10 Must-See Events in the Hudson Valley, August 2-8

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Get sand in your eyes – For fans of dark fantasy, Neil Gaiman is a household name and a prolific source of inspiration. Local fans feel especially close, as Gaiman has counted the Hudson Valley as one of his homes in the past. This Friday, August 5, World’s End Comics in Kingston will host a special party from 6 p.m. to midnight to bring Gaiman’s latest story to life on screen, Sand seller. The comic book it’s based on was released in 1989, and after decades of false starts and developmental issues, the long-awaited TV adaptation has arrived. Attendees will watch the first six episodes in a back-to-back binge, hopefully in costume (prizes will be awarded). Admission is free but pre-registration is required. See worldsendkingston.com register.

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Witness the opposite of war — Peace seems rare these days, so don’t miss the 12th Annual Bon Odori Dance Festival for Peace. This annual tradition will take place on Saturday, August 6 at TR Gallo Park in Kingston from noon to 8 p.m. It commemorates the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the 11th anniversary of the collapse of Fukushima and the 36th anniversary of the collapse of Chernobyl. There will be speeches by survivors of the Hiroshima bombing, as well as the Buddhist monk, Reverend DT Kenjilsu Nakagaki Jodo Shinshu. Performers include a Japanese folk dance company, percussion by Taiko, actors Momo Suzuki and Sakura Kojima, the Spirit of Thunderheart and the Vanaver Caravan.

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Enjoy advanced voices —The Phenicia Festival of the Voice is a celebration of music made from the humblest of instruments: the human anatomy. We developed the ability to create music for a myriad of reasons, and it all started with our voices. We’ve come a long way from mimicking nature to seeing top talent produce sounds of incredible beauty, with just two vocal chords and a diaphragm. And while today this miraculous instrument is often lost in auto-tune filters and vocal processing effects, this festival truly showcases the human voice in its most evolved form. Enjoy opera (including an exploration of opera in film), orchestral performances with huge choirs of 100, and more voice worship. The three-day festival runs from Friday, August 5 through Sunday, August 7, and tickets range from $100 to $250. More than phoeniciavoicefest.org.

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Italian fun — For the uninitiated, pétanque can be a bit confusing. From the outside, it may look like an odd combination of curling, shuffleboard, bowling, horseshoes and billiards. In fact, the game is incredibly easy to pick up and play for all ages. The basics: throw a ball, then throw bigger balls as close to the first thrown ball as possible. Simple enough, but the rivalries he creates are legendary, with the ability to knock down his opponents’ balls. This Sunday, August 7, the Italian American Foundation of Ulster County will celebrate the rich history of this wonderful pastime with a family bocce day at Robert Post Park in Kingston. It’s free for everyone and starts at 2 p.m.

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Jazz up on the beach — It’s a great week for outdoor concert lovers in Saugerties. The village beach is always a cool place to relax in the sun. But this Thursday, August 4 at 6 p.m., things get even cooler, with a free concert featuring Madeline Moneypenny and her band, The Mellowphones. Lush vocals, jazzy styles and inventive beats are showcased by the ShoutOut Saugerties program, which seeks to encourage and promote creative endeavors across the city. On Friday, August 5, you can catch another Saugerties sunset concert at Tina Chorvas Park, featuring Maria Sebastian, Eric Sqindo and Amy Laber.

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Enjoy prolific musicality – When you write over 1,600 songs, you know a thing or two about music. Joel Forrester has accomplished much in his prolific career as a pianist and composer. You probably know him as the author of NPR’s theme. Fresh air with Terry Gross, but it is only a piece of his song encyclopedia. This Saturday, August 6, he brings a virtuoso quartet of new and innovative jazz artists to Barnstock in Saugerties at 7:30 p.m. To say that Forrester follows his passion is an understatement. He is the living embodiment of music and Barnstock is a great outdoor stage to showcase his wonderful works of art. Donations at the door are suggested, as are lawn chairs.

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Make some noise on the dance floor — How strange is the term “dance music”? Technically you can dance to any music (although we don’t know if you want to to.) Proving this point (rather strong, I might add) are Whoah! and Grampfather, two bands from the area who share the common goal of throwing a dance party that feels much more like a punk/indie bustle than a foursome DJ set on Ibizan soil on Friday August 5th at Keegan Ales , 7 p.m. We all know dancing is good for your health, so maybe that’s why this is an O+ “Summer Sessions” production. As the 12th Annual Health-Meets-Arts-Meets-Music Festival gears up for October, this is your chance to get physical with two up-and-coming bands from the Hudson Valley.

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Solid as a rock – What better way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence and the 41st anniversary of Upstate Reggae with The Big Takeover, our region’s first reggae-roots-rock band? This is a band that is 110% at home in a town like Woodstock, worshiping every genre with a hyphen. And as anyone who’s seen The Big Takeover will attest, they’re doing more than doing these island sounds justice – they’ve defined their own sound, with ever-larger audiences picking up the frequency. The Colony Beer Garden in Woodstock will be packed with revelers looking to get moving and dancing this Saturday, August 6. Tickets cost between $22 and $27.

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Discover well-being and wonder — Vanaver Caravan Youth Company is stopping at Stone Mountain Farm in Red Hook this Saturday August 6th. The Caravan is an international non-profit dance organization that promotes peace and unity. But this is no ordinary sight. In fact, it’s a one-day festival with multiple artists, workshops, experiences and wellness services. The Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival will present itself with a performance among aerial flights and trapeze work, skincare and yoga workshops, and more than a dozen other attractions. Doors open at 1 p.m. and close at 7 p.m., and admission is by donation (suggested $25 for students/children and $35 for adults). Reserve your spot in advance at www.vanavercaravan.org/tickets/summerfest.

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Raise the dead – Local rockabilly punk band Red Neckromancer make their long-awaited return to the stage this Saturday, August 6 at Keegan Ales. Kind of an underground supergroup, we haven’t seen them in these parts for over two years. No word on what brought them out of hiding, but we’re guessing it has something to do with whiskey and zombies. If you like brutal chants and fried country freakouts, be there at 7 p.m.

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