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Drum Boogie Festival | Woodstock

We Got the Beat

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Gamelan Giri Mekar All-Stars in 2015. The Drum Boogie Festival will take place on September 11 in Woodstock.
  • Gamelan Giri Mekar All-Stars in 2015. The Drum Boogie Festival will take place on September 11 in Woodstock.

If you've ever visited Woodstock and found yourself entranced by the drum circle that takes place on the village green, you best beat your way back to town this month for an even bigger bang. Held every other year since 2009, the Drum Boogie Festival, which will return to the town's Andy Lee Field on September 11, will blow your mind—or, perhaps we should say, ring your bell.

Founded by Woodstock Chimes CEO and percussionist Garry Kvistad, the free, biennial, family-oriented event celebrates the richly diverse styles of percussion-based music found throughout the world. While focusing on percussion instruments and their players, the multicultural arts and entertainment festival also features accompanists on other types of instruments, as well as singers and dancers.

"No two Drum Boogie Festivals have been alike," says Kvistad. "The combination of world-class music, family fun, and everything else is really unique."

The fifth installment of Drum Boogie begins with an opening ceremony led by legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette accompanied by vocal group Prana and others, followed by performances from kids' ensemble POOK (Percussion Orchestra of Kingston) and hip hop dance company Energy; musicians from the Creative Music Studio with Karl Berger; percussion/vocal/flute quartet the North/South Indian Music Project; vocal-percussion group the Beatbox House; traditional African outfit the Northeast Ghana All Stars; the Jack DeJohnette Group (featuring ex-Bruce Springsteen keyboardist David Sancious and timbalero Luisito Quintero); award-winning percussion unit NEXUS with Prana; steel drum ensemble NY Steel; and top-drawing local reggae favorites The Big Takeover.

"NEXUS and Prana will be doing several new works," says Kvistad. "One of them will also include Jack DeJohnette."

"POOK and Energy were created to introduce and engage the youth in the local community—underserved youth, in particular—and give them a platform to express themselves," says Bryant "Drew" Andrews, the artistic wellness director of Energy, which has performed with POOK at the festival in past years. "The kids in Energy learn many different styles of dance—Latin, African, German, and Brazilian are just a few of the styles we study. For this year's festival, we'll be debuting a brand-new piece called 'Inspire,' which is very much a collaboration with POOK. Using body percussion, the dancers will do a call-and-response performance with POOK based on Latin drumming. Everybody in both groups is really excited about it."

The festival also serves as the occasion for the presentation of money raised by Kvistad's Woodstock Chimes Fund to a local charity; previous checks have gone to social-assistance organization Family of Woodstock. Adding to the festivities are art stands featuring henna painting and other activities, and a variety of food trucks will be on site offering lunch, dinner, dessert, and beverage selections—much of them, of course, with an international flavor.

The 2017 Drum Boogie Festival will take place at Andy Lee Field in Woodstock on September 11 from 11am to 8pm. Admission is free. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets. (845) 657-0455; Drumboogiefestival.com.

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