The end is nigh. Valentine’s, the longtime Albany music venue and home to many a metal, moe. and Dr. Jah show, will soon close its doors as the Albany Medical Center expansion clears out the Park South neighborhood, taking with it many memories and a location that was tough to beat, both for up and coming bands and established acts over the past 20 years.
Nothing will replace Valentine’s, but owner Howard Glassman isn’t throwing in the towel. Sometime in the new few months, Valentine’s will relocate to 335 Central Avenue, most recently occupied by Cagney’s, right next door to Pauly’s Hotel and across Quail Avenue from The Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio. While the name is still up in the air, Glassman says that after coming up with a name for the new venue, a search of a name revealed a bar in Albany years ago that already had that name, but shares, “We’ll come up with something. It’s 50/50-60/40 that it’s going to be Valentine’s. It’s of a time and a place, I don’t think you can take this here and call it Valentine’s but, you never know. Maybe we’ll open a bigger place and call it Valentine’s.”
The new venue has about the same width as the current Valentine’s location, but with an Adirondack feel to the room as all the wood interior and surfaces give a North Country cabin feel that fits right in for Capital District live music fans; the bar will look and feel great. The stage will be located in the back of the venue, stretching the width of the room and have installed LED lights and a soundboard built into the end of the bar. While there is a lot of history at this new location (who in Albany didn’t go to Cagney’s when they were in high school/college?) and while some of this history will come from Valentine’s (The PA, Hank Williams and Muhammad Ali are coming along, per Glassman) the rest of the decor will start from scratch. Glassman adds “We’ll probably have some sort of garage sale for some stuff. People have already asked if they can have certain things. Someone already asked for the ‘No Pepper’ sign.” Fans can expect similar capacity and amenities akin to the current Valentine’s, but a big highlight to the new venue is a great amount of free parking on Central, Quail and in The Linda parking lot, which is free after 6pm – a big improvement on the crowded New Scotland/Park South area streets, which fans will quickly appreciate.
The last couple months at Valentine’s is shaping up to send the venue out with a bang. Many bands are planning to perform, including Subduing Mara, who according to Glassman have been “Putting the feelers out for getting together and coming to play. Can’t Say is doing a gig (December 27th) and The Disenchanted are back together (December 28th). Greg (Bell, of Guthrie/Bell Productions) has Wreckloose, they’re doing a night and the next night he’s got (Peter Prince and) Moonboot Lover and Dr. Jah (and the Love Prophets) and I think he’s putting one more on that bill.” These final shows are expected to be announced for mid-late December and will confirm as soon as the dates are firm.
Yet there was only a brief moment when Glassman was not considering to open another Valentine’s. “There was a small, small window of a day or two when my wife was like ‘Well now you gotta go get a job’, and I am uniquely unqualified for anything, so I had to go find the place.” The search had been ongoing since December 2012, but “Push came to shove and it was like, ‘Let’s do this’. The staff’s all on board, everybody’s ready to pick up and come on over here.” But the reality of the new venue and what is being left behind is not lost on Glassman. Not by a longshot. Howard’s views on the history of Valentine’s and his vision for the new location, whatever its name, are reassuring and inspiring to current Valentine’s patrons:
“It’s gonna be a little different, only because it’s going to be our bar. It’s going to be our building. We can do whatever we want and not have to worry about getting kicked out. This is what I do, so this will be around as long as I’m around. I think people need to feel like they have their place. Think about all the bars that have closed. CBGB’s, Maxwell’s, think about when the Palais Royale was still open. It’s not the same (as Valentine’s) but it’s not the same for different reasons. But once we open up, hopefully the first Wednesday when The Deadbeats play, and people come in and they’re like “Ah there’s Grumpy and there’s Chris’, and they settle in, and I think when their ass makes an indentation in the seat, they’ll be cool and say ‘Alright. This is where we’re gonna hang for the next 20 years.’ I think it’s the vibe. It’s totally a vibe thing.”
Update: This article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Wreckloose