Dar Williams benefit concert 6/27/09

The first ecoartspace live concert and fundraiser took place this past Saturday. Singer/songwriter Dar Williams gave a solo acoustic guitar concert at the McKenna Theater at the SUNY New Paltz campus – it was a thrilling evening and the audience gave Dar a very welcome reception, they were all big fans. See Dar’s blog post on the event HERE.

The concert coincided with a museum exhibition titled Ecotones and Transition Zones at the Dorsky Museum, housed in the same building with the McKenna Theater. Museum curator Brian Wallace describes the exhibition in this way, “New Paltz is an ecotone, a place where overlapping natural and social ecologies—the river and the mountains, the cosmopolitan and the rural—exist in a fragile tension. The artworks and art historical narratives associated with this region suggest the great opportunities (and responsibilities) that area artists, residents, and visitors have to visualize and act upon opportunities to contribute to a better world.” The museum stayed open late that evening so that concert goers could stroll through the galleries before the show, it was a successful crossover event.

Included in the exhibition is a work by Simon Draper’s Collective, Habitat for Artists (or HFA, which recently had an exhibition at the ecoartspace NYC project room). The Collective includes 15 artists -give or take- as the number changes with each project. There are 3 Habitats currently installed in New Paltz, one on campus, one on Main Street and the third (and most beautiful site IMHO) at Historic Hugenot Street. All of the Habitats have artist residency projects on-going for the duration of the exhibition.

Dar Williams was one of the original HFA members from the first exhibition last summer in Beacon, NY, where she turned her own Habitat into a writing space. She became interested in the bigger picture cause behind the HFA with her interest in recycling, sustainability, and artist’s need for space, and decided to give this benefit concert to help ecoartspace and HFA’s work continue.

The concert lasted for 2 hours with an opening act by Nick Panasevich who played some cool Randy Newman-esque piano tunes and also a guitar piece. Dar sang for an hour and a half, one great song after the next. Her set list included (The Ocean, The Beauty of the Rain, Spring Street, Midnight Radio, Book of Love, Buzzer, Iowa, The Babysitter’s Here, You Are Everyone, Holly Tree), and my personal favorites, Mercy of the Fallen and Hudson, (see complete Hudson lyrics BELOW). Dar is one of those gifted musicians with a beautiful voice, moving lyrics, well crafted songs, great guitar playing AND a huge generous spirit. It was a privilege to work with her.

If we’re lucky we feel our lives know when the next scene arrives so often we start in the middle and work our way out we go to some grey sky diner for eggs and toast New York Times or the New York Post then we take a ride through the valley of the shadow of death but even for us New Yorkers, there’s a time in every day the river takes our breath away And the Hudson, it holds the life we thought we did it on our own The river roads collect the tolls for the passage of our souls through silence, over woods, through flowers and snow and past the George Washington Bridge, down from the trails of Breakneck Ridge, the river’s ancient path is sacred and slow And as it swings through Harlem, it’s every shade of blue into the city of the new brand new And the Hudson, it holds the life we thought we did it on our own I thought I had no sense of place or past time was too slow, but then too fast the river takes us home at last Where and when does the memory take hold, mountain range in the Autumn cold and I thought West Point was Camelot in the spring. If you’re lucky you’ll find something that reflects you, helps you feel your life protects you, cradles you and connects you to everything. This whole life I remember as they begged them to itself never turn me into someone else And the Hudson, it holds the life we thought we did it on our own And the Hudson, holds the life we thought we did it on our own.

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