In addition to merchandise and art at Birdsong, Brindel also has a selection of guitars from his collection.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — After losing everything in a hurricane, partners Christian Brindel and Juliet Jones have made North Adams their home — and a place to start over.
They've poured their hopes into Birdsong Gallery on Eagle Street, a place they envision as a hub for artists, crafters, and musicians as well as another option for local shoppers.
"We were shooting from the hip and we had no idea what to expect but North Adams has a such a good vibe," Jones said. "We wanted this to be a feel-good place and it is welcoming and comfortable. There is something for everybody here."
The two originally ran a yacht maintenance company in the Florida Keys but when Hurricane Irma made its way across the state last year, they like others were forced to evacuate.
"It is a mix of tragedy and intuitiveness," she said. "We were hit by Hurricane Irma last year, so our businesses were both destroyed, and our home was in tough shape, so we needed to do a reset."
Jones said the two bunkered down in Ashville, N.C., and after they heard reports that their community was under 11 feet of water, they decided to change course.
"We were just sort of hanging out on the side of this mountain and we shot darts at a map," Jones said. "I hit Stockbridge, so we came up to check it out."
The two immediately fell in love with the area but came upon the realization that Stockbridge was not the best fit.
"Stockbridge is beautiful, but it is like buying property in the Keys. It is not your average person's definition of affordable, so we puttered our way up here," she said. "We sort of were smitten by this city and just fell in love with it. The people were welcoming and Mass MoCA is such an interesting fixture. It just had a great feeling."
Brindel said they purchased a house and as he was exploring the city came upon historic Eagle Street, which he thought would be a perfect place for a shop.
"It was a challenge because we didn't have a clue when we first got here but we just started meeting people," he said. "This summer this street it was just so lively."
Jones said the store started out as mostly a hub to sell art and the two connected with local artists and artisans.
"It is a lot of fair-trade stuff and most of the art on the wall is by local artists," Jones said. "We want to work with them as much as possible … it sort of morphed into women's fashion and accessories, too. There are fun little bits everywhere."
Brindel, a musician and performer, has his own section in the store that he refers to as "guitar heaven."
"It's all vintage Gibsons, Martins, and Guilds but I still have stuff that is affordable," he said. "For the most part, it is my collection."
Brindel pointed to a guitar he purchased almost 20 years ago that he believes Stephen Stills gave to David Crosby.
"There is no provenance on it and this is all story but from a very reputable luthier in Fort Lauderdale who worked with these guys all through the '70s," he said. "He was the shop you wanted to buy a guitar from when you were recording."
Brindel said they also have local musicians who come in and give lessons. Currently, people can sign up for beginning or intermediate guitar lessons as well as piano or banjo lessons.
Lessons can be scheduled in person or by calling 413-663-0840.
Jones added that sometimes musicians just pop in to sit and play.
"There are a good group of musicians that kind of puddle in," she said. "They go back, hang out, pick up a guitar and play for a while."
Brindel said he is excited to see the store change and grow but hopes it will continue to act as a place for local musicians and artists.
He added that he hopes Birdsong Gallery can also lend a hand in the efforts to revitalize Eagle Street.
"I think anywhere we have ever been we have definitely been part of the community," he said. "This is definitely something different and we saw a need for something like this."
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Be Alert for Opportunities When Preparing for College Costs
Now that summer is winding down, it will soon be "back-to-school" time. When children are young, your logistics for the new academic year may involve little more than a trip to buy school supplies.
But if you would like to send your kids (or grandkids) to college someday, you need to plan far ahead to meet the financial demands. And, as part of your planning, you also need to be on the lookout for all opportunities to help pay those sizable college bills.
Specifically, you will need to be ready to take action in these areas:
Financial aid: You should start thinking about financial aid at least a year before your child heads off to college. For example, you can begin submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on Oct. 1, 2019, for the 2020-21 academic year. And if the past is any guide, you will always need to remember that Oct. 1 date for the next school year. The FAFSA helps colleges and the U.S. Department of Education evaluate your financial need and determine how much financial support your child requires. And since a lot of financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it's a good idea to submit your forms as soon as possible once the application period opens.
Kevin Strahle traveled all the way from his home in New Jersey to compete in the Jack's Hot Dog Stand eating contest on Eagle Street on a sweltering Saturday.
But because of some late intestinal distress, he did not take the title home with him. click for more