Drew Bordeaux recalls a time when the music scene in Northern Westchester and its environs was bustling. The Mount Kisco born and bred singer/songwriter who plays both guitar and violin would play upwards of 150 gigs a year at local venues including the now defunct Winston’s in Mount Kisco, Village Social in Mount Kisco and Lucy’s in Pleasantville. At these smaller venues, he enjoyed getting to know his fan base. But he also played larger venues in the tri-state area with some well-known musicians including Lauryn Hill, Boz Skaggs, KT Tunstall and the Gin Blossoms.
All this, in addition to holding down a job in his boutique digital marketing firm, Silver Rush Media, and doing fashion photo shoots and portraits of celebrities like actor Kiefer Sutherland, and musicians including Grace Potter, Ani DiFranco and Steve Earle. To say that he’s a Renaissance man is an understatement. And COVID hasn’t stopped him from creating and coming up with innovative solutions to continue his many creative pursuits albeit in new formats.
A Musician at Heart
The eloquent Harvard educated Bordeaux first fell in love with playing violin in first grade. He recalls many afternoons spent at the Westchester Conservatory of Music and Hoff-Barthelson Music School. Growing up blues music was a fixture in his household. “BB King was my first concert,” he recalls.
After picking up guitar and playing in some indie bands in college, he credits musicians such as John Mayer and Dave Matthews for influencing his music. He played at several Manhattan venues in the eponymous Bordeaux Group post college such as The Bitter End and the National Underground. The managers from those venues recommended him for several gigs which led to a jam-packed gig schedule “much to the chagrin of my friends and family,” notes Bordeaux.
A Pandemic Pivot
But of course all of that came to a screeching halt in March of 2020 and with that Bordeaux’s gigs. In the beginning of the pandemic, he was literally itching to perform. “Every day felt like a year.” But after talking with his fellow creatives, he decided to experiment and try new platforms to perform. By April, he was performing from his Tarrytown home via Livestream. “This gave me the opportunity to be in pajamas one minute and performing the next.”
Bordeaux used several of his Livestream performances to raise funds for causes near and dear to his heart such as MusiCares COVID-19 Relief, a Grammy created program to help music industry professionals during the pandemic and also a local beloved landmark, Tarrytown Music Hall. “It was great to have family and friends donate too to these causes who normally might not be able to see me perform.”
A silver lining of the pandemic is that Bordeaux has had time to finally start working on an album which will be released this spring titled Impulse/Instinct. Bordeaux fans will be happy to hear him playing loop-based acoustic guitar a la Ed Sheeran. “If you’ve seen me perform, it won’t deviate too much from that.” He’s been busy researching platforms for him to release the album himself like Spotify.
He’s also found that the pandemic can actually be liberating for creatives like himself. “Now is the time that we can literally do anything–all preconceived notions about what would or wouldn’t work have gone out the window.” For instance, he has been doing virtual Zoom photo shoots. One photo shoot featuring local Chappaqua fashion model Danielle Zinaich wound up in Vogue.
Elevate20 Photography Project
Bordeaux also used his photography skills this past summer for a photo series project he titled Elevate20. Bordeaux’s wife Tammy started working at the Tribeca Film Festival about three weeks before the pandemic hit. They watched a Tribeca-produced documentary in partnership with MCM about the music and fashion scene in NYC together called “The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion” and Bordeaux was instantly inspired by this amazing community of musicians and fashion designers.
“The Elevate20 series was the nexus of my photography with the Black Lives Matters movement,” he explained. Bordeaux posted to his Instagram this summer that he was looking to do pro bono photo shoots for 20 Black creatives. So for instance if a model needed to update his/her “look book” or a musician needed a new album cover, Bordeaux would photograph it. “I wanted to uplift people and do my best work for people of color. I met amazing musicians and designers through the project.” Photos from the series can be viewed on drewbordeaux.com.
Raising Awareness About Racial Inequality
The subject of race also propelled him to write several essays on the topic after the George Floyd killing this past spring. “When the video came out, I didn’t want to watch it. I was cynical enough to know how it ends. But when I did see it, it was a turning point.
I had friends calling me and asking me what they could do to help. My Facebook became a diary and chronicle of my thoughts and feelings about the social unrest that was happening and a way to have a dialogue with people [about race] at a time when I didn’t necessarily feel it was that safe to go out and protest.”
His social media feed and essays caught the attention of editors at Bedford & New Canaan Magazine and they approached him about becoming the arts/culture editor there as well as photographing for various stories. “Any chance I have to be creative this year, I’m like, let’s go,” he explained.
Obviously, Bordeaux has a lot on his plate but when he has downtime, he enjoys spending time at the Tarrytown Sleepy Hollow (TASH) farmers market of which his wife is co-president. With both in creative fields, they’ve had to pivot and rethink how to approach their jobs. “The Tribeca Film Festival this year is going to be this immersive and reimagined experience. I can’t wait,” he said.
Like all of us, Bordeaux is waiting for some sense of normalcy to resume. Once Covid is behind us, he wants to go to his favorite restaurant Mint in Tarrytown for brunch with his wife. “I just want to sit in our window seat and feel transported like you are in Europe.” He also wants to go to a rock concert. “That was one of the last things I did before the pandemic started and I remember standing there thinking this is the last time I am doing this for a while. I just want to feel the music wash over me again.”