Thursday, April 17, 2014

Testing, testing, is this thing working? Music district begins to take shape at Quail and Central

Three music venues, one exciting corner.
With the recent opening of The Low Beat, Howard Glassman's new bar on Central Avenue, the intersection of Quail and Central has become something of a destination for music lovers. Glassman's business joined Pauly's Hotel and The Linda, WAMC's Performing Arts Studio, both longtime music venues on this corner, and helped cement a new identity for this section of Central Avenue. 

The potential for synergy between these three businesses was evident even before the ribbon was cut at The Low Beat April 4, but if there were any left wondering whether three music venues could play nice and work together, that celebration would have assuaged all concerns. Glassman, John Mancini, owner of Pauly's Hotel, and Graeme McKenna, general manager for The Linda posed together for shots in front of the new bar, and talks were already under way about a multi-venue summer music event. 

That weekend Pauly's and The Low Beat co-hosted WCDB's anniversary party, with one cover for both establishments.

"When Howard moved in, I gave him a present. I had two stamps made up, one for his place and one for mine so customers could go back and forth between our places," explained Mancini.

Now, in the latest follow-up, the two are partnering again, in conjunction with WEXT 97.7 and KeepAlbanyBoring to present "Down on the Corner."   

"We had such a blast this past weekend partnering up with our next door neighbor Pauly's Hotel to help present WCDB's 36th Anniversary party that we thought, "hey, why not try this again?" So we are," says Glassman. The music starts Saturday, April 26 at 7pm.

Here's the line-up:
Pauly's Hotel and The Low Beat in conjunction with WEXT and KeepAlbanyBoring present:
Down On The Corner #1
Saturday April 26  7pm  2 venues/7 bands/1 loooow ($7) ticket
The Lucky Jukebox Brigade        11:30  Low Beat
New Red Scare                            11:00   Pauly's  
The Schoemer Formation            10:30   Low Beat
Neighborhood of Make Believe   9:45     Pauly's
UnEvEn StEvEn                           9:00    Low Beat
MR Poulopoulos                           8:15    Pauly's 
Chloroform Party                          7:30    Low Beat

On-street parking is free after 6pm on weekdays and throughout the weekend. There is also a pay parking lot next to the Linda at 339 Central that is open to the public. Parking fees can be paid by cash or with a credit card using the easy-to-use machine at the center of the lot. 

The Low Beat is located at 335 Central Avenue.
Pauly's Hotel is located at 337 Central Avenue.
The Linda is located at 339 Central Avenue.

Patrons can grab a bite to eat at The Low Beat until 2:30pm, or at any of the other restaurants that share this same block, including Salsa Latina (315 Central), Van's Vietnamese (307 Central), Afghan Kabab Express (305 Central), Northeast Dumpling House (299 Central), Casa Dominicana (260 Central Avenue) or Ichiban Japanese Chinese Restaurant (338 Central), or at any of the other restaurants that line Central Avenue.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The music community's new place opens on Central: Glassman cuts ribbon at The Low Beat

The Low Beat, Central Avenue’s newest music venue, celebrated its opening with a ribbon-cutting celebration on April 4, 2014 at 10am. 

"This is basically the music community's new place," says Glassman.  

Glassman was joined at the ribbon by Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Common Councilman Ron Bailey, CBID Executive Director Anthony Capece, and Vice President of Marketing and Development for WAMC, Dona Frank-Federico.

"We don't want to be a city with a convention center, we want to be a convention center city, and that means having places for people to go that they can't go to anywhere else, places that make Albany unique," says Mayor Kathy Sheehan at the event. Sheehan pointed out that venues like The Low Beat are those places. "Central Avenue has so much to offer," she continued. "It's going to be such an important part of creating that culture that brings people here." 

Glassman owned Valentine’s for 16 years, served as the General Manager at the Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio during its formative years, and is also an honorary member of bands from across the region and the darling of music critics and bloggers alike. He is humbled by all the attention he received in the wake of his announcement that he was closing his former bar Valentine’s and even more impressed by the way the music community turned out to support him in his new venture, The Low Beat.

