There are events planned throughout the Capital District all year to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of Albany, and this weekend, Old Songs takes a turn saluting the explorer.
From Friday to Sunday, June 26 to 28, Old Songs is holding its annual festival at the Altamont Fairgrounds. One of the special guests is Nanne and Ankie and the Hudson Crew, a musical group from the Netherlands.
They do a spectacular performance about Henry Hudson and the Halfmoon, said Old Songs Executive Director Andy Spence, referring to Hudson’s ship.
Nanne Kalma, Ankie van der Meer and the four other performers came to Voorheesville to perform at Old Songs about 10 years ago. Spence has kept in touch with them over the years, and thought the quadricentennial would be a great occasion to bring them back.
`They do a lot of maritime music -` a lot of singing about ships and merchants,` she said.
For the Old Songs festival, the group will tell Hudson’s story from a Dutch perspective, Spence said. When the English explorer set sail in 1609, he had been hired by the Dutch East India Company to find an easterly passage to Asia. But when ice and cold made travel difficult, Hudson turned west.
`That’s why he ended up coming to America,` Spence said.
Hudson and his crew landed on the coast of Maine, continuing as far south as the Chesapeake and Delaware bays. Realizing he hadn’t found a passage to Asia, he headed back north, exploring the river that now bears his name.
`It’s quite a story, really,` Spence said.
The Hudson Crew tells the story in both Dutch and English. It will perform Friday at 3 p.m., complementing a lecture by Peter Rose called `The Influence of the Dutch on the American Kitchen.` That night, it will put on a concert set at 7.
On Saturday, the group will give a full performance of `Henry Hudson and the Half Moon` at 4 p.m. There will be additional shows on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.
Of course, the festival will also feature a number of other performers, playing folk, Celtic, roots and world music. The main stage will host concerts Friday night at 7, Saturday night at 7 and Sunday at 3, with notable performers including Peggy Seeger, a folk musician who is Pete Seeger’s half-sister; Grammy-winning family performer Bill Harley, Bua, a traditional Irish band, and Galitcha, a group that performs music of India.
Less-accomplished musicians will have their own chance to perform. There will be Gospel singing workshops led by songstress Lea Gilmore, the Festival Jug Band (for kids of all ages, led by Bruce Hutton and the Hokum Hawaiians), The Great Groove Band (a fiddle and string youth ensemble), participatory dancing and the Tree of Life concert featuring youth musicians.
The final component of the weekend is workshops. Participants can learn fiddle techniques from Lissa Schneckenberger or take lessons on the boomerang, which records and plays back short musical loops, allowing users to add new harmony parts each time. Other classes focus on the mountain dulcimer and guitar.
Classes and concerts are held rain or shine, since the fairgrounds have ample indoor space. Spence noted that there was rain last year, but participants still had a great time inside.
Now in its 29th year, the festival has a strong group of core followers, Spence said, but `it’s always good to see new members.`
She encouraged people to check it out and noted that anyone who does head to the fairgrounds should bring a chair or something else to sit on since seating is not provided.
The 29th annual Old Songs Festival of Traditional Music and Dance will be held Friday to Sunday, June 26 to 28, at the Altamont Fairgrounds in Altamont. Tickets are $15 per class for Friday classes. They are $50 or $30 for Saturday’s events and $40 for Sunday’s workshops and concerts. All-festival tickets are also available for $100 for adults and $50 for youths 13 to 18.
For information and tickets, visit www.oldsongs.org/festival.