The History of Club Helsinki
Helsinki Tea Company and Club Helsinki was founded in 1995 as the inspiration of Deborah McDowell, who was looking to share her love of community, tea, good food and music with the Berkshires, hearkening back to her family of artists and the years her grandfather spent operating the Hotel Helsinki in Finland. Two years later, Columbia County native Marc Schafler, whose family owned Camp Natchez on the edge of the Borscht belt, joined her and Club Helsinki was born and began its unparalleled history of presenting some the finest musicians, activists, poets and lecturers from around the world.
It's not possible to capture the impact Helsinki productions have had artistically and socially by merely running down a list of artists presented through the years, although the list includes an impressive line-up, with names like Ralph Stanley, Guy Clark, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Pete Seeger, Rigdzin Namkha Rinpoche, Leo Kottke, Mike Gordon of Phish, Levon Helm, Norah Jones, Jim Lauderdale, Hamiet Bluiett, Soulive, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Tom Tom Club, John Scofield,
John Medeski, Odetta, Steve Earle, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock , Mose Allison, Michelle Shocked, Michael Wex, Olu Dara, Burning Spear and many more.
The move to a more permanent home in Hudson brought California producer and visionary, Cameron Melville to the collaboration, and Helsinki Hudson became the Club's new incarnation. The restoration of the 1800's industrial building complex was accomplished using local builders and artists with an eye toward providing the best possible theatrical experience for both musicians and audiences. The Helsinki team felt that the historic nature of the riverside town, once an active port and the 4th largest city in New York State, deserved the energetic assistance of renewal and the building was reworked using green architectural techniques and creative reuse.
Helsinki's move to Hudson reflects the same spirit and vision that had such a profound impact on the Berkshires, which is of creating a shared community of artists, music lovers, activists, poets, who have found a home and refuge among Helsinki's always intriguing array of staff, supporters and artists.
Just 45 minutes from the former club and 2 hours from New York City straight up the Hudson River, the new Helsinki Hudson houses 2 performance spaces, a full service restaurant, a gallery space, outdoor dining, artist green rooms with showers and lounge space, recording facilities, offices, and more.
Helsinki Hudson continues its commitment to contributing to the quality of the community by cultivating connections between all ethnicities, ages and experience and to reflect the culture and human spirit through innovative programming.