Musicians sans Frontières organize underage-friendly concert series at St. Joe’s

Joe Ruotolo in the performance space in the basement of Saint Joseph’s Church in New Paltz. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Joe Ruotolo in the performance space in the basement of Saint Joseph’s Church in New Paltz. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

While there is a thriving music scene in New Paltz, it typically takes place between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. in the village’s plethora of bars, making it inaccessible to underage musicians and music enthusiasts as well as those who may want to call it a night by 10 or 11 p.m. That’s why a group of musicians and music supporters known as Musicians sans Frontières (Musicians without Borders) has organized a monthly concert series hosted by St. Joseph’s Church from 7 to 10 p.m. beginning Friday, Jan. 31.

“There’s so much great music in and around the New Paltz area, but it mostly takes place at bars, late at night,” said Joseph Ruotolo, who helped organize the concert series. “Young musicians have few opportunities to see local live music, or to play play, and it’s not conducive to those that don’t stay up until 2 a.m.”

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Yet, from all that Ruotolo and his friends in Musicians sans Frontières gathered, “This community is very interested in music, wants to enjoy live music. And we thought it would be great to find a venue that was both accessible and affordable.”

To that end, a friend of Ruotolo’s who is a parishioner at St. Joseph’s Church introduced him to Father Bernard Maloney. “He was very enthusiastic about supporting this event and providing us with the venue in their basement, which has a stage 4,000 square feet and can host a lot of people comfortably. He thought it was a positive idea to get all ages involved in music, and he was excited that St. Joe’s could be a part of this.”

The concerts will feature local artists, as well as musicians from out of town. “We’re a college town, and we’d love to become a destination spot for hot groups that are on tour, possibly heading to New York City, and want to stop here,” he said.

The goal of this concert series is twofold: first, to provide the community with a space to enjoy music regardless of age, and second, to give performers a venue where the audience can focus on their music without the distraction of a late-night bar scene.

Jan. 31 will headline Dia, an acoustic funk band based in Carmel and New Paltz. There are several opening performances, including Oswald from New Paltz, Cygnus from New Paltz and a solo performance by Jake Harms.

To keep the concerts affordable, and with the help of St. Joe’s providing the venue, the cover charge is only $5; but donations to help support the bands are always welcomed.

The next concert will take place on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, and will feature the local band What Moon Things: all original songs with a ‘90s alternative influence. All of the bands bios, as well as the lineups, can be found on the Musicians sans Frontières Facebook page. As for the March show, Ruotolo says that they’re still finalizing the lineup.

Asked what feedback they’ve gotten thus far, he said, “Amazing. Everyone we talk to is excited about this, wants to be a part of it, whether as an audience member, a musician, a music enthusiast. And it’s affordable, local, available to all ages and there’s a real buzz going around now.”

In fact, the January show is also being sponsored by the New Paltz Youth Program, where Ruotolo used to work. “It’s great to see kids involved. We have so many talented young musicians and performers; they just need a venue to perform and appreciate other great performers!”

For more information, go to the Facebook page or contact Ruotolo at npjruotolo@gmail.com.