The local, live-music scene is thriving
Drew Bordeaux rockin’ the house at Winston in Mt. Kisco, with a rendition of “All Along the Watchtower,” using voice, guitar, and a looper to make a special connection with the crowd.
Photos by Rana Faure
You probably already know that Caramoor, located right down the street from our famous neighbors, Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart, hosts top-notch classical, jazz, and American roots concert performances. And if you’re into seeing blast-from-the-past rock n’ rollers, you’re likely aware of the lineups across the state border at the Ridgefield Playhouse, up north at Daryl’s House in Pawling, and down-county at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester.
But, the real hot buzz is that there is now a thriving, week-in-week-out, no cover, quality, live-music scene right here in the Bedford Magazine zone. Most notably, Pound Ridge restaurant Northstar has been hosting performers every Thursday night (and some Sunday nights) for the last 12 years, while Mt. Kisco eatery Winston serves up a musical offering every Wednesday evening, moving to their roof-top deck during summertime.
Neither place makes any money off of providing this entertainment for the patrons, and they have to foot the bill for the talent. But Northstar’s owner and host David Schlack says, “I like seeing people enjoying themselves, and I get a kick out of making everyone comfortable.” He adds he has “zero music history and got kicked out of band in ninth grade,” but he’s developed a steady flow of regular and fresh talent that will pretty much knock your socks off—especially given the intimate environment and no-charge admit. Jimmy
Branagan, manager at Winston, feels that “along with great food, drinks, space, and service, the music adds a part of the mix that makes a restaurant special.” He looks for diversity of music, seeks to constantly refresh the performers, and would like to hear from neighborhood talent who want to come and play. As for the local musician he would most like to enroll, he says, half-jokingly, “No question, Bill Clinton.”
Regulars at Northstar include: Andy Aledort and his band The Groove Kings (Aledort is a driving blues/rock guitarist who has played with the likes of Johnny Winter and B.B. King and who can make you think you’re in the room with the Allman Brothers or Jimi Hendrix.); the Hal Prince Band (a full-blown event band led by guitarist and vocalist Jay Prince that can play any cover and often brings big-name musicians for the gig. For example, Bernie Williams—yes, that Bernie Williams—and a kickin’ saxophonist sat in with them for a night of jazz/rock fusion recently); Elliot Lewis (a guitarist, singer, and songwriter who has played with the Average White Band); Otis and The Hurricanes (who belt out a swampy New Orleans-style mix of soul, rock, and funk); John Praino (solo acoustic and a favorite of 40-something mellow-music crowds; think Cat Stevens and Jack Johnson); and Lawless (a group of locals fronted by Becki Fleischer, wife of Fox News contributor Ari).
Like many of the featured musicians, bass player Pete Chema feels “performing is a necessary element of being fulfilled, that something is missing without it, and that playing mellows you out like a good night of yoga.” Chema graduated from Fox Lane in ’03, went to Yale and then St. Johns Law School thinking he would be a music publisher. His daytime gig is now as general counsel of a securities broker-dealer but together with guitarist/vocalist Alex Fonarow (Fox Lane ’04, who works as an auctioneer), they are now known as Ten Car Pileup and play covers ranging from the Beatles to Van Morrison. And, you can’t miss Dennis Collins (a professional vocalist who has performed with Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack, among others) if you want a really romantic Sunday-night dinner.
At Winston, you’re likely to catch Gary Smulyan (who has played baritone saxophone with such giants as Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, and Chick Corea), Pete Malinverni (head of the Jazz Department at SUNY Purchase), and Emily Angell (a 30-something country/rocker combination of Jewel, Tracy Chapman, and Alanis Morrissette, who sings, plays a mean harmonica, and added the guitar when she was headlining a gig at the Bitter End a decade ago and the guitarist failed to show). Angell (photo on left) lives locally and has a gift for making every cover sound like her own original piece.
One standout artist, Andrew Bordeaux, entertains frequently at both Northstar and Winston. He grew up in Mt. Kisco, was an All-State violinist at Fox Lane, majored in English at Harvard, had a successful career in digital media, and is now determined to pursue music full-time. He plays over 100 gigs a year all over the area, including private events and recent performances in front of large crowds at the Paramount on Long Island and at Rockwood in Manhattan, and is trying to figure out how to find fame in the music industry. He sings, plays guitar, and sometimes brings out his new, purple electric fiddle, performs originals and all varieties of soft-rock and pop covers, and achieves a special connection with the audience. Bordeaux says he’s “a better and happier person when getting to entertain” and particularly enjoys playing locally because he can see old friends and make some new ones, too. But you better catch him at Northstar or Winston before Clive Davis (who dines at Northstar) or some other star-maker discovers him and you have to pay a bundle to see him in concert.