The Low Beat is located at 335 Central Avenue in Albany. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Artists in the making: Albany Center Gallery gives local students a chance to express themselves

Brighter Choice students paint in the gallery--
Photo by Michael Wagner

Students are recognized for their work--
Photo by Michael Wagner

Students at work--Photo by Michael Wagner

The completed paintings--Photo by Michael Wagner
Albany Center Gallery and Brighter Choice Middle School students came together this month to show why the picture isn't complete without art classes.

To celebrate Youth Arts month, Tony Iadicicco, Executive Director for the Albany Center Gallery visited the local charter school March 19 and 20 and lead an art lesson for 7th and 8th grade students. "I brought in 12 canvases, paints, brushes and they worked together on the paintings," he said. This collaborative approach to art offered a great outlet for the students, but it also encouraged problem solving and teamwork. "I started a piece, and they worked with me, and then I also helped them on some of their pieces," Iadicicco says. Art creates a shared space for collaboration, exchanging ideas, and personal expression, and that can have a far-reaching impact for students, he says. "It did for me."

The next day, the students came to the gallery downtown to continue their work. Gallery members watched as the students worked, and when their paintings were completed they were put on display for everyone to admire. The night finished with an awards ceremony, where the students were made official members of the gallery--the youngest members of the growing roster, Iadicicco adds.

The students will also go on to show their work at Art on Lark in June, something Iadicicco hopes will inspire them to continue their painting over the summer, when school is out and some may be at loose ends. "It's something for them to look forward to," he says.

Iadicicco says the event, which was the first during his tenure as director was a great time for all involved. "Their teachers said they were still glowing the next day," he says.

Albany Center Gallery is located 39 Columbia Street in Albany. The students work will be on display for the remainder of the month. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

An Ode to this Road: Albany Poets Celebrate Poetry Month on Central Avenue (mostly)

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Albany Poets is proud to present the 2014 Albany Word Fest featuring the poetry and spoken word of upstate New York--right here on Central Avenue. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, April 13 to Saturday, April 19, 2014.

“What a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month right here in Albany. With a full week of poetry and spoken word, there is something for everyone.” Thom Francis, Albany Poets President, said, "Whether you would like to take in a featured performance, celebrate the launch of the second edition of Up The River, attend a regional poetry slam, or be part of one of the largest annual open mics in the area, the Albany Word Fest is the place for you."

This year, much of the Albany Word Fest will take place on Central Avenue, at venues like The Linda, The Low Beat, the Social Justice Center, and Pauly's Hotel.

Avery Stempel, Albany Poets board member, adds, “There are so many talented writers and
performers in the Albany area. The weeklong activities of Word Fest open up different venues to allow people of the various writing circles to unite and perform together. I have been a part of the last three Word Fest celebrations and I am excited to be in on the planning phases of this years’. We have some great new venues to showcase and some amazing talent to listen to. It is going to be great!”

The week will kickoff with the launch of the second edition of Albany Poets’ literary journal, Up The River. The editors have been inundated with hundreds of submissions and will debut their selections for the second issue on Sunday, April 13 at McGeary’s. The evening will also feature performances by some of the poets published.

On Tuesday, April 15 the festival continues with the Nitty Gritty Slam at The Low Beat. For the Word Fest edition of NGS, they will present the return of the Haiku Battle. It was such a great time last year, that we couldn’t wait to bring it back to the Nitty Gritty stage in 2014.

For Wednesday night, April 16, the Word Fest goes next door to Pauly’s Hotel for a showcase of local and regional poets, musicians, and spoken word artists.

Thursday, the poetry heads down Central Ave to the Social JusticeCenter with the Third Thursday Poetry Night hosted by Dan Wilcox. This monthly poetry series welcomes poets to step up to the mic and share their work along with featured performers from the College of Saint Rose. Finally on Saturday, April 19, the Word Fest comes to an end with the Word Fest Invitational Slam at The Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio, starting at 7:00pm. Albany Poets, Frequency North, and Urban Guerilla Theatre are proud to welcome six teams from all over the Northeast to compete in this invitational slam. Admission for this event at The Linda is $10.00.

