Monday, August 25, 2008

And the mystery trip was to... Woodstock!

Took R to Woodstock for the weekend to celebrate her birthday. We stayed at the Skytop Motel which, conveniently enough, is right next door to the Skytop Restaurant and Brewing Company. The accomodations are about what you'd expect from a roadside motel off of a New York state highway. Good enough to spend a night.

The food at the Skytop was very good. Pub grub, but done very well. The altbier was the highlight of the beer menu. A nice malty beer that went well with the meal. The lagers had a bit of a sulfury quality to them that was either a product of fermentation or the water - I did notice that the water in our motel room smelled like matches. The scotch ale showed that it was brewed with smoked malt.

After lunch we went in to town. This was my first time ever in Woodstock and I have to say that it reminded me quite a bit of New Hope, PA. Saw some lifer hippies wandering around town - one who we affectionately referred to as "Merlin" every time we saw him. I'm sure you can guess why. But the highlight of the trip was in the evening...

Went to the Midnight Ramble at Levon Helm Studios. This was a real treat. Levon plays these shows at his studio/home for a crowd no bigger than 250-300 people. He's got a great band that includes Jimmy Vivino (brother of Uncle Floyd) and Mike Merritt from the Max Weinberg 7 on guitar and stand up bass, respectively, and the incredible Brian Mitchell on piano, keys and accordion. They run through some blues standards, some country/folk tunes, and some classics from The Band catalog and play for close to three hours. We wound up standing on a balcony about ten feet away from Levon's drum kit with a clear view of the show. Really amazing. Billy Bob Thornton's band (The Boxmasters) opened and Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes sat in on Shake Your Money Maker. They were standing right by Levon's kit watching the show, and at one point I looked down at Levon Helm, Billy Bob Thornton, and Chris Robinson all within a couple of feet of me rocking out and thought, "wow, this is kind of weird". No photography allowed in the studio... sorry.

The next morning we ate at the Garden Cafe in Woodstock, which we would recommend highly. They do the organic, sustainable, vegetarian thing, and they do it very well.

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