Celebrate Saratoga: Jacksland is a Must-See

Visit Your Old Favorites, But Be Sure to Make Room on Your Dance Card for A New One!

Jacksland (Rick Bolton, Jackie Dugas) have been prepping for this moment through COVID and virtual shows.

Arthur Gonick – July 11, 2021

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Well, here we are!

Here we are at the precipice of a new summer racing season, and with Saratoga Racecourse opening on Thursday, July 15, The Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association (DBA) has put together a program of post-race activities that will certainly encourage anyone to extend their opening day fun, into the evening downtown. The aptly named “Celebrate Saratoga” will have many elements, and they are detailed in the release that appears below.

As one who had the pleasure, and challenges, of helping with programming “Celebrate’s” predecessor (‘Hats Off to Saratoga’) for several years, on behalf of The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, with support from NYRA and many local businesses, I’d like to offer some perspectives about what you can expect on Thursday.

  • First of all, big kudos to the DBA for attempting to put this together in the first place, and further, for programming a lineup that features an excellent cross-section of some of the best working musicians in the city today. I say some because, truth be told, this area is so prolific that they could have substituted the 10 acts that you will see and hear with others – indeed two, three, four times over – and not sacrifice the quality one bit! If anything, this lineup should spur you to explore the many music offerings that are available in Saratoga – through the summer, and through the year. Having said that, Thursday’s lineup is universally strong, and you are pretty much guaranteed to be delighted wherever you wind up.
  • The ultimate challenge with programming an event like this is achieving balance. Not just with different genre’s, but with balancing bringing back favorite acts that people have enjoyed previously, and want to see again, while still making room for the new talent, those ‘up and comers’ that you are completely certain about. Those, that if given the chance, will blow the audience away, and join the ranks of favorites for years to come.
  • I would say that the greatest joy, and what made all the headaches and logistics worthwhile, is what I call “Promoter’s Time.” It is that period of time between putting a new act on the program, until they actually start playing… You know how good it’s going to be. But only you know – until that first song. Promoter’s time. If ever you see someone idly whistling with an S.E.G. on their face, they probably are in the midst of that sort of feeling. There’s nothing like it – watching a new performer or group rise into that ‘favorite’ category.
  • After a year of quarantine and lockdown, I know that people are thirsting for that feeling of normalcy, and the many favorites that the DBA have programmed this year will fill that desire. I know you want to see your favorites. I know you want to see Kevin McKrell, Tim Wechgelaer/Chris Carey, and Erin Harkes.
  • News Flash: I want to see Kevin McKrell, Tim Wechgelaer/Chris Carey and Erin Harkes! And I’m looking forward to doing so…
  • But I’m also going to make a good deal of time to see Jacksland – a duo you haven’t seen before at an event like this. It says here that you will in the future though, and often, and I urge you to make time on your dance card for them, in front of Caroline & Main (438 Broadway,) during your Thursday evening plans.

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In truth, this was a story I wanted to do over a year ago, before Virus Interruptus made a surprise visit and definitely overstayed its welcome. It was sort of the Evil Twin of “Promoter’s Time.” You knew how good the story was, but you weren’t sure you’d ever be able to tell it.

But, sometimes good things are not only worth waiting for, but the waiting makes it even better. Such is the case with Jacksland – the duo of Jackie Dugas and Rick Bolton fine tuned their stuff through COVID – with its attendant socially-distant and/or virtual gigs for over a year, and became stronger, and tighter in the process.

In every set I saw, there was Jackie eliciting howls of delight for her vocals from those in attendance.

In every set. there was Rick showcasing a riff that, well, it may not have been the first time he played it – but it certainly came from the vault – prompting spontaneous applause.

Energy. And synergy.

In so doing, they turned my story/profile into a piece of full-blown touting advocacy. From “go see” to “MUST SEE,” if you will. I’m all-in on these guys, and I wish I could find as sure a thing at the track!

Folks, It’s already to the point where people are touting me on them! People coming up to me and saying things like: “That Jackie’s going places with that voice,” and “I swear, Rick’s playing the best he ever has” consistently enough, that only one reaction is possible…

I just grin. And sometimes whistle.

