Helsinki Tea Company and Club Helsinki was founded in 1995 as the brain child of Deborah McDowell, who was looking to bring her love of community, tea, good food and music to the Berkshires, harkening back to her family of artists and the years her grandfather spent managing the Hotel Helsinki in Finland. Two years later, Columbia County native Marc Schafler, whose family operated Camp Natchez on the edge of the Borscht belt, joined her and Club Helsinki was born.
The Club then began its unparalleled, more than a decade history of presenting some of the finest musicians and spoken word from around the world.
It's not possible to capture the impact that the club productions have had both artistically and socially by merely running down a list of artists they have 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, 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 and build out 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 alike. Helsinki 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 urban renewal, so the club was reworked using green architectural techniques refurbishment.
Aside from assisting in bringing the community much needed urban revival, the 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, and people who have found a home and refuge among the club'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.
Our commitment is to engage the community with art, world class music, healthy food and to share the pleasure of superb craftsmanship. This we will nurture, for the sake of the area, the state, the county and the planet.