Percussion, Rhythm, the fight against Domestic Violence and the Joys of Life

Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette

I have been producing a free, one-day, world-class percussion festival every other year since 2009. While I try to mix up the offering, four groups have participated in each of the three festivals and will appear in the coming festival September 12th of this year. They include NEXUS, Jack DeJohnette, POOK and The Great American Fife and Drum Band.

NEXUS has done a variety of repertoire in each festival, from major works of Steve Reich to the ragtime music of George Hamilton Green, whose gravesite just happens to be across the street from the festival site in Woodstock, New York. Jack DeJohnette has brought some amazing musicians to the festival each time and this year will not be an exception. Jack will be joined by bassist Matt Garrison and Gambian Kora player Foday Musa Suso. NEXUS will be joined by Prana, a vocal overtone singing ensemble, performing arrangements of the music of street musician Moondog. NEXUS has just released a new CD of these pieces ( POOK and The Energy Dance Company are youth programs of the Center for Creative Education, a not-for-profit arts education organization based in Kingston, NY. These kids always blow the audience away with their exciting drumming and dance. The Great American Fife and Drum Band, led by Dominick and Therese Cuccia, is one of the leading interpreters of innovative rudimental drumming. Dominick and Therese have been training their four children to play rope drums and fife and will include them in the performance. The whole family is spectacular and is joined by the veteran, award-winning Nick Attanasio on the rudimental bass drum.


Returning from the last festival are the super-charged Taiko drummers and dancers of COBU, led by Yako Miyamoto, one of the stars of Off-Broadway’s Stomp. Also returning are Mandara and NYU Steel. Mandara is a wonderful African influenced jazz group led by Valerie Naranjo, a member of the Saturday Night Live band and the Lion King orchestra on Broadway.

NYU Steel
NYU Steel

NYU Steel is a large group of Trinidad and Tobago style steel pan players led by Josh Quillen of So Percussion. Returning from past festivals is Gamelan Giri Mekar All-Stars, performing authentic Balinese music on a collection of traditional instruments, accompanying dancers from Bali. New to the festival this year are the great vibraphonist Joe Locke, the East Indian tabla ensemble Aanadhha with Dibyarka Chatterjee, and The Big Takeover reggae band with Jamaican lead singer NeeNee Rushie.

While my mission in producing the Drum Boogie Festival is to present the diversity of world percussion to the general public, I must admit my selfish motive is to hear these incredible performers, one after another, in a beautiful setting of the Catskill Mountains of the Hudson Valley. The festival has always been free to the public as a result of the generosity of the esteemed Kevin Cahill, our representative to the New York State Assembly, who gave me the idea in the first place to put the festival together back in 2009. The legendary marketing genius, Milton Glaser, a Woodstock resident, suggested the name of the festival and created our cool logo. Local businesses have chipped in to make it a reality. This year they include Bread Alone, Luminary Press, Ceres Technologies,, NYS Parks and Recreation, Walters-Storyk Design Group, Woodstock Chimes, First Niagara, Ulster Publishing and Radio Woodstock.

We also have a hidden agenda each time, supporting the local advocacy organization, Family of Woodstock, which serves the homeless of our region. We give a significant donation to Family at each festival, this year supporting their domestic violence programs. I am proud of this effort, which helps to bring awareness to this national issue within our community.

If you are within range on September 12 (rain date 13), please come help us celebrate percussion, rhythm, the fight against domestic violence and the joy of life. Check out our website to see the schedule of performers, get more information and see video of past performances.

“Garry [Kvistad] has created a unique festival that celebrates the art of percussion from around the world. It has been great fun to participate in Drum Boogie and I really enjoy seeing, hearing and meeting such a diversity of major talent from all over. I consider it to be very successful and look forward to its ongoing cultural contribution to the richness of the Town of Woodstock and the Hudson Valley.” – Jazz great Jack DeJohnette

Drum Boogie Festival Board of Advisors:
Kevin Brady, President, Ceres Technologies
Jack DeJohnette, world-renowned jazz musician
Milton Glaser, Principal, Milton Glaser, Inc. Graphic Design
Holly Green-Emerick, granddaughter of the late George Hamilton Green, composer / xylophone artist
Michael Lang, 1969 Woodstock Festival producer
Pat Metheny, award-winning jazz musician / composer
Steve Reich, prominent American composer
Alan Steel, CEO, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
John Storyk, Architectural Acoustician and Partner of Walters-Storyk Design Group
Ruth Underwood, former percussionist with Frank Zappa

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