The First Annual Hudson West Folk Festival will take place on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at Cathedral Hall, located at 380 Montgomery Street in Jersey City, NJ. Hudson West is Jersey City's first major folk festival will feature 13 musical artists--national and regional--as well as musical workshops, cultural vendors, food, drink and a full bar. The Latest Noise chatted with festival organizer George "Gidge" Miller and local musician Abbie Garner to get their perspective on the festival.
The seed of the Hudson West Folk Festival began as house concerts with top performers in Hudson county organized by George Miller and others. Over time the network grew, musicians and the organizers of these house concerts worked together to build a solid community. George Miller had a chat with the owner of Cathedral Hall who offered the space as a place to grow the house concert into a full blown festival. "When I was offered the space, my first reaction was 'wow, how do I do this?' but there is such a network of incredible people and we put together a board." George continued, "We wanted to make sure the festival was really focused on the musicians and to treat them well. The caliber of musicians is diverse and amazing."
The festival is also featuring 3 workshops throughout the day to go along with the music performances that begin at 12:15 and go through 10:00pm. (see full schedule on the right side)
The Latest Noise Spotlight Series Interview with Abbie Gardner
Kuz: Hey Abbie, thanks for taking time to talk about your music and the upcoming Hudson West Folk Festival. Tell us a bit about your background in music.
Abbie Gardner: I was always a musician, I grew up playing classical music, got rejected from all the music schools, it was a really good thing. That was pretty much when I started playing the dobro, lap-style, slide guitar. I met my Red Molly bandmates in NYC, we were all New York City singer-songwriters. I met a couple of them at open mics actually, so it comes full circle. We toured for 11 years and the last 2 years we have taken a break and that's when I really started focusing on performing solo and I'm going to be putting out a new record soon, this fall.
Kuz: Where did you record your new album?
Abbie: I recorded in Brooklyn, most of it was in Brooklyn, at a place called Big Orange Sheep and then I did some overdubs in Union City at Kaleidoscope Sound great place. I've recorded a couple solo records, two singer-songwriters ones, and one jazz cd, so this will be the fourth cd I've made. But it's been a long time the last one I put out was in 2010 so it's been seven years.
Kuz: What has changed stylistically or any departures from what you have done in the past?
Abbie: I've always had a mix of different genres on my CD and always hoped it sounds pulled together by the instrumentation being similar. That continues on this one for sure. This time I used a producer named Michael Bellar, a NYC guy, that was really fun.
Kuz: What was that experience like?
Abbie: It was awesome, he really took it on as his project too, like he had real specific ideas about some stuff, we went back and forth about, about the song selection, he encouraged me to finish a couple songs I started and I've really glad about that. He picked out the drummer (Tony Mason) too, who was awesome. Craig Akin (Roosevelt Dime) is on bass, my husband, but also my favorite bass player.
Kuz: That worked out nicely.
Abbie: It worked out really nicely. There were somethings we did in the studio live and other things we decided to do to separate the tracks.
Kuz: Cool, what's your take on capturing live energy or specifc sounds you are going for when doing isolated takes.
Abbie: I always love having the rhythm tracks together, having drums and bass guitar together. Sometimes the dobro with it, but most times I need more space around that to focus and try different things. Same thing with the vocals, I did some live, the ones I knew could pull off live and wanted to get the emotion of the live take. Other ones were new to me so I had to sing them a couple times to get them right.
Kuz: Let's talk a bit about your instrument, the dobro, what got you into playing that?
Abbie: My Dad is a jazz musician but my Mom was really into bluegrass music, I grew up seeing Jerry Douglas and Mike Auldridge play, the two gods of dobro, I'd see them every summer at festivals. I love the sound of the slide, with Bonnie Raitt, the old blues guys. I used to play bottleneck style, but I got tendonitis in my wrist in 2010 and was looking for a way to keep playing and the dobro is a lot easier on your hand. It was a calculated decision but once I made the choice and started playing I was so hooked because it was a melodic sound and had a vocal quality to it. I don't play too much bluegrass but that's where the instrument comes from. I'm taking it into the singer songwriter realm and it's something different.
Kuz: Tell us about your recent gigs over the summer.
Abbie: This summer I toured with a guitar player, we played Clearwater Festival and Falcon Ridge he's moving to Nashville, soI'll be doing more and more solo stuff. The band, Red Molly is doing a short tour this fall and then again in April. I'll be splitting my time between solo and a full band. That's the reason I started coming to Maxwell's Open Mic, to practice my solo performance. To be able to play the song with nothing else. It's a nice challenge and Maxwell's is such a great place, the vibe you guys create there is so awesome and the people are so talented that it's really fun when I'm actually in town to try out the arraignments, because I have to get through a whole show..eventually. It's a really nice community, when I first started writing songs, I went to open mics and met some of my best friends there.
Kuz: How did you get involved with Hudson West Folk Festival?
Abbie: I heard about it from George, I know those house concert promoters. They told me they were doing a festival, at first I didn't think I could make it because of a prior gig, but I was advising him on different avenues of booking and different ways to promote the festival. I'm invested in Jersey City and Hoboken having a good music scene since I live there (laughs). Then my gig fell through and I was like 'if you still have space I'd love to play'. I just saw the venue last week, what a cool place and I am excited to play.
Hudson West Folk Festival Workshops
Boo Reiner of Guitar Bar Drum Den
All experience levels
12:30 - 1:30pm
Guitar Bar Drum Den presents a guitar fingerstyle picking workshop featuring one of their great guitarists, Boo Reiner.
Mining Your Inner Voice
2:00 pm - 3:00
Appalachian Story and Song; a workshop about finding our voices and telling our stories in song.
Don't Think. SING!
Creativity in Performance
4:00 pm - 5:00
An upbeat workshop that cultivates self-trust, imagination, improvisation, and collaboration. We’ll get out of our heads, out of our shells, and into our creativity!"