Local book and record store Parlor hosted an experimental ambient show, titled “A Sound Was Heard,” on Feb. 12. The show featured several sets by various noise artists in the area, including Jack Lynch, Saint Miyale, Will Heel, Mourning Dove and Great Reverence. The event was organized by Parlor owner Kevin Kelly and host Sully, who is on Instagram as @precocialcrow.
The storefront, run by Kelly and Ashlee Starr, has been doubling as an event space and incorporating live performances into their operations since the spring of 2020. They opened the Parlor doors earlier that year, but had to quickly adapt when the pandemic hit, pushing back what had already been a long process.
The store started hosting weekly outdoor acid jazz events in their front parking lot while it still wasn’t safe to host indoor gatherings. In 2021, Kelly started collaborating with the Happenstancery Improv troupe and gave them a space to perform, which led to two major events, the “4/20 Party” and the “Revenge of the Sixth” performances, being great successes.
“But the fact that it happened, so explosively, twice, was amazing,” said Starr, regarding the past shows. “Even last week’s show was really inspiring.”
“It was a great [show,]” Kelly said. “It was that kind of show where it tends to attract a conscientious audience. People actually stop and listen to this music and don’t really talk over it.”
The courtesy and appreciation of the crowd wasn’t just noted by Kelly and Starr; Lynch even picked up on it themselves during their performance.
“Even though the space was new to almost everyone there, the general atmosphere was familiar and friendly,” they said. “Kelly’s kitchen lies a warm, inviting space that’s super down with experimental music.”
Over the past year, Lynch has been in the studio practicing and developing more of a relationship with the gear they use. They put out an album titled “Pertinacity,” under record label Label of Goods with the help of guitarist of the New Paltz-frequent On Pink, Joe Ippolito.
“To me, the great allure of experimental music is that it’s limitless and unpredictable,” they said. “The lack of limitation and inherent defying of trends opens up a lot of opportunity for new sounds, something that’s pretty hard to come by.”
Prior to A Sound Was Heard, they have been playing at a string of shows that started this past summer.
“I hope that I never again have to take such a long break from performing,” they said. “Live music is one of the best things we’ve got and I’m honored every day to be a part of it.”
Before opening Parlor, Kelly was involved in playing and seeing music at Cafeteria, a cafe that was located at 58 Main St., where Vietnamese restaurant Pho Tibet is today. After it’s closing in early 2020, he sought to fill the large gap that its presence once filled in the New Paltz music scene.
“It was a perfect place where you could just go and sit on the piano and play,” he said. “No one would say anything, so it was cool like that. I was very comfortable.”
Kelly aims to entertain all types and varieties of bands at the Parlor, but wants to make sure the bands that aren’t able to play larger venues have a platform there as well. He has even allowed musicians to do recordings in the space.
“I feel like it’s at the ground level of things that could be substantially great,” Kelly said. “That’s where a lot of things that had a big impact started, like a coffee shop, the local bar or a basketball court. We’re not trying to have only certain kinds of bands, but have a place where you can see the active music community who have something to put out.”
“The opening act last time was a band that was thrown together and [Kelly] was confirmed as the drummer the day of,” Starr added. “Meanwhile, there was Jack Lynch, who has a very established following and has been doing this for years. Whatever comes through as an opportunity, we bring it to life.”
Kelly and Starr are currently hoping to have a show at their space every other Saturday. On Feb. 26, they will be having a second installment of “A Sound Was Heard,” featuring both new and returning artists.
They encourage customers to check out their Instagram, @parlornewpaltz, to browse their featured items, and to look around at their even more eclectic in-store collection when they come in during visits or shows.
“We’re looking for welcoming people to suggest that they have a show or that they participate in the show,” said Kelly.
If you are interested in browsing Parlor’s collection, or have a show concept or idea, visit them at 8 South Chestnut St. If you wish to listen to Jack Lynch’s album “Pertinacity,” you can find them on Bandcamp at https://jacklynch.bandcamp.com/.