Once a train station, the Hancock Depot is now a musical hotspot

  • The Hancock Depot Cabaret is held the first Saturday of each month at 8 p.m. and features local and regional musicians. Above: David Young and his wife, Susan Lang, perform at the Depot Cabaret. Courtesy photo

  • The Hancock Depot Cabaret is held the first Saturday of each month at 8 p.m. and features local and regional musicians. Courtesy photo—

  • Justin McInnis, of Francestown plays guitar at January’s cabaret. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/19/2020 6:07:23 PM

Depot Road in Hancock has long been a popular site for nature adventurers, joggers, and outdoor enthusiasts, but thanks to one, David Young, the Depot is now known for another reason: music.

Beginning in 1878 the Hancock Train Station/Depot served the town as a part of the Elmwood/Hancock Junction to Keene, but a series of floods in 1934 caused the rail line to shut down and the building to be renovated and moved.

From that point forward, the building was used as an accommodation for summer farmers and as a tourist venue for those who aimed to be part of a more rustic environment when they visited Hancock.

Up until four and a half years ago, it was still labeled as the same tourist attraction but seldom used. Young spotted the building on one of his jogs in the summer of 2015 and, as a lifelong musician, began to think of what it could be.

“There was a Depot Association already in place, but they put on smaller events that didn’t happen too often,” he said. “I thought it would be a great venue for a cabaret or a pub or something like that.”

He attended the association’s next monthly meeting and proposed a cabaret during Hancock’s annual Old Home Days, which was well received by the town and visitor’s to the one-day celebration.

“After the Old Home Days cabaret, the next thing you know I was elected president of the association and assumed responsibility,” Young said. “That’s when we started the monthly cabarets.”

Most of the Depot’s cabarets are held in open mic fashion with a featured performer running an hour-long set in the middle. They are held on the first Saturday of each month at 8 p.m. but are kept fresh with a variety of different artists and formats.

“We usually have an open mic segment for an hour, a feature performance for another hour, and then the open mic resumes if there is anyone left over,” Young said. “Sometimes we also have all open mic or we have a singer-songwriter circle with a handful of feature performers that trade-off playing songs.”

In addition to the monthly cabarets, the association rents out the building for private functions and has branched out to sponsoring events in the community.

“We rent the building out for rock n’ roll shows, wedding receptions, baby showers, wedding showers, private parties, birthday parties, and other stuff like that. A lot of cool local bands have started to rent the building out for private shows and parties, and that’s really what we want,” Young said. “We also did Hanstock this past September which was held at the [Hancock] common that was sponsored by us, the library, and the Keene Music Festival. We try to get out of the building sometimes and sponsor community events like that.”

Young is also planning on renovations to both the floors and the roof, and he hopes that the Depot’s musical reach will grow even further.

“We are trying not to get just local people from Hancock or the Monadnock Region but we also bring in people from Boston and Rhode Island and from other parts of New England to try and have it be more of a regional thing. We are really trying to encourage an eclectic mix of performers,” Young said.

The mix not only includes artists and bands like the Tara Greenblatt Band and Eyes of Age, but also regional performers like the Rhode Island native Allison Rose or the Massachusetts-based band The Lied To’s.

The next Hancock Depot Cabaret, a singer/songwriter circle featuring Caleb Wetherbee, Allison Rose, Wendy Keith and Ethan McBrien, is planned for Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/hancockdepotcabaret.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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