Best Of Hudson Valley 2015: People

Including best up-and-coming band, designer, and more

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Readers’ Picks


Up-and-Coming Band

Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones Kingston
Are they rockabilly, rock ’n roll, or R&B? How about a mix of all three? As fun to watch perform as they are to listen to, this Kingston-based quartet gets crowds on their feet with their original retro-inspired songs and fresh interpretations of American classics.

There’s Matt Goldpaugh on bass, Dave Tetreault on drums, Chris Heitzman on guitar, and lead vocalist/guitarist Lara Hope, whose retro cat glasses and 40s pinup girl/ rodeo queen outfits add pizzazz to their act.

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“Our band comes from a very diverse background of musical influences, which brings a different spin on traditional rockabilly,” says Hope. That’s putting it mildly: Tetreault is classically trained but has toured as a heavy metal drummer. Hope can belt out Broadway show tunes with the best of ’em yet also did a stint in a punk band.

Back in 2014, the band filmed their locally famous “Whiskey Pick” music video at Keegan Ales in Kingston. “We’ve been told that the filming of the video was probably the most fun Monday night anyone there has ever had!” says Hope. The video features actual Kingston police officers who pursue band members on a cops-and-robbers chase, a zany character in a bunny suit, and a rowdy crowd. The song was also voted #40 (right in between Pink Floyd and Robert Plant!) in the top 100 songs of 2014 on Radio Woodstock WDST.

The band’s debut album, Luck Maker, was crowd-funded by fans, friends, and family. “People really came out of the woodwork and were very generous,” says Hope. A new album is in the works for 2016, not to mention a music video for their tune “I’m the One.” Be sure to catch them at Keegan Ales on October 30, the Shelter Wine Bar in Rhinebeck on Halloween, and the Rosendale Café on January 9 before they embark on their winter tour out West.

lindsey websterLindsey Webster

Photograph by Franco Vogt

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Already-Hot Musician

Lindsey Webster Woodstock
Webster says on her website that she considers herself “very, very lucky” to have grown up in Woodstock. Well, we feel very lucky that this über-talented songstress continues to call the Hudson Valley home. A soul/R&B artist whose silky voice has been compared to those of Mariah Carey or Anita Baker, Webster performs with her partner, Keith Slattery, and a band of world-class musicians. (Fun fact: Webster auditioned for American Idol in 2006 and made it to the third round.) She released her highly acclaimed sophomore album, You Change, earlier this year and has recently been touring in Europe. We can’t wait to catch a performance on this side of the pond soon.

Up-and-Coming Designer

Brianna Nonnon Monroe
A new designer has hit the Hudson Valley fashion scene, and guess what? She’s only 16. Brianna Nonnon started designing to escape the structure and routine of her school life. “Creating and designing has always felt right to me,” she says. “It’s what I’m most passionate about.” And her talent has already been recognized by local boutiques. The designer is in the process of creating pieces for Kindred clothing boutique in Middletown, and is set to sell her jewelry collection online. Brianna mixes a vintage, gothic, fairytale-like style into her one-of-a-kind, custom-made dresses, as well as her handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.

sara grady
Sara Grady, this year’s “Best Friend to the Farmers”

Photograph by Ken Gabrielsen

Friend to the Farmers

Sara Grady Glynwood, Cold Spring

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Sara Grady has been at Glynwood, an agricultural nonprofit at which she serves as vice president of programs, for five years. In that role, Grady develops creative opportunities to further the organization’s mission of helping farming thrive in the Hudson Valley. So far, she’s on a roll. The Brown University graduate was the mastermind behind the highly successful Cider Project, which has helped hard cider, a nearly forgotten drink, to enjoy a renaissance, both locally and nationally. Of course, this helps local apple farmers in the process. Now, Glynwood sponsors annual Cider Weeks in the Hudson Valley and New York City.

Grady’s programming helps farmers find new business opportunities. In March, Glynwood hosted a six-day master class for eight local charcuterie producers. “It was a wonderful, exciting experience,” says Grady. “There has been a need for more knowledge to learn the traditional art form of making charcuterie.” In addition, Grady has helped create a network of chefs who are working closely with local farmers, and she’s also working with a network of CSAs to help make them more available to Hudson Valley residents.

While farmers are the main beneficiaries of Grady’s projects, Glynwood’s monthly farm dinners are open to the public. “There are lots of exciting things going on,” she says. We can’t wait to see what Grady does next. 845-265-3338;

getaway girls getaway girls

Follow the Getaway Girls, sisters Liza (left) and Rachel Cortijo, on social media at @getawaygirlsinc

Globetrotters with Heart

Getaway Girls, Inc. Beacon, Fishkill
Planning a trip on the Internet can be challenging with the enormous amount of available information — not to mention a ton of scams. Thankfully, sisters Liza and Rachel Cortijo are here to test the waters for prospective travelers. Through their Web site and social media platforms, they post information — ranging from hotel recommendations, deals on attractions, and places to eat — essentially taking their followers along on a virtual vacation. “You can’t ‘taste test’ a trip, but with us you can get an honest look at a lot of places,” says Liza. “Plus, it’s free.” This year, they touched down in many terrific spots including Disney World, Italy, and Mexico, and already have more European and Caribbean excursions planned for 2016. Creating a free app is next on the Girls’ list as well as organizing a few “Getaways with the Girls,” where followers can join the pair on their adventures.

But Liza and Rachel, who reside in Fishkill and Beacon respectively, aren’t only focused on organizing worldwide escapades. They also support worthy causes. “We make sure [the company focuses] on giving back and supporting and women and girls — hence our hashtag, #GirlyWolfPack, which is the idea that every girl needs to surround herself with women who uplift her,” Liza says. The sisters are in the process of starting up their own not-for-profit organization. They also hosted their first fundraiser to support the fight against ovarian cancer in 2014, and are slated to do so again at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel on November 21 of this year. They don’t keep a cent; all monies are sent to organizations and charities that raise awareness about the disease. 845-891-7923;



Rebecca Martin


James Earl Jones

Actress (TIE)

Lisa Lynds
Center for Performing Arts, Rhinebeck

Nance Williamson


Tarryl Gabel


Dorothy Wills-Raftery


Jessica Pastre
Fireside BBQ and Grill, Salt Point


Ric Orlando

New World Home Cooking, Saugerties


Theresa Paul
Avon Senior Executive Unit Leader, Florida

Golf Pro

Rhett Meyers
Vassar Golf Course, Poughkeepsie

High School Teacher

Kate Franklin
Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, Hyde Park

Local Musician/Band


Mixologist (TIE)

Derek Williams
A Tavola, New Paltz

Paul Maloney
Stockade Tavern, Kingston

Radio Personality (TIE)

Bob Miller
WBPM 92.9 FM, Kingston

Mark Bolger and Kimberly Kay
WCZX 97.7FM, Poughkeepsie


Marc Molinaro
Dutchesss County

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