Word Fest will take place April 13-19 at various venues on and off Central Avenue. For more information, visit


Veterans groups band together to build free convenience store for veterans

The Veterans Miracle Center is on its way to becoming a reality, and that means local veterans can get what they need--for free.

The Red Cross, Patriot Hills of NY, Center for Independence, Albany Housing Coalition, The VFW and Jezreel Int’l, have co-labored together to raise funds for the creation of a unique center that will cater to the needs of returning veterans.

The center will provide new clothing, personal care products, hygiene products, paper products, cleaning products, house wares, medical ambulatory supplies, home repair products and toys for their immediate families and much more. Veterans can secure the goods by presenting a voucher which will be distributed through local veterans organizations. Veterans will call the VMC and set up a convenient time to come and receive whatever they need at no cost.

The group is now in the process of renovating a 1500 square foot office space into a storefront retail-style format, which includes ramps, elevator chair lift and a specially equipped restroom for special needs.

The projected budget for the first year, which includes capital improvements as well as staff is $75,000. 

A breakfast will be held Thursday, March 27 at 7am-8:30am at Jezreel International, 10 Interstate Avenue, Colonie to discuss the project. For information, call Jim Pratt at 438-4370 or visit

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

That's a wrap: Capital Cinema Cultural Exchange concludes four day film forum on Central Avenue, the first of its kind

Ever wonder how independent films get to the big screen while others may languish and never find an audience? A new US organization wants to bring you behind the scenes with filmmakers, writers, producers, casting directors to provide an insider’s view of their craft.

The newly formed Capital Cinema Cultural Exchange (CCCE) held its first public film forum March
14-17 at the Linda, WAMC's Performing Arts Studio. The forum promoted character-driven films and stories of social consequence now in development – a conscious departure from those driven by
gratuitous violence and special effects, said the organizers.

“For every big budget, blockbuster film you see in multiplex theaters, there are perhaps thousands of
independent films in various stages of completion searching to one day reach an audience,” said Michael
Camoin, the filmmaker in Upstate New York who formed CCCE with other industry professionals and
organizations. “Some of these break out into Oscar nominees, but the vast majority fails to ever see the inside of a theater or even online distribution.”

At the forum, filmmakers and panelists, which including a number of industry professionals talked about the challenges of selling films to foreign audiences and the challenge that international conflicts can also pose for the arts. "Film is a unique language," says Camoin. It has the ability to unite people and help us more fully understand our fellow human beings.

The forum also offered business opportunities, opening up channels that could one day lead to deals, says Camoin. It was exciting to be in the room when those kinds of discussions were happening between those kinds of players, he added.

The forum was also small enough to allow strong mentoring as well as one-on-one consultation between industry experts and filmmakers.

Each day began with breakfast, served in the newly unveiled Filmmakers Lounge at the Linda, before guests were treated to the day's screenings and panels. The days concluded with dinners and after-parties at local venues including Grappa '72 and Pauly's Hotel. Industry panelists includes US veteran producer, Larry Jackson, Moscow’s executive producer Dmitry Pirkulov and Canada’s co-production specialist, Sam Coppola. Konstantin Fam, a finalist for an Oscar nomination in 2013, flew in for the screening of his short film Shoes and stayed to talk about it. The film, which was partially funded through crowdfunding, was controversial for the angle the director took--focusing on the shoes of a Holocaust victim.

Other screenings included the Russian film, The Geographer Who Drank His Globe Away and the Chinese film The Ferry. 

Sponsored in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, the forum also included events at The Sage Colleges' Opalka Gallery and the New York State Archives Filmscript Collection which preserves the largest collection of motion picture scripts in the world.

The Capital Cinema Cultural Exchange will take place next year February 26-March 1 at The Linda, 339 Central Avenue. For more information about the organization or next year's program, please visit the website at

Friday, March 14, 2014

City of Albany celebrates 64th annual St. Patrick's Day on Central Avenue

Last year's parade marches past, complete with pipe band. 

