Great places to hear live music in the Hudson Valley

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

200 Hurd Road, Bethel

A museum, a next-gen amphitheater and a very, very important (and preserved) field: Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is every bit the Sullivan County anomaly that Yasgur’s Farm was in ’69. While the indoor/lawn Pavilion Stage draws the big acts and festivals in season, the Event Gallery hosts more intimate shows and programs year-round. Bethel Woods takes its mission as museum and community learning center seriously. On the website, a K-though-9 Creative Writing workshop receives the same level of billing as this summer’s Lynyrd Skynyrd/Bad Company concert. And even those among us who do not sentimentalize the ’60s or deify its celebrities can’t help but be wowed by the beautiful landscape and layout. It is a spectacular spread with some stunning structures. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is located at 200 Hurd Road in Bethel, on the site of the 1969 concert. For more information, call (866) 781-2922 or visit https://www.bethelwoodscenter.org.

 

The Rosendale Café

434 Main Street, Rosendale

The Rosendale Café set out with a clear musical and cultural agenda: to become a “listening space” venue for “national talent” with some limited provision for the local, such as Singer/Songwriter Tuesdays. Easier said than done, but it has done it. The space is thoughtfully treated for sound, and the booking philosophy plays to the strengths of the room: intimate solo and small-ensemble performances, with an emphasis on singer/songwriter and roots styles (alt/country artist Mary Gauthier is a frequent guest) and some surprisingly big-name swing, bluegrass and jazz (Ron Carter has played here, among others). Stop by the Café at 434 Main Street in Rosendale. For more information, call (845) 658-9048 or visit https://www.rosendalecafe.com.

 

Market Market

1 Madeleine Lane, Rosendale

Not many aspiring restaurateurs would have looked at the former Rosendale greengrocer and seen in it the spectral outline of a happening Brooklyn-style music venue, but Jenifer Constantine and Trippy Thompson did. And as a result we have Market Market, the venue so misnamed that they had to misname it twice. It started with dinner music, but that didn’t last long. Next thing you knew, shoegaze, power pop, political punk, experimental sound collage and Brooklyn hootenanny were the order of the day. These days, the Hudson Valley has a number of stable venues that defy the region’s roots-rock default and cater to indie, hipster eccentricity and cabaret theatricality, but mark it well: Market Market was there first. Of special note is the Tributon series. Every sixth Saturday, or thereabouts, local luminaries gather to pay tribute to (and make fun of) a single famous artist or performer. On July 26, it is Led Zeppelin on the examination table. For more information, call (845) 658-3164 or visit https://www.marketmarketcafe.com.

 

Bywater Bistro

419 Main Street, Rosendale

There’s something fine and curatorial about Rosendale’s Bywater Bistro. It extends from the food to the garden, the craft beer list and the music. What is Bistro music? It’s mostly acoustic, mostly (though not exclusively) in roots and traditional styles and local: a complement to the rustic elegance of the environment. In this town, Market Market and the Rosendale Café grab most of the music headlines, but Bywater is fast becoming a favorite venue of area performers. Call (845) 658-3210 or visit https://www.bywaterbistro.com.

 

Hopped Up Café

2303 Lucas Turnpike, High Falls

The Hopped Up Café is a new Valley venue offering farm-to-table food and a connoisseur’s craft beer and wine list. But live music was part of the original design, and Hopped Up is following through on that admirably, enlivening its intimate space with live acts on the weekends – tending toward the roots/organic, but with plenty of exceptions as well – and an open mic hosted by Kelly McNally of Rosendale’s the Virginia Wolves every second Thursday. For more information, call (845) 687-4750 or visit https://www.hoppedupcafe.com.

 

The High Falls Café

12 Stone Dock Road, High Falls

Not long ago, the High Falls Café moved from its location on Route 213 to a comfortable new space at the Stone Dock Golf Course off Berme Road in High Falls. Its commitment to live music remains unfaltering, however, and commitment is the operative word. The Café is dedicated not only to a steady course of high-end blues, jazz and singer/songwriter-oriented folk and rock, but also to a very select set of the region’s leading and longest-running acts in these genres – like folk/blues maestros Jeff Entin and Bob Blum, who host the Second Friday Jams; singer/songwriter Kurt Henry, who hosts Acoustic Thursday; and of course Big Joe Fitz, who presents his Blues Party on the first and third Tuesday. For more information, and for lucid directions to the new location at Stone Dock, call (845) 687-2699 or visit https://www.highfallscafe.com.

