Through UPAC and Bardavon, Anais Mitchell, Bonny Light Horseman expand links to Hudson Valley

Anais Mitchell

Prior to meeting the wonderful woman who would become my wife, I had never heard of Bonny Light Horseman

And outside of a vague recollection of “Hadestown,” the hit Broadway musical from Bonny Light Horseman vocalist Anais Mitchell, I had never really checked in with her either. 

I quickly learned that my then-girlfriend was a big fan of both Anais Mitchell and Bonny Light Horseman, so when I heard they were coming to Ulster County, I was all over it. We attended a performance by Bonny Light Horseman, which features Mitchell, Josh Kaufman and Eric D. Johnson, at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York and it turned out to be our second-to-last live concert before the pandemic consumed us all. 

That show was on Feb. 7, 2020 and Bonny Light Horseman tore me to shreds. More than two years later I remember less about specifics than I do a vibe that filled the room, a sense of place, a cascade of emotions as opposed to singular moments or particular songs. My headline for the evening was yeah, I am all in on Bonny Light Horseman. 

We attended our last pre-pandemic live concert about a month later, on March 6, 2020, when Tanya Tucker leveled us all at Levon Helm Studios. And just a week later we were all wondering when, or if, we would ever see a live show again.  

Bonny Light Horseman is Eric D. Johnson, Anais Mitchell and Josh Kaufman.

The songs of Bonny Light Horseman became an expanding presence during our lockdown days and we most certainly had a “Well, Bust My Buttons” moment regarding my newest favorite band on the morning of May 8, 2021, as the pandemic continued more than a year and two months after that Feb. 2020 Levon Helm Studios show. My wife and I were relaxing on a Saturday morning that was getting clobbered by heavy rain. She was scrolling through Instagram—at about 9:40 a.m—and made such a random discovery it’s hard to believe it nearly a year later. 

None other than Bonny Light Horseman was scheduled to perform at the Woodstock Library at 10:30 that morning, for a show being staged as part of the New York Pops Up series, a festival with hundreds of pop-up performances launched to ignite the return of live music during the pandemic. But—it was raining and it was Saturday morning and we all know how cozy that can be just staying at home. We didn’t think much about NOT going, so we grabbed our raincoats, grabbed the dog and arrived at the library, in pounding rain, after the performance had begun. There were a handful of people there watching the un-amplified Bonny Light Horseman play beneath a white canopy. Did I mention it was raining very hard? 

Someone, I think from the New York Pops Up team, brought the musicians hot coffee to drink between sets. We stayed for the entire show and got soaked in the process. And my wife and I, along with our cockapoo Guthrie, were beyond thrilled, grateful and healed to have seen our first live music performance since Tanya Tucker on March 6, 2020. The fact that it was Bonny Light Horseman, in Woodstock, just a short drive from Levon Helm Studios made everything all the more special. 

So you can imagine how excited my wife and I were to learn sometime last year that Anais Mitchell and Bonny Light Horseman would be back in our neighborhood, even closer to our home in Uptown Kingston. 

That’s right, we were stoked to hear that the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, which presents shows at its sister theater, UPAC in Midtown Kingston, would be hosting Bonny Light Horseman, at the Old Dutch Church, in Kingston’s historic Stockade District, this coming Sunday, Feb. 20. 

I purchased a pair of tickets, gave them to my wife as a birthday present last summer and surrendered to the fact that pandemic time is elastic and who knew where any of us would be in February 2022, as it pertained to the pandemic, live music or our lives in general. 

Bonny Light Horseman is Eric D. Johnson, Anais Mitchell and Josh Kaufman.

Well, I’m so happy to report that it’s all systems go for Anais Mitchell and Bonny Light Horseman at the Old Dutch Church this coming Sunday in Uptown Kingston. Click here to learn more about Anais and her new, self-titled solo record. Click here to learn more about Bonny Light Horseman and click here for the lowdown on Sunday’s show, which I am very much looking forward to, just a few minutes from where I live.

I’d also like to mention that my wife and I will be attending a performance of “Hadestown” on Broadway in April and, yeah, we’re stoked for that as well. 

Back in the old days of buying tickets for concerts and Broadway shows, we’d actually get a pair of hard copy tickets that we could wrap up and give to someone as a gift. But in the digital age of digital tickets—which are great because I’m less likely to lose them—I needed something to present to my wife, in a concrete way, as the “Hadestown” tickets were a Christmas gift. 

I ordered, of all things, a “Hadestown” Christmas tree ornament from the show’s website, which I thought would be campy. But while completing my order, I saw that the odds of it arriving in time for Christmas were 50-50. So I went ahead and ordered it before seeking out a Plan B. Amazon came through for me with a hard copy book of “Hadestown,” the play. Both items arrived in time for Christmas, so, yeah, giddy up “Hadestown!” 

And last but not least, I would like to say that Mitchell could not have been nicer when I bumped into her some months ago at Forsythe Park in Kingston, during my morning walk with our two dogs. It was shortly before 7 a.m. and a toddler was taken with our dogs as I walked past. I looked up to see the toddler’s mom and saw that it was Mitchell with a stroller. I told her my wife and I enjoyed her music and asked if she lived in Kingston. She said no, she was recording nearby. She couldn’t have been nicer as we left to go our separate ways and we passed once more over near Dietz Stadium. It was a brief but wonderful interaction. 

I look forward to seeing her again on Sunday. 

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