I’ve been assembling this list of our favorite live music venues for nearly half a decade, and it’s rather like the proverbial wrangling of cats: They’ll change names, behaviors and colors overnight. They’ll go away for years and return as if they hadn’t been gone but a few hours. Venues are tricky like that.
In past iterations of the roundup, I have flexed my authority as a lifelong area resident and music dude and declared this the best time for music, by miles, in the history of the Valley. The reasons were various and compelling: The now-proven staying power of several diverse mid-sized national circuit rooms, led by the Falcon in Marlboro (now two hopping mid-sized venues), BSP in Kingston (whose enormous back-room theater is ever more a part of the action) and the exquisite Club Helsinki in Hudson. These three joined the venerable old guard of that lifeblood category: the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock and the Towne Crier Café, which, in my tenure here, moved from Pawling about 40 miles closer to civilization in Beacon, leaving Daryl Hall to take over the space and the luminous legacy of the Pawling venue. Not bad.
The big story on the talent front has been twofold. What I like to call the “resident pros” – authenticated performers with names made in cities elsewhere who moved here to live and hike and raise families and take their families on hikes – have been noticeably more active locally, perhaps due to some fundamental problems defining what a professional even is anymore. Also, we’ve seen (finally) an emergent organic scene of younger bands in multiple genres – incubated here; citybound, perhaps; but still connected. One part of that narrative took a terrible hit last week, and I don’t want to talk about it.
It is also worth mentioning that, in a long-honored mid-Hudson Valley tradition, we play host to a number of destination recording studios. If there is a business more volatile and risky than venues, it might be studios, but we are still loaded with them.
I have said this many times in print: when people in, like, every other semi-rural area in the world go to catch a little jazz at the little corner jazz café, it is not John Abercrombie or Marilyn Crispell or Mark Ribot or John Menegon whom they are seeing there.
Our Valley is disproportionately rich in virtually every genre: classical, certainly, with the Maverick, the Howland, cutting-edge institutions like Bard and resident chamber ensembles like Ars Choralis. In roots music, the land of Levon does him no shame: From the Rosendale Café to the Empire State Railway Museum in Phoenicia, Club Helsinki to the Towne Crier, opportunities to see the best names in Americana and global roots music in the most intimate spaces abound. The oddly well-financed world of the experimental and avant-garde music has set up shop here, with major centers in Beacon and Hudson and an institutional berth at EMPAC in Troy. Regarding the feverish, vibrant and confused argument amongst young people known as “the rock music,” it’s a little harder to say.
But these days, I am not so sure about the health of music here. We’ve lost a couple of good venues this year, and worn out a few tireless and optimistic proponents thereof. We have such problems with traction, such problems with the sustenance of clubs and the stamina of crowds, from which also derive the incentive and sustenance of performers. Part of this is population density. Part of it is the stupid economy. So we have Ingredient A, talent, in spades and across the genres. Ingredient B is venues and promoters – i.e., willing fools with shirts to lose; and, against all odds, they seem to keep coming, too. Ingredient X is the special sauce, the wood for the stove, the grease for the wheels: you, your attention and your needy human body.
323 Wall Street, Kingston
This Uptown Kingston club has weathered a lot of difficulty to become what it is now – which is to say a stylish, vibey midsized venue with one of the better sound systems around, and one of the most diverse-but-purposeful talent rosters as well: heavy on both the local and the national in perfectly paired bills. It has had a great deal of success luring in the many professional acts who call the region home, from Rebecca Martin and Larry Grenadier to Richard Buckner, the Felice Brothers, Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby. BSP taps the indie-rock buzzsphere as well as anyone, booking many giants of the scene: Lucius, Future Islands, Mac DeMarco, Perfume Genius and many more played shows here on the way up. Indie-rock, alt/country, electronica, primitivist blues and rock, sleaze-punk, avant-garde and just about anything but classic rock and mainstream singer/songwriter play here regularly. BSP has quickly established itself as the seat of the Alternative in the Hudson Valley. (845) 481-5158; http://bsplounge.com.
