Saturday night, a friend and I drove up 787 to check out a guitar player he admires. It was a miserable night, but I was excited to see a live performance and I had never been to this particular venue before. You know me, always up for a new experience.
I don’t remember the last time I went to Cohoes, but I imagine it has to have been at least 5 or 6 years ago. The area surrounding the music hall is one that I am not familiar with, but it seems to have experienced numerous up and down cycles. Typical for a small city, I imagine. We struggled a little bit to find a parking space, but were able to park a couple of short blocks away and fortunately the rain had temporarily relented.
From the exterior, the Cohoes Music Hall doesn’t tip its hand in any way to reveal that it is a performance venue. Even after stepping inside, there was no indication of where to go to access our seats. The stairs up were our only option, so we took them eventually arriving in a lobby of sorts. There was a coatroom, bathrooms and a concession stand, but it was all kind of oddly situated. I’m all about vintage theaters, but this one just felt a little awkward and not particularly aesthetically pleasing.
We made our way, with the assistance of an usher, to our seats. The lights were still up and we were directed to “our bar” where there were quality options at premium prices. We passed on drinks and settled into our comfortable seats and I began to look around.
It is definitely a cool venue with decorative ceilings, curved banquet seating and an old fashioned charm, but…
There was a distinct air of neglect to the space with the ceiling art faded and the velveteen upholstery shiny with wear. The state of the room made it feel and look like the step-sister of Albany’s Palace or Schenectady’s Proctor’s. It made me wonder who the theater had originally been constructed to serve and what had happened to those people. Would they ever have been able to imagine the run down condition of what once must have been an elegant performance room?
Eric Johnson was well worth seeing (he plays that guitar with his entire hand), but I left Cohoes wishing we, as a community, could better support this venue. I didn’t expect to get the blues more from the venue than from the actual performance.