The 2021 Virtual Great Hudson River Revival will take place on Saturday, June 19 here at www.clearwaterfestival.org, Youtube and Facebook. The revival video stream begins at 11am Eastern time, and continues until 11pm. The event is free to all, although we do encourage viewers to make a donation if they are able. In case you miss it, or want to see parts of it again, there will be plenty of time to view the recorded version at the same web sites.
Clearwater Festival (aka “The Great Hudson River Revival” or “Revival”) features powerful statements by life-long activists and organizations. The event will feature many musical performers, storytellers, and activists, including: John McCutcheon, Tom Chapin, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Scott Ainslie, Rick Nestler, Matt Cartsonis, Betty and the Baby Boomers, Hubby Jenkins, Thomasina Winslow, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Emma’s Revolution, Holly Near, R.J. Storm and the Old School Bluegrass Band, Mel & Vinnie, Reggie Harris, Tom Paxton, Diana Jones, The Trouble Sisters, Magpie, Rik Palieri and more. Consistent with Clearwater’s longstanding commitment to accessibility, the Revival programming is staffed with American Sign Language interpreters.
Inspired by Pete Seeger’s desire to clean up the river over forty years ago, The Great Hudson River Revival initially helped raise the funds to build the sloop Clearwater, which has since become a world-renowned floating classroom and a symbol of effective grassroots action. Today, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. is a non-profit organization that sails at the forefront of the nation’s environmental challenges. The revenue raised by the Revival goes to support Clearwater’s numerous educational programs and its work toward environmental and social justice—as well as keeping the sloop Clearwater afloat.
The Great Hudson River Revival is produced by the nonprofit, member-supported, environmental organization Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. All proceeds go directly to support Clearwater’s environmental research, education and advocacy efforts to help preserve and protect the Hudson River and its tributaries, as well as communities in the river valley.
The festival has helped over 250,000 adults experience the wonders of the Hudson River from aboard the sloop Clearwater. The organization itself has gained worldwide recognition for its leadership in helping to pass landmark environmental laws, both state and federal, including the Clean Water Act. Recently, Clearwater played a key role in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAs) decision to remove PCBs from the Hudson River. This decision compels one of the Hudson River’s biggest polluters to begin removing the toxic PCBs from the water, thereby expediting the amount of time before the river is restored. In 2002, Pete Seeger, the founder of Clearwater, was named a “Clean Water Hero” for his prominent efforts in the passage of the Clean Water Act. His tireless devotion to working through Clearwater and promoting its message to effectively use the law in prosecuting polluters of America’s waterways has made the Clean Water Act perhaps the most successful environmental law in the country.
Today, seeing the success of the Clearwater organization, one cannot imagine these achievements being possible without the Clearwater Festival. The Great Hudson River Revival has helped raise funds and served as a beacon toward raising awareness in support of America’s First River. And it all started half a century ago, when it was but the dream of a banjo-picking folksinger.
Back in the mid-sixties, after centuries of accumulated sewage pollution and industrial dumping of toxic chemicals, the Hudson River, like many of America’s most important estuaries, was declared “dead”. The river’s fragile ecological system was devastated. Not a single fish was found in many areas, and the level of commercial fishing had¥dropped so dramatically as to be regarded as nonexistent. Recognizing this incredible social and environmental tragedy, Pete Seeger, a popular musician and respected activist, decided “to build a boat to save the river”. Holding small, fundraising river concerts throughout the Hudson River Valley, he literally passed his banjo among the crowd, collecting contributions to build the elegant tall ship that would become a symbol of environmental advocacy, the flagship of the American Environmental Movement, the sloop Clearwater.
This nomadic folk festival picnic continued to travel through out the Hudson River Valley, then in 1978 the gathering set down roots at a historic river park, Croton Point, on the Hudson River and was coined The Great Hudson River Revival. However, ten years later, due to pollution problems with the landfill at the park, the festival was forced to move from the river. This move resulted in a decade of exile inland at a suburban college campus. In 1998, however, the Clearwater board of directors pushed to move the festival on or near the Hudson River, and a year later the Clearwater Festival returned to its spiritual home, the shores of the Hudson River at Croton Point Park.
Since the 1960s, the Clearwater Festival has grown into the country’s largest annual environmental celebration, its music, dance and storytelling, education and activism attracting thousands of people of all ages to the shores of the Hudson River.