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Falcon Ridge celebrates 30 years of folk music

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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene MediaThe Adam Ezra Group playing the main stage at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in Hillsdale.
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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media Pete and Maura Kennedy have been mainstays at Falcon Ridge since 1995.
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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media Sloan Wainwright performing during the 30th annual Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene MediaConcertgoers at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival dancing to the music of the Gaslight Tinkers on the dance stage.
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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media Concertgoers staying cool during the Adam Ezra Group’s set.
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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media Concertgoers perusing the food tents.
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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media Kim and Reggie Harris performing at Falcon Ridge’s Family Stage.
August 6, 2018 12:15 am

HILLSDALE — Concertgoers descended on Dodd’s Farm in Hillsdale on Sunday for the final day of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, which celebrated its 30th year.

This year’s festival saw many acts, including Dar Williams, John Gorka, the Adam Ezra Group and Sloan Wainwright, gracing the stages of the festival, which first started on a near vertical slope at the Catamount Ski Area, Festival Director and founder Howard Randall said in the festival’s program.

“We didn’t know we were starting a family with many interesting branches,” Randall said. “Many of our performers have been with us from the beginning and have grown along with us.”

Folk-rock duo The Kennedys have performed at the festival since 1995, shortly after the release of their first album, “River of Fallen Stars,” singer Maura Kennedy said, adding she’s seen people grow up at the festival.

“I can remember seeing little kids who were babes in arms and now they have their own children, they bring their own kids here,” she said. “It’s a big, big family.”

The Kennedys are good friends with many of the festival’s mainstays including Vance Gilbert and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams. The duo often performs together with them, Maura Kennedy said. The festival also gives up-and-coming musicians a chance to shine at the Emerging Artist Showcase held Friday.

“I love the fact that we’ll get on stage and sing together without any rehearsal,” she said. “It’s all about the music and it’s family friendly, too.”

Kennedy lists the Beatles and the Byrds as influences, and she and her husband and bandmate Pete Kennedy have a rhythm in their guitar playing which suggests a whole band in their sound, she said.

“This guy we were just talking to said that he liked our ‘60s sound,” the singer said. “We don’t do that consciously, it’s just we really like a certain kind of melody, certain kind of rock ‘n’ roll rhythm in the guitars.”

To mark the duo’s anniversary, Maura and Pete Kennedy performed a tune called “Umbrella,” off their new album “Safe Until Tommorrow,” which was good a song for a more pratical reason, Maura Kennedy said.

“It just seemed like a good song, not just because it was an anniversary song, but also because it was raining a lot,” she said. “It’s about sharing in the good and the bad, I’ll stand under this umbrella with you kind of thing — that applies to the festival, too.”

Pete Kennedy said he loves seeing the different generations come to the festival year after year and performing with younger musicians who will keep the festival going.

The festival is great for families and gives concertgoers a chance to catch up with people they haven’t seen in some time, Emerson Martin, of Ghent, said.

“We love it every year — the dancing, the music,” Martin said. “It’s a really great family event.”

It was the first time Carrie Elleman, of Queensbury, came to the festival and she volunteered at the insturment lockup area. She appreciated being able to meet many new people at the festival.

“I find there’s a social aspect that’s not found at other festivals,” she said. “When I go to other festivals, I just hang with the people I came with.”

For the festival to make it to 30 years is an amazing but also humble accomplishment, Jack Armitage, of Topsfield, Massachusetts, said, adding he’s been attending for 28 years.

“I went from my youth to old age,” he said. “Folk music is music of the people.”

Armitage’s favorite acts were Gilbert and Ezra, he said, adding the latter sticks to his principles.

“They keep their feet and politics on the earth,” Armitage said of Ezra’s band. “Vance Gilbert continues to blow me away — he knows words and he knows how to use them.”

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.