How HF Strand lures top rock guitarists: ‘Just weird enough’ to intrigue them

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

The Strand Theater in Hudson Falls has booked yet another famed rock guitarist — Ace Frehley of Kiss! in its ongoing Guitar Master Series.

The concert isn’t until May 15, but tickets, $65, limit of four, go on sale tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 10, at 5 p.m. in person at the Strand box office.

KISS guitarist Ace Frehley plays the Strand on May 15, but tickets, $65, go on sale Friday, Dec. 10, in person at 5 p.m. and then “if there’s any left” at 10 p.m. on the Internet.

At 10 p.m. — “if there’s any left,” says Strand founder-executive director Jonathan Newell — tickets will go on sale via Internet at brownpapertickets.com.

“Trying to avoid scalpers,” Mr. Newell explains.

Other guitarists and dates in the Guitar Masters series include:

Albert Lee, Jan. 15, $35, returning for what the Strand is billing as a belated birthday bash with The Strand House Band. The Brit-born legend has a solo blues career and also played with the Crickets, toured and recorded with Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris.

Tim Reynolds, Jan. 22, $35. Lead guitarist of the Dave Matthews Band leads TR3, his own fusion-funk-rock electric power trio, which predates DMB.

Martin Barre, Feb. 3, $50. Barre of Jethro Tull fame, returns for at least his third Strand gig on the Aqualung 50th Anniversary Tour featuring Tull bandmates Dee Palmer on keyboards and Clive Bunker on drums.

Matt Schofield, March 11, tix TBA. Young English blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.

How does the Strand continue to score the top shelf musicians. “I really have no idea,” low-keys Mr. Newell.

“I think partly it’s that it’s a new experience for the acts to play in an intimate space that’s set up like an arena as far as production goes, and it’s a small town with no hassles getting in and out. They feel like they’re going to a friend’s house.

“We’re hoping to start building the opera boxes after the new year in time for Ace.”

“We make the pitch and they look at their choices and see the space and the gear and feel it’s just weird enough to check it out. Then we try and treat them so well they want to come back.”

The first time Martin Barre of Jethro Tull played the Strand, the night ended with Barre and crew hanging out into the wee hours with Strand musicians and crew members, next door in the back room of Maxwell’s Pub (now Mullen’s).

Barre closed his encores that night with Aqua Lung — the astonished Tull roadie in the booth told Strand staff: “He never plays that.” Barre’s return in February is his third if not fourth time here.

Box office: 210 Main St., Hudson Falls. Call: 832-3484 or online at mystrandtheatre.org. Tix: brownpapertickets.com.

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