Act I is all about dance, with members of the Vanaver Caravan performing in pairs and combinations to mark the anniversary with their own special verve. Caravan founders Bill and Livia Vanaver will be joined by the swing dance duo Michael Jagger and Evita Arace. Flamenco dancer Barbara Martinez will challenge the capable capoeirista Gustavo Caldas. And the always-ebullient Caravan Kids will make an appearance to remind us what it’s all about. José Moreno, Toby Stover, Evan Stover and Andy Teirstein will provide musical accompaniment on percussion, guitar and fiddle.
Act II will focus on music: folk, blues and jazz. Bass-player Jay Anderson and jazz guitarist Mark Dziuba will pay homage to Betty MacDonald and Artie Traum. Marc Black, Amy Fradon, Leslie Ritter and Helen Avakian will perform original compositions and at least one Artie Traum song. And Bill Vanaver will perform a special tribute to Odetta.
The Benefit will also debut Unison’s 35th Anniversary Compilation CD. “The 16 tracks on this CD represent the extraordinary range of talent and musical diversity that Unison has been proud to present over the last few years,” says Bigley, “and it is dedicated to the late and sorely missed Betty MacDonald, Odetta and Artie Traum. It’s a tremendous honor for Unison that the performances of these three legends are part of this collection.”
It’s rumored that Robert Bard, who recorded the CD at his Skytop Studio in New Paltz, is working on a top-secret grand finale for the Gala. “I’m not going to reveal what it is,” says Bigley, “but if Robert can pull this off, this will be a moment that none of us will forget.” Artists on the CD include Odetta, Patrick Street, Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, Lila Downs, Howard Levy, Eric Andersen, Dala, Artie Traum, Fradon and Ritter, David Mallett, John Gorka, the Assad Family, Samite of Uganda, Pablo Ziegler’s Quintet, Betty MacDonald and Susan Werner. Unison Arts Center – 35 Years: A Compilation Recording (Cherry Lane Music Company) will be available for purchase for $15.
To purchase tickets for the Saturday’s performance at New Paltz High School, please call (845) 255-1559. Ticket prices at the door are $20 for Unison members, $25 general admission, $10 for students. Save $2 by pre-purchasing your tickets before December 17.
@ Ann Hutton
Jeffrey Gaines plays Towne Crier this Saturday
Known for his sexy, rough-edged voice, classic pop hooks and confessional lyrics, singer/songwriter Jeffrey Gaines has enjoyed a solid solo career while touring with Sting, Tracy Chapman, Melissa Etheridge and others. He might be remembered best for his 2001 cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”
Gaines continues to perform solo and full-band gigs nationwide, although he has not released an album in years. He once said that his favorite record came from Nick Lowe (Pure Pop for Now People), which makes sense after a listen to both.
Gaines plays the Towne Crier in Pawling on December 18 with guest Julie Corbalis. Tickets run $25 to $30. Phone (845) 855-1300 for reservations.