Joe D'Urso's Music Festival
Turns a Temperamental Two in Tappan
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Joe D'Urso presents Rockland-Bergen Music Festival (RBM) celebrated its second year on June 27 and June 28, 2015. The Festival was held at the family friendly German Masonic Park located at 120 Western Highway, Tappan, New York. Founder/musician Joe D'Urso gave birth to the RBM Festival as a one-day affair in 2014 to celebrate his 50th birthday. This year it grew and expanded into a two-day rain or shine event.


D'Urso - another year older - with an event that was bigger and bolder.

Although Joe has been involved in festivals and fund-raising for non-profits, the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival is the first event of this scope that he has spear-headed and organized with a little help from his friends. Since year one was a success, D'Urso doubled the fun with an extra day and a third stage for 2015. SoundPress.net was on the scene for the RBM Festival on Sunday, June 28th.

As many parents know a two-year old can be temperamental. The weather for this year's Festival behaved accordingly with the first day taking the brunt of the bad weather with heavy rain. On Sunday, there were bouts of sprinkles but it did not did hinder the performances. All three stages had coverings so that the artists along with their gear were protected from the drops and fans planned accordingly. The stage transitions ran smoothly all day with acts playing at their appointed times. The Glow and Seeger Stages were next to each other so that one could listen to one artist as another set up. Stefan's Turning Point Stage was conveniently located by picnic tables and the food/drink vendors. Many of the Festival's sponsors such as 90.7 WFUV, Green Mountain Energy, Guitar Pick Jewelry, Light of Day and The Journal News were on site.

Highlights of Saturday's concert included Aztec Two Step, Jeffrey Gaines, Joe Grushecky with Ed Marion, James Maddock, Steve Forbert and John Sebastian. Willie Nile along with host Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan performed both days.


Willie, Garland, David and Lou in Tappan.

We arrived just as The The Band Band was finishing their tuneful tribute to their double namesakes. Next, activist/musician Jen Chapin armed with an acoustic amused fans with her tale of building cardboard castles countered by the compelling commentary of "Insatiable" a song about America said Jen. Over at Stefan's Annie Minogue fronting a three-piece delivered a solid set that showcased her sassy "Sandbox". Finn & The Sharks were 1950's-style rockers whose spirited show featured originals along with covers including a lively "Lucille" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "High School Confidential". Back at the Seeger Stage the perceptive Tom Chapin performed "Locally Grown" a song about an unhappy apple who has to travel 4000 miles or more to get to a store.

The Levins encouraged fans to "Trust" and embrace change. This theme was woven into a number of their songs. They encouraged people to consider their role in the Universe and how in big or small ways we can change the world for the better. A number of fans were dancing to this acoustic duo's uplifting set. As we returned to the Seeger Stage to catch the rest of Tom's set, he too was singing about people finding common ground in an effort to improve our planet, thus building on the ideas The Levins were talking about.

Joe D'Urso reminisced that he came to this park as a kid dreaming of a music festival for a good lead into Tom Petty's "Running Down A Dream". Joe continued with "Tell Me Why" and a bit later a lively "Let It Go". Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan also played a riveting version of Neil Young's "Rockin In The Free World" a song that has been getting a lot of attention these days. More musicians joined Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan for their anthem of "One Guitar" or in the case of Pete Seeger one banjo changing the world. The band and fans were jumping around for this one.


Folk icon Shawn Colvin closed out the second annual event.

At Stefan's Stage Quinn Richard and next Alice Leon presented their reflections on life with Alice sharing a self-help song about getting older. Leon covered a range of styles during her set. Back at the Seeger Stage the engaging John Eddie was chatting and singing his tales of "Mrs. Riley" along with "Low Life". John shared that he had moved to Nashville about seven years ago and has been collaborating with country artists. His next song "I Got A Real Big Deck" combined a country flavor with witty commentary about people proud of their big houses or perhaps something else.

Garland Jeffreys with his band lit up the Glow Stage with a fast paced series of songs featuring "Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me", "96 Tears" and Lou Reed's "I'm Waiting For My Man" in honor of the their 50 year friendship. Garland said he would be 72 but he worked the crowd like a man half his age, even stepping over wires and out onto the ancillary speakers in front of the stage to connect with his fans.


More scenes from the second annual Rockland-Bergen Music Festival.

"Wasn't Garland great," declared Willie Nile who thanked Joe for the Festival. On Sunday Willie played a solo piano set that included the reflective "The One You Used to Love" and "I Can't Do Crazy Anymore". Before dedicating the image rich "Lost" to John Lennon, Nile shared a story about the late Beatle. Willie recalled that he was working on his Lost album at the same time John & Yoko were recording Double Fantasy at the Record Plant. On December 7, 1980 someone came to Nile's studio asking if they had any strings for Lennon. A pack was procured with an arrangement to meet John on December 9th. Lennon used those strings on the last song he played which was Yoko's "Walking on Thin Ice". It was a powerful story for a powerful song.

Ironically it started raining as David Johansen sang "Making Rain" with Brian Koonin on acoustic. David joked that they were doing folk and should be on the Seeger Stage. Other highlights of their set integrated the dark "Ain't Got No Death To Die" and "I Ain't Got Nothing" along with the cool "Funky But Chic". Shawn Colvin closed the concert with strong storytelling and strumming. Shawn observed that most of her songs are about breaking up although she did present a poignant piece about a person who stays put and perhaps has regrets that they are "gonna die in these four walls". Colvin mentioned that she is releasing a second covers album in 2015, which flowed into her versions of Springsteen's "Tougher Than The Rest" and Tom Waits "Hold On". Shawn played the well-known "Sunny Came Home" paired with an amusing tale of recently performing her song with Taylor Swift. Shawn Colvin ended the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival on a fine note despite the temperamental weather over the weekend. Maybe the sun will make an appearance next year as it was announced from the stage that plans are already underway for the third annual event in 2016.


Finn & The Sharks took us all the way back to the roots of rock.

Related Links: For more information on the ROCKLAND BERGEN MUSIC FESTIVAL and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- RocklandMusicFestival.com | 2014 Review

(Originally Published on July 01, 2015)

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