Far away from the environs of New York City, winding up through the Catskills lies a postcard stretch of Victorian homes and decorative boutiques in a quaint little haven known as Hudson, New York. It’s a place musician Tommy Stinson calls home, along with around 6,000 others. Community is key in Hudson, and its people are an assemblage of magnanimous, music-loving individuals who all came together last weekend to support one of their own. Together, Habitat for Humanity, Tommy Stinson and an impressive lineup up of musicians created a night of altruistic proportions.
A fiery brunette with sultry pipes, Ruby Stinson, daughter of Tommy, opened the night and captivated the crowd with a tenderness that sounded well beyond her age. Her father, watching from the crowd, was approached by several people who relayed their praise for the young songstress. Clearly the creativity lingers in the Stinson gene pool. A similar creative spark could be seen in the Kiki D’s, a four-piece of local musicians who cut into the night with melodies evocative of that San Francisco Summer of Love.
Just days after their six-night, sold-out run of anniversary shows at Brooklyn Bowl, Deer Tick’s Ian O’Neil, Dennis Ryan and Chris Ryan took the stage with plenty of fuel left in the tank. Joined by fellow Rhode Island rocker Rafay Rashid of seminal garage rock band Ravi Shavi, the band known as Happiness launched into a mélange of vivacious rock, exuding an inspiring energy. It was quite a sight to see the vocally emotive and animated O’Neil steer the band, a job he’s not used to doing in Deer Tick. Stinson, who had had been watching from the wings, dashed out to join the band and carried us back to the vitality of ’60s rock ‘n’ roll via covers of the Beatles’ “I Wanna Be Your Man” and the Who’s “The Kids Are Alright.” I’m still replaying their set in my head.
Afterward, standing up there with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller grabbed the audience’s attention and fed off it, roaming over alt-country territory with lucid finesse. As he played, all eyes followed as his dexterous hand strummed away, making a perfect 360 like a sped up minute hand on a clock. When he sang, the crowd sang too, until it was time for the Texas charmer to walk off and make room for the night’s headliner.
Something was in the air when Jesse Malin ascended the stage, as those sitting in their seats or lingering by the bar began to dance under the neon lights. A New York native with a past painted with the glitz and glam of the ’80s, Malin has undergone several changes through the years, including an album produced by Ryan Adams and a duet with Bruce Springsteen. As he performed, he wore a big heart on his leather sleeve, specifically on “Addicted.” The song, which appears on his forthcoming album, New York Before the War, was inspired by the loss of his neighbor and friend Arturo Vega, a graphic designer best known for designing the Ramones logo. He and the band continued to treat fans to several other tunes off their imminent release including “If I Should Fall from the Grace of God,” featuring a chorus that follows the beat of Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News.”
So midnight came and then it went, and the music grew more and more intense—just like the love these fine folks of Hudson have for one another.
– Melissa Caruso