744/746 Broadway, Kingston
The Anchor has stabilized things on the site of Kingston’s former hard and wild rock institution the Basement. This burger restaurant, “gastropub” and event venue is fully committed to live music, featuring some of the punk, metal and devilbilly insanity that was the Basement’s specialty, but branching out widely from there to include all of the top local talents and touring acts as well. (845) 853-8124; www.facebook.com/theanchorkingston.
20 St. James Street, Kingston
Kingston’s own happening microbrewery is also a well-established music venue that offers mostly good tunes to drink by: original rock and blues, funk and roots and occasional visits from some Woodstock-scene luminaries like Pete Levin or his famous bass-playing brutha. It’s a raucous, generous, peanut-strewn scene with some good beer. (845) 331-2739; www.keeganales.com.
Ulster Performing Arts Center
601 Broadway, Kingston
The 1,510-seat Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) is a National Register property built in Kingston in 1927. It was acquired by the Bardavon in 2007, forming a powerful arts-and-performance alliance operating under the Bardavon name. UPAC presents top-notch music, dance, theater and classic films for diverse audiences, as well as extensive arts-based learning programs. (845) 339-6088; www.bardavon.org.
31 North Front Street, Kingston
Uncle Willy’s is in its own way a legendary Kingston venue, one equally friendly to performers and crowds. Warm spirits prevail at this modest spot in Uptown, along with the meat-and-potatoes of American music: rock ‘n’ roll, blues, groove and jazz jams. (845) 853-8049.
The Senate Garage
4 North Front Street, Kingston
The resurgence of trendy Uptown Kingston doesn’t seem to be subsiding, and Jazzstock, a highly active collective of jazz players and jazz advocates, has set up shop at this spacious urban location. “World-class” is a candidate for most overused and meaningless superlative, but I am going to use it to describe the kind of jazz that rings out of the Senate Garage. (845) 802-5900; www.senategarage.com.
38 John Street, Kingston
Some people dig live music so much that they just make it happen in the most unlikely and resistant spaces: proof that a venue is mindset more than a stage. The radical and popular taco place in Uptown Kingston crams bands and solo performers into the window box, further enlivening the sense that things are happening up and down the street. (845) 338-2816; http://diegoskingston.com.
Woodstock & Phoenicia
22 Rock City Road, Woodstock
If you haven’t heard the news about Colony yet, they’re dragging the river for your former self. After two years of artful and total restoration, a series of secret house concerts to build awareness and the hiring of a full-time music biz staff to book, promote and mix, the former Colony Café has reopened under new ownership. The first weekend of shows sold out and the space is getting the highest raves. Get to Colony soon. www.colonywoodstock.com.
The Bearsville Theater
291 Tinker Street, Woodstock
The Bearsville Theater needs no introduction beyond the iconic Elliot Landy photographs that grace its walls: portraits not just of Bob Dylan and the Band, but of Dylan and the Band in Woodstock, in ’69, at the height of their creative powers (and their good looks). Welcome to Woodstock. But the Bearsville is not tyrannized by its own legacy. Bread and butter: classic rock, reggae and world music, fusion and blowout tributes and celebrations featuring Woodstock’s incomparable stable of ace players. (845) 679-4406; http://bearsvilletheater.com.
The Barn at Levon Helm Studios
160 Plochmann Lane, Woodstock
At Levon’s Barn studio, the Rambles roll on, as well as other programs, master classes and, of course, recording sessions. In an area with quite a few boutique small venues, this one might be the crown jewel. The Rambles are legendary both for their celebrity guests, the A-list house band and the intimacy and heightened vibe of the shows. The Ramble team is also to be commended for bringing the cream of the local talent in on the fun. Upcoming programs include more Rambles, occasional WDST-sponsored performances and life as a working recording studio. www.levonhelm.com.
