Port Chester’s Capitol Theater, Aretha Franklin, and Other Things We Need
Rock n’ roll returns to Westchester County. The Capitol Theater in Port Chester reopened this fall as a rock and roll venue. The likes of Phil Tesh was on the stage tonight. Ray Lamontagne is there this Tuesday, 11/20/12. The Moody Blues, Steve Miller, Matisyahu, and My Morning Jacket will all be passing through in the next few weeks.
I discovered the Capitol a few years back. Way back in 2005 I was looking for a possible venues to work with. I discovered this pristine theater in Port Chester. It was old vaudeville theater, which had been restored and now used for corporate events. They had no interest in working with some small promoter involving local acts. If I recall their web site said they will not book any musical events or shows.
Jump to 2010. I had come across a clip of Humble Pie featuring Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton on YouTube. One of the comments below was that this could very likely be recorded at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester. Not only that but the guy went on to say he saw the likes of Humble Pie, Yes and Black Sabbath on the same bill at that venue! Huh?! What the F? He saw acts such as these in our humble Port Chester?
For the past twelve years Westchester has basically been dry or at least since I have been around these parts. I have not really seen any national acts pass thru. Likewise with local talent – Nada. There have been a few attempts. The Haunt in Yonkers back in 2008 and more recently the Rocker Room in New Rochelle, but basically nothing has stuck. There was none until the newly revived Capitol Theater in Port Chester, at least not to my knowledge.
So when I discovered in 2010 that bands like Yes, Humble Pie, and Sabbath and all the rest were passing through routinely in the early 70s I was amazed! What happened?
Answering that question is a long and dreary tale involving drinking ages and changing attitudes towards music among other things. Regardless it was encouraging to know that at one time Rock n Roll was welcome in Westchester. Further, to have it open and promoting the bills I mentioned above is a welcome return!
With the theme of a return of music not only do we now have shows at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, This fall, at least, we had rock and roll at the Westchester County Center. Believe it or not it seems that the Who performed Tommy at that venue way back in like 1970. Again, I have seen no reference to any type of loud music at the Westchester County Center until this fall. Now I see Aretha Franklin is there. Boston passed through. Johnny Winter, his brother Edgar Winter, Leslie West and a few other Blues Rockers passed through.
I am not sure how this all came to be but it is encouraging! Lets hope these venues continue bringing in the national and regional acts. And even with these, there is still work to be done. There still is no venue for local acts in Westchester. The best we have are a few coffee houses for the acoustic acts and signer-songwriters. There is Pete’s Saloon in Elmsford, but I have always found that on the tame side. The Haunt it is not. It is simply a different genre and audience. And then there are the venues such as the Vintage, where I booked a few acts before being thrown out, but they do at least bring in cover acts. These do serve an audience but I am looking for a place where a band can plug in and do new original material before heading down into NYC to Arlene’s or the Mercury Lounge.
This afternoon I was flipping through a local paper, the White Plains Examiner. Near the back they have “White Plains After Dark”. Basically we got football, and karaoke. At Ron Black’s, we got Bingo on Wednesday nights. Bingo? We so need a venue for all those kids and grown ups buying guitars, amps and drums over at Sam Ash on Mamaroneck Ave and Guitar Center over in Larchmont. It was sad to see Toys in the Attic disappear, but what is more needed today is a some little hole-in-the-wall bar that rockers and other misfits can make their own.