DELMAR — Don’t call Bethlehem a bedroom community. Residents hate that.
The town just south of Albany is more than just a place to sleep. It has quietly developed the semblance of a nightlight where Delaware and Kenwood avenues converge at its Four Corners. Some have started calling it a music scene, and it even has Town Hall embracing that image.
Delmar is a micro music scene where Ominous Seapods and Get Up Jack have been known to walk the sidewalks. It’s not quite Caroline and Putnam streets in Saratoga Springs, but live music has reverberated through many summer nights from under the town clock. From a few doors down Kenwood, the Twisted Vine has hosted musicians. Down Delaware and around the corner, the Real McCoy has amplified music playing from its parking lot. And further down the road, people have grown accustomed to the occasional craic at O’Slattery’s Irish Restaurant & Pub.
Nonetheless, Bethlehem had yet to welcome live music on the same scale as neighboring communities. Where Albany and Troy have continued to provide free weekly concerts each summer, surrounding towns and villages have followed suit, from Lansingburgh to Scotia.
In January, the Town approved the purchase of a $150,000 mobile stage for its Parks and Recreation Department. It was bought by means of a state grant, an agreement it committed to in 2019 to enhance the town’s parks, including the Henry Hudson and Elm Avenue parks. The pandemic, however, prevented the town from making any purchases just recently.
It was difficult to distinguish Jason Gallo from any of the town residents enjoying the July 4 weekend at the Elm Avenue Park pavilion. His face was covered by a burgeoning beard and sunglasses hiding underneath the brim of a baseball cap. He was engaged in light conversation as the stage unfolded before them, preparing for a mid-afternoon show featuring Raisinhead. Before moving to town and taking the job as parks and recreation administrator, he said he enjoyed attending similar shows from outside of Peekskill, where the community would host concerts. Flanked to the right of the stage was a gathering of food trucks, another idea of his.
“Food trucks in parks is something that has actually come up in discussion with [the Town Board] in the last couple of years,” he said. Bethlehem decided to shutter its public pools last year as it waited out the pandemic. While doing so, the contractor it long had for food service retired, and no one else showed interest. In March, he pitched food trucks. “We think we can really do an excellent job and still provide those food service benefits, and still offer an overall enhancement to the park by allowing food trucks.”
The holiday show offered a glimpse of the town’s potential as an honest site for live music shows, not unlike Troy’s Rockin’ on the River. In the recent past, that concert series limited featured acts to local and regional acts. Nights featuring Skeeter Creek or Almost Queen, however, have still been known to bring in crowds by the hundreds — which its expansive greenspace could accommodate.
The town closes out its four-show summer concert series with Belle-Skinner on Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 6:30 p.m.