Posts Tagged ‘NY’
Thursday, August 16th, 2012
This morning I woke up on the bus, crawled to the front lounge and peaked out the window at the crumbling facade and of the St Charles Hotel in Hudson New York, our hotel for our day-off. What I could see of the town from the bus window also looked a bit sketchy. “Another day off in paradise”, was my first thought. But once I finally dragged myself off the bus and began to walk around I quickly saw that this town has something special happening. I love the fact that so many of these once magnificent, and then crumbling and crime ridden, towns and cities along the Hudson valley have now begun to turn the corner and are once again becoming vibrant, exciting communities. There is still a real edge here, it still feels like a New York State town, but it also has a New York City vibrancy to it (albeit on a much smaller scale). The venue tonight, Club Helsinki, was housed in the building where the town use to maintain its busses. It has been transformed into this beautiful earthy, brick, stone and wood masterpiece of a dinner club. The performance space is small but it has a great energy and it looks beautiful….only in New York, and then you remember that you are two hours outside of the city. The beauty of these towns is that they really came of age in the mid 19th century, so they have these great bones of magnificent stone and brick buildings. These buildings have been ignored for decades but since they were built so well they are still standing and, because of the workmanship, more impressive than when they were first built. Add the building technology of the 21st century and a 21st century architectural aesthetic and the result is some beautiful re-imaginings of some 150 year old buildings scattered throughout this town. This place has a great vibe…one day it will be overrun and that edge will disappear and the “I Heart The Hudson Valley” t-shirt shops will open up, but for now it is a great place to visit….just stay away from the St Charles Hotel.
I figured that I had to give the Hudson a try so I went down to the river to try to find my way to the bank….it wasn`t easy. There is about fifty feet of riverfront that is open to the public at the foot of the town. The rest is taken up with private yacht clubs; private boat slips; some kind of industry that utilizes very large chains and large piles of gravel. Eventually I cut through a factory yard and made it to the bank. I stood there amongst the effluvium, with the smell of oil and diesel overpowering everything else and cast my line into the Hudson. There were fish jumping all up and down the bank: extremely large fish. I got not a single nibble. Jeff thinks they may have been carp that weren`t actually feeding but were acting out some ancient mating ritual, kind of like the whooping crane….and that makes me feel better so that’s what I’m going to believe.
The show tonight was great. It`s a very intense little space, with tables and chairs crammed right up to the front and side of the stage. It kind of reminds me of The Rams Head in Annapolis. The acoustics of the room itself are a little bit too dry, but they are still tweaking it. It`s a great place to play and it must be a great place to see a gig. We were treated royally. We will try and make this a regular stop.
Friday, August 10th, 2012
We left New York right after our show on Monday night and headed to the Island for our day off. Ideally we would have stayed in the city and spent the day (and more importantly, the night) enjoying Manhattan. But paying for two nights of hotels for seven people in a city as expensive as New York is just not a good business practice these days, so we headed to Long Island, somewhere near Bay Shore, somewhere near Bay Port….in actual fact we were near absolutely nothing…except for the dump. Long Island is just a weird, weird place. I don’t think I have had as many insults hurled at me from passing cars as I have in the past couple of days. Maybe it’s because they aren’t use to seeing pedestrians or bicyclists out here. When you don’t build sidewalks or bike lanes you are kind of sending a message. Most of the insults I couldn’t understand because the cars move at such a clip out here (Jeremiah, our new guitar tech, observed that everyone drives like their being chased by the cops). I think one of the insults yelled at me was, “NICE HAT HOMO!!” Is a Blue Jays cap really that offensive? Do people still use the word “homo” as an insult? This part of the island is littered with non-descript malls and industrial parks. Occasionally, if you get close enough to the water, you come across a quaint, classic Long Island town. Bell Port is such a town, with its two antique shops and one Japanese steak house, ice cream parlor and a marina at the foot of the town open only to town residents. The houses in these exclusive little towns are beautiful; immaculately maintained classic New England-style clapboard homes. These little enclaves are mainly the preserve of those sweating their asses off back in Manhattan: membership does not come cheap. I borrowed Jeff’s bike and went in search of something, anything, near our hotel…I pedaled for miles and found nothing and nearly got killed a half-dozen times. I finally stumbled on the town of Bell Port and bought a root beer float in celebration. The highlight of my day off was riding by an empty Outlet Mall and buying six pairs of underwear for twenty bucks: a successful day off.
The town of Bay Shore is not one of those quaint Long Island towns….it’s a bit of a mutt. But I did have some of the best sushi that I have had in a few years (I highly recommend Aji 53, located on the main strip of downtown Bay Shore.) The other thing that this town has is a great little theater. The Boulton Centre is not a pretty venue, but it has fantastic acoustics. You would never guess by looking at it, but someone got it right (probably by accident) when this room was built. We had a sloppy, loose, fun show. The audience was great. This was the last stop for my Mom on her rock ‘n’ roll adventure. A couple of shows, one overnight drive and a day off, not bad for an 80 year old…I think she might be a road-dog.