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A sound investment on River Street

Troy-- Owner of pub to open a 300-seat performance hall right next door

By TIM O'BRIEN, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, January 30, 2003

A revolution is brewing along the riverfront.

But it's more likely to be a battle of the bands than a clash of troops.

Garrett C. Brown, owner of the Troy Pub and Brewery, is opening Revolution Hall, a new 300-seat performance space with state-of-the-art sound right next door to his 10-year-old brewery. He calls it Revolution Hall -- the name a play on Troy's role in the industrial revolution.

It's apt, since the building was constructed in the 1860s for Curtis & Co., one of the booming shirt-collar factories in the city at the time.

"We purchased this building actually back in '94 with the idea of expanding the brewing process and the kitchen into here but we never did it," Brown said. "With the evolution of the business, we thought this was the best use of the place."

Brown, his father, Sid, and several employees of the brew pub did much of the work inside, knocking down an interior wall and constructing a balcony with room for tables. Brown himself did the welding on steel beams and supports, and his father did the electrical work.

The light and sound engineer will sit in a crow's nest above the stage, safe from the elbows of the crowd.

Brown invested substantially -- he'll say only it was "challenging financially" -- to get top-quality sound.

"The idea here is we have a system an artist can come right in and plug right into," Brown said. "I really want the sound to sell this place."

Brown hired Dalbec Audio to study the building's acoustics and design not only the sound system but the stage as well.

"Gary's commissioned us to do the acoustical treatment of that room, to design the room to Broadway standards," said Richard H. Dalbec, owner of the firm that has also done work on Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, The Egg and many local college campuses. "When you hear a sound in that room, the articulation is very good. If you don't do it right, everything buzzes."

Dalbec said he liked the idea of putting the sound and light engineers in a crow's nest above the crowd.

"What the sound man is listening to is what the average person would hear," he said. "Often the sound man is in the sweet spot so he hears better than the average person. Our aim is to make the sound the same in every part of the room."

Dalbec and his employees John Goodman and Steve Gifford spent 500 to 600 hours working on the project, and Dalbec will serve on an artistic board that will help select performers for the venue.

The Masque Theater Co. will also use Revolution Hall as its base for performances.

The first official performance will be by Hair of the Dog on Saturday. (There was a test run of the space Monday night featuring two bands.) Brown already has a dozen acts lined up.

"We've had music all along next door," he said. "Over the past six years, we were doing festivals out back. We felt this was something that seemed to fit the Troy Pub. This will allow us to do this all year round."

For many years, the space served as the home of William Lee Moving and Storage, which specialized in moving, among other things, pianos. Several pianos are still on the upper floors.

While Brown does not have plans for the upper three floors, he does have work under way on a room away from the crowds watching bands live. There, a studio is being set up to allow recording of live concerts and live radio broadcasts of performances.

"You could broadcast live like they do from the Grand Ole Opry," Dalbec said. the Web: http://www.troypub.com.

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