Please join us for the 64th annual St. Patrick's Day parade on March 15, 2014. The parade begins at 2pm, and will proceed down Central Avenue downtown to Pearl Street. 

There are several road closures and parking restrictions that residents and visitors should be aware of that day. Please make a note: 

North Albany Limerick Parade – Noon -1PM
                The North Albany Limerick Parade route:
Kick Off – N. First Street west of N. Pearl Street at the North Albany American Legion Post; parade will proceed east to N. Pearl Street, then south of N. Pearl Street to Emmett Street; east on Emmett St to Broadway; North on Broadway to Wolfert Avenue in the Village of Menands; back south on S. Pearl Street to N. First Street
                Road Closures:
  •    N. First Street between Broadway and Van Rensselaer Ave
  •    N. Pearl Street between Wolfert Ave and Emmett St
  •    Broadway between Wolfert Ave and Emmett St
  •    N. Second Street, eastbound at Broadway & eastbound and westbound at N. Pearl St
  •    N. Third Street, eastbound at Broadway & eastbound and westbound at N. Pearl St
  •    Lawn Avenue, westbound at Broadway & eastbound and westbound at N. Pearl St
  •    Bonheim Street, eastbound at Broadway & eastbound and westbound at N. Pearl St
  •    Lindbergh Avenue, eastbound at Broadway & eastbound and westbound at N. Pearl St

This event will not require special on street parking restrictions.
Albany St. Patrick’s Day Parade, 2PM – 4PM
                Parade Route:
Central Avenue starting at Quail Street, parade will proceed east on Central Avenue to Washington Avenue; then east on Washington Avenue to State Street; east on State Street to Pearl Street. 
                Road Closures:
Starting at 12:00PM Central Avenue between Manning Boulevard and Quail Street will be closed for parade lineup.
At 1:00PM all east and west traffic on the parade route will be closed.  North and south cross traffic will be permitted.
At 1:30PM Parade Route will be closed to ALL Traffic: Central Avenue starting at Quail Street, parade will proceed east on Central Avenue to Washington Avenue; then east on Washington Avenue to State Street; east on State Street to Pearl Street; All cross streets along the parade route will be closed as the parade progresses along the route starting at 1:30PM.  This will include N&S Pearl Streets from Pine Street to Hudson Avenue.
                Parking Restrictions:
                                March 15, 2014, 7AM-6PM
1.       Central Avenue, both north and south side of the street between Ontario Street and N. Lake Avenue
2.       Quail Street, east side from Central Ave to Sherman St
3.       Washington Avenue, south side from Dove St to S. Swan St (some of this parking will be available for parade time)   
4.       State Street, north side from Eagle Street to S. Pearl Street
5.       State Street, both north and south sides from Pearl Street to Broadway               
6.       Eagle Street, east side from Corning Pl to Pine St
7.       Broadway, both sides from Pine Street to Hudson Avenue

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hudson Valley Community College hosting Open House on Central Avenue

Hudson Valley Community College, now offers training for
truck drivers, a 68-hour training program for the CDL Class A
Tractor Trailer License. 

Whether you're interested in the building trades or a career in the healthcare industry, Hudson Valley's Workforce Development Institute is the place to start. 

Tuesday, March 18, the Albany branch of Hudson Valley Community College will host an Open House from 2:30pm to 5:30pm at their Albany Extension Center, located at 175 Central Avenue in Albany. 

Albany residents can meet with college admissions and financial aid counselors and get on the fast-track to career success. 

"We want to bring attention to the fact that Hudson Valley is right here in downtown Albany, right on a bus route, and that students can access great careers here," says Debra Kowalski, off campus coordinator and academic counselor for Hudson Valley Community College.  

Presentations by college Admissions and Continuing Education representatives will be held throughout the afternoon. New students also will be able to register for summer and fall courses.

The college’s Albany Extension Center has been offering day and evening credit-bearing and credit-free courses since 2002. The site includes classrooms, a computer lab and a mock pharmacy for the college’s Pharmacy Technician Training program.

