This week for Faces of Kingston it is a pleasure to talk to musician and resident Victoria Levy. Victoria shares thoughts on Kingston past, present and future with a heavy dose of ’90s nostalgia. She is awesome.
Morgan Y. Evans: What is your earliest memory of Kingston and is that when you knew you liked it or did that come later?
Victoria Levy: I grew up in Kingston and have seen lots of changes. I was always a fan of the Uptown historic district area. In the ’90s I used to go to a music store that was down a flight of stairs and owned by two people named Elliot. Those guys gave me my first records and introduced me to a lot of great music that came to influence me a lot in both my life and in my songwriting. There’s something about walking those streets, having seen what was there and what is there now. I find that whole area has always had such a great energy. I have a true appreciation for the history of a building such as the Senate House that is one of the only ones left like that in our country. To answer your question, it’s been a lifelong love.
Did you have more friends from Woodstock or Kingston growing up, do you think? It was often a mish mash of people hanging out in different towns or at concerts, so lots of cross pollination happened.
I had friends in both. I went to school in both districts. You are right, it was a cross-pollination. Back in the day, I would see people from both towns at those concerts whether it was a Kingston or Woodstock venue. We all followed the same bands, and we were so blessed to have had so much talent in our little part of the world!
What do you enjoy about working in Kingston currently and can you tell people what you currently do here in the city?
I work in multiple fields, a jack of all trades. I work in publishing doing digital marketing and I teach at the Rock Academy. Working in Kingston I get to meet all kinds of people — it’s interesting to me to see those who moved here, what brought them here, and what their thoughts are coming from somewhere else and stepping onto grounds I’ve known my entire life.
What is a place no longer part of Kingston that you miss and what is something on the newer side that you think is cool?
My list could go for miles on places I miss. I remember there was a diner with pharmacy in it, I think on Wall Street — Nekos? — and it was next to Woolworth’s. It felt like another decade there. I was a huge fan of Flashback Freedom Boutique on Wall Street, you walked in there and it was incense, lava lamps and some incredible vintage clothing. I was there no less than once a week. I miss the Hudson Valley Mall and all the stores that were there. I remember buying trolls from Fluff N’ Stuff, getting books at Waldenbooks and hanging out at the food court, so ’90s I know! I remember seeing bands play in the mall! It wasn’t in the so far past that the HVM was hopping. I sure do miss the social aspect of shopping there and looking at things, I still would rather try clothing on then get some box from Amazon. I also miss Heidi’s on Broadway. But with changes comes some great places. I’ve seen Kingston truly thrive when it comes to restaurants. The food-scene here is top-notch, I really enjoy Makio and Duo Bistro. There are so many new restaurants I haven’t tried yet, there are so many!
You have been a performer for years in our area and beyond. What have you currently been up to in that department? Any recording or event or project or people you would like to shout out to spread the word?
Right now I’m busy booking shows for the summer. I play in a few different bands/duos as well as solo. I recently found a bunch of songs that I never recorded that I’d like to bring back to life, and maybe add to it and bring to the studio. I have a bunch of unfinished tracks sitting in a studio in Brooklyn that need finishing too. At this rate I could call the album “Unfinished Business.” Life got ahead of me, and I need to sit down and work and finish these tracks. Sometime in the next month or so I’ll be posting a bunch of upcoming shows on my website VictoriaRocks.com.
What do you think is one of the biggest challenges right now facing Kingston? The city does not lack for civic pride. People definitely have opinions!
The biggest challenge is housing. I remember a time when you could work part-time and pay your rent, no problem. Everyone I know works three jobs, and barely makes ends meet. Affordable rentals are becoming far and few. I don’t think anyone working 40-plus hours should be struggling, it’s hard.
What are you most excited for about 2020 in general as a resident of our beautiful area?
I’m looking forward to all the fun things that are coming up as the weather warms up including all the festivals we have in our area, concerts and swimming! We truly live in an area with so much beauty and lots to do. This winter I’ve been skiing, and in the summer I’m really looking forward to playing lots of shows and festivals in our area and abroad.