“It’s very irritating when I hear myself say that. Of course I’m going to say it’s a magical space, but everyone who walks in says the same thing and they always say ‘magic’.” I use the word. I want to make a T-shirt. —Jenny Rubin, c0 owner of The Egremont Barn
Enter the historic village of South Egremont, and come from any of the three directions, you’ll quickly find yourself in a quiet New England town where time moves more slowly than in neighboring communities. A country store, a spirit ‘shop’, two restaurants, scattered antique shops and meticulously manicured colonial buildings all painted white. You wouldn’t expect a thriving music venue (and it’s worth adding that there’s a cannabis dispensary on the same route).
Still, that’s exactly what you’ve found. Nestled between a centuries-old inn as well as a centuries-old cemetery is a pillar of bohemian talent in a relatively buttoned-down village. and Egremont Barn, a fortress of beams.
indulge in their passion
Jenny Rubin and Nick Keane met in New York City through a dating site in 2015, two years after Keene’s family purchased the property that houses the Egremont Village Inn. Both New Yorkers had extensive backgrounds in the entertainment industry (“restaurants, bars and music venues,” according to Rubin). Rubin, a self-professed lifelong “music fanatic,” says that meeting Keane and everything that followed “seemed like a given.”
Located on the same property as the inn, the 1830s barn is known for being a kind of roadhouse in the 1970s and 80s in the form of the Robbie Barnes Pub, which the Keanes were trying to revive. As fate would have it, the couple were able to draw on their shared passion and experience to bring this space to life.
A year later, The Egremont Barn opened its big red door. Unlike what often happens when well-meaning people try to revitalize a beloved venue, Rubin and Keane avoided polishing its storied past. They replaced the roof and made other repairs, but left the original features of the structure intact. The remains of an old piano hang above the bar, which itself sits above a repurposed old barn door. This is not the stripped, bare bones of old buildings being used as zoning loopholes to create new ones. Nor is it a superficial “cabincore” aimed at people seeking a change from the city.
Instead, it’s a place that proudly boasts its pedigree and looks comfortable in its surroundings… Fudge and Buckaroo.
Despite being run by NYC expats, it’s nothing like a Brooklyn pub transplanted to Egremont. Instead, Barn is rooted in what Rubin calls “weird and magical” Berkshire. It combines the rustic charm and rich history of the area with the life and culture of modern residents and visitors. “It’s very irritating when I hear myself say that. Of course I’m going to say it’s a magical space, but everyone who walks in says the same thing and they always say ‘magic’.” I want to make t-shirts,” Rubin says with his trademark deadpan.
Common point is originality
Sure enough, stepping into the spacious and welcoming space is like traveling back in time to a roadhouse from a bygone era. Don’t expect to hear the typical “Dad Rock” setlist when you see the show. Past meets present, some of the bands that played at Robbie Burns Pub (especially his BTU) still play here. Even the expected open mic nights aren’t “the typical coffee shop open mic,” Rubin asserts. That said, at The Barn he hosts events like the Mid-Winter Bacchanal, where you’ll hear covers of classics like The Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’ and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’. You can, but it’s not like that. The version you’ve heard before. Rather, you can expect progressive psychedelia with oriental influences and tasteful, jazz-influenced experimentation.
What also sets The Barn apart from other music venues is its owners. The owner has a clear point of view and doesn’t just manage behind a desk. Rubin does most of the bartending, and Keane often helps out in the kitchen. They curate shows, forge relationships with artists from across the region and beyond, and foster diverse programming with one common denominator: heartbreaking originality.
In February alone, the schedule included Hot Sauce (“One of the best new supergroups! So funky and so fresh”). The Wanda Houston Band (led by the local legend of the same name). Jenna Nichols (Lower East Side native, “her new twist on the vintage genre with her own lush nostalgic style and melodic sensibility”) performs with Tamar Cohn. Thank God for Science (“A Unique Music Medium Exploring the Vocabulary of Sound and Music”). Rejuvenators (Mardi Gras vibes); Kat & Brad (“This vibrant duo from Connecticut meld their influences to create new original songs that sound like old Stax records”); and banjoist Guy Davis, who was nominated for two consecutive Grammy Awards for “Best Traditional Blues… using a blend of roots, blues, folk, rock, rap, spoken word and world music. Comment and address. Rounding out the month was her UNFINISH’D BIZNESS, described as “Rockbilly, Honky Tonk, Garage, a little Blues and more. UB Music will shake your soul and move your feet!”
Its line-up rivals anything you’ll find in town. Only you can soak up the sound in a unique Berkshire location.
survive the shutdown
“I’m so grateful to have gotten through COVID, because it’s been a really tough time for everyone,” says Rubin. “I didn’t know if it was going to work, so I had to do something every month to stay open.” It made her realize how much she needed live music and the community that came with it, she says.she is [the patio] It was packed! The first year, as soon as people were out and listening to live music and being around people outside, it was so great. ’ The whole experience was a wake-up call for Rubin and Keane. This is important. we have to do this. “
So when they had to close their doors again for three months in the winter of 2020, the couple knew how important The Barn had become. “This is her longest closure in seven years. But we made the most of it,” says Rubin. “We had people come here to live stream. Nick and I kind of did a webcast and tried to keep the life going for people to come and watch.”
And despite the hardships that come with the pandemic, “more people are getting to know us than ever before,” says Rubin.
More than just a venue
When it comes to loyal customers, Rubin appreciates drawing from near and far. “The locals keep us alive, and all the travelers keep us alive even more during the summer months.”
Not everyone thinks The Barn is the right fit for this small town (less than 20 square miles and just under 1,500 people). She credits The Barn with the special role it plays at Berkshire. “For some people, if they don’t like it, they don’t like it. The reason I did it, and the reason others do it, is because this place is more than just a music venue, it’s a community hub.”
The passion she and Keane put into the venue is evident. “I personally love what I do, so I think that’s a boost and it carries the energy of the place.” The same goes for her staff. “Everyone who works here makes me say ‘I was comfortable’ and ‘I felt at home.'”
This welcoming hug isn’t restricted to just one demographic or age group. Rubin points out that a group of seniors gather at the space he once a month after hours. Even the artists range from young start-ups to longtime legends (see the schedule above for proof).
look forward (and smile)
When asked about leading The Barn into the future, Rubin immediately (half-jokingly) replied, “Let James Taylor come.” It doesn’t seem too pretentious. In 2022, Rural Intelligence rated The Barn as his second best music venue in Berkshire. (According to The Barn’s website, #1 was her Tanglewood. We’ll take it.) She also said that her ultimate goal was to get her show on CBS News Sunday morning. claiming to appear in
All jokes aside, they are in the process of moving their kitchen to a new food truck, which should promise even better food.
And make no mistake, The Egremont Barn will continue to provide a ‘place’ for artists and patrons to find their voice and community in an otherwise sleepy village. harmony.