 

The Chance

6 Crannell Street, Poughkeepsie

From its days as the Last Chance Saloon – a music club with a Dixieland house band! – to its current incarnation as a mid-size club catering to hard rock, metal and modern alternative, the Chance has been one of the region’s premier venues for decades. For all of its sold-out shows by major artists in all genres and unannounced tour kickoff dates by legitimate superstars, the Chance may be known most of all for the date the Police played there during a blizzard early in their first American tour. Approximately 13,000 people claim to be among the seven in attendance that night. For more information, call (845) 471-1966 or visit https://www.thechancetheater.com.

 

The Bardavon 1869 Opera House

35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie

A jewel of an old theater, the 944-seat Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie has been a regional treasure since 1869. The Bardavon sports exactly the kind of eclectic calendar that a large venue requires to get by: everything from rock stars to orchestras to comedians and animal psychics. But the Bardavon has also shown some real imagination in its programming, with classic film nights and Live at the Met HD telecasts. For more information, call the box office at (845) 473-2072 and visit https://www.bardavon.org.

 

My Place Pizza  

322 Main Street, Poughkeepsie

“Since 1978 serving real New York pizza to the City of Poughkeepsie, Marist, Vassar and DCC and St. Francis/Vassar Hospitals,” says My Place Pizza on its Facebook page, adding, “and rock ’n’ roll since 2012.” In two years, My Place has developed a reputation as a band-friendly venue unafraid of the rock. My Place Pizza, like so many other repurposed venues, has discovered one of the secrets to packing the house: 18+. The kids are alright. Call (845) 473-2815.

 

Pickwick Pub

698 Main Street, Poughkeepsie

Family-owned and right smack in the middle of the city, the Pickwick Pub might sound like the place to go for some traditional jigs and reels, but a quick scan of the event schedule tells a different story: jam rock, metal, more metal, classic rock deejays, some steroidal punk and something called a Bikini Bike Wash. The Pickwick Pub knows the deal in Po-town and gets high marks from locals. The Pickwick books locals and touring nationals. Shows take place on Fridays and Saturdays, when the pub stays open until 2 a.m. Call (845) 232-5764.

 

The Liberty Public House

6417 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck

The charmingly cluttered Liberty Public House has made a splash in the local music scene lately, presenting everything from international folk band Caprice Rouge to experimental deejays. The Liberty features four distinct venues, an old-fashioned pub, the must-see Flag Room, the sultry Liberty Lounge with dance parties and live music and the Hudson River Boathouse. For more information, call (845) 876-1760 or visit https://libertyrhinebeck.com.

 

Traghaven Whiskey Pub & Co.

66 Broadway, Tivoli

Northern Dutchess lost a vital and eclectic (and Bard-centric) music outlet when the venerable Black Swan in Tivoli closed and efforts to revive it via crowdsourcing foundered; but good things return to those who wait. The Traghaven Whiskey Pub & Co. now features Irish music and hootenannies on Sundays, acoustic music on Mondays and an eclectic mix on the weekends – though maybe not so much of the rock of the Black Swan years. Traghaven also claims a new and improved kitchen. And, in the great tradition of the Black Swan, Traghaven is the place to go to watch World Cup action among knowledgeable fans. Call (845) 757-3777 or visit https://www.traghaven.com.

 

Club Helsinki

405 Columbia Street, Hudson

Club Helsinki moved from Massachusetts to Hudson not long ago, upgrading its performance space significantly in the process, but also sealing Hudson’s incipient reputation as a music town to be reckoned with. Helsinki brings instant credibility. It is a major mid-sized national-circuit club, built for sound from the ground up. It enjoys an already-established reputation, especially in the realm of Americana. Amidst the A-list folkies and singer/songwriters who play here practically nightly – Todd Snider, Tift Merritt and Aimee Mann – Club Helsinki has thrown a few curveballs in the last year: Magnetic Fields, Frank Black (of the Pixies), Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) and more. So don’t write it off if banjos aren’t your thing. And this is another club worth a visit just to see the exceptionally cool space. For more information, call (518) 828-4800 or visit https://helsinkihudson.com.

