Rocking and Rolling With Rev. Thunderbear

August 27th, 2013
Recent photo of Reverend Thunderbear

Recent photo of Reverend Thunderbear

What is the Rev. Thunderbear Traveling Roadshow (RTTR)? It’s a band headed up by Bill Barrett, a recent Woodstock returnee. Joining Bill are John Coghill on bass, Ian Snyder on lead guitar and Russell Riley on drums. Barrett is a fan of impassioned three-hour sets and his musical taste ranges from straight-ahead Rock ’n’ Roll to Reggae and Swing. He played a great date in July at the Colony.

Bill arrived in town in 1974 from Hollis, Queens. He recalled in a recent phone conversation that “my mother kept a guitar around the house, and loved to sing the songs of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.” Around this time he purchased Great Songs of Lennon & McCartney. His repertoire expanded to Rolling Stones songs as well. Bill was an early fan of the Marc Black Trio, and caught them in concert at the Woodstocker and the Joyous Lake.

Barrett attended Onteora and joined a band. They played their first concert during Spring Fest in 1979. Upon graduation from Onteora, Bill attended SUNY New Paltz for a year before leaving in 1981 to pursue a musical career in New York City. He played for a time with the Underground Press and began writing songs. With demos in hand he pursued his dream all the way to London. When success didn’t follow he decided to switch gears and got a regular job in the States, but he never gave up his playing. Read the rest of this entry »

The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project

August 1st, 2013
A gas-drilling rig in Hopewell Township area; photo by Scott Goldsmith on June 21, 2010

A gas-drilling rig in Hopewell Township area; photo by Scott Goldsmith on June 21, 2010

The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project, a Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) exhibition, is in its final weeks (June 29 to August 18, 2013). The show is curated by Laura Domencic, director of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. This photographic survey, compiled over ten months beginning in late 2011, features the works of six world-class photographers: Noah Addis, Nina Berman, Brian Cohen, Scott Goldsmith, Lynn Johnson and Martha Rial. They took the responsibility of documenting the lives of Pennsylvanians affected by natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region.

The show debuted at the Pittsburgh Center of the Arts in Oct. 2012 and seeks to draw on the power of photography to inform and move public opinion on the issue of hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking” as it is more commonly known. It follows a photographic tradition, established in 1935, when the U.S. government initiated the Farm Security Administration, which sent a group of photographers to document the conditions of those affected by the Great Depression. Just as the resulting photographs humanized the tragic stories of loss and deprivation in the mid-twentieth century, enabling the nation to become unified in its understanding of the era it was experiencing, the photographers featured here help visualize one of the most contentious issues of our time—our struggle between our need for energy and our stewardship of the natural environment.

There is an online archive.  CPW is located at 59 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY and the galleries are free and open to the public, Wednesday through Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. For directions or further information call 845-679-9957 or email

Hale Eddy’s “Three More Dinners” Drops in June

July 5th, 2013
Members of Hale Eddy in Woodstock; from left, Ethan, Kevin, Alex and Greg

Members of Hale Eddy in Woodstock; from left, Ethan, Kevin, Alex and Greg

Recently I spoke to Alex Cherney, lead singer and manager of Hale Eddy, about their time in Woodstock. This past winter he and the band recorded their debut album, Three More Dinners, at “School House,” the former site of Mary D’s Montessori School, on Ohayo Mountain Road. The band is from Setauket, Long Island, and has been playing together since the eighth grade. It is comprised of Alex on acoustic guitar, clarinet and sax; Greg Casino on bass; Ethan Geller on lead guitar and Kevin Choumane on drums. Musical influences include The Band, Neil Young, Pearl Jam and the Flaming Lips. Alex composes with Ethan and works on lyrics with Greg—although Alex is quick to say that members of the band add their special parts when the group comes together to record.

Cherney says that the group is named after the upstate New York town. He told me that one day some years back he and his father were on a road trip through New York State, and they were playing a game to come up with the coolest rock group names by riffing off road signs.

Hale Eddy has gigged around Long Island and played lots of benefits, but now with the launch of the album they are looking to expand their horizons. The band’s sound is an aural treat and is reminiscent of the Canadian group, Patrick Watson. A video of the group playing “Carcinogen,” the lead-off song on Three More Dinners, can be found here. For more info on Hale Eddy’s album and/or bookings see


New York Crossroads Rally

June 13th, 2013
New York Crossroads Poster

New York Crossroads Poster

On June 17 New Yorkers Against Fracking, a grassroots energy organization, is organizing a rally in Albany, NY, “calling on Governor Cuomo to reject fracking and lead  the nation in constructing a renewable energy economy here and now in New York.” Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial gas extraction method that allows drillers to reach pockets of natural gas thousands of feet below the earth’s surface. In addition, the method uses millions of gallons of water mixed with hazardous chemicals that are injected into the wells to facilitate the retrieval of the gas. During the course of the process pockets of methane are freed and migrate to well openings or people’s basements and explode. Other problems include spills of the chemicals and contamination of work areas, which in turn leaches into wells and waterways. Many of these issues are well documented in such books as Tom Wilber’s Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale, and Seamus McGraw’s The End of Country.

According to the US Energy Information Administration,  New York State consumed four times as much energy as it produced in 2010. In the near term, fracking would appear to hold out the promise of overcoming this shortfall. However, global warming with its attendant storms has changed from a passing to a pressing concern. Even fracking proponents pitch natural gas as a “bridge” to a world someday powered by renewables. The premise of the rally in Albany is to encourage Cuomo to embrace a recent policy plan, “Examining the Feasibility of Converting New York State’s All-Purpose Energy Infrastructure to One Using Wind, Water and Sunlight,” that lays out how New York can become solely reliant on renewables by 2050. Highlights of the report may be found here.

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