Valentine’s Is On the Chopping Block…

Video by Patrick Dodson of Albany Proper

It wasn’t a surprise. We all knew it was coming…

But with this week’s unveiling of Albany Medical Center’s Park South redevelopment plan, it’s suddenly a cold, hard fact. Call it urban renewal. Call it gentrification. Or call it a shame. Now it’s simply a matter of time before Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany will be shuttering its doors for the last time.

You can read about the $110 million AMC expansion plan, at any number of places – try All Over Albany, for instance – but what it all boils down to is this – Valentine’s Music Hall and the block of New Scotland Avenue where it sits will be torn down to make way for new residential and retail buildings.

No one, however, seems to know when all of this is scheduled to happen, including Valentine’s Chairman of the Bar Howe Glassman, as you can see in the above video…

In the meantime, we suggest that you drop by and patronize Valentine’s while it’s still there. Go see a band. Sit at the bar, grab a cold beverage and rumble through memories of Jeff Buckley, Shonen Knife, Alejandro Escovedo, Warren Zevon, Derek Trucks, Leon Russell, Graham Parker & the Figgs, the Blasters, Rufus Wainwright or whoever were your fave performers to grace the stage, upstairs or down. Or simply make some new memories…

Enjoy it while you can. It’s just a matter of time before it’s gone.

  1. Jeff Burger says

    Thanks for everything you have done for this region Howe!!!!!!

  2. Stanley Johnson says

    I remember a remarkable NRBQ show, date forgotten, with Tommy on drums, that was almost too much fun. Also a show, maybe in 1997, which was the last known area live performance of Happy Rhodes (in a group titled Project Lo.)

  3. Fred says

    For genuine fans of live music, Valentine’s has been an oasis in the desert known as Albany. Sadly, the desertification–not “urban renewal” or “gentrification”–is about to sprawl beyond our sense of reason. At Valentine’s, we not only got to see the greatest bands up close but even meet our heroes, too. I can’t thank Howard Glassman, a true friend and hero for all these years, enough for booking live music of all genres at its finest and even rocking out with his own bands, Coal Palace Kings and Grainbelt.

    What are some of the best shows I’ve attended at Valentine’s? Coal Palace Kings and Grainbelt, of course; Asylum Street Spankers (a revelation each and every time); Hamell on Trial (every show made you feel wiser, freer, and more enlightened); Link Wray (the pioneer of all that is loud and cool–his amps were set at 12, I swear, and they were facing away from the audience!); Rocky Velvet (shuckin’ the corn!); The Supersuckers (scary mix of country and punk; perfect drinking music); Rosie Flores (the rockabilly filly); Heather Myles (Buck Owens would’ve been proud); Catbirds (the best psychedelic garage music); Chandler Travis Philharmonic (indescribable); Super 400 (is there a better rock trio on the planet?); The Blasters (American Music at its finest); Jason Ringenberg (I’ll never forget him exploring the “No Pepper!” space of the downstairs stage area, guitar strummed); Jim Lauderdale (he told me at Green River Festival last week how much he had enjoyed playing Valentine’s); Slaid Cleaves (when he played “Broke Down”, everybody at the bar just stopped talking); The Spampinato Brothers (pure rock bliss); Michael Eck (the Raymond Carver of songwriters); Alejandro Escovedo (in ’95, the power went out, so Escovedo and his band played an acoustic second set in the old poolroom, the crowd seated at the feet of the musicians); Los Straitjackets w/The Pontani Sisters (Mexican mask-wearing quartet playing surf music with foxy brunette go-go dancers–audio and visual genius!); Charlie Louvin (he influenced everybody from the Everly Brothers to Neko Case); Rob Skane (The Capital District’s Nick Lowe); The Knyghts of Fuzz (homegrown garage rock for the 21st century); Martha Wainwright (she was beguiling, even at the beginning); Carolyn Mark (a remarkable singer-songwriter-drinker-raconteur from way, way up in Canada); Tommy Womack (the founder of Government Cheese!), Corey Harris (he connected the blues dots from Louisiana to West Africa); Visqueen (Rachel Flotard and company, all the way from Seattle, rocked out in a way that would have made Jimi Hendrix proud); The Jon Rauhouse Sestet (Flotard singing over impeccable steel guitar by Rauhouse); Gurf Morlix (dark, funny stories and an amplified foot tapping to a hypnotic guitar), The Lustre Kings (our hometown rockabilly kings), The Figgs (a catalog of cool songs and a fervent following); Sleepy LaBeef (the towering human jukebox of all that is great about American music, downed a few slices and two liters of Pepsi before the show); Scotty Mac and the Rockin’ Bonnevilles (the best blues combo in the area); Slick Fitty (first they played Valentine’s, then they charted in Germany!); Blotto (yes, they did play something good); Shannon McNally and Hot Sauce (I fell in love with her, and then her music); Dash Rip Rock (who can forget the legendary upstairs show years ago–a bacchanalian blur for anyone who was there)….I know I may have left out somebody. (And don’t forget all the fundraisers and charitable nights that have helped out so many). These were happy hours indeed.

