Ithaca, New York
Ithaca’s State Theater
I had one final side excursion before climbing aboard Amtrak for the rail trip to Saint Paul. The Curator and I joined Doug & Cindy in Ithaca for a Kris Kristofferson concert.
Ithaca, which sits alongside Cayuga Lake, is the home of Cornell University. The State Theater is next to the Ithaca Commons. The theater building was built in 1915, as the Ithaca Security Company auto garage and dealership.
The building was bought, with the idea of renovating it into a theater. The State Theater opened with a vaudeville act on December 6, 1928. At its peak, Ithaca had seventeen grand theaters downtown. Today, the State Theater is the last remaining cinema and vaudeville palace in Ithaca. The theater is a beautiful venue for a concert. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Kristofferson is one of the most prolific song writers out there today. I must admit, I never expected to see him play live. He was backed by Merle Haggard’s old band The Strangers, which included two of Merle’s sons: Ben & Noel. The 1600 seat theater was the perfect setting for the laid back and intimate concert put on by the 82 year old Kristofferson.
It was a good show. Kristofferson was in fine form, and after a bit of a tentative start, he relaxed with an audience that obviously adored the man. It didn’t take long for him to mix some things up and joke with the audience, although he was pure business, hitting song after song, for a 29 song set. Kristofferson is a masterful storyteller, and every song is a compelling tale on life.
The Strangers were a great addition. I thought Ben Haggard on guitar and vocals was an incredible artist. He’s be worth seeing in his own right. A good concert, and an unexpected surprise to the trip.