Upstate New York music venue bounces back after founder’s death

A revered Marlboro music venue and restaurant is embarking on a new chapter with a generational change in management and high-profile collaboration six months after its owner passed away. Also playing a role in the second act of The Falcon, federal COVID relief funds are being used to pay the musicians.

Opened in 2009 by Tony Falco, The Falcon was an invitation-only performance outgrowth that Falco once staged in a 19th-century Methodist church building that he purchased, dismantled, and reassembled in the backyard of his home in Marlboro.

The response to private broadcasts was so strong that Falco moved The Falcon to a building on Route 9W that once housed a button factory powered by an adjacent waterfall.

The venue developed a loyal clientele that rivaled that of the musicians who performed there. And that was largely due to Falco’s policy of never charging admission, but rather asking the public to pay money that went directly to the performers. This tradition continues today.

For years The Falcon has provided top-notch entertainment, including David Johansen of New York Dolls fame and jazz great Pat Metheny, making the Ulster County venue a must-visit destination for music lovers.

But The Falcon’s fate became uncertain after Falco died in October of complications from COVID. Now his son, Lee Falco, a drummer, has taken over with an eye on expansion, while staying true to his father’s vision. The Falcon launched a Sunday night jazz series at the end of February, which runs until the end of June.

“It was my father’s creation – he was always there and always played in so many roles,” said Lee Falco. “I realize that it is difficult to write a job description to be an owner and operator. But it’s a labor of love and I’m lucky to have a great team.

Helping Musicians with COVID Relief Funding

Lee Falco (right), a drummer who took over The Falcon venue and restaurant after the death of his father, Tony Falco, is reshaping the venue’s future with help from Danny Melnick (left), promoter of the Saratoga Jazz Festival.

Jess Brush

The Falcon closed for several months at the start of the pandemic but reopened in the summer of 2020 with dining on its outdoor terrace and live music. Falco said that because The Falcon never sold tickets to live shows, New York State considered it a restaurant rather than a music venue, and it was subject to restrictions of restoration; however, this distinction also meant that The Falcon was not eligible for any federal arts relief funding.

Help came through other channels.

Saugerties resident Danny Melnick, producer of Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at SPAC, has redirected $10,000 in federal COVID relief funds his company Absolutely Live Entertainment received to musicians playing The Falcon jazz series.

Looking ahead, Melnick and Falco hope their collaboration will give the venue momentum and strength during the pandemic.

“It’s good for artists, it’s good for The Falcon, it’s good for the Hudson Valley,” said Melnick, who must return any federal COVID funding he didn’t spend. here on June 30. “This is a unique opportunity for me to do something good for the community, to help The Falcon, to help musicians.

Absolutely Live Entertainment has received approximately $650,000 in federal COVID relief funds through a nationwide program that has allocated approximately $16 billion to small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

While the uncertainty of the pandemic has raised the stakes for so many businesses, The Falcon offers an example of how the regional art scene is recovering from the global health crisis.

The unique perspective Lee Falco brings to his new role as club owner adds to that momentum. Known throughout the region as the drummer of The Restless Age, Falco played with Donald Fagen when the Steely Dan co-founder and Bard College graduate played The Falcon in August 2017. And he also played with Kate Pierson of the B-52. , the Lemonheads and Byron Isaacs of the Lumineers.

Amplifying the family business in the new chapter of The Falcon.

Connie Farnham loves live music at the Falcon so much that she moved to Marlboro from New Jersey and found a new home within walking distance of her favorite venue.

“The people are great, the staff are great, the bands – you can’t beat it,” Farnham said. “It’s just a great place to relax, eat and hang out.”

Part of the Falcon’s appeal to customers like Farnham was Tony Falco’s accessibility. He regularly chatted with clients between operations. The thousands of people who came to the Falcon for a two-day memorial service for Falco illustrated the lasting impact he left on the regional arts community.

“I feel a great sense of purpose doing whatever I can to maintain such a great thing,” Lee Falco said.

Hudson Valley Art, Music and Culture

To visit for information

April 24: Jeremy Pelt

May 1: Trio Orrin-Evans

May 8: Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days

May 15: Samara Joy with Pasquale Grasso Trio

May 22: Sasha Dobson with Peter Bernstein

May 29: Rich goods

June 5: Olatuja: A Reunion with Michael and Alicia Olatuja

June 12: Jean-Michel Pilc, Francois Moutin and Ari Hoenig

June 19: Kat Edmonson

June 26: The Ben Allison Quartet

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