Ask any Katonah resident to describe what they love about living in the hamlet and you’ll likely hear the words “quaint,” “walkable,” “country charm,” or even as “close to Mayberry as you can get.”
And though Katonah boasts world-class music and cultural institutions like Caramoor and the Katonah Museum of Art, what you might not hear a resident mention is “thriving music scene,” or “good options for nightlife.”
A new, grassroots organization called Katonah Live aims to change that.
“We have a community of artistic people but there is no way to showcase their talent,” said Kelly Miller, who planted the seed for the group to form. “We want to give people something to do after 6 p.m., something to celebrate the vitality of our town.”
Katonah Live is composed of individuals, business owners and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Caramoor, the Katonah Museum of Art and Katonah Village Improvement Society. Its mission is to support and promote live artistic events in downtown Katonah for a range of audiences.
For Susan Warsaw, part of the appeal of getting involved was to create activities for teenagers in town. “This can include events planned for all ages, and for teens, who often have nothing to do,” said the KVIS co-president.
Performances could include live bands, poetry readings, “whatever bubbles up, we’ll help facilitate,” said Jennifer Cook, who is involved as the proprieter of Noka Joe’s, past chamber president, and woman-about-town. “Katonah is just a really cool community, full of vibrant people, and this will be an outlet for arts and music.”
There have been attempts to bring music to the downtown area—a music at the gazebo night was held in May, and last year, a concert was held to ‘rock the vote‘—but after police officials deemed the traffic caused by those events unsafe, and town officials informed planners about cleanup costs and insurance requirements, the group was born.
“All around us there are communities with live music—Peeksill, for example has a jazz fest—but there’s a gap here,” said Miller. “This is for people who might not have the energy to go to New York City and get home at 2 a.m. and allows us to showcase the music community that exists around here.”
To cover the costs of staging events, Katonah Live is hosting a “Community Cocktail Party and Fundraiser” this Thursday Aug. 4 from 7 p.m – 9 p.m. at Noka Joe’s in Katonah. Scheduled to perform is the Alison Shearer Trio. Shearer, an employee of Caramoor has been “hugely pivotal and a source of energy” for the project, according to Miller.
At the cocktail party, members of Katonah Live hope to raise awarenes and funds for their first major event, an outdoor concert and block party planned for Sept. 24. They’ve rented a stage the size of an 18-wheel truck, which will be parked parallel to the train tracks outside of Peppino’s Restaurant.
Four bands are already lined up: the high school band, Hot in the Pocket; the Folkadelics (who will leave the Katonah gig to make one later in Boston that night); PitchBlak Brass Band and the Drew Bordeax Group. Little Kebab House and Blue Pig ice cream will sell food to party-goers.
In-kind donations have been pouring in—cases of wine from Katonah Wine & Liquors,food from Peppino’s and meeting space and marketing services from other businesses, but cash is needed to put on the $6,000-plus show.
For more information on the cocktail party, visit Katonah Live’s website.