    Raise a frosty bottle of PBR to the memories that no wrecking ball or zoning board can destroy. Raise another glass to The Man himself, Howard, and keep the love of Valentine’s in your heart.

  4. Kevin says

    Valentine’s literally introduced me to good rock ‘n roll. I never knew these bands and the incredible music they produce existed before I was introduced to Valentine’s. I will be forever amazed at how these bands didn’t “make it”, yet the garbage currently on the radio or even most of the commercial stuff from back in the day did make it. However, these musicians have “made it” in their own way. I have the utmost respect for these bands who keep grinding out the good music with no real monetary reward, yet a lot of hard work, long nights on the road, etc. Thanks, Howard. And if you do move the bar, no matter where you go, we will follow.

    I also have to comment on what a complete scam and bunch of BS this whole AMC project is. It is nothing more than a thinly veiled land grab by AMC to secure the area surrounding the hospital to “protect” their investment and property from the “undesirable” element of the New Scotland Ave neighborhood. The most amazing thing is that many of the people living in that neighborhood are AMC employees. I love how AMC states that they will assist them in transitioning out of the neighborhood, but makes no mention of these people returning to the neighborhood once it is complete. That is because they won’t be able to afford to live in that neighborhood and AMC doesn’t want them back. So, the very “threat” AMC is trying to eliminate is their own employees. What does that say about AMC as an employer?

    And shame on AMC and the City of Albany (especially Mayor Jennings) in that rather address the core issues that create impoverished neighborhoods like proper education, job opportunities and community, they choose to just price people out of the neighborhood. Cowards!

    Finally, can someone explain to me what a medical center is doing in the residential development business? And where their $55 million investment is coming from – profits they have made from inflated health care rates? No wonder health care costs are so high. And where is the state Health Department that is supposed to be regulating hospitals, health care rates, etc. I do not want to hear AMC cry poverty EVER again.

  5. Kirsten says

    I’m not super sad about Valentine’s closing knowing Howard has a new place in the works. Valentine’s was just a vehicle — an extension of what he started when he was booking with Bogie’s. I don’t think Valentine’s was ever fully his place, with him not owning the building and being limited by that. So I’m way more interested in seeing what Howard will do next. With his own blank slate, or somewhat blank slate, I think what he comes up with next will be way better. I would only be sad if Hojo said, ‘F this, I’m retiring from the live music biz.’ And that’s not what he said at all. Viva HG!

  6. Fred says

    Good point, Kirsten. I hope Valentine’s stays open, though, long enough for the return of Hamell on Trial. That’s the show to get everybody to come out to, because I can only imagine what Ed will have to say as soon as he steps to the microphone!

  7. John Brierley says

    I played there countless times with three different bands over the years and always had fun. It’s what a music club should be. A place where you could enjoy great music with likeminded people. Will be missed….

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