May 19, 2022

Charlie Doodle

Unique Art & Entertainment

Upstate NY music venue rebounds after death of its founder

4 min read

A revered Marlboro music venue and restaurant is launching a new chapter with a generational change in leadership and high-profile collaboration six months after the death of its owner. Also playing a role in The Falcon’s second act are federal COVID relief funds being used to pay musicians.

Opened in 2009 by Tony Falco, The Falcon was an outgrowth of invitation-only performances that Falco once staged inside a 19th-century Methodist church building he purchased, disassembled and put back together in the backyard of his Marlboro home.

The response to the private shows was so strong that Falco moved The Falcon to a building on Route 9W that formerly housed a button factory powered by an adjacent waterfall.

The venue developed a loyal following that rivaled those of the musicians who performed there. And that was due largely to Falco’s policy of never charging admission, but instead asking the audience to kick in some cash that went directly to the performers. That tradition continues today.

For years, The Falcon delivered high-caliber entertainment that included David Johansen of New York Dolls fame and jazz great Pat Metheny, making the Ulster County venue a must-visit destination for music lovers.

But the fate of The Falcon became unclear after Falco died in October from COVID complications. Now his son, Lee Falco, a drummer, has taken over with an eye toward expanding, while staying true to his father’s vision. The Falcon in late February launched a Sunday night jazz series, which runs through late June.

“This was my dad’s creation — he was always there and always operating in so many roles,” said Lee Falco. “I’m realizing it’s hard to put a job description together for being an owner and operator. But it’s a labor of love and I’m fortunate to have a great team.”

Helping musicians with COVID relief funding

Lee Falco (right), a drummer who took over The Falcon venue and restaurant after the death of his father, Tony Falco, is reshaping the venue’s future with the help of Danny Melnick (left), promoter of the Saratoga Jazz Festival.

Jess Brush

The Falcon shut down for several months at the beginning of the pandemic but reopened during the summer of 2020 with dining on its outdoor deck and live music. Falco said that because The Falcon has never sold tickets for live shows, New York State considered it a restaurant rather than a music venue, and it was subject to restaurant restrictions; however, that distinction also meant The Falcon was not eligible for any federal relief funding for the arts.

Help has come through other channels.

Saugerties resident Danny Melnick, producer of the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at SPAC, has re-directed $10,000 in federal COVID relief funds that his Absolutely Live Entertainment company received to musicians playing The Falcon jazz series.

Looking ahead, both Melnick and Falco hope their collaboration will give the venue momentum and strength during the pandemic.

“It’s good for the artists, it’s good for The Falcon, it’s good for the Hudson Valley,” said Melnick, who must return any federal COVID funding he doesn’t spend by June 30. “This is a unique opportunity for me to do something good for the community, to help The Falcon, to help the musicians.”

Absolutely Live Entertainment received roughly $650,000 in federal COVID relief funding as part of a nationwide program that allocated about $16 billion to small businesses affected by the pandemic.

As the uncertainty of the pandemic has raised the stakes for so many businesses, The Falcon offers one example of how the regional arts scene is bouncing back from the global health crisis.

Adding to that momentum is the unique perspective Lee Falco brings to his new role as club owner. Known throughout the region as the drummer for the band The Restless Age, Falco performed with Donald Fagen when the Steely Dan co-founder and Bard College graduate played The Falcon in August 2017. And he has also gigged with Kate Pierson of the B-52’s, the Lemonheads and Byron Isaacs of the Lumineers.

Amplifying the family affair in The Falcon’s new chapter is Lee Falco’s brother, Julian, who has been overseeing management of the property while running their late father’s water-testing business downstairs in The Falcon building.

Connie Farnham enjoys live music at The Falcon so much that she moved to Marlboro from New Jersey and found a new home within walking distance of her favorite venue.

“The people are great, the staff is great, the bands — you can’t beat,” Farnham said. “It’s just a great place to relax, have some food and hang.”

Part of the Falcon’s draw for customers like Farnham was Tony Falco’s accessibility. He chatted regularly with customers in between running the operation. The thousands of people who turned out to The Falcon for a two-day memorial service for Falco illustrated the enduring impact that he left on the regional arts community.

“I feel a great sense of purpose to do everything I can to keep such a great thing going,” said Lee Falco.

Hudson Valley Art, Music and Culture

Lineup subject to change; visit for updated information

April 24: Jeremy Pelt

May 1: Orrin Evans Trio

May 8: Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days

May 15: Samara Joy featuring Pasquale Grasso Trio

May 22: Sasha Dobson featuring Peter Bernstein

May 29: Richie Goods

June 5: Vocalist Allan Harris

June 12: Jean-Michel Pilc, Francois Moutin and Ari Hoenig

June 19: Kat Edmonson

June 26: The Ben Allison Quartet

Copyright © | Newsphere by AF themes.