North Albany Rising
News trickled through local online media this week of two new ventures by Chris Pratt and Alessio Depoli, owners of the Barrel Saloon and the Pearl Street Pub. The first will be a restaurant-lounge at 55 North Pearl Street called The Capital: American Eatery and Lounge. The space that was formerly R Bar and Envy Lounge will be reimagined as a tapas-style place catering to young professionals and will also offer live music. Interestingly, the two were careful to note, in Steve Barnes’ initial blog post, that the venue will not host DJs or “be a nightclub,” seemingly to circumvent the trouble Albany music clubs have lately had clearing “nightclub-style” performances under the city’s concert regulations. They’re hoping to open their doors by May.
More compelling, though, is the duo’s plan to repurpose a warehouse at 28 Thatcher St., across from the Barrel Saloon, into a full-scale concert venue specializing in country, rock and bluegrass. Their letter of intent to the Board of Zoning Appeals describes the building as 9,500 square feet and capable of handling between 800 and 900 attendees. This would make the venue a solid midsize stop for rising national acts and, fittingly, Pratt says he’s using the Upstate Concert Hall as a model (along with the significantly smaller Club Helsinki). If the plan goes through, this would be a huge boost to the rising Warehouse District of North Albany. The board will address the plan on Wednesday (March 13).
Central to the nightlife in downtown Albany is DeeJay Element, who spins every weekend at the Pearl Street Pub. A month ago, I wrote about Element (nèe Joe Montana) on the eve of his appearance at the final round of McDonalds’ Flavor Battle DJ competition in Miami. He’d survived three rounds of online balloting to face off against the two other finalists for a $10,000 prize. Ultimately, judges Spinderella, Just Blaze and DJ Clue crowned Element the victor, to which Element commented, “This competiton has been an amazing journey, from advancing in three online rounds to being hand-picked by some of the most well-known DJs in the industry.” Congrats!
The Albany Blues
Following last year’s innaugural event, the Downtown Albany Blues Music Contest is back offering the winner an opening set at this summer’s Alive at Five as well as the Business Improvement District’s Downtown Albany Fall Car Show. Local and regional blues performers are encouraged to apply through the form at downtownalbany.org by 3 PM on March 25. The chosen bands will perform at one of a number of downtown venues, be paid a $200 stipend, and be evaluated by both a judge and audience ballots. The competiton will run from 5 to 9 PM on May 3.