Schenectady County

Audience, musicians in tune at Ridge

Tall grass waved and the lifts were still at Maple Ski Ridge on Sunday, but there were tykes on the

Tall grass waved and the lifts were still at Maple Ski Ridge on Sunday, but there were tykes on the bunny slope, just like in winter.

The children weren’t learning to ski, but rather running and picking wildflowers while their parents took in the sounds of the Rhythm on the Ridge Roots Music Festival.

Local musicians performed original music to a small but enthusiastic crowd over the weekend, with the verdant ski slope as a backdrop.

The featured genre was “roots music,” which includes bluegrass, Celtic, old-style country and folk music.

“It’s really earthy music, stripped down, and so when you see a band go on stage, they’re mainly playing wooden instruments,” explained organizer J.P. Yakel. “It’s the kind of music that you can sit out in a field and play, but we’ve formalized it a little bit with a nice stage.”

The aim of the festival, now in its fifth year, is to spotlight local artists and bands that write their own music and help them earn new fans.

Sunday’s festivities started bright and early with “Pickin’ with Pancakes,” which featured a combination of breakfast at the ski lodge and an open mic program.

“You can do an open mic at 7 in the morning or you can do one at 11 o’clock at night. There’s always somebody that wants to play at open mic,” Yakel said.

Spontaneous music-making is part of the appeal of the event, he noted.

“People can bring their instruments and just start playing. They meet people, they’re out in the parking lot, a little band kicks up and next thing you know, there’s music going on the other side of the lodge. It just kind of happens,” he said.

Musician Dick Kavanaugh, a member of the duo Cavanaugh and Kavanaugh, was relaxing at a picnic table Sunday while the band From the Heartland played acoustic guitar onstage.

Kavanaugh and his partner, Deb Cavanaugh, are regular performers at the festival.

“It’s nice to be part of something that’s starting to grow. We’ve become part of the scenery,” the Princetown resident said with a grin.

The scenery was lovely at the festival, despite the mud produced by recent rains. Kids jumped gleefully in a bounce house, while 6-year-old Aiden Keeler of Troy launched muddy basketballs toward a hoop with surprising accuracy.

“Close, dude, close,” encouraged his dad, Adam Keeler, as one ball missed its mark and bounced into the mud.

The two weren’t paying much attention to the music, but back by the stage, fans gathered at picnic tables to soak it in, along with some warm June sun.

In addition to From the Heartland, featured on the stage Sunday were the Hill Hollow Band, Everest Rising, the Bald Mountain Rounders and the Lazy Suns.

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