One of the fondest memories of the 2006 season, when we spent the entire racing season in Saratoga, was the final weekend, when downtown Saratoga turns into Nashville of sorts with the Final Stretch Music Festival. Nine bands are crammed neatly into the cracks and crevices of the town on the final Saturday and Sunday nights; one can pick a favorite and spend the night, or wander around to sample each.
I've alluded from time to time about all of the great free shows during what was a glorious summer in NYC this year. Amongst the bands and performers we saw were Wire, Orchestra Baobob, A Place to Bury Strangers, John Hammond, Steel Pulse, Die! Die! Die!, Eric Mingus, Jay Farrar, Bill Withers, Sonic Youth, the Feelies, Nona Hendryx, David Bromberg, Swell Season, Laura Cantrell, King Khan and the Shrines, Marshall Crenshaw, John Doe, The Ex, Either/Orchestra, Mahmoud Ahmed, Getatchew Mekurya, The Knitters, Patti Smith, James "Blood" Ulmer, and the late, great Isaac Hayes. So it seemed fitting that we would end the Saratoga summer digging on the bands at the Final Stretch.
A special shout-out here for the Brian Patneaude Quartet, pictured above performing at the intersection of Division Street and Broadway. I see that this local band - Brian was born in Schenectady - has scored some impressive press clippings over the years. It was certainly easy to hear why, especially on the sublime original compositions. Check it out.
I was so mesmerized by how tight this band was that I forgot to take any video. However, here's a sampling of some of the other performers we saw. Rich Ortiz, playing in the parking lot of Ben and Jerry's, was a virtual one-man band. Check out the footwork on the peddle bass!
The scene on Caroline Street is always particularly cool. With the band playing down at the bottom of the slope from Broadway in what is more like a tight, bar-lined alleyway than a proper street, it gives the venue the most intimate feel of the festival. They were dancing in the street to Big Medicine, who also performed at the track on Monday.
Aged in the Hills performed in the Collamer Building Parking Lot. And it's a wrap.