The Drake: Finally a Home for Live Music in Downtown Amherst
The Drake Might Even Give Northamptonites a Reason to Cross the River
I was thrilled when I found out that Amherst’s new music hall was now open–and happy to join my friend Jack and take in one of their first shows, a marvelous jazz performance by Regina Carter that showed off The Drake’s jazz club with tables set up.
The venue is flexible with several different layouts, such as when Dinosaur Jr opened, there were no chairs just standing to fit a dancing crowd.
Cassandra Holden and Kyle Homstead of Laudable Productions have joined in to help program The Drake, they have gotten very good at finding interesting and unique artists like Regina to fill their own venue, the Bombyx in Florence, and many other larger halls.
Working with talent buyer Edo Mor, they have a great track record, and it was fun to read their recent email trumpeting music on BOTH SIDES OF THE RIVER!
That is one thing I have known for years. Most of the people who live in Northampton rarely cross over the Connecticut River to see arts events over in Amherst–and the same is true for many Amherstites, who don’t wanna go over to ‘Hamp for cultural events either.
It used to be though, that Amherst people had to cross to see art films at the Pleasant Street Cinema as there was no theater like this in Amherst. Then years later, the tides turned with the Amherst Cinema replacing Pleasant Street with a great line-up of interesting films over on this side. But the music, that remained in the Noho realm, with the Iron Horse, Pearl Street, and the Academy of Music dominating the live scene. But not anymore.
The Drake has everything you want in a venue—great sightlines with no annoying pillars, a full bar with a decent selection, (though I think they really need to increase the number of craft brews and bring in some Amherst brewed beers), and it doesn’t feel crowded even though it’s not a huge room.
Parking could be a challenge, but it’s not hard finding a space on South Prospect Street between Main and Rte 9. Remember though, in Amherst they actually write parking tickets all the way up to 8 pm!
Upcoming shows include Loudon Wainwright III on April 30, Northampton Jazz Workshop on May 3, and even an open mike on May 10. I’m sure there will be many more interesting and tempting acts in the months to come. Now they just have to put a big “The Drake” sign right up on stage behind the musicians so all of the photos will proclaim their new identity!