When one thinks of New Paltz, the thought is incomplete without its artists, activists, creators alike, and most affectionately its DIY scene. If you were in New Paltz before the Hawks flew home, then you might have been lucky enough to attend the first show at the newly relocated Crossroads.
Originally started a year ago in October of 2018, Crossroads was a passion project for cofounders Elijah Bloome and Caleb Couri who play in their own band, GREENHOUSELAKE, along with bandmates Joe Leonardo and Nico Caro.
“At first it was just a shot in the dark,” Couri reflected. “Like, ‘can we get this off the ground in a living room?’” Their first show garnered more than enough success to make the bandmates hopeful for what is to come. “It just kept growing, snowballing and became something bigger.”
The duo was inspired to open Crossroads by other music venues in New Paltz, as well as other houses they have played at together. “We’ve been in a band for seven years. We’ve played house shows and in people’s basements, and always loved that scene,” Bloome said. “When we started going to the college, we were like, ‘why can’t we do this ourselves? Why can’t we host it? And bring the musicians to us, add to the scene, contribute to it ourselves?’”
Ringing true to the Do-It-Yourself scene, Bloome and Couri took charge of this inspiration and ran with it. The “DIY scene” is a community of musicians who take the initiative to put themselves out there. “Do it yourself, book yourself. No bands in the scene have their own manager, they are their own manager,” Bloome said.
It is with that exact mindset that the two run Crossroads. With Bloome as a recent class of 2019 graduate and Couri being a junior, the two have been in the New Paltz music venue business for a while now and are starting to establish individual roles within their partnership.
“At first we did everything collectively,” Bloome said. “At this point, I’m mainly trying to be the booking agent. I host the shows.”
“I’ll be making all the social media posts and updates. I’ll make the posters for the shows and the videos that advertise them,” Couri said. “I will also do the sound at the shows.”
While the DIY scene is already such a friendly community, allowing for many word-of-mouth connections, the use of Instagram has been pivotal. The ever-present social media approach is key to the growth of Crossroads.
“Caleb does a really professional, amazing job of it, and I don’t think a lot of house venues are doing that,” Bloome said, who handles much of the booking through email, sometimes Facebook Messenger, but mostly Instagram. “I feel like that is the place to reach out to bands; it’s professional, but it’s also very relaxed and comfortable.”
Not only is this marketing strategy doing great things for Crossroads, it is one thing that sets the venue apart. “I think New Paltz is generally very quiet about things. If somebody is having a show, you hear it through the grapevine: it’s not really publicized anywhere,” Bloome said. “And I think our whole thing is: No, we’re having a show, everybody come on over. We’re trying to get as many people to see these musicians as possible.”
While booking and social media presence is one side of running a successful venue, there is also all the crowd management as well. Unfortunately, it is expected for shows and parties in a college town to get rowdy. In the past, people have been loud, publicly intoxicated, vandalizing neighbors’ property, and so on, which is something the duo and their security team, Nick Carson and John Haring, actively work to prevent.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the music, it’s why we started this,” Couri said. “If you’re here, obviously you want to come to a show, have fun, but there’s a point where you can get really disrespectful and intolerant and that’s our cut off.”
Opening up one’s home to strangers is no easy feat, but Crossroads maintains a respectful and fun vibe to ensure everything runs smoothly for everyone involved.
“We have a whole staff and crew that keeps things in order. It’s a small little team we’ve got together,” Bloome said. The Crossroads residents and team include Anthony Hamilton, Mackenzie Clark, Joe Davis, December Rosenburg, and Peter MacAloney as their house photographer.
“The biggest rule that we have in this house is—we make this clear at the beginning of every show—we don’t tolerate any act of aggression or discrimination or really anything that makes others uncomfortable,” Bloome emphasized. “That’s the first warning we give, and if we see it we kick people out. It’s not that type of place. We make it clear off the bat.”
To Bloome and Couri, Crossroads is more than just a house, and with the goals they have set for it, it is more than just a music venue. During the shows, they want to invite speakers to get people thinking, sharing ideas and creating a forum.
“Between sets, there’s usually a 15 minute lull,” Couri said. “To take advantage of that time, Joe brought up a really good idea to have anyone speaking, whether it be poetry or social activism.”
Additionally during the shows will be “Offroads.” While people come to the shows, they can also go upstairs to see what is going on in the community. Show-goers can check out tables featuring local businesses, start-ups, friends trying to launch their ideas and band merch.
Another project that Bloome and Couri are excited about launching is “The Crossroad Cuts.” This is a service they want to do for the bands who will be on their bill. “We’d like to get a band in the basement on an off day, record their whole set, professionally engineer it as an album, and give it to them, to sell or just put it online,” Bloome said.
With GREENHOUSELAKE themselves being an indie rock band, Crossroads is staying true to that genre for the time being. “I think it’s indie, emo, alternative are the most popular around here, in terms of how many bands there are, but we’re working slowly on incorporating others. Metal, hip hop and jazz,” Bloome said. “We’re trying to expand our horizons, but just to get things rolling we are sticking with those three.”
Some names they have booked for the future include Glass Slipper (one member famously runs bandmemes666 on Instagram), Perennial, amd Philadelphia bands Hit Like a Girl and Calicoco.
The second show at Crossroads will be happening tonight at 7 p.m., featuring resident band GREENHOUSELAKE, Yendawg, and The Down & Outs.