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.