On June 24 and 25, the fourth annual Rockland-Bergen Music Festival will take place in Tappan, NY right on the borders of Rockland and Bergen counties. The festival combines two days of music with raising awareness of important causes and organizations that do work in the fields of health and humanity. This year, the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival will feature over 33 artists on two stages as well as 16 non-profit organizations, plenty of food and drink, and a guaranteed good time. In advance of the festival, founder Joe D’Urso took some time to talk about the festival, its history, and more.
What spurred you to start the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival four years ago?
For years, I thought that the Rockland-Bergen area should have a music festival and I got tired of waiting for someone else to do it, so I decided to grab the bull by the horns and do it myself. I am very fortunate that I have friendships with singers and others from all of the different parts of my life and was able to get a bunch of them together and put the festival together.
In order to do that, you must clearly be a lover of music. Is that your background?
It’s one of my many hats. I spent 1986 to 1996 at Premiere Talent Agency where we booked tours with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, U2, Bon Jovi, The Who and others. Then, from 1996 to 2006 I toured with my band, put out a few independent records, and played in 25 countries. From 2006 until now I have continued to tour, but I also oversee a Broadway production company, Leftfield Production, with composer Neil Berg who is a childhood friend. I also work with WhyHunger, Light of Day, and the Dan Sullivan Foundation, all of which use music to raise awareness and money for different causes.
The Rockland-Bergen Music Festival itself combines music and awareness. What made you decide to unite the two in a festival?
We’ve all been to so many festivals, and really, does anyone need another t-shirt? I didn’t want 30 booths of people selling that sort of thing or trinkets - I wanted to do something different. In the first year of the festival, I involved Light of Day and WhyHunger. In the second year, we had eight or nine charities; in the third, we had twelve to fourteen and this year we have sixteen. The idea is to have almost everyone who walks through the gates make some type of connection with one of the groups that are there. I know that in general, music fans tend to be caring people, but to have such a broad spectrum of charities means a greater chance of people connecting to an organization with the hope that they get involved the other 364 days a year and make their lives richer on a human level.
This year, the festival will break down into two distinct days. On Saturday, June 24, the stages will be focused on nationally known touring acts like the Jake Clemons Band, John Cafferty & Beaver Brown, Steve Forbert, Joe Grushecky, Jeffrey Gaines, Hollis Brown, Christine Oilman & Rebel Montez, Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan, and more. Sunday, June 25 will keep the focus on the most talented local artists in the area like Neil Berg's Pianomen (Billy Joel/Elton John), Rita Harvey'sHeart Like A Wheel Tribute to Linda Ronstadt, Walkin' After Midnight: Patsy Cline Tribute with Carter Calvert, Rex & The Rockabilly Kings (Early Elvis), Jeb Jones plays The Dead (Johnny Markowski), Dead Mile Dance and more.
With over thirty acts and two stages, how is the festival organized?
It’s held at a small, Mason owned fairground that was built maybe in the 1930's. You don’t find many places like this at all; it’s a real throwback with a railroad track that runs through the back of it and sometimes, midway through a set you'll hear cargo trains being pulled which gives it this real Americana-Norman Rockwell feel.
We have two stages: the Glow-Seeger stage, Glow being the nickname of my mom and Seeger for Pete, and the Mr. Lou Stefan Turning Point stage. He was my long-time bass player and the bartender at the Turning Point who passed tragically a couple years ago. One stage is on the field and another is past the food and beverage area, which is also where the vendors are located. We do not have any overlapping sets, so people can go back and forth and catch every artist, fill up their bellies, and quench their thirst.
It sounds like a really great two days.
Someone once said to me that the festival was like being at a family picnic with famous people and I love that – it’s exactly what I was working to do. This is a small festival that I can curate and put my thumbprint on. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and a true labor of love. Plus, I get to celebrate my birthday with music and friends – now that’s a pretty good day.
On June 23, there will be a kickoff concert at the Turning Point in Piermont, NY with Anthony D'Amato and Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan. On June 24, there will be an evening show at the Turning Point featuring Joe Grushecky, Ben Arnold, and Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan. Tickets for the Turning Point shows are sold separately and can be purchased HERE.
For all of the information on the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival visit HERE and HERE
Rockland-Bergen Music Festival 2017:
June 23 - The Turning Point - Piermont, NY - 8:00pm
June 24 - German Masonic Park - Tappan, NY - 10:45am
June 24 - The Turning Point - Piermont, NY - 8:00pm
June 25 - German Masonic Park - Tappan, NY - 10:45am
June 25 - The '76 House - Tappan, NY - 8:30pm