Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Club Helsinki Hudson

When I decided, a bit reluctantly, to move to Great Barrington, Club Helsinki was one of the things that made it seem like life was going to be OK. In a pastoral county full of Gilded Age country manors and lots of people who want to get away from everything hectic, urban and modern, Helsinki offered some grit, some edge. They presented a constant stream of the best musicians from around the country and weren't afraid to push buttons with burlesque or punk music. And people really loved to hear music in that tiny room. I played a great show there in June to a full house during a dramatic thunderstorm with rain pounding the skylight. Needless to say, when the club announced it would close at the end of August, I was distraught. It felt like there was no place left in the Berkshires that wasn't quaint. And quaint can really wear you out.

Last week I visited the soon-to-open incarnation of Club Helsinki in Hudson, NY and even though it's a 45 minute drive, I'm really excited to frequent the new location. Deborah and Marc (with lots of help from local artisans and a new business partner) have undertaken a huge 4-year renovation on a giant warehouse in downtown Hudson. While the space is much bigger and more beautiful than the original club in GB, the intimacy and quirkiness that defined Helsinki has been carried over in the reclaimed wood interiors, salvaged lighting fixtures, and vintage booths. (Correction. The booths are handmade, too!) Meanwhile, the sound system, lighting, and artist areas are  all updated. There is ample office room, kitchen space, a recording studio, and dynamic event space and giant windows lighting up the cafe. With all these physical improvements, the variety of artists that the club will be able to present is greatly multiplied. They have already started planning classical chamber concerts and a circus. I can't wait to see what other art, be it beautifully sublime or scarily sexy, thrives there.

Monday, February 15, 2010

CYH: I'm so excited!

I am not really a super huge, camp-out-in-line-for-tickets kind of fan for anything except maybe the Dixie Chicks.  This little preview video and the tracks up at Court Yard Hounds website make me want to check back hourly for updates. Who is singing lead? She sounds like Sheryl Crow? Emily? And wow, all that was hidden behind Natalie's voice? How far will I have to drive to see the live show? I'll do it. Yipeeeee! Of course their first show is at SXSW the year I'm not going. It's just too much. I must go take a cold shower.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I miss Europe and my girls!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My friends know how to hit the town

Just got home from 9 days on the road and it's great to be cooking and doing laundry and running around my cute little town (in 54 degree weather)! But the trip was great. Living in a rural area makes touring even more fun than it was before because I get to see friends and hustle and bustle and restaurants and what's happening out there in the rest of the world. So inspiring.

When I was heading South, my friend Sarah sent me a text saying "If you can get here by 1:30, come to the Atlanta Hawks game with us." I'm not a real basketball fan, but she has great seats and I'm not turning down any event where there are crowds. I miss people around me! So we cheered and Sarah pointed out the celebs in the arena. The Hawks lost, but I feel like I know a little bit more about America and that's a good thing.

When I got to Nashville a couple of days later, my friend Emilee who has an "in" at the historic bluegrass club, The Station Inn, talked us in to the sold-out Infamous Stringdusters show. Their special guest that night was Dierks Bentley, a major label country singer with cred in the traditional commnunity. He sings "17 Cents" on the new 'Dusters album and they played that song plus 2 standards and a couple bluegrass arrangements of Bentley songs. They are great musicians all around and the whole set was really loose and everyone - on stage and in the crowd - looked like they were having a great time.

Now I'm home and that mostly means staying home. The only place I'll likely become the Foursquare mayor of is my local post office. That's OK. I gotta save up energy for my next trip.