The Workforce Development Institute of Hudson Valley Community College provides career skills training programs in a variety of fields, including Manufacturing, Business and Technical Writing, Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy, Medical and Health Careers, and others. Client-specific training is also available both on-site and at the college.

This winter, the Workforce Development Institute also announced a new CDL Class A Tractor-Trailer License Training. This 68-hour training program is designed to accommodate individuals with little or no experience in tractor-trailer driving. The course includes 32 hours in the classroom and 36 hours of on-the-road training, focusing on the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) CDL Exam and industry requirements. This course also counts towards the 160 hours of training required by most transportation companies and their insurance providers. 

The Workforce Development Institute is part of Hudson Valley Community College, which was founded in 1953. The community college offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs in four schools: Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Science; and Liberal Arts and Sciences; and an Educational Opportunity Center for academic and career training. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 13,500 students, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and workforce training. Hudson Valley has more than 65,000 alumni.

The Open House will take place, March 18, 2014 from 2:30pm-5:30pm at HVCC Albany Extension Center, located at 175 Central Avenue in Albany. More information, call (518) 629-7338.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Beloved rock club moves to Central Avenue, establishes new destination for music fans

Howard Glassman didn't know how attached the music community was to Valentine's--until they almost lost it.

When Albany Medical Center's Park South plans threatened to push the popular music hall out of its location on New Scotland Avenue last year, people were upset, and local blogs were filled with speculations about where the music impresario would end up. When Glassman announced his purchase of 335 Central Avenue in October, musicians and fans turned out in full force to help him take apart the old bar and bring it to its new home.

"This is basically the music community's new place," Glassman says proudly.

The new location, formerly known as Cagney's, had been empty for years and needed serious elbow grease to get it back into fighting shape. "The first time we had the clean up day here, that first Saturday, I think we had close to thirty people show up," he says. Ever since then, people have been calling him when they have a day off, and showing up to lend a hand. "There hasn't been anyone who hasn't grabbed a mop, a sponge, a hammer and gone to work. It's not below anybody," he says.

This speaks volumes about the community that Glassman has been part of, and indeed helped shape, during his 16 years at the helm of the Valentine's.

Glassman and these volunteers washed grunge and gunk from walls and floors, hauled out trash from the basement, and put the kitchen in working order.

Finally, after countless hours of work, the present bar began to emerge: a cool, funky joint whose rustic wooden beams and fixtures are reminiscent of a German bier haus, or perhaps a medieval feasting hall, minus the stag heads.

"It's roughly the size of Valentine's, downstairs." says Glassman, leading a tour of the new bar, which he has dubbed The Low Beat, after a favorite indie rock album. (Glassman says he got a lot of pushback on the new name initially, but then people came around. "My wife wanted me to use something else. 'How about the High Hat? How about the High Beat? How about the Back Beat? And I'm like, 'No, let's go with this. Because now I have a theme song,'" he says.)

"This floor was all black. We went through. We washed it, took about ten buckets of water, black water, out, and then I hand-sanded it," he says. Today the floors gleam. "These stairs were all black as well, too. I sanded them down." The stairs lead to the basement, where the office and band room will be, and the delivery entrance is located.

The new bar also boasts a kitchen, which Glassman plans to take advantage of. (He's gotten offers of help from several musicians, including a professionally trained, in-demand "punk rock chef.") Plus, the new location promises some synergy with two other adjacent music venues, Pauly's Hotel and The Linda. "We're already going to do a festival in June," he says.

Most importantly perhaps, the new bar is all his. Glassman closed on the new building late last year, and evinces a certain pride and security that business owners only get from site control. "This is my building now. This is my own," he says. "Now there's a place for everybody to come and we're not going to get kicked out."

Glassman is also excited by the other development he sees going on nearby. He notes two new retail spaces going in next door, one of which is a record store, and adds that there are several more spaces adjacent to the Low Beat that have the potential to be made over into successful bars or restaurants.

