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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

The Downtown Barn and Liberty: 'See what is starting to happen here'

By Allison Ruef - reporter/photographer

Allison Ruef | Democrat
Liberty's Downtown Barn is exactly that: a renovated barn in the middle of the village, offering up-close and up-high views of performers. The Barn's 2015 season just got under way with Slam Allen, and there's plenty more to come!
LIBERTY — A celebration was in full swing last Saturday night as the Downtown Barn threw open its doors, stomped off the dust of winter and kicked off the 2015 season with one of Sullivan County's best loved musicians - Slam Allen.
There to promote his new CD, “Feel These Blues,” Slam and his band packed the house, both upstairs and down.
For local music-lovers who haven't had the pleasure of visiting the county's newest music venue, it's cozy, intimate and blessed with a rich, satisfying sound.
“Feel These Blues” is Allen's third CD and, according to him, is about the evolution of who he is.
“I didn't pick music - music picked me,” he explains. “Blues is the father of all American music - R&B, rock and roll, soul.
I play a little bit of everything.”
When asked what he'll be playing on this particular night, Allen replies, “Whatever comes to me at the moment. I don't make a set list. Every show is different, and every song is different every time. That's why I love what I do.”
The venue features state-of-the-art sound by technicians Greg Castro and Max Siegel (both Liberty grads), and on that particular night, a soul-food buffet catered by Geri's Country Catering and local chef Craig Duffy as part of the celebration.
Opening for Allen was a new local performer, Shlomo Franklin, with his bandmates Allen Glenn on drums and Joe Muller III on bass. All college students at the moment, their all-original indie-folk sound is influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, Little Feat and Phish. You can catch them next at the benefit concert for the Rivoli Theater on May 8 in South Fallsburg.
The Barn is the ongoing project and “baby” of Liberty attorney Brian Rourke, whose law office sits across the street on Darbee Lane in what was once the Liberty Hose and Truck Co. No. 2 firehouse.
He didn't set out to be the proprietor of a music venue - the barn, which sat unused for years, was a part of the lot he bought along with the laundromat next door (which, for now, is where patrons must go to use the “facilities”).
The boxy building had been many things - a storage facility for Alan Gerry's appliance shop in the 1960s; an auto repair and parts shop; the Sears Catalog store; and a coal storage facility. Originally, it had been a livery station.
Rourke can tell you lots about the building's history.
“Once we began stripping down the sheet-rock walls, what we found was just amazing,” he says, eyes aglow. “It's all post-and-beam construction. The floor is what is really amazing. We were asking around for old barn wood to make the floor, and I got a call from someone who had wood that came from an old silo. It turned out to be Max Yasgur's silo on Shore Road. It couldn't have been more perfect. Talk about good energy.”
The venue, Rourke hopes, will help breathe life back into Liberty and bring more people to its Main Street area, which used to have a thriving night life.
“We hope to expand the types of music we offer this year,” says Rourke, “and, of course, we'll still feature Americana genres like bluegrass, roots rock, folk and blues.”
The Barn also houses the Liberty Mercantile Company, a small shop that features local artisans' work such as furniture and jewelry, as well as agri-products such as maple syrup and honey.
“We wanted the shop to showcase the talented and hard-working artisans in Sullivan County, and it really compliments the performance space,” explains Rourke.
Up next at the Downtown Barn is Robin DeLorenzo on May 16 at 6:30 p.m. For the full line-up, visit the calendar of events on the venue's website.
“There are so many things going on here and so many things that we want to do in Liberty,” said Rourke. “We just need people to come and see what is starting to happen here. ”
For more information about the Downtown Barn head to For more information about Slam Allen, visit

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