The weather was perfect on the first day of the 2014 Clearwater Festival as acts ranging from Buckwheat Zydeco to Richard Thompson were scheduled to play on a half-dozen stages near the banks of the Hudson River. As usual, there were also health food stands, environmental exhibits and Native American storytellers. The only thing missing was the presence of the festival’s founders and guiding lights, Pete and Toshi Seeger, who both died since the 2013 festival. There was no shortage of tributes: from a morning prayer service at the Rainbow Stage to a banjo salute at the Sloop Stage and beyond. A maze-like exhibit traced the Seegers’ causes and accomplishments and encouraged visitors to tie messages for them on a tribute wall.
Marc Black traveled from stage to stage, Seeger style, inviting the audience to “sing for the silent.” On the Hudson Stage, Guy Davis dedicated “Love Looks Good on You” to the Seegers, and noted that he also sang it for them at last year’s festival to mark their 70th wedding anniversary. A flotilla of boats and kayaks bobbed just offshore to listen while Davis played a five-string banjo, inciting the woman signing onstage for the hearing-impaired to dance. Later in the afternoon, Garland Jeffreys sang “Coney Island Winter” on a solar-powered stage, another sign that the Pete’s values will continue to guide this beloved annual event he has left behind.