"I would like to see one or two more places open," he says. "I know a lot of energy and time and money is being put into Broadway...which is great, but that's an area you got to drive down to and it's dark. Central Avenue, you just got to park the car."

Now that the new bar is nearly finished, Glassman and the music community are looking forward to the grand opening celebration--and they have a lot to celebrate. "Everyone knows that this will always be here and there will always be a place to play," he says.

The Low Beat is located at 335 Central Avenue, near the intersection of Quail Street in Albany. The bar will be open daily and feature live music Wednesday through Saturday, and poetry and other entertainment the rest of the week.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Family businesses join together to spruce up North Allen neighborhood

Small businesses on North Allen are sprucing up, and giving the neighborhood a nice facelift while they're at it. McVeigh's Funeral Home, The Orlo School of Hair Design and Cosmetology, Pepper Jack's, Caffe Italia, and Bobby T's have all made improvements to their exteriors, investing well over a million dollars collectively in this mini-business district off Central Avenue.

McVeigh Funeral Home's brand new facade. 
This summer, McVeigh Funeral Home completed extensive renovations to their location. "We attempted to restore as much of the original design as possible, using energy efficient, green products when possible," says David Parente, Director of McVeigh Funeral Home. The renovations include a pillared porch, seating area, pergola, and extensive landscaping, as well as new signage. The family also replaced the building's roofs, windows, lighting, and outdoor security systems and fire alarms. The 150-year old business is located in a former home that has been expanded several times to accomodate the thriving family business. The business originally moved to the neighborhood in the 1930s, and since then, it has become a destination for many Albany families. "Our funeral home has expanded its reach beyond just North Allen Street, and has evolved to the status of a 'destination' funeral home. We serve many, many Albany families; but we clearly have become a place that families from all over the Capital Region seek out for trusted, thoughtful and competent funeral services," says Parente.

The Orlo School's brand new facade. 

The Orlo School also made facade improvements this summer, giving the building a coat of fresh white paint and adding new white stone to the landscaping. "We've got to keep up with the Joneses," joked Alice Caputo, owner of The Orlo. Caputo says she was inspired by some of the other improvements she saw taking place at neighboring businesses, especially McVeigh's. Last year, the school also installed solar panels on their roof, which has brought down energy costs significantly, she says. Like the other businesses in the neighborhood, the Orlo is a family business. Caputo and her husband Rick Caputo purchased the building in 1995. Today, they run the school with their children Angela, 28 and Andrew, 23.

Pepper Jack's adds patio to the front of the building. 
A few doors down from the beauty school, the ever-popular Pepper Jack's continues to make a name for itself, this time by adding outdoor seating. The restaurant completed its renovations earlier in the summer, adding a patio with seating for outdoor dining, expanding the kitchen, and refurbishing the parking lot at the rear of the building. "We are so excited," says Rebecca Goldschmidt, Manager. "I think it's going to be a great addition to the neighborhood."

Since moving to their present location in 2010, the restaurant has become a popular spot for neighborhood residents, college students, and anyone looking for good burgers, wraps, salads and sandwiches.

Caffe Italia adds awning to its Central Avenue restaurant.
Caffe Italia Ristorante, located just around the corner on Central Avenue, is also trying to add outdoor seating. The restaurant just completed a large awning installation that stretches across the front of the building and hopes to add tables for their dinner service when the weather improves. Bobby T's Sports Grill has also spiffed up its exterior, adding new siding to the well-known sports tavern.

Parente says seeing other neighboring businesses make investments in their buildings only validates his family's committment to the area. "We love being located on North Allen Street, with its diversity of merchants. We have restaurants, schools, hair salons, owner occupied and rental housing stock on North Allen, and it has the feel of a 'City within a City' in so many ways," says Parente. "We also felt comfortable with our investment knowing the wonderful leadership Mayor Jennings exhibited and now Mayor Sheehan." Parente pointed to the number of wonderful things happening in the city, including the development of the water front and Kiernan Plaza, adding that all of these investments made it very easy to go forward with the project and reinvest in the City of Albany.