52 Mill Street, Woodstock
The Harmony Café at Wok ’n’ Roll in Woodstock is all-in for live music, with music six nights a week, scheduled weekly events such as open-mic poetry (Mondays), music open mic (Wednesdays) and a dedicated Bluegrass Night on Thursday. All kinds of bands play on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s a small venue with a pass-the-hat flavor; but, being in Woodstock, the folks who come out to play tend to be folks who can really play. (845) 679-7760.
Byrdcliffe Kleinert/James Center for the Arts
36 Tinker Street, Woodstock
Art galleries make natural performance spaces, and performance spaces make natural galleries. One of the more congenial for both purposes is the Byrdcliffe Kleinert/James Center for the Arts. The musical programming here is predictably adventurous: avant-garde jazz, new serious music and some Woodstock-flavored folk and roots sounds as well. The spacious performance area is only one of several galleries on-site, so a show at the Kleinert/James is always an edifying, multisensory experience. (845) 679-2079; www.woodstockguild.org/performance.
120 Maverick Road, Woodstock
Woodstock’s Maverick Concert Series is celebrating 102 years as one of the most challenging and imaginative serious chamber music programs anywhere. In recent years, it has relaxed the definition of “serious” to include serious jazz and children’s music; but range and outsider, maverick thinking are Maverick’s calling cards. Maverick Concerts continues the vision of Hervey White, founder of the Maverick Art Colony. Artists and other volunteers built the hand-hewn “music chapel” in 1916, and the Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. www.maverickconcerts.org.
Catskill Mountain Pizza Company
51 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock
Here’s one that has quietly crept into the venue game and made a big splash. Woodstock’s premier pizzeria is now hosting music many nights a week: bluegrass on Tuesdays, jazz on Wednesdays and Thursdays and a rock mix on the weekends, featuring the region’s incomparable reserve of great players. (845) 679-7969; www.catskillmountainpizza.com.
Old Glenford Church Studio
210 Old Route 28, Glenford
With the recently announced conclusion of the wildly successful Hudson Valley Sudbury School monthly benefit concert on the grounds of the old Glenford Church (after seven years of packed and luminous shows,) it is essential to mention that Mor Pipman – the artist, gourmet and proprietor – has no intention of retiring from the business. This restored church was her secondary venue and art space, and it now becomes the primary one. This last year, the space hosted packed shows by Burnell Pines, Chris Maxwell, Ambrosia Parsley and many more. Few places can rival this one for vibe, art and food.
Empire State Railway Museum
70 Lower High Street, Phoenicia
The Empire State Railway Museum in Phoenicia is the site of approximately 12 intimate musical performances annually, produced by Flying Cat Music. The series presents national and touring acts in the roots/Americana vein in the acoustically exquisite, dark-wood-paneled passenger waiting room of the Empire State Railway Museum. Built in 1899, the museum accommodates approximately 50 people for performances. http://flyingcatmusic.com.
136 Partition Street, Saugerties
’Cue in Saugerties is proof positive that it’s the commitment to music, not the physical space, that makes a venue. The authentic barbecue joint is a seasonal venue: On summer nights they roll a PA system out onto the gravel of the patio bar, and some of the region’s best singer/songwriters play to the often-unsuspecting diners. (845) 246-4283; www.cueshack.com.
50 Fite Road, Saugerties
Harvey Fite’s stunning sculpture park has been quietly getting back into the live music game in the past few seasons: both the rocks themselves and the rustic house. This is good news. The booking is well-curated and well-connected, and the space is incomparable. www.opus40.org.
The Falcon/Falcon Underground
1391 Route 9W, Marlboro
The Falcon is Tony Falco’s labor of love: a thriving jazz-and-more club that grew entirely out of the owner’s love of serious jazz and his many connections in that world. Heavies on the order of Brad Mehldau and Dave Liebman play here regularly, and the roster is filled out by a handpicked assortment of local notables, established names and up-and-comers – mostly from the New York City jazz, blues, funk, world and roots music scenes. This by-donation-only listening space and restaurant is one of the Valley’s greatest musical treasures, and certainly its most unlikely. In 2016, the Falcon added a second venue, the Falcon Underground, to accommodate more rock and more locals, and it is excellent and every bit worthy of the Falcon name. www.liveatthefalcon.com.
