A music festival blossoms on the New York-New Jersey border




The Rockland-Bergen Music Festival has caught on quickly. In just its second year, it has grown from one day to two, and from two stages to three. There will be 45 sets of music — by Shawn Colvin, John Sebastian, David Johansen, Willie Nile, Steve Forbert, Joe Grushecky and Eddie Manion, Garland Jeffreys, Aztec Two-Step, John Eddie, Guy Davis, Jen Chapin, Tom Chapin, James Maddock and others — at German Masonic Park in Tappan, Saturday and Sunday.

That’s in Rockland County, N.Y., but it’s also less than a mile from the Northvale, Bergen County border. Hence the festival’s name. “Part of my job, so to speak, is educating people in this area about a music festival on the border of Rockland and Bergen counties,” says festival producer Joe D’Urso, who will also perform with his band on both Saturday and Sunday. “Neither county has really had a music festival. The closest festival to us here is Clearwater, up in Croton, which is Upper Westchester (N.Y.).”

He says the park can hold up to 5,000 people a day, though this year’s festival isn’t intended to attract that many people. “German Masonic Park is like walking back into 1962, and old Norman Rockwell paintings,” he says. “Just a really great, 10-acre little oasis in the small historic town of Tappan — where I grew up, actually — so it’s kind of cool for me to do it there.”

To some degree, the setting dictates the music that D’Urso has booked. “I guess I’m keeping it more to a roots, folkier acoustic nature, because of the setting,” he says. “I’m certainly not going to put metal or hip-hop in that area, because it’s not really conducive to that. It’s kind of a grassy area with a lot of trees and it lends itself to be more folky or Americana.”

Festival producer and performer Joe D'Urso.

Festival producer and performer Joe D’Urso.

Still, he is playing with his full Stone Caravan band, and other artists, including Jeffreys and Bob Polding, will be bringing bands as well. Nile will perform with a band on Saturday but will be solo, backing himself on piano, on Sunday.

All the bands play original music, not covers — with one exception. “The band that I consider the grandfather of all Americana bands is The Band,” says D’Urso. “So it’s all original music except on Sunday, The THE BAND Band is playing. They’re from the area, and they usually sell out a few Turning Point shows when they come through. They’re really great. I thought it would be a nice mixture to have that on Sunday.”

Speaking of The Turning Point … Grushecky and Manion will perform at the nearby Piermont, N.Y. nightclub on Friday, along with D’Urso and Stone Caravan. “It’s kind of like the lead-in to the festival,” says D’Urso.

The first 150 people who bought two-day passes to the festival also received passes to the Turning Point on Saturday night, where some of the festival artists will perform surprise acoustic sets. And three other area venues — The ’76 House in Tappan, and the Holiday and Residence Inn, both in Orangeburg — will present live music on Friday and Saturday nights as well.

For more information on the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival, visit rocklandmusicfestival.com. Here is the schedule:

Glow Stage
11:45 a.m.: Bob Polding Band
12:45 p.m.: Gary Douglas Band
1:45 p.m.: Aztec Two-Step
3:05 p.m.: Jeffrey Gaines
4:25 p.m.: Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan
5:45 p.m.: Willie Nile

Seeger Stage
11 a.m.: Spook Handy
12:15 p.m.: Bluebirds of Paradise, featuring Ari Hest and Chrissi Poland
1:15 p.m.: Guy Davis with Professor Louie
2:25 p.m.: Joe Grushecky with Ed Manion
3:45 p.m.: James Maddock
5:05 p.m.: Steve Forbert
6:30 p.m.: John Sebastian

Stefan’s Turning Point Stage
11:45 a.m.: Slippery Chickens
12:30 p.m.: Blue Plate Special
1:20 p.m.: Arlon Bennett and the Healing Project
2:10 p.m.: Rick Ilowite
2:50 p.m.: Josh Casano
3:30 p.m.: Chris Brown
4:15 p.m.: Tim O’Donohue & TMU Band
5:05 p.m.: Bobby DiBlasio
5:55 p.m.: Marianne Osiel




Glow Stage
12:30 p.m.: The THE BAND Band
1:50 p.m.: Finn & The Sharks
3:10 p.m.: Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan
4:30 p.m.: Garland Jeffreys
5:50 p.m.: David Johansen

Seeger Stage
11 a.m.: Spook Handy
11:45 a.m.: Christine Santelli/KJ Denhert /Frank Tedesso
1:10 p.m.: Jen Chapin
2:30 p.m.: Tom Chapin
3:50 p.m.: John Eddie
5:10 p.m.: Willie Nile (solo piano)
6:40 p.m.: Shawn Colvin

Stefan’s Turning Point Stage
11:45 a.m.: Lisa and Lori Brigantino
12:30 p.m.: George Romano
1:05 p.m.: Kevin Cronin
1:40 p.m.: Annie Minogue
2:15 p.m.: Daisy & Andy Krikun
2:50 p.m.: The Levins
3:25 p.m.: Quinn Richard
4 p.m.: Alice Leon
4:35 p.m.: Sarah & Chuck Chesler
5:20 p.m.: Midnight Toast
6:10 p.m.: Emma Cullen

Blankets or lawn chairs are recommended, and those with 10×10 tents will be allowed to set up in the back of the concert field. The event takes place rain or shine.

Here is a video of Nile performing at last year’s festival:

Explore more articles:

Leave a Comment

Sign up for our Newsletter