 

The Spotty Dog Books & Ale

440 Warren Street, Hudson

As the word “Ale” in its name ought to suggest, the Spotty Dog is not your typical bookstore. Situated in an old firehouse, the Spotty Dog caters to Hudson’s urban refugee population and (apologies to all) hipster tastes in its readings, its organic ales on tap, its art supplies and in the music that it slides some racks around to make room for. Many of the acts that appear here are experimentalists art-song writers imported from Brooklyn, including a number of big names over the years. It is the kind of bookstore where people will travel to play. Call (518) 671-6006 or visit https://www.thespottydog.com.

 

The Half Moon

48 South Front Street, Hudson

The Half Moon brings a bona fide, adventurous rock club to Hudson to fill the gaps between Club Helsinki and the many music-friendly restaurants and cafés in town. The club attracts national talent as well as locals. Monthly, the Half Moon is taken over by Smashcrashbash, a themed night of music featuring punk, garage, psych, old soul and general moon-howling curated by local music writer Peter Aaron. Call (518) 828-1562 or visit https://thehalfmoonhudson.com.

 

Basilica Hudson

110 South Front Street, Hudson

Basilica has been making news with its concerts, art exhibits and general multimedia happenings since 2010. The facility itself is a stunning reclaimed 19th-century factory located mere steps from the Hudson Amtrak station. Basilica’s bona fides can be traced to its artistic directors, filmmaker Tony Stone and musician Melissa Auf der Maur. Late this summer, Basilica offers up its weekend Soundscape festival, headlined by Swans. Call (518) 822-1050 or visit https://basilicahudson.com.

 

Towne Crier Café

379 Main Street, Beacon

When venerable venues close their doors, one often hears hopeful promises of new digs and new golden eras, but they seldom materialize. Not so with the Towne Crier, formerly in Pawling, currently in a custom-built new facility right in the heart of Beacon. Phil Ciganer’s original folk, roots and jazz club was legendary: an oasis of world-renowned talent in an out-of-the-way place. The new site does not disappoint. It is more spacious, at least as good in terms of sound quality and more convenient to most of us. The restaurant is outstanding as well. The Towne Crier continues to feature A-list Americana talent, and the hundreds of signed portraits on its walls keep its storied legacy front-of-mind. Call (845) 855-1300 or visit https://www.townecrier.com.

 

The Howland Cultural Center

477 Main Street, Beacon

The former Howland Library has stood at 477 Main Street in Beacon for over 135 years. The airy, high-ceilinged main room now hosts a great variety of music, from folk/rock to classical, and is so renowned for its fine acoustical properties that a number of rock, folk and classical records have been recorded in its vaunted space. The Howland Chamber Music Circle, art exhibits, programs for children, films, poetry readings and open-mic nights fill out the schedule in one of the Hudson Valley’s most pristine listening environments. Call (845) 831-4988 or visit https://www.howlandculturalcenter.org.

 

Dogwood Bar & Grill

47 East Main Street, Beacon

A nice casual restaurant with a separate music room, Dogwood is literally on the other side of the tracks – in the lightly developed area of East Beacon – but only a jog from the galleries and shops of the main strip. Dogwood’s tastes in music are in keeping with Beacon’s growing reputation for quirky urban sophistication: Everything from experimental jazz to Americana plays here. Typically, Wednesdays and Thursdays are music nights and Tuesdays are open mics, though lately there have been some weekend bookings as well. Call (845) 202-7500 or visit https://www.dogwoodbar.com.

 

Quinn’s

330 Main Street, Beacon

Main Street Beacon was already a happening stretch with the Howland, the relocated Towne Crier, Dogwood and a variety of gallery and dinner performance spaces along its length. Now Quinn’s, an ultra-hip repurposed luncheonette, brings all manner of indie and outré music to one of the Hudson Valley’s liveliest strips. Quinn’s excellent sound system pipes everything from avant-garde jazz to indie slacker rock, punk and even some standard-fare upstate blues and rock. But Quinn’s specializes in the kind of acts that you are liable to find at BSP in Kingston or Market Market in Rosendale: smart, subversive, different, new. Call (845) 202-7447 or visit https://quinnsbeacon.com.

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