By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
HUDSON – An idea that’s been under consideration for about two years among businesses and musicians has come to fruition. The Hudson Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) is sponsoring free Saturday Sidewalk Jams.
Live music is scheduled outdoors on Saturdays through Sept. 4. Weather permitting, a musical act performs at a location from 4 to 6 p.m. Another act entertains at a different venue from 6 to 8 p.m. Each week’s downtown locations are on Main, Washington or South streets.
“We’re not trying to create a concert environment; we’re trying to create a welcoming vibe to attract more people to come downtown,” said BID Administrator Richard Braga.
BID forms music committee
Organizing the jams are the BID’s newly-formed music committee members: Stu Ervin, Jen Guthrie and Bill Phaneuf.
“They all reached out to the BID in some way about doing street music,” Braga noted.
Discussions began between Braga and multi-instrumentalist Stu Ervin in 2019. Long before Saturday Sidewalk Jams started, Ervin learned firsthand that street music is appreciated in downtown Hudson.
“On his own, Stu played downtown on his electric piano with a battery backup,” Braga relayed. “He had a tips container and donated money that he raised to the Hudson Community Food Pantry.”
Braga first communicated with Jen Guthrie when she suggested via Facebook that musicians and businesses collaborate for a potential Hudson PorchFest. Guthrie had experienced such music festivals in other communities.
Bill Phaneuf, meanwhile, received the BID’s 2020 grant, which was offered specifically for an arts-related business. He opened Guitars & Grooves downtown in January 2021.
“The grant pays half the rent up to $500 a month for 12 months, or $6,000 a year,” Braga explained.
“It’s a great plan to support the type of business that the BID wants to make downtown culturally vibrant,” Phaneuf added.
Upon signing his lease, Phaneuf let the BID know that he wants to help create a downtown music scene.
Events progress on schedule
The music committee scheduled Saturday Sidewalk Jams’ entire inaugural season.
“In about three weeks, we filled all the slots for the whole summer,” Phaneuf noted.
Musical acts range from soloists to five-piece bands, playing styles such as country swing, acoustic folk and jazz.
Among the scheduled musicians are music committee members.
“Stu Ervin is an incredibly gifted musician,” Phaneuf raved. “He’ll perform a few of the Saturdays.”
Phaneuf is also slated to perform.
Avidia bank drive-thru to host jams
One of several jam venues is the drive-thru at Avidia Bank’s Main Street location.
The BID recently supported replacing a decorated piano that had been stationed at the drive-thru since 2016 and became unrepairable.
Ervin suggested the replacement to the BID. Commercial property owners Charles and Lisa Randall donated a piano that was stored in their Odd Fellows Building at the rotary. Art teacher Tracy Wesinger’s students decorated the piano with artwork. Arthur Redding, owner of Hudson Appliance & Mattresses, arranged for a crew to move it to Avidia’s drive-thru.
“Avidia is always a willing partner for anything that helps the community,” Braga proclaimed.
BID visions business boost from performances
Once again, musicians of any skill level can play a tuned piano downtown anytime. On Saturdays, the BID invites strollers to enjoy experienced musicians.
“Our vision is that people will hear some songs, then walk around and see everything that downtown has to offer,” Braga said.
Find schedule updates for Saturday Sidewalk Jams at facebook.com/DiscoverHudson.