The Hudson Valley is home to many highly talented musicians, singers, and songwriters. We asked Aja Whitney, midday DJ and music director at Radio Woodstock, to clue us into the local artists she has on repeat.
Soul • calliemackenzie.com
“A rising artist from Kingston, Callie brings authenticity, honesty, and pure soul to her sound,” says Whitney. She frequents local venues like Montgomery’s City Winery Hudson Valley, Opus 40 in Saugerties, and Rough Draft Bar & Books in Kingston.
LISTEN TO: “The Wreckoning”
Joelle & River
Soul • joelleandriver.com
“This husband-and-wife team based in the Catskills are super accomplished musicians with a fun and loving vibe,” says Whitney. Their songs fuse classical, hip-hop, and Caribbean genres to create upbeat tracks. Although the duo—formerly known as Aziza & the Cure—haven’t released new music in a few years, they continue to play shows at orchards and intimate venues across the region.
LISTEN TO: “Joelle & River”
Folk/rock • laurazarougian.com
This Red Hook-based singer-songwriter debuted with ‘Nayri’ in September, an album that echoes her ancestral roots in Armenia,” says Whitney. Zarougian’s songs fuse influences of American folk and traditional Armenian music, a unique genre the artist affectionately terms “Armenian cowgirl.”
LISTEN TO: “Nayri”
Indie/alternative • rahillsongs.com
A member of the rock band Habibi, this Hudson-based Iranian American artist released a solo album in May. Her tunes meld jazz and folk with a touch of electronica for a fresh, almost psychedelic sound. Look out for a feature from alternative rockstar Beck on the track “Fables.”
LISTEN TO: “Flowers at Your Feet”
Royal Khao Z
Reggae • FindthemonInstagram@Royal_KhaoZ
Now locally based, this band of Jamaica natives plays a fusion of reggae, roots, neo-soul, jazz, and rock. “They command the stage wherever they perform with their infectious, well-written songs,” adds Whitney. Catch them playing shows in the Valley and New York City.
LISTEN TO: “MIRIAM”
The Bones of J. R. Jones
Blues/folk • thebonesofjrjones.com
Whitney describes this Catskills-based musician as having a “unique yet familiar sound,” blending influences from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bon Iver, and J.J. Cale. The one-man band just released a record in October and is touring Europe throughout November, but expect him to return to local spots such as Levon Helm Studios and Bearsville Theater in the future.
LISTEN TO: “Slow Lightning”