Review | Photos | Benefit for Frack Action | Woodstock

Words by: Chadbyrne R. Dickens | Images by: Kylla Delisio

Benefit for Frack Action :: 03.10.13 :: Bearsville Theater :: Woodstock, NY

Marco Benevento & Dave Dreiwitz
by Kylla Delisio
Woodstock, located in upstate New York about 1.5 hours North of Manhattan, has a renowned history of music, and is synonymous with protests and supporting benevolent causes. Despite often being mistaken as the site of the original Woodstock Music Festival, which actually occurred 55 miles Southwest in Bethel, Woodstock still boasts more than a modest music connection. Dylan recorded two of his greatest albums while living in town, Janis Joplin and Van Morrison once frolicked in the area, there were infamous nights at Joyous Lake, iconic drummer of The Band, Levon Helm, created music in the area until his death early last year, and Steely Dan front man Donald Fagen, as well as Pat Metheny and Todd Rundgren, are local fixtures. It was only fitting that the Bearsville Theater, located mere yards from where famed manager Albert Grossman once had his office, would house an important benefit. Today's zeitgeist is different from to the activist-heavy 1960's. Almost no established musicians write protest songs, and society is relatively quiet in participating in protest to wars or other divisive issues. However, on Sunday, March 10, conscientious individuals came out in droves to the Bearsville Theater to support the Anti-Fracking movement.

Frack Action literature ( explains that fracking is a dangerous method of gas extraction that involves injecting millions of gallons of water laced with highly-toxic chemicals deep into the underground to break apart rock and free tiny bubbles of methane gas ("natural gas"). Fracking has been linked to over 1,000 incidents of groundwater contamination across the United States, including many cases where people can actually ignite their tap water. Fracking in New York would put water and food supply at risk to 15 million people. Frack action is a grassroots campaign to protect our water, air, public health, and economy from the dangerous practice of hydraulic fracturing. The organizers advocate calling New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to denounce further practice of fracking at 866-584-6799.

Amy Helm by Kylla Delisio
The classy event included a silent auction to raise funds which commenced one hour before showtime and included a vast and diverse array of unique items, local goods and services including a private piano lesion with John Medeski, lodging, food and wine and original Woodstock Music Festival tickets donated by its founder Michael Lang. The bar was hopping as the crowd was herded in and quickly over-filled the state-of-the-art Bearsville Theatre for the sold-out presentation of music and morals. "We Shall Not Be Moved: A Benefit for Frack Action" was produced by Liz Penta and Radio Woodstock, which maintains headquarters adjacent to the Theater.

The incredibly talented 'house band' that played with each of the guests consisted of Marco "The Wizard of Weird" Benevento (keys), Dave Dreiwitz (bass), Jerry Marotta (drums), Dan Littleton (guitar), Adam Widoff (guitar) and John Medeski (keys). The professional standard was set by this exemplary foundation, and after a short presentation on Fracking, the musical festivities began. The set list included spirituals and intermittent jam sessions with Jeremy Bernstein delivering "This Train is Bound For Glory" and "God's Gonna Cut You Down"; Rachel Yamagata "Feeling Good"; Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Littleton "Come ye Disconsolate" and "X-Ray"; Tracy Bonham "The Wayfaring Strangers" and "Lord Search My Heart"; Jack DeJohnette with John Medeski, Don Byron and Larry Grenadier "a spiritual"; Gail Ann Dorsey "Way Over Yonder" and "Eyes On The Prize"; Simi Stone "Many Rivers to Cross" and "This Little Light of Mine." All the musicians participated in the spectacular and poignant closer "We Shall Not Be Moved" which had everyone clapping in unison and solidarity.

Natalie Merchant by Kylla Delisio
Particular Standouts included local talent: Amy Helm's take on an upbeat and contagious "Good News" and local boy Joey Eppard delivered an energetic "A Change is Gonna Come" Love's In Need of Love Today." Bethany Yarrow (with Rufus Cappadoscia) tore the roof off the place with an enigmatic take on "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round" and "If I Had My Way", but the somewhat reclusive, and most known name at the event, Natalie Merchant, lent her unique and alluring vocal melodies through the belted out versions of "Motherless Child" and "Wade in the Water" that were so strong that she proudly commented mid-song, "and only one rehearsal!"

In a cynical era where one is seemingly too busy or misinformed to take on special interests, it was refreshing to see an outpouring of emotion and support for a sold-out show in support of a worthy cause. One can only hope the sparks that were created and the money that was collected can fuel more awareness on a bigger stage across the Country.

Founder and campaign director for Frack Action, Julia Walsh added, " Together we will ban fracking and embrace a renewable energy economy in New York. With love we are gonna win this fight." Judging from the amount of love shared in the theater on this night, and by raising over $18,000 from the benefit, she clearly has a strong foundation of support.

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[Published on: 3/15/13]

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