in Asheville, North Carolina. Woody Guthrie was one of the most influential contributors to North American folk music, with many of his songs being taken from the songs his mother had sung to him as a child. Pete Seeger is another American folk singer who has made tremendous contributions to the genre. Artists such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Bruce Springsteen have been greatly influenced by both of these singers.

Through the 1930’s and 40’s folk music continued to rise in popularity. In the 1960’s it became associated with protest music, where singers sang against the ideals of capitalism, the Vietnam war and in support of the Civil Rights Movement. Folk music has ebbed and flowed over the past 50 years, but since the 1990’s it’s seen an increase in festivals and in the number of people who attend them. The Newport Folk Festival is probably the most well-known of all of them. This is where Bob Dylan famously played his electric guitar in 1965 to shouts and boos that nearly drowned out his heavily amplified equipment. The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in Hillsdale, New York, though not nearly as popular as Newport, celebrated its 26th consecutive year in early August this past summer to crowds that reach as much as 15,000 people. The festival spans three days with nearly non-stop performances on several stages under large tents, a dance stage, a children’s performance area, food and craft vendors and camping among rolling hills blanketed in trees.

This was the first year I attended the event with my friends Heidi, Eric and his Guiding Eyes dog, Ryan. Though I can’t say all of the music was necessarily “folk” – especially the band the Grand Slambovians, who, incidentally, were my absolute favorites – all of the artists had roots somewhere in the genre. Having attended a lot of live music events over the years, including The Who, Jethro Tull, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Dave Matthews, Yes, Neil Young, Steely Dan, Elton John and Billy Joel, to name a few, what I liked most about this event was its intimacy with the performers. They all seemed so accessible. You’d see them walking through the crowds and talking with concert-goers. Some performers would roll through some informal warm-ups on the stage and once or twice a performer would even restart a song that had miscued. Many of the performers were from the New England and Eastern seaboard of the United States, but others came from farther afield, like Minnesota’s John Gorka.

I’ll stop here and leave you with pictures from the festival. Oh yeah, that was another great part of it – how close you could get to the stage to take pictures. I’m not going to hyperlink any of the performers because you can click on the Falcon Ridge hyperlink here and get a list of, and links to, all the performers.

Westfalia camp spot

Our campsite: fully equipped by Eric’s VW Westfalia, complete with stove, refrigerator and pop-top bunk (where I slept).

Heidi, Eric and Ryan
Heidi, Eric and Ryan lounging on the hillside listening to music (and being pestered by me while I take pictures).


Ryan’s so handsome he deserves his own picture.

Falcon Ridge

Looking down on the main stage from the top of the hill.

Emerging Artists Showcase

The Emerging Artists Showcase occurs the first Friday afternoon of the festival. Festival-goers vote for their favorite musicians, of which four groups or artists get to return the following year. Here, the Most Wanted features The Boxcar Lilies, Darlingside, Roosevelt Dime and Connor Garvey.

The Nields

The Nields: A regional favorite. Listen to a short snippet of their live performance.

Here’s Annie and the Hedonists warming up.

Guitarist from Annie and the Hedonists

 Guitarist from Annie and the Hedonists.

Vendors at night

A stroll through the vendors on Friday night.

The Grand Slambovians rock the dance tent on Friday night. Though they started out as a folk band, they claim they are not a folk band anymore. Whatever they are, they’re the most popular act at Falcon Ridge.

Misty Morning

A misty morning wake-up on Saturday.

Tom Paxton takes the stage

Tom Paxton takes the stage.

John Gorka

 In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine called John Gorka “the preeminent singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement.”


Dad and children dance

What’s an outdoor music festival without a little dancing.

Tribute 1

Tribute 2

A tribute to Pete Seeger, who died at the age of 94 this past January.

Folk for Peace

You have to eat at some point. Peace!


And you need ice for your cooler.


And you eventually need to use these.

Andrew & Noah Band

The Andrew & Noah Band.

Seth Glier

Seth Glier rocks some a capella

Grand Slams

Saturday night gets wild with the Grand Slambovians on the main stage.

Grand Slambovian Aliens

Grand Slambovian fans and their lit umbrellas.

Here are some snippets of music from other artists.

Tracy Grammar

Ann Armstrong and Steve Hughes

Cheryl Wheeler

Dance Tent

Contra, Square, Cajun and Swing at the dance tent.

Everyone deserves a good rub

Ryan gets some well-deserved loving.


Coming Soon for my next post: Water


All content copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

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