Then it all becomes clear and simple. The woman has a set of pipes that could crumble a marble cathedral into dust while her impassioned delivery makes the gargoyles thereon weep and hug one another. Her voice is a gift of the Muses that few in our lifetime can rival. And you, Dear Reader, get the chance to hear that powerful instrument resonate from a natural amphitheatre in the Catskills just a month from now, as the Belleayre Music Festival kicks off its 20th season on Sunday, July 3.
Lang is on tour, with a new assemblage of musicians called Siss Boom Bang, behind a brand-new album called Sing It Loud that is being dubbed things like “instant classic” by music critics. But it’s a fair bet that some of her hits, like “Constant Craving,” “Miss Chatelaine” and “If I Were You,” as well as a few honky-tonk numbers from her early years, will be on the menu as well. Hearing this force of Nature in our neck of the woods on July 4 weekend is a don’t-miss opportunity for sure.
At the other end of the summer’s lineup at Belleayre is another exciting bit of buzz from the world of alt/country: Spacegrass banjo genius Béla Fleck is reconvening the original Flecktones lineup. What that means is the chance to catch them catching fire with a man who can do things with a harmonica that no other mouth in the world can: the inimitable Howard Levy. That happens on Saturday, September 3.
Between k. d. and Béla, there’s a whole lot more going on that’ll be worth a trek up the snowless ski slopes. July 8 and 9 are billed as “A Broadway Benefit Weekend for the Belleayre Music Festival and the Roxbury Arts Group.” The Friday opener offers theatre music with Jim Caruso’s Cast Party, and the showtunes get kicked up more than a notch on Saturday by the awesomely long-limbed song-and-dance man Tommy Tune, backed by the Manhattan Rhythm Kings.
What’s Creedence without John Fogerty? Find out for yourself at Belleayre on Saturday, July 16 when the beat goes on with Creedence Clearwater Revisited, featuring original CCR rhythm section Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford. The Belleayre Festival Opera under the baton of Donald Westwood will perform Verdi’s La Traviata on Saturday, July 23. Singer/guitarist K. J. Denhert returns to the Belleayre Jazz Club on Friday, July 29. And Global Noize tops off the month with jazz, funk, electronica and world fusion on Saturday, July 30.
The jazz theme continues into August, as saxophonist/composer Ravi Coltrane (yes, he’s John Coltrane’s offspring) brings his quartet to the Belleayre Jazz Club on Friday the 5th. The next night, Jimmy Cobb’s all-star So What Band, featuring Larry Willis, Buster Williams, Javon Jackson, Vince Herring and Eddie Henderson, will put on a concert marking the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’ watershed album Kind of Blue.
Longtime Nashville “hat act” chart-topper Clint Black returns the Festival to a countrified focus on Saturday, August 13, and fans of the singer/songwriter genre will flock to Belleayre armed with “Passionate Kisses” for Mary Chapin Carpenter on Saturday, August 20. The following Saturday, August 27 continues in the country vein as Nickel Creek mandolin wunderkind Chris Thile fronts his latest band, the Punch Brothers. The original Flecktones wrap it all up the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, September 3.
The Belleayre Music Festival takes place on the grounds of Belleayre Mountain on Route 28 in Highmount. All shows begin at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25 to $97, plus a special $150 package with post-concert reception for the Broadway Benefit weekend, and are available via TicketMaster. For more details visit www.belleayremusic.org or call (800) 942-6904, extension 1344.