36 Main Street, New Paltz
New Paltz’s infamous rock dive bar is really no dive at all, but rather a warm, raucous, small music bar where the crowd is right up in the band’s face, but the band won’t turn down and the magic happens. Snug’s is not afraid of the harder end of rock; but, as with most collegetown music bars, the roster is eclectic and surprising. (845) 256-0825; www.facebook.com/snugharbornewpaltz.
4 South Chestnut Street, New Paltz
Bacchus Restaurant and Bar is a New Paltz institution that never did live music – just didn’t do it. It was the one bar in town that you could visit to converse at a comfortable level. Then one night, the owners slid a pool table out of the way and found that they had a natural music club on their hands, and it has been a hopping music joint on the weekends ever since. Because of the length of the room and the height of the ceiling and the attached auxiliary spaces (a poolhall and a variety of decks and porches, including a heated patio), it remains the most conversation-friendly bar in town. Bacchus began as a rustic and roots-oriented venue, but that’s all out the window now. What plays here is, generally, the best that the town of New Paltz has to offer, from indie-rock to funk to psychedelic and bluegrass. (845) 255-8636; www.bacchusnewpaltz.com.
Unison Arts Center
68 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz
In its bright and airy multipurpose performance and gallery space just outside of New Paltz, Unison has hosted years and years’ worth of adventurous programming: classical music, dance, cabaret, jazz, family acts and world-music virtuosi, to name a few. (845) 255-1559; www.unisonarts.org.
Water Street Market
10 Main Street, New Paltz
The stylish, art-and-antique-lined downtown mini-mall was clearly designed to be a Mecca for tourists. Much to the surprise of everyone, it has also become a thriving cultural and congregational center for the community, using the lovely amphitheater on its south end for a summer Thursday concert series and a variety of other performances and events in all seasons. (845) 255-1403; http://waterstreetmarket.com.
Lagusta’s Luscious Commissary
11 Church Street, New Paltz
Sometimes a venue is just a person around whom music gathers. That’s how I think about Kate Larson, the musician (Guilt Mountain), writer and promoter who is pretty much singlehandedly responsible for a rich, decade-long subtradition of the New Paltz music scene. Her shows typically pair two traveling indie bands (among the best I have seen in my hometown) with a sympathetic local act. In Lagusta’s Luscious Commissary, on the site of the former Team Love Records/RavenHouse Gallery in New Paltz, Larson has found a highly congenial management and environment in which to flex her myriad connections in the world of indie-rock, zine writing and alt/culture generally. This is a gem of New Paltz and beyond, and the snacks and beverages are amazing and unique. www.lagustasluscious.com/commissary.
232 Main Street, New Paltz
Bluegrass, singer/songwriters and most of high-level modern jazz: Gomen Kudasai has been a surprisingly adventurous music venue in an unsuspected spot (the Rite-Aid Plaza) for a few years now. Local musicians are well aware and appreciative of the ownership’s commitment to non-traditional live dining music. (845) 255-8811; http://gomenkudasainy.com.
Cafeteria Internet Café
56 Main Street, New Paltz
One of the real stunning spaces in town – the former Not Fade Away tie-dye factory, and long before that the Van Vlack Pharmacy – Cafeteria sports a tidy window-box stage and a serviceable sound system. In the past, bands cranked it up in this spacious and high-character, couch-strewn room; but these days acoustic and solo are more in fashion, as well as absolutely packed open mics on Mondays at 7 p.m. Sundays are given to jazz. (845) 633-8287; http://cafeteriacoffeehouse.com.
Rosendale, Tillson & High Falls
Rail Trail Café
River Road Extension, Stone Mountain Farm, Tillson
Hard to give the exact address of this one because it is on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, for Pete’s sake; but this delightful experimental eatery is co-owned by a killer musician (drummer Brian Farmer of Futu Futu fame), and it shows in the spring-to-fall music lineup that features everything from kids’ music to outré jazz, Friday through Sunday. (845) 399-4800; www.railtrailcaferosendale.com.
