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1,000+ throng Patti Smith benefit concert to stop St. Lawrence Cement

HUDSON (N.Y.) -- Despite torrential rain throughout the day, a sold-out crowd of 1,002 ticket-holders came to the Basilica Industria on the Hudson waterfront to see rock legend and poet Patti Smith and her band perform on Saturday night.

Smith and the Basilica donated all proceeds of the concert to benefit Friends of Hudson, the 3,400-member citizens group currently challenging the coal-fired St. Lawrence Cement proposal.

During an energetic 2-hour set which included songs, reminiscences, and readings, Smith referred often and pointedly to the cement plant battle, the Hudson River Valley, and the importance of protecting the world’s environment.

The concert was introduced by Basilica developer Patrick Doyle, who called on SLC to “tell the truth” about its plans; and also by actor and area resident Dechen Thurman (brother of Uma), who celebrated the uniqueness of both the river and Smith’s art.

Longtime fans as well as those new to her music were then treated to Smith hits such as “Because the Night,” “Gloria,” and “People Have the Power,” as well as rarities from her 30-year catalogue of songs and poetry, in front of a 40-by-20-foot projection screen.

The Basilica is located in a former glue factory in Hudson near the river, adjacent to a proposed barge facility where St. Lawrence Cement seeks to have 750-foot-long barges offloading up to 250,000 tons of coal per year, as well as other activities. In 1999, the site almost became home to a hazardous waste processing plant. Friends of Hudson originally formed to stop that proposal, which was defeated. The building was bought and renovated by Mr. Doyle in the past few years for use as a concert and event space.

The event was staffed by over 40 volunteers, with beverages served by C. H. Evans Brewing Co., and food by Brandow’s and Company. The event was underwritten by premium sponsor The Rural Gourmet at Sunset Meadows, along with Brad Peck Insurance, Gary DiMauro Real Estate, Ihlenburg Plumbing & Heating, Kaaterskill Farm Natural Storehouse, Kingsley Daniels Real Estate, Olde Hudson, Red Dot Restaurant, and Warren Street Media Group.

Generous assistance in managing the event was also provided by the Hudson Police, Fire, and Code Enforcement departments, among many others. In addition to the performers, sponsors, construction crew and other volunteers, Friends of Hudson wishes to thank Patrick Doyle, Catherine Smith, and Colum Riley of the Basilica, Bob Mechling and Lynn Schauwecker, and especially Lynn Davis and Rudy Wurlitzer, who were instrumental in the creation and planning of this event.