Annual ‘Holiday Hoot’ event draws big crowd at Howland
Beacon – It was a rare chance to see the man many refer to as the greatest living American musician. It was an opportunity to come together and connect while sharing in the diverse gifts of the holiday season. It was a time to listen to an eclectic mix of talented area musicians.
No wonder the 15th Annual “Holiday Hoot” concert, held at the Howland Cultural Center, drew a standing-room-only audience Saturday night. Once again, that musical holiday ensemble was hosted and produced by musician and Beacon resident Christopher Ruhe, who could also be found playing the guitar and singer on center stage. The attendance, along with overall spirit of Saturday’s Hoot, could not have left Ruhe more pleased.
“This was the best Holiday Hoot, the most harmonious and loving, as so many things happened, such as cultural diversity, celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanza as well as Christmas and having people perform from all different backgrounds,” said Ruhe. “This is the time of the year all about the spirit, giving and not receiving.”
Amongst that varied and talented roster on hand that provided that selfless giving were Goldee Greene. Sitting on a stool, guitar in hand, Greene sang a melody she wrote. Involving the audience with accompanying clapping, Greene energetically sang the catchy lyrics, “Peace on Earth and let it begin with you.”
Soon after, a unique quartet of musicians, the Cabo family, performed. Composed of mom on guitar, sons on guitar and singing and daughter who played the piano and also sang, the family provided three holiday melodies, each met with approval by the packed audience.
The Rivertown Kids, a group of youngsters who regularly perform environmentally conscious songs, also graced the stage. The group of about twelve Beacon youngsters could be heard singing the lyrics, “Sing for peace it won’t be long” during their first number. Another melody contained the phrase, “We sing loud, so our voices can be heard.”
Other performers providing entertainment throughout the two-hour evening of non-stop music, included; Sue Altkin & Friends, Reverend Alvin Bell, David and Jacob Bernz, Marvin Cooke, New Vision Church of Deliverance Choir and of course headliner, Pete Seeger, who put an exclamation on the nights’ united, festive musical gathering.
The 92-year-old Seeger, equipped with his banjo, took to the stage, and immediately spoke to the audience. Alluding to a 140 year old Christmas tune that originated in Whales, Seeger provided the premise for his first number, “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly.” The legendary folk icon related further historical details about the background of two more of his holiday tunes. After a few solo pieces, Seeger joined all the other performers on stage in the grand finale numbers. It wasn’t long before Seeger could be spotted doing what he does best, leading and uniting. Waving his hands in the air, he turned to his fellow musicians, and directed. They responded. So too, did the large audience. As singing, dancing and cheer filled the Howland Cultural Center, it was evident just how potent Seeger’s ability to unite all people using the power of music really is. His enduring humility is equally impressive.
“Thank you very much for asking me here,” said a smiling Seeger after his concluding solo number. “I hardly sing anymore, as I’m up in the mountains, cutting wood and helping out my family, but I’m just so happy to be able to be here with you tonight.”