434 Main Street, Rosendale
The Rosendale Café set out with a clear musical and cultural agenda: to become a “listening space” venue for “national talent” with some limited provision for the local, such as Singer/Songwriter Tuesdays. Easier said than done, but it has done it. The space is thoughtfully treated for sound, and the booking philosophy plays to the strengths of the room: intimate solo and small-ensemble performances, with an emphasis on singer/songwriter and roots styles (alt/country artist Mary Gauthier is a frequent guest) and some surprisingly big-name swing, bluegrass and jazz (Ron Carter has played here, among others). (845) 658-9048; www.rosendalecafe.com.
High Falls Café
12 Stone Dock Road, High Falls
Not that long ago, the High Falls Café moved from its location on Route 213 to a comfortable new space at the Stone Dock Golf Course off Berme Road in High Falls. Its commitment to live music remains unfaltering, however, and commitment is the operative word. The Café is dedicated not only to a steady course of high-end blues, jazz and singer/songwriter-oriented folk and rock, but also to a very select set of the region’s leading and longest-running acts in these genres – like folk/blues maestros Jeff Entin and Bob Blum, singer/songwriter Kurt Henry, roots/rock stalwarts the Trapps and of course Big Joe Fitz. (845) 687-2699; www.highfallscafe.com.
Poughkeepsie & Hyde Park
6 Crannell Street, Poughkeepsie
From its days as the Last Chance Saloon – a music club with a Dixieland house band! – to its current incarnation as a mid-size club catering to hard rock, metal and modern alternative, the Chance has been one of the region’s premier venues for decades. For all of its sold-out shows by major artists in all genres and unannounced tour-kickoff dates by legitimate superstars, the Chance may be known most of all for the date the Police played there during a blizzard early in their first American tour. Approximately 13,000 people claim to be among the seven in attendance that night. (845) 471-1966; www.thechancetheater.com.
Bardavon 1869 Opera House
35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie
A jewel of an old theater, the 944-seat Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie has been a regional treasure since 1869. The Bardavon sports exactly the kind of eclectic calendar that a large venue requires to get by: everything from rock stars to orchestras to comedians and animal psychics. But the Bardavon has also shown some real imagination in its programming, with classic film nights and Live at the Met HD telecasts. (845) 473-2072; www.bardavon.org.
My Place Pizza
322 Main Street, Poughkeepsie
“Since 1978 serving real New York pizza to the City of Poughkeepsie, Marist, Vassar and DCC and St. Francis/Vassar Hospitals,” says My Place Pizza on its Facebook page, adding, “and rock ‘n’ roll since 2012.” In the intervening years, My Place has developed a reputation as a band-friendly venue unafraid of the rock. My Place Pizza, like so many other repurposed venues, has discovered one of the secrets to packing the house: 18+. The kids are alright. (845) 473-2815.
Darkside Records & Gallery
611 Dutchess Turnpike, Poughkeepsie
This large and vinyl-filled record store has a stage, sound system and lighting rig that many small-to-mid-sized venues would envy, and they don’t leave it empty. There’s often a rock show happening while you are flipping through the racks. The place is also way congenial to events, showcases and activism. Great spot in a weird location. www.darksiderecordsandgallery.com.
Hyde Park Brewing Company
4076 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park
The space they provide for performers is narrow, but their commitment to live music is deep and longstanding. Blues on Wednesdays, covers, solo performers make it work here in this comfortable and accommodating brewery and restaurant. (845) 229-8277; http://hydeparkbrewing.com.
Traghaven Whiskey Pub & Co.
