Almanac Weekly’s best places to hear live music in the Hudson Valley

Ulster Performing Arts Center

601 Broadway, Kingston

The 1,510-seat Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) is a National Register property built in Kingston in 1927. It was acquired by the Bardavon in 2007, forming a powerful arts-and-performance alliance operating under the Bardavon name. UPAC presents topnotch music, dance, theater and classic films for diverse audiences, as well as extensive arts-based learning programs. For more information, call the box office at (845) 339-6088 or visit


Uncle Willy’s

31 N. Front Street, Kingston

Uncle Willy’s is in its own way a legendary Kingston venue, one equally friendly to performers and crowds. Warm spirits prevails at this modest spot in Uptown, along with the meat and potatoes of American music: rock ’n’ roll, blues, groove, jazz jams on Thursdays led by the wicked guitarist Matt Finck and acoustic open mics on Sundays. Call (845) 853-8049.


Rosendale & High Falls

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


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. For more information, call (845) 658-3164 or visit


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


Rail Trail Café

River Road Extension, Stone Mountain Farm, Tillson

Hard to give the exact address of this one because it is on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, for Pete’s sake, but this delightful experimental eatery is co-owned by a killer musician (drummer Brian Farmer of Futu Futu fame), and it shows in the spring-to-fall music lineup that features everything from kids’ music to outré jazz, Friday through Sunday. Visit or call (845) 399-4800.


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, singer/songwriter Kurt Henry and of course Big Joe Fitz. For more information, call (845) 687-2699 or visit


New Paltz & Gardiner

Snug Harbor

36 Main Street, New Paltz

New Paltz’s infamous rock dive bar is really no dive at all, but rather a warm, raucous, small music bar where the crowd is right up in the band’s face, but the band won’t turn down and the magic happens. Snug’s is not afraid of the harder end of rock, but, as with most collegetown music bars, the roster is eclectic and surprising. For more information, call (845) 256-0825 or check it out at



4 South Chestnut Street, New Paltz

Bacchus Restaurant and Bar is a New Paltz institution that never did live music – just didn’t do it. It was the one bar in town that you could visit to converse at a comfortable level. Then one night the owners slid a pool table out of the way and found that they had a natural music club on their hands, and it has been a hopping music joint on the weekends ever since. Because of the length of the room and the height of the ceiling and the attached auxiliary spaces (a poolhall and a variety of decks and porches, including a heated patio), it remains the most conversation-friendly bar in town. Bacchus began as a rustic and roots-oriented venue, but that’s all out the window now. What plays here is, generally, the best that the town of New Paltz has to offer, from indie-rock to funk to psychedelic and bluegrass. For more information, call (845) 255-8636 or visit


Unison Arts & Learning Center

68 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz

In its bright and airy multipurpose performance and gallery space just outside of New Paltz, Unison has hosted years and years’ worth of adventurous programming: classical music, dance, cabaret, jazz, family acts and world music virtuosi, to name a few. For more information, call (845) 255-1559 or visit


Water Street Market

10 Main Street, New Paltz

The stylish, art-and-antique-lined downtown mini-mall was clearly designed to be a Mecca for tourists. Much to the surprise of everyone, it has also become a thriving cultural and congregational center for the community, using the lovely amphitheater on its south end for a summer Thursday concert series and a variety of other performances and events in all seasons. For more information, call (845) 255-1403 or visit


Team Love RavenHouse Gallery

11 Church Street, New Paltz

It is hard to say in a single utterance what Team Love RavenHouse Gallery actually is. It is a joint partnership of sorts between a boutique, national record store and record label (Team Love, co-founded by New Paltz’s Nate Krenkel and the famous songwriter Connor Oberst) and a gallery/performance space (RavenHouse) curated by Cornelia Calder. The physical location hosts frequent art shows, and they are often accompanied by live music performance, usually in a vein that you would broadly call “indie.” Team Love RavenHouse maintains open hours Friday through Sunday. Visit


Oasis Café/Cabaloosa

58 Main Street, New Paltz

Oasis/Cabaloosa is New Paltz’s hot spot for nightly music. The molten, cavelike, two-floor club features the full spectrum of rock, dance, funk, reggae and various groove musics, generally, but with plenty of college bands and weird stuff as well. Music is a chronic thing here. It starts late and goes late. Call (845) 255-2400 or visit


Gomen Kudasai

232 Main Street, New Paltz

Bluegrass, vocal jazz, solo singer/songwriters: Gomen Kudasai has been a surprisingly adventurous music venue in an unsuspected spot (the Rite Aid plaza) for a few years now. Local musicians are well aware of and appreciative of the ownership’s commitment to live music. Visit or call (845) 255-8811.


Cafeteria Internet Café

56 Main Street, New Paltz

One of the real stunning spaces in town, the former Not Fade Away tie-dye factory and long before that the Bomze & Van Vlack Pharmacy, Cafeteria sports a tidy windowbox stage and a serviceable sound system. In the past, bands cranked it up in this spacious and high-character, couch-strewn room, but these days acoustic and solo are more in fashion, as well as absolutely packed open mics on Mondays at 7 p.m. Sundays are given to jazz. Visit or call (845) 633-8287.


The Village Market and Eatery

125 Main Street, Gardiner

Gardiner is now the site of a classy combined restaurant/venue that features the full spectrum of mature, dinner-friendly music: some jazz, some blues, some folk performed by many of the area’s surest players like Big Joe Fitz, Barbara Dempsey, Jeremy Baum and many more. For more information, call (845) 255-1234 or visit



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2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Great list. Thanks.

  2. You mention a lot of swell venues, most of which I have played over the years. However, a bunch of these venues are, although may be good to SEE music at, are NOT musician friendly, as in, they do not pay the musicians, even though we be the reason people are there. So I ask…when was the last time you wrote an article for Almanac for free? Hmmmm.

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