A recent Rockin' on the River concert in Troy. Jim Franco/Spotlight News
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BETHLEHEM — For a town that boasts much music talent, Bethlehem curiously still does not have a local music concert series that celebrates just that, at least according to resident Nate Derucher.
Derucher, 40, who has been living here for 35 years, currently works as a train cleaner for Amtrak. However, he has had an active background in music for 25 years, which partially explains why he wants to develop a concert series for the town. While he envisions a “local music festival in this town of Bethlehem,” his descriptions make it technically sound more like a concert series. It could be similar to other local music festivals and concert series like Pearlpalooza (Albany), Rockin’ on the River (Troy), Alive at Five (Albany), and Freedom Park Summer Concert Series (Scotia).
“Business-wise, it would be great to have one here but it also would bring the community together, and that’s great,” he said. “Everyone loves music and Bethlehem is definitely a music town. There’s a lot of musicians and music events here, too.”
Examples he cited were the local library’s summer weekly series (like “Evenings on the Green”), and music acts performing regularly at restaurants like Swifty’s and O’Slattery’s. Despite this, he still would like to see a more official concert series here in Bethlehem, which nearby areas like Albany and Troy already have.
While Derucher admits he is still in the “very beginning stages” of getting his idea started, he has already contacted Town Supervisor David VanLuven who agreed that such a concert series would benefit the community.
“I think events like that which bring our community together is really good and I’m all for it,” said VanLuven. “My recommendation is to first figure out where you want to do it, and what the logistics would be. Come up with a plan and then, come to us and we’ll talk things through like if you have to have permits, for example.”
VanLuven suggested having the concert series at Henry Hudson Park. He did note that when events involve alcohol, it’s up to local businesses to organize that, not the town, for insurance’s sake, in case things go south.
“I think the Turkey Trot is this great community event that gets everyone together but now there’s been talk of having a half marathon in town too,” he also said. “Events like these keep us from devolving into soulless sprawls. We got to have a cord, we need a heart.”
Heeding VanLuven’s commentary, Derucher has already contacted some food truck vendors, outdoor tent renting, garbage collectors and stage renting. Derucher plans to meet with VanLuven to discuss how to finance the concert series in the following weeks.
“Behind the Elm Avenue Park is a playground and next to that is a huge open field, which is a perfect spot for a venue for the festival,” Derucher said. “That’s where I would like, if that’s doable. I think it’s great because there’s restrooms there, there’s the playground for kids, and the open field can definitely draw in a huge crowd.”
Derucher has personally been in the local music scene, too. He is mainly a drummer but can also play a bit on the guitar, piano and most recently, the bass. He went to the Schenectady County Community College School of Music from around 1997 to 2000.
He began loving to play the drums when he was four years old. He was in a rock band during high school, before going into classic and 1990s cover bands since then.
“Music runs in my family. My uncle played the keyboard and my cousin’s grandfather was a musician, too,” he said.
His idea for a local concert series stemmed from another family member too. “My cousin, [Alexander] Lombard owns and works at the Lake George Music Festival as its CEO. And I’ve seen many comments on Facebook where locals here are interested in having such a festival right here in Bethlehem. So I got inspired to do just that for the town.”
While he envisions local jam bands and music acts in the blues, R&B, soul and bluegrass genres, his plans are for a summer concert series for now.
“Summer seems ideal but maybe if it becomes a huge success, maybe a spring or fall one could happen too eventually,” he said.