66 Broadway, Tivoli
Northern Dutchess lost a vital and eclectic (and Bard-centric) music outlet when the venerable Black Swan in Tivoli closed and efforts to revive it via crowdsourcing foundered; but good things return to those who wait. The Traghaven Whiskey Pub & Co. now features Irish music, jazz and an eclectic mix of “other,” though maybe not so much of the rock of the Black Swan years. Traghaven also claims a new and improved kitchen. And, in the great tradition of the Black Swan, Traghaven is the place to go to watch soccer among knowledgeable fans. (845) 757-3777; www.traghaven.com.
405 Columbia Street, Hudson
Club Helsinki moved from Massachusetts to Hudson not very long ago, upgrading its performance space significantly in the process, but also sealing Hudson’s incipient reputation as a music town to be reckoned with. It is a major mid-sized national-circuit club, built for sound from the ground up. It enjoys an already-established reputation, especially in the realm of Americana. Amidst the A-list folkies and singer/songwriters who play here practically nightly – Todd Snider, Tift Merritt and Aimee Mann – Club Helsinki has thrown a few curveballs in the last few years: Magnetic Fields, Frank Black (of the Pixies), Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) and more. This is a club worth a visit just to see the exceptionally cool space. (518) 828-4800; http://helsinkihudson.com.
The Spotty Dog Books & Ale
440 Warren Street, Hudson
As the word “Ale” in its name ought to suggest, the Spotty Dog is not your typical bookstore. Situated in an old firehouse, the Spotty Dog caters to Hudson’s urban refugee population and (apologies to all) hipster tastes in its readings, its organic ales on tap, its art supplies and in the music that it slides some racks around to make room for. Many of the acts that appear here are experimentalist art-song writers imported from Brooklyn, including a number of big names over the years. It is the kind of bookstore where people will travel to play. (518) 671-6006; www.thespottydog.com.
The Half Moon
48 South Front Street, Hudson
The Half Moon brings a bona fide, adventurous rock club to Hudson to fill the gaps between Club Helsinki and the many music-friendly restaurants and cafés in town. It attracts national talent as well as locals. Upcoming acts include the legendary Brooklyn alt/folkster Jeffrey Lewis and the otherworld Deradoorian (from Dirty Projectors and others). (518) 828-1562, http://thehalfmoonhudson.com.
110 South Front Street, Hudson
Basilica has been making news with its concerts, art exhibits and general multimedia happenings since 2010. The facility itself is a stunning reclaimed 19th-century factory located mere steps from the Hudson Amtrak station. Basilica’s bona fides can be traced to its artistic directors, filmmaker Tony Stone and musician Melissa Auf der Maur. The programming here is continuous and often downright crazy. (518) 822-1050; http://basilicahudson.com.
Hudson Opera House
327 Warren Street, Hudson
For a number of years, the historic Hudson Opera House would open its doors for bands and artists looking for a first-rate setting for haunted or post-apocalyptic PR photos. Alas, those days are done, and the storied venue is now a busy place of programming: adventurous music, serious music, low-cost educational programs, art and theater. Hudson Hall at The Hudson Opera House is serious about being a mainstay in the ongoing revitalization of this colorful riverside city.
Towne Crier Café
379 Main Street, Beacon
When venerable venues close their doors, one often hears hopeful promises of new digs and new golden eras, but they seldom materialize. Not so with the Towne Crier – formerly in Pawling, currently in a custom-built new facility right in the heart of Beacon. Phil Ciganer’s original folk, roots and jazz club was legendary: an oasis of world-renowned talent in an out-of-the-way place. The new site does not disappoint. It is more spacious, at least as good in terms of sound quality and more convenient to most of us. The restaurant is outstanding as well. The Towne Crier continues to feature A-list Americana talent, and the hundreds of signed portraits on its walls keep its storied legacy front-of-mind. (845) 855-1300; www.townecrier.com.
Howland Cultural Center
477 Main Street, Beacon
The former Howland Library has stood at 477 Main Street in Beacon for more than 135 years. The airy, high-ceilinged main room now hosts a great variety of music, from folk/rock to classical, and is so renowned for its fine acoustical properties that a number of rock, folk and classical records have been recorded in its vaunted space. The Howland Chamber Music Circle, art exhibits, programs for children, films, poetry readings and open-mic nights fill out the schedule in one of the Hudson Valley’s most pristine listening environments. (845) 831-4988; www.howlandculturalcenter.org.
