What was once an 1800s Dutch chapel has been restored into a modern venue for hosting artistic and cultural events of all kinds in the heart of the Village of Saugerties. The Local is the Hudson Valley’s newest year-round venue in Ulster County, and it’s already alive with performances thanks to Hudson Valley Live, whose co-founders Danny Melnick and Isabel Soffer recently opened the space to curate a community.
Melnick and Soffer are both Saugerties-based music producers and performing arts professionals with over 30 years of experience producing festivals, concerts, and art events. Melnick is widely celebrated in the jazz world for producing festivals like the Newport Jazz Festival and the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, in addition to concerts and tours worldwide. Soffer has been at the forefront of cultural programming and arts advocacy in the United States for three decades, producing numerous Grammy-nominated recordings, tours, and festivals, and co-founding globalFEST, in addition to Hudson Valley Live.
As friends and colleagues who just happened to settle in Saugerties, both Melnick and Soffer knew they wanted to create something in the Hudson Valley that would utilize their skills in the industry and help build a music scene in the area. The idea for The Local quickly fell into place as they saw an opportunity to bring people together through the arts and bring the community “The World’s Best Music. Right Here.,” as their slogan advocates.
The venue hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce on July 11 to introduce the space to fellow residents and businesses. What followed was an outpouring of community support from Saugerties and its surrounding towns, with guests from Albany to New York City attending shows, affirming that people are excited about The Local. The venue is already turning into a space curated by community engagement with donations from Senate Garage, Bridge Arts and Education, and The Dutch Ale House, and is selling out concerts in its first month of shows.
Opening night on September 20 hosted a packed house, and attendees came out to see Switzerland’s 12-piece band Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel DuChamp. The following shows were also all at capacity as people danced the night away with flamenco music from Spain, the Leonard Cohen Tribute Band by Robert Burke Warren and Friends, and West African highlife band The Wazumbians. All shows are a part of The Local’s first diverse, multi-disciplinary concert series, which seeks to bring 15 dynamic acts to Saugerties through December 17.
“We’re excited to bring world-class talent from around the world and from our own community to the stage at The Local,” says Soffer. “Having a venue in Saugerties has been a dream for Danny and me, and we see it as an incredible opportunity to bring people together through the arts, to encourage musical discovery, and to inspire visitors to spend time in Saugerties.”
Aside from a world-class series of music and dance events, the ADA accessible space is also available to rent for parties, weddings, gallery exhibits, and more. The Local has already been host to a series of wellness-oriented dance parties, music rehearsals, and several private functions like self-produced concerts and events. In the future, Melnick and Soffer hope to rent the space out for more celebrations like pop-ups, markets, and classes. Additionally, the owners also plan to start a series of conversations with experts on topics ranging from science to the humanities, all dealing with complex issues.
Melnick and Soffer believe that a healthy society has arts at its center, and they hope to inspire musical discovery and create a positive economic impact in their community with this new venue. You can catch the next show at The Local on October 19 at 7 p.m., when multi-instrumentalist and jazz composer Julius Rodriguez will put on a jazz concert in a style that mixes the genre with soul, hip-hop, and blues.
The Local resides at 16 John Street, behind the Saugerties Reformed Church on Main Street.