Never say never play your hometown

David Torn

Have you have noticed that the performing arts professionals who have long found their solitude in these hills are starting to find more of their business here as well? Two upcoming area shows illustrate the trend, if it can be called such. Jazz singer and songwriter Rebecca Martin and her husband, bassist Larry Grenadier (of the Brad Mehldau Trio, one of the truly great exploratory jazz groups of this era), will be performing at the Lounge at BackStage Productions (BSP) in Kingston on Tuesday, February 14, Valentine’s Day. The press release notes that Martin and Grenadier have owned New York City and played all over the world, but “seldom grace the stage here in the Hudson Valley.” Meanwhile, experimental guitarist/composer and longtime Woodstock resident David Torn – who holds the David Bowie credit required of any top-tier experimental guitarist and “who never performs in Woodstock” – will be performing at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock on Saturday, February 11.

Why so much stage-gracing of late? Probably a lot of factors, including major climate change in the music business and a conscious trend toward local engagement – or not. Who cares? Now is a lively and unpredictable time out there in the local venues.

In a way, these two shows represent a venue role-reversal. The venerable Bearsville Theater has been well-graced for years by leading lights of (typically) traditional music styles. The iconic Elliot Landy portraits of Dylan and the Band in the lounge area remind you where you are and who was there before. Good luck trying to act like a big shot here.

They’ve been on a hot streak of late, coming off a solo show by Bob Weir back in the fall and a January concert by Aimee Mann, who is almost universally regarded as a best-of-her generation songwriting talent. A world-class vocal jazz show on the holiday that is all about things like vocal jazz would not be far out of character for the Bearsville.

Back on the streets, the Lounge at BSP is spearheading the revitalization of Uptown Kingston and offers a jarringly eclectic variety of acts, from the brilliant, ethereal noir of BSP regular the Duke McVinnie Band to nights of industrial ambiance, whispered murder ballads, Mercury Rev side projects and just about everything else – with the possible (and justifiable) exception of the fundamentalist blues- and roots-rock styles that are the area’s default. The young men from Oneonta who run BSP (as well as a sister club in their hometown called the Black Oak Tavern) have wide-open ears; and David Torn, also known as Splattercell, has made a career of opening ears wide. It would be a sensible match.

But now I am just confusing you for no good reason. It is the lauded jazz vocalist, songwriter and local activist Rebecca Martin who will be appearing at the Lounge at BSP on Tuesday, February 14, as part of the Tuesday-night Revue series curated by local musician Mike Amari (Shana Falana, Lovesick). Shana Falana and Andrea Tomasi will open.

And it is the legendary “Really? That’s a guitar?” guitarist David Torn at the Bearsville Theater on Saturday, February 11, with a quartet also featuring New York avant-garde stalwart Tim Berne on saxophone, presenting a program titled “Ships Is Slip while Sheeps Is Sleep.”

So let’s do both.

Rebecca Martin appears on Tuesday, February 14 at the Lounge at BSP, located at 323 Wall Street in Kingston, beginning at 8 p.m. with Shana Falana and Andrea Tomasi. Tickets go for $10 at the door, with no advance sales. For info visit

David Torn presents “Ships Is Slips while Sheeps Is Sleep” on Saturday, February 11 at the Bearsville Theater, located at 291 Tinker Street (Route 212) west of Woodstock. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $20 and are available at




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