Dogwood Bar & Grill
47 East Main Street, Beacon
A nice casual restaurant with a separate music room, Dogwood is literally on the other side of the tracks – in the lightly developed area of East Beacon – but only a jog from the galleries and shops of the main strip. Dogwood’s tastes in music are in keeping with Beacon’s growing reputation for quirky urban sophistication: Everything from experimental jazz to Americana plays here. Typically, Wednesdays and Thursdays are music nights and Tuesdays are open mics, though lately there have been some weekend bookings as well. (845) 202-7500; www.dogwoodbar.com.
330 Main Street, Beacon
Main Street Beacon was already a happening stretch with the Howland, the relocated Towne Crier, Dogwood and a variety of gallery and dinner performance spaces along its length. Now Quinn’s, an ultra-hip repurposed luncheonette, brings all manner of indie and outré music to one of the Hudson Valley’s liveliest strips. Quinn’s excellent sound system pipes everything from avant-garde jazz to indie slacker rock, punk and even some standard-fare upstate blues and rock. But Quinn’s specializes in the kind of acts that you are liable to find at BSP in Kingston: smart, subversive, different, new. (845) 202-7447; http://quinnsbeacon.com.
Chill Wine Bar
173 Main Street, Beacon
We are not sure when Beacon became Jazz City, but it is on; and it is not exactly polite dinner jazz, anywhere on the block. As the name implies, Chill keeps it a little on the mellow side, leaving the skitter and skronk for Quinn’s; but Chill gets to choose from some pretty choice players, and the jazz here is for real. www.chillwinebarbeacon.com.
2402 Route 32, New Windsor
Brothers BBQ in New Windsor has entered the live music scene with purpose and a bit of an attitude, specializing in the edgy blues, soul, roots/rock, jazz and fusion in which Orange County is surprisingly rich. Orange County’s veritable army of gifted blues and blues/rock guitarists is featured frequently here, in this nicely outfitted live room with a small-but-professional stage and a nice sound rig. And there’s barbecue, which most people like. There’s an open mic every Wednesday night, with local and national acts on the weekends. (845) 534-4227; www.thebrothersbarbecue.com.
119 Liberty Street, Newburgh
Wherehouse owner Dan Brown displayed some serious pioneer spirit when he founded a rock and blues club on the corner of Broadway and Liberty Street in Newburgh. The former professional bodyguard (whose charges included Jimmy Page and on at least one occasion Michael Jackson, if the legend is true) is as eclectic in his booking as in his beer list. All of the region’s leading blues acts play here, as do all manner of high-energy rock acts. (845) 561-7240; www.thewherehouserestaurant.com.
2 Alices Coffee Lounge
311 Hudson Street, Cornwall-on-Hudson
The 2 Alices Coffee lounge serves beer and wine, light fare and baked goods and a surprisingly diverse and adventurous variety of music. Most acts go it acoustic and stripped-down, but not all. Rock bands will squeeze in on occasion, as will electronic acts. The small and stylish venue in Cornwall-on-Hudson enjoys a stable, loyal music audience, making it a favorite among local players in a variety of genres. The tidy sound system is another plus. The space doubles as an art gallery as well. www.2alicescoffee.com.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
200 Hurd Road, Bethel
A museum, a next-gen amphitheater and a very, very important (and preserved) field: The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is every bit the Sullivan County anomaly that Yasgur’s Farm was in ’69. While the indoor/lawn Pavilion Stage draws the big acts and festivals in season, the Event Gallery hosts more intimate shows and programs year-‘round. Bethel Woods takes its mission as museum and community learning center seriously. And even those among us who do not sentimentalize the ’60s or deify its celebrities can’t help but be wowed by the beautiful landscape and layout. It is a spectacular spread with some stunning structures. (866) 781-2922; www.bethelwoodscenter.org.