Joe D'Urso's Rockland-Bergen Music Festival
Is Fifty Years in the Making in Tappan
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

The first Rockland-Bergen Music Festival on June 29, 2014 was a success. The day-long concert at the German Masonic Park (120 Western Highway) in Tappan, New York featured 22 performers. National and New York-centric acts appeared on two stages to celebrate music and event host Joe D'Urso's 50th birthday.

Joe D'Urso's Rockland-Bergen Music Festival Is Fifty Years in the Making in Tappan
Joe D'Urso organized a great musical event and threw himself a rock and roll party in the process.

Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan are an American/Jersey Shore rock band with over a dozen records to their credit. They have a strong following internationally as well as in the tri-state area. During their career JD&SC have backed many worthy causes including the Clearwater Festival started by Pete Seeger and his wife Toshi. With the recent passing of Mr. Seeger it was the right time for Joe to coordinate his own music festival with a focus on charitable organizations. A percentage of the proceeds from the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival went to WHYHunger, Light of Day, Homes for Heroes and lovehopestrengh.org who had a booth where fans could become bone marrow donors with an easy three step process that was done on site.

As Joe was organizing this event he quickly got James Maddock, Jesse Malin, John Eddie, Marshall Crenshaw, Tom Chapin and Willie Nile on board. D'Urso invited local vendors to sell reasonably priced food and drinks at the concert. On premises that Sunday were Denise Marie Catering, Jack Ford, Six Point Beer and Tequila Sal Y Limon.

Mother Nature gave Joe the gift of a beautiful day. It was sunny with low humidity combined with a slight breeze. The German Masonic Park had an old school summer camp feel to it. There were plenty of picnic tables and trees. The Seeger stage was near the food vendors with tables so that people could sit down and check out the different musicians as they ate. The Glow stage overlooked a field where there was plenty of room for fans to set up chairs and blankets and was in close proximity to the facilities, food and a cool down area. The festival and park had a friendly laid back vibe.

Joe D'Urso's Rockland-Bergen Music Festival Is Fifty Years in the Making in Tappan
Featured Glow Stage Performers included Marshall Crenshaw, Jesse Malin, John Eddie and James Maddock.

Also on hand was 107.1 The Peak who had a table with gifts. Their DJ Rich Russo was the emcee for the event. The concert ran smoothly and stuck closely to the printed schedule. Bobby DiBlasio at the Seeger stage kicked off the festivities and joked that he now knew how Richie Havens felt. Bobby armed with an acoustic presented a fine set of intuitive songs about life. We thought he may have been influenced by Dylan based on his vocal style and delivery.

At the Glow Stage, Bill Ayres from WHYHunger spoke briefly about his organization and feeding children in the summer before Tom Chapin took the stage. Tom building on the theme of food shared a song about growing and eating locally. It was a cheery tune combined with serious commentary as were some of the other songs that Tom performed. During his set he invited his daughters - the Chapin Sisters - to sing with him. The trio added pretty harmonies to Tom's fine fingerpicking.

Next, on the Glow Stage was McMule. They were an acoustic band who blended blues and bluegrass music with songs that spanned decades from the 1920's to more current times. Their set featured a sassy "Samson and Delilah" and a creative cover of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed Delivered" which worked surprising well in a bluegrass format. Mcmule was followed by John Eddie who quickly engaged the crowd with his feisty show spiked with some humor. Highlights of his set were "Play Some Skynyrd", "Lowlife" which had fans on their feet and the funny "Forty". John did tone down his lyrics to "truckin' 40" to keep it family friendly. Eddie and PK Lavengood jammed on their guitars with Eddie stamping his foot for the beat as John ending the song admitting he is now 54.

Joe D'Urso's Rockland-Bergen Music Festival Is Fifty Years in the Making in Tappan
Willie Nile's energetic closing set left the festival crowd on their feet.

James Maddock fronted a trio and charmed the audience with his English accent paired with astute observations. James' lyrics were descriptive with the instrumentation underlining pensive points such as I'm "Better On My Own". The catchy more comedic song about Mrs. Neil showed that James has a whimsical side too. Maddock pens perceptive lyrics in compelling arrangements and his slightly gravelly voice grabbed the attention of the audience.

At the Seeger stage we caught Tim O'Donohue. He was supported by a fiddler and a harmonica player who sat on a drum box. Their set was a colorful mix of acoustic songs of love, murder and war with the song "Lee Hi" dedicated to those who have served. Jesse Malin lit up the Glow stage with his agile band with horns. Their animated set had a NYC attitude. Malin presented a number of originals along with a new song "She Don't Love Me" which was soulful with a bit of swagger. He finished up by crafting lyrics for Joe's birthday to the tune of "Cat Scratch Fever".

Marshall Crenshaw played a guitar using foot taps for rhythm. He shared some comments between songs touching upon the fact that he releases EPs every six months and that he collaborates with different artists. Marshall in a solo setting shared some of these songs in their more stripped down versions ending the set with his classic "Someday Someway" still handling three parts in one. Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan were next. Their set was a fine mix of reflective and rocking tunes. During their performance Joe mentioned that they had the honor of recording with E Streeter Danny Federici in 1992. "Never Missed Your More" from those sessions was melodic and moving. JD&ST closed their segment with a lively version of their tune "Let It Go" with the crowd shouting the refrain. A rousing "Noisy Guitars" included a thank you to everyone who had helped with the festival.

Joe D'Urso's Rockland-Bergen Music Festival Is Fifty Years in the Making in Tappan
Tom Chapin; Stone Caravan's Lou DeMartino, Sam LaMonica, and Greg Lykins; and horns all added to the celebration.

Closing the concert was the edgy and engaging Willie Nile. Willie blended intensity with insight in songs such as "Heaven Help The Lonely", a galloping "Grenade" and a spirited cover of Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane". Willie dedicated his last song to Bobby Womack with his hard driving "People Who Died" song where Joe and some of the other musicians joined him on stage. The audience sang along to end the festival on a fun note. The first Rockland-Bergen Music Festival on June 29, 2014 was a success. The concert featured a diverse range of artists. It was a day to celebrate birthdays, music and worthy causes.

Glow Stage Performers: Tom Chapin, McMule, John Eddie, James Maddock, Jesse Malin, Marshall Crenshaw, Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan, Willie Nile

Seeger Stage Performers: Bobby DiBlasio, Bobby Mahoney, Alice Leon, Over The Line, Rob Dye, Arlon Bennett, The Levins, Chris Brown, Tim O'Donohue, Johnny Markowski, Kevin Cronin, George Romano, Anthony D'Amato, Joe Rapolla

Joe D'Urso's Rockland-Bergen Music Festival Is Fifty Years in the Making in Tappan
Scenes from the first Rockland-Bergen Music Festival in Tappan, New York.

Related Links: For more information on the ROCKLAND-BERGEN MUSIC FESTIVAL and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - RocklandMusicFestival.com | Joe D'Urso

(Originally Published on July 01, 2014)

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