Sun sets on ‘Sunset’ series: Red Hook’s barge music closes up shop

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Red Hook’s Sunset Music Series, the great Brooklyn venue where Babaloo and Life in a Blender performed on a barge, has died.

“It’s over,” said George Tocci, the guitarist who founded the popular concert series in 1994, when Red Hook was no more than a blip on the real-estate radar.

For 13 summers, musicians like Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams performed on Lehigh Valley Barge #79, also known as the Hudson Waterfront Museum, an idiosyncratic collection of maritime artifacts anchored at the foot of Conover Street, across from Fairway.

The Sunset Music Series was a down-home version of Bargemusic (the classical venue at Fulton Ferry Landing), attracting folk, rock and country music lovers to Red Hook on warm summer nights.

So what happened? That’s about as clear as the murky water of Buttermilk Channel.

According to Tocci, Greg O’Connell, the Red Hook developer and pier owner, no longer wants the Music Series to sell alcohol because he’s concerned about liability. But without alcohol, the series is no longer financially sustainable.

O’Connell says that liability is not the real issue.

When pressed, he referred questions to David Sharps, the museum’s founder, owner, captain and tenant.

Sharps would only say that “[the Music Series] is not within the long-term mission of the museum or the desire of the owners of the pier.”

He added that vaudeville CIRCUSundays would continue.

His diplomacy is understandable, as Sharps can ill afford to alienate O’Connell, who allows his iconoclastic museum to remain in Red Hook.

That said, barge fans are bummed to hear there would no longer be music or weddings aboard the barge.

“That’s a sad thing,” said Eric Bennett, a DUMBO resident who got married at the Waterfront Museum in 2001 “It’s a cool, quirky place.”

Updated 4:35 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Hazel from Dumbo says:
May 20, 2009, 11:29 am

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