The Upstate Beat: Revisit the glory of music joint Valentine’s this week at No Fun

The former Valentine's storefront, door open.

Entrance to the former Valentine's on New Scotland Avenue in Albany. (Courtesy Patrick Dodson)

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Valentine’s Music Hall and Beer Joint, the much-loved Albany bar and live music venue on New Scotland Avenue, closed its doors for good at the end of 2013, because Albany Medical Center planned to raze the building to make way for new development.

The club meant many things to many people. I saw some of my favorites shows of all time there. Guided by Voices with Spoon opening on the upstairs stage in 2001. Former Minuteman Mike Watt’s multiple appearances. The Supersuckers. Ted Leo. The Blasters. Shonen Knife.

Even on nights when the crowds were sparse, you might see something magical. Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3 in 2001 as they ripped through the entirety of the Dream Syndicate’s “The Days of Wine and Roses,” for instance (a classic by Wynn’s early band).

But you could ask any local music fan, and they would come up with an entirely different list. “Can you believe we saw the Buzzcocks at Valentine’s?” a fellow music fan said just the other day, marveling at how the legendary British punk rock band played in Albany, and we were there.

For countless local bands, Valentine’s was a place to rally friends and play the downstairs space or possibly land a prime slot opening up for a national artist upstairs.

All of these great musical experiences were thanks to Valentine’s owner Howard Glassman, a Schenectady native, who operated the club with a positive perspective. “Good music, good attitude, no fights, no problems,” said Glassman in a video that aired online in Dec. 2013 while Albany Medical Center closed in on the property.

Glassman opened the smaller Low Beat music venue on Central Ave. in 2014, where he owned the building and thus had more control over its fate.
Although the Low Beat closed in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Glassman now runs Nighthawks restaurant (461 Broadway, Troy), area music fans and musicians haven’t forgotten the impact that Valentine’s had on the local music scene for nearly two decades.

Two local musicians and businesspeople — Capital Region bar and bottle shop owner August Rosa of Pint Sized and music promoter Sean Secor of Hey, Greasy! — decided to celebrate the club’s legacy this week with a weeklong reprise of Valentine’s-inspired programming at No Fun.

No Fun is Rosa’s live music venue in Troy (275 River St.) that can seem surprisingly reminiscent of downstairs at Valentine’s – particularly its black and white checkered floor, chill vibe and eclectic programming.

“August and Sean said they wanted to do a Valentine’s week. Who was I to say no?” Glassman says. Glassman suggested that the Deadbeats, a long-running Grateful Dead tribute act from the Capital Region, open the celebration, as they did last night.

The Deadbeats played every Wednesday at Valentine’s, and for years the club incubated a nascent jam band scene that gave rise to well-known jam acts like moe. and Ominous Seapods.

Another local act that frequently played Valentine’s was Saratoga Springs rock band the Figgs. The group offered a finale of sorts for the venue by playing one of their celebrated holiday shows there in December 2013 just before Valentine’s closed — and by playing the opening of Glassman’s next venture, the Low Beat.

In a tribute to old times, the Figgs will play No Fun on Friday. “August and Sean asked me to book one night, and even though I’ve forgotten how to book bands, I knew I wanted the Figgs to play because I think they are the best band to come out of the area,” Glassman says.

When asked what owning Valentine’s for 17 years meant to him, Glassman offers a dose of nostalgia laced with the bitter truth of reality.

“It meant I didn’t put 17 years of my life towards a job with a pension,” he says. “It meant 17 years of losing my shirt more often than not. It meant 17 years of wild mood swings that affected relationships with friends and family.

“But it also meant 17 years of great musical, comedic and poetic memories for thousands of people and unforgettable performing opportunities for hundreds of bands, comedians and poets. For 17 years, it was one hell of a ride.”

The Valentine’s Week shows at No Fun are as follows (at 7 p.m.):

— Tonight: $3 punk night with J Krak, Klaxon and Male Patterns

— Friday: The Figgs

— Saturday: Degenerate Hang-around Cover Show featuring Flavour (performing as T. Rex), Zombie Giuliani (Reagan Youth), Ams (Buck Owens), Aficionado (Jane’s Addiction), Hot Cousin (AC/DC) and Pony in the Pancake (Pavement)

— Sunday: Punk dating game hosted by Brandan Nature. Free.

Reach Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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