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So, after a year or so of good intentions, I finally get to write a story… but, I wanted to tie a bow on it, and so I received the ultimate honor: a sit-down and 10 minute chat with Jackie and Rick – after their recent gig at Gaffney’s… while they still had their gear to pack up! Wow!

Anyway, I knew my time was going to be limited, so I wanted to make it count. I asked a question I had never asked anyone before, putting Rick on the spot first, like a proper gentleman… but I made them both answer:

“Tell me the nicest thing you can say about each other….”

“Jackie is always ‘Up,’ no matter the size of the audience. After we worked together a bit, I threw her into a 4-hour gig and she nailed it. That’s when I knew.”Rick Bolton

“Rick’s the best mentor anyone could hope for… good-natured, understanding and unflappable!” -Jackie Dugas

All right, I’ve touted you seven ways from Sunday – so, I leave you with this: No matter what you do, I hope everyone has a safe, and fun, Track Season 2021.

Arthur Gonick – July 11, 2021

Saratoga Springs DBA Press Release

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The return of the Saratoga Racing Season is cause for celebration in Saratoga Springs! The Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association, in collaboration with NYRA and the Saratoga Springs Downtown Special Assessment District, is excited to host a first -time event called Celebrate Saratoga! The event takes place in downtown Saratoga Springs on Opening Day of the Saratoga Race Course, Thursday, July 15th  from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

The Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association welcomes racing fans, visitors and the local community back to enjoy the vibrancy of our charming City with live music performances throughout the downtown area including Hot Club of Saratoga at the Visitors Center; Seth Warden and Company at Ben & Jerry’s; Erin Harkes at the Spa City Motor Lodge; Kevin Mckrell at the Adirondack Trust Company Drive-Thru; Lifeline at Impressions of Saratoga; Tim Wechgelaer and Chris Carey at the Arcade Building; Jeanine Ouderkirk at Henry Street Taproom; Jacksland at Caroline and Main; Pat Decker at Palette; and Steve Candlen at Toga Heritage.

“The Saratoga business community has a lot to celebrate this year,” commented Deann Devitt, President of the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association. “Businesses are open and the historic Saratoga Race Course is welcoming fans. Our community is shifting back to normalcy after an unprecedented year. We are proud to celebrate and welcome everyone back along with the support of our partners, Saratoga Springs Downtown Special Assessment District and the New York Racing Association.”

In combination with the Celebrate Saratoga event, storefront windows in the downtown area will be decorated as part of the celebration welcoming racing fans back to the Saratoga Race Course! Window decorations will be judged on July 14th at 2pm by the legendary horse racing announcer Tom Durkin, popular CBS6 news anchor Liz Bishop & 93.3FM Star Radio’s award-winning veteran broadcaster Walt Adams. The judging will be broadcast live on NYRA TV.

Business Participants include the Adirondack Trust Company, Celtic Treasures, Complexions Spa, Crafters Gallery, G. Willikers, Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs, Impressions of Saratoga, Lifestyles of Saratoga, Saratoga Dance, Saratoga National Bank, Saratoga Saddlery, Saratoga Tea & Honey, Spoken Boutique, Tailgate and Party, The Dark Horse Mercantile, and Walt & Whitman Brewing. The Window Decorating Contest prizes include the following: First Place, 2 tickets to the Rail at 1863 Club including buffet lunch; Second Place, 2 Clubhouse Reserved Seats; and Third Place, 2 Grandstand Reserved Seats. Winners will be announced at the Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, July 17th.

To add to the evening’s excitement, NYRA will be sponsoring an Enter-to-Win drawing. Entry boxes will be available within the stores of businesses who are participating in the Window Decorating Contest. One randomly selected winner will enjoy 2 Clubhouse reserved seats for Runhappy Travers Day, Saturday, August 28th. The drawing will be held on Saturday, July 17th and announced on the Saratoga DBA Facebook page.

“Saratoga’s vibrant downtown and outstanding shops, hotels and restaurants are a big part of what draws so many visitors to the Spa each year,” said NYRA Senior Director of Communications Pat McKenna. “We thank the Downtown Business Association for their support as we welcome the return of racing fans to Saratoga this summer.”

For more information on the Celebrate Saratoga Event or the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association, please contact Caelen Brott at Caelen.Brott@saratogaspringsdowntown.com or by phone – 518-587-8635 or visit www.saratogaspringsdowntown.com.

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