Our area is uniquely blessed with many exceptional music venues, bountiful talent, and a rich musical legacy. Yet all of this felt for naught as the pandemic raged. As we shift into the endemic phase, coronavirus sadly continues to cancel shows and wreak havoc on touring bands. Nonetheless, our music scene is alive and vibrant, and this is a summer that music fans and musicians have been looking forward to for a long time. It’s no exaggeration to say musicians are depending on you to come out to shows in order for our music scene to survive. So what are you waiting for? There’s so much to hear!
Opus 40 has always hosted a smattering of events, but this year it’s emerging as a premiere place to catch unique performances. New program coordinator Mike Amari publishes Chosen Family, a must-grab local music zine that lists pretty much every concert in the area. He used to book legendary Kingston music venue BSP before it was tragically wiped off the map. He’s worked incredibly hard to rebuild our music scene after this monumental loss, and Opus 40 is a shining example of his prowess. A truly eclectic lineup will grace the historic sculpture park this month, including story slams, square dancing, improv jazz, baroque, and swing. This month culminates with a sold-out Sun Ra Arkestra show, a true treat for those lucky enough to grab tickets. View the event lineup at opus40.org/events.
If exposure to brave new sounds is what you seek, “get in the tub”! That’s what locals in the know say when they’re ready to dip into Tubby’s, Kingston’s hub for fringe musical styles. It’s an electric, intimate atmosphere of good hangs and great tunes, and this July there are plenty of reasons to visit. Tyondai Braxton, experimental rock dynamo and co-founder of Battles, takes the stage Wednesday, July 6, kicking off four consecutive days of sonic adventure. On Thursday, July 7, Yours Are The Only Eyes headline a bill of psych-tinged bedroom pop. Friday, July 8, The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries turn it up with catchy, punchy indie rock, and Saturday, July 9 sees roots soft-rockers Cosmic Guilt channel vintage sounds that any Neil Young fan won’t want to miss. And that’s just the beginning of a packed month of music at Tubby’s, 586 Broadway, Kingston, which continues with free jazz, backroom disco, indie punk, karaoke, and more. The month ends with the excellently rocking Speedy Ortiz on Friday, July 29 — grab tickets to that one fast. Too many shows to mention here can be found at tubbyskingston.com/calendar.
One venue that’s a bit outside of our county but totally worth the trip is Avalon Lounge in Catskill. This live music venue and dance club also boasts a Korean kitchen, and is unquestionably the nicest, least smarmy version of the building which has hosted other music and party venues in the past. We hope they can keep a scene going in Catskill like their predecessors couldn’t, and so far they are doing the town very proud. They have a ton of shows booked this month, and the list can be found at theavalonlounge.com/show-calendar. Our picks: Atmospheric doom metalists Hush on Friday, July 8; a ‘Brassroots Presents’ event on Friday, July 15 (always a high-energy dancesplosion); grunge revival with Candy Ambulance on Saturday, July 16; and a crazy night of disco debauchery on Friday, July 22. Every sound between loud and chill can be found at Avalon Lounge, music lovers shouldn’t miss it.
Quinn’s Restaurant in Beacon is another venue that’s technically outside Ulster County, but definitely part of the local scene, with many diverse musical performances on offer this month. If you haven’t been to Quinn’s, you’re missing out. It’s quaint but boisterous, delicious yet unpretentious. Check out Grassy Sound headlining on Saturday, July 16 with jazz of a more feral species than you may be used to. This spot is also known for throwback hip-hop nights, and this month you’ll find a banger in DJ Bill Skillz’ Diggin’ in the Crates Radio Roadshow, happening Friday, July 22nd. More events can be found at quinnsinbeacon.com.
We just went over just a handful of area venues and we’re already approaching 50 shows! What else is worth checking out? So much.
The Falcon in Marlboro, 1348 Route 9W, is another anchor of our local scene, and it doesn’t get any more local than the tribute to Levon Helm’s RCO All-Stars on Thursday, July 7th. Featuring members of “The Weight” Band, the performance should prove to be an unforgettable trip back to 1977. Caribbean melodies and spicy rhythms take over the outdoor stage on Saturday, July 9 with Cobuoricua! Summer Salsa. Sunday, July 10, all-star musicians Paul Shaffer (David Letterman) and John Medeski will honor late Falcon Founder Tony Falco. Local favorite Connor Kennedy & The Onestar Band plays virtuosic guitar-driven originals on Wednesday, July 13. Klezmer legends The Klezmatics! play Saturday, July 16. And this is just a small sample of a stacked month of shows that promises world-class musicianship in spades. Check out liveatthefalcon.com for the full lowdown.
Colony Café, 22 Rock City Road in Woodstock, keeps rocking on an almost nightly basis. If you like to dance like you’re going to overthrow the government, don’t miss The ReLaTiVeS classic punk dance party on Friday, July 8. The Brighton Beat brings vibrant afrobeat/jazz/funk on Saturday, July 16. And Deadheads won’t want to miss a Jerry Garcia birthday bash with The Deadburners on Wednesday, July 27. Like all the venues we’ve covered so far, these picks are just the tip of the iceberg. Visit colonywoodstock.com/upcoming_events for the low down.
Levon Helm Studios, 160 Plochmann Lane, Woodstock, is also back in full swing. Shows are selling out quickly as usual, but at the time of this writing, there were still seats for alternative pop songstress Nicole Atkins on Friday, July 8. Tickets are also up for grabs for critically acclaimed meditative-pop artist John Moreland, who performs on Saturday, July 23rd. A few more July shows can be found at levonhelm.com/shows.
There are well over 100 shows going on in our area this month, and if our picks so far didn’t pique your interest, here are a few more to consider: The Lone Riders of the Apocalypse (besides having an awesome band name) pay fitting tribute to the Grateful Dead and other low-key rockers on Saturday, July 9 at Keegan Ales. WDST is hosting a ‘Sunset Session’ at the Maverick, where you can see vintage rockers Jeremy & The Harlequins and Sam Kogon in a unique setting for their genre. Lydia’s Cafe in Stone Ridge hosts a night of piano and jazz with Peggy Stern Trio out of Austin, TX on Saturday, July 16. Or check out “Music in the Barn” at Hardeman Orchards, a very different kind of music venue featuring acts like Dr. Lo and Le Band (including members of God Street Wine and The Ominous Sea Pods), who will be performing on Sunday, July 17.
You’ll also find music outside of venues if you look hard enough. Seed Song Farm in Kingston is hosting an awesome-sounding Brazzamatazz Festival on Saturday, July 23 featuring brass bands galore and culminating in a bonfire. Seed Song shindigs are always a free-spirited, good time, and this all-day fest will give ample opportunities for frolicking on the farm.
Surely we’ve given you enough reasons to get out of the house and support local music. We’ll see you by the stage!