Sad news for the local music scene, with word that the Towne Crier Café will be shutting down at the end of February after 40 years as a premier venue for top-rate music.
Towne Crier owner Phil Ciganer broke the news in an open letter to patrons on the Crier’s home page. For those of you that know the place, this is truly bad news – although Ciganer does leave the open the possibility of a new location.
But at a time when the northern ‘burbs are lacking quality venues, this is a big blow.
In his message to customers Ciganer says business isn’t an issue – he’s got a few sold-out shows in store before closing the doors. But with an expiring lease and the building for sale, it looks like he’ll need to pack up.
He got into the business in the late ‘60s, giving up a successful job as a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange to explore other avenues. He found himself in Brooklyn and later moved the business upstate, setting up the Towne Crier at the site of a former general store and stagecoach stop – first in Beekman and, 23 years ago, on Route 22 in Pawling.
Over the years the Crier featured an impressive lineup of folk, blueglass, blues and jazz artists, with acts like Pete Seeger, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Pat Metheny. David Byrne and Richard Thompson once showed up to jam, as did members of David Letterman’s band. My first time there was many years ago, when I got hooked after an amazing New Year’s Eve show headlined by Johnny “Clyde” Copeland.
So, hopefully Ciganer will re-open. If the current roster of sold-out shows is any indication, he should take the crowds with him wherever he goes. Good luck, Phil.
Here’s his open letter to patrons:
After 23 years on Route 22 in Pawling, we are closing our doors after the end of February. Our lease expired and the building is on the market. Despite a string of recent sellouts, it’s time for us to move forward.
The good news: We’re exploring the possibility of relocating to a new and better location, and we hope to make an announcement in the near future.
Until the end of February, we’ll continue to operate as we always have. We have some great shows scheduled, plus open mics every Wednesday and Thursday. After that, until we’re in our new location, we hope to present concerts at a variety of other venues, celebrating 40 years of The Towne Crier Cafe in the Hudson Valley.
What I want to express most, though, is my enormous gratitude to all of you for your ongoing support over the years, and for having made the Towne Crier the cultural landmark it has become. Many careers have been launched here. Bands have formed here. Couples have met here, married and had children—and grandchildren. Some of you have been regulars since we opened in 1972, and I think of you as family.
Again, I want to stress that this is not the end. The Towne Crier has relocated twice before in its 40-year history. I look forward to welcoming you to a new and better Towne Crier location soon.
I wish you all the best for the New Year. We’ll be here—operating as usual—until the end of February, so please check out our calendar and drop by for a show, a meal and our famous desserts!
With heartfelt thanks,
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