QUARANTINED: Dave Ehmann
For our next Quarantined interview, we chatted with festival organizer Dave Ehmann about what he was been up to since having to stay home. Dave is responsible for starting the Adirondack Independence Music Festival in Lake George, NY, promoting concerts and running sound all over the northeast. See what “Improv Dave” had to say below!
How are things going since the impact of COVID-19?
Different comes to mind first. As with everyone it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. When you’re going full steam ahead and ram it in reverse going 100 mph, your vehicle will blow apart and you’ll have to rebuild it to get moving again. Yeah it’s like that. I’m rebuilding my vehicle.
What have been some of your favorite moments of Adirondack Independence Music Festival thus far?
That one’s easy. It’s always the same answer. For me it’s the smiles and look of true happiness in everyone’s faces as they dance and socialize at the show. That’s how you know it’s a success. Seeing all the children there with their families makes me happy as well.
What makes the festival stand out?
That is a question better suited for the attendees but I can relay what I’ve been told. I’ve been told it’s how people feel when they are there. “It’s like one really big family reunion”, or “wow your staff and crew are so awesome”. I’ve heard things like, it’s the site being right in the middle of town and with reentry folks can go anywhere and do anything at anytime. Also the mountainous backdrop. The flat site and incredible grass (under peoples feet) they like that. I think the ADK attendees reflect directly on true love that goes into this festival and vice versa. The love the attendees project is directly reflected in how we go about planning for the next one.
The one thing I’ve been told over and over (and I have trouble accepting such accolades) is when people tell me they go to lots of festivals every year and Adk is their favorite. I reply???? Wow! thanks! Really? That’s my general response. Makes me smile inside and out.
(Photo: Frankie Cavone)
What things have you been doing to keep yourself busy?
Well, believe it or not, this little hiccup, has doubled my workload on the music side of my life. Cancelling, postponing, and rescheduling shows is full time as well. Then we quarantined 2 other kids with our family of 4. It’s been interesting to say the least. I’m a numbers guy so I am def caught up in following the COVId numbers and trying to read between the incredibly blurred lines. I also try to keep an eye out for the inclusion of giving up certain aspects of our constitutional rights in the name of “anything “ fear or money related.
Have you been playing any drums lately? If so what are some of your favorite songs to play?
I have been playing, not as much as I should be though. For me, now more than ever, it’s my way of clearing my head and relieving frustrations. I generally don’t play to songs, I warm up with rudimentary exercises for a while then I just try to play what’s on my mind.
What are some of your favorite up and coming bands?
I think everyone we’ve had on the Adk lineup are the who’s who of upcoming acts. Not to mention all the ones we haven’t had yet. The scene is strong and chock full of real talent. My two most recent “really digging” are Dogs In A Pile and Glass Pony. My favorite one man band is the legendary Rich Ortiz. My pick for breakout pop star 2020ish is Taylor Ortiz.
Tell us about your involvement with the Strand Theatre?
The Strand is Jon Newell’s baby. Jon is a legend in these parts. We go back a good solid minute and I have wanted to do shows there ever since I first walked in. He doesn’t need me to fill dates, he does just fine. I consider myself fortunate that he has welcomed our family into his home.
(Photo: Frankie Cavone)
How did you get introduced to the Dead/Jam community?
SPAC(Saratoga Performing Arts Center) 1984-85 were my first Grateful Dead shows. I’ve seen a few since. Played in a bunch of cover bands when I was younger and I experienced some small festivals. Woodstock 94 was my first “big”festival. That lit a spark.
What do you like most about living in Lake George, NY?
100 percent the most beautiful place on Earth.
How has COVID-19’s on the live music/entertainment industry effected you?
I’d say it effects me greatly. My last show was on 3/13/20. That’s the day they cut venues to half capacity in NY. From then thru the end of November 2020, I have 9 festivals/concert series/events, consisting of 33 days of music and 117 acts in the works. That’s a lot of “what if’s”. So far I’ve only canceled four shows thru May 1st.
Fingers crossed that’ll be all.
Do you have any advice for musicians struggling?
As with anything, hard work, persistence, patience, and positivity are the keys. Support each other and def don’t hate.
Over the years of promoting, what were some of your favorite shows to be part of?
Not from a promoter standpoint but I loved being on the sound crew for a few years at Camp Bisco and everyone’s fav Catskill Chill. All<3
What was coming up for you in the coming months prior to the impact of COVID-19?
With exception to the four shows I canceled the only thing that has changed is I’m now contingency planning for for my contingency plans.
What things do you miss the most with having to social distance?
Hugs and people. I gotta be honest tho, I’m getting fat. I’ve had like five holiday dinners in three weeks. I’m enjoying ish all the extra time with my girls too tho.
What music has been getting you through these stressful times?
I have 14,000ish songs on shuffle but honestly haven’t been listening much. What’s worse you ask? We have 6 people and satellite WiFi so all the streams that are happening… I can’t watch any of them. True story.
When going out and about, what precautions are you taking with social distancing?
I’ve bumped elbows with 3 people since 3/13…. it’s day 20 today for our family.
My take on the temporary full stop to my life right now: I’d much rather look back on this and laugh about how we overreacted by staying home. (Probably won’t ever know if quarantine actually worked because how could we?) VS. To look back wishing I had done more to help and because I didn’t distance and people around us died and it became a full blown plague. Like I said prior, life is pretty much all “what if’s” for the next couple weeks to a month.