Contributing Correspondent Sue Matsuki
Interviews David Budway of Maureen’s Jazz Cellar

David, please tell us a little bit about Maureen’s Jazz Cellar and how it came to be? I know it’s named after your beautiful and talented sister but what gave you the idea of opening this club and how did it happen?

“It really all began with Brianne Higgins’ (my wife) idea to “do something” after both of her parent’s passed (within two years of each other). She’s always wanted to create something that would grow and last.

Brianne says, “Being in theater for many years where months were spent building ‘magic’ with sets, costumes, characters and casts; the inevitable always came; the curtain would fall, the set would strike, the props laid to rest and the costumes folded.  I decided that it was time to build something that was made to last.”

She looked at many different places, but finally decided to renovate the space that we now possess.  It was a dingy, gross, messy little room that my wife  transformed into the beautiful room that is now Maureen’s Jazz Cellar. I told Brianne that if she ever decided to open a place, the thing that I wanted to contribute was a beautiful piano, because so few clubs have good instruments.

The year after Brianne’s mother died, my beloved sister Maureen died. That was a tough one. We were best friends, musical collaborators, confidants, etc. When she died I really had no idea how I was going to be able to carry on, or even play music again.  After my sister Kathy and I decided to sell Maureen’s house which was left to us by my parents, I was able to use my portion for the purchase of our beautiful Steinway B piano.  My wife was very fond of my sister Maureen and it was Brianne’s idea to honor Maureen’s memory and talent by calling the venue, “Maureen’s Jazz Cellar”. Not only is the club named after her, but every year in January we commemorate her passing by featuring the Annual “Winter Mo Down”.  A weekend dedicated to honor the memory of my little sister Maureen who left this world way too soon. This year we will be featuring a concert in her memory on January 12 (the date she passed) with Artists that knew her and performed with her.  Joe Locke and Jeff “Tain” Watts will be among the many performers.”

I’ve worked Maureen’s (thank you) and it’s one of my favorite places I have ever performed. Your staff and your wife Brianne run an amazing “ship” up there and everyone makes  you feel like a star! The sound is awesome, great piano and the room is intimate (40-50 people if sold out and the bar is full). Tell us what is the best and the worst part about running the club and where do you hope it goes in the next few years?

“The best part (for me) is being able to present and hear such wonderful music and musicians!  Also, to be able to have a great glass of wine and hear great jazz in an intimate spot that has such great sound!  There is no talking during performances, so audiences and artists alike love our place! The artists are treated with respect from the moment they walk in, to the moment they leave. I also like not having to travel to Manhattan to hear world-class jazz.  Because of our club, now we can hear it in Nyack!

The worst part of owning a club (for me) is the late hours which never seem to end. Since I am myself a musician, it’s not easy fitting in time to practice, to keep up my technique. It’s also very mind-consuming.  Even when I do find time to practice, I’ll be thinking about booking artists, helping my wife with deliveries, thinking about ways in which we can improve. Trying to find ways to bring larger audiences.

Another hard thing for me is having to nag musicians to promote their shows. I’m a musician so my main concern is getting better at music, not becoming an agent or a publicist, so I can empathize with musicians that don’t really bother to promote their Cellar performances.  Nyack is different than New York being that we don’t have a “built-in” audience.  Many groups that do very well attendance wise in NYC don’t necessarily bring an audience to their shows in Nyack. So, there’s a fine line of presenting great artists, and keeping our doors open.

I’m hoping that in the coming years, our jazz shows are better attended because we pride ourselves in presenting the greatest music at very reasonable prices. We are still in our baby stages and are continuing to try new things that we enjoy and still have fun in the process.”

Who are some of the “names” that have played there?

“Some of the many “named” Artists that have performed at Maureen’s are: Hubert Laws, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Karrin Allyson, Bucky Pizzarelli, Joe Locke, Sheila Jordan, Dave Liebman, The Kingston Trio,  Vincent Curatola (star of the Sopranos),  Marlene Ver Planck, Rufus Reid, Mike Clark, Victor Lewis, Geoff Keezer, Giacomo Gates, Adam Nussbaum, Hendrik Meurkens, Roni Ben-Hur, Alan Broadbent, Barry Miles, Andy Laverne, Roseanna Vitro, Mike Longo, Jay Leonhart, Ralph LaLama, Audrey Silver, Gabrielle Stravelli, Dave Stryker, Hal Galper , Luis Perdomo, Dave Kikoski, Bill O’Connell, Marvin Stamm. We feature Grateful Dead bands on Thursdays. There are many Artists I haven’t mentioned.”

Tell us about the Open Mic night on Tuesdays? I came up once, but it got a little too late and I had to drive back to Brooklyn. I think you give each person 2 songs and that folks just arrive and sign up. It’s FREE too, right? Tell us how it works please, and what time does it starts and goes until? Is it jazz, jazzy standards only or does anything work?

“Our Open Mic (every Tuesday) is unlike any other open mic that I’ve ever attended. All musical genres are welcome, not just Jazz. Artists get two songs each. We have a house rhythm section, so we ask performers to bring copies of their music for our bassist and pianist.  Performers are not allowed to perform with tracks. It must be “live”.  Also, there is no talking (except between performers), so the performers are actually “listened to” which both scares and attracts them.  It is not first come first served because I run it like a show.  Sometimes there are so many performers that we cannot get to everyone! We ask performers to try and be patient and to come back. I remember who does and does not get to perform. We have many regulars that come each week to “test” their new material.  “Original” Songs are welcomed.  ALL styles.  We feature Jazz, Folk, Rock, Spoken Word, Tap Dancers, Belly Dancers, Singer Songwriters, and more.

The fun all begins at 8:30. No cover charge. No minimum. We just ask folks to visit the tip jar so that we can keep it free (and pay the band).”

It reminded me a little of the old club Dan Lynch where they had a Sunday Jazz Jam Sessions. There were a lot of musicians in the house who got up and played for the singers in combos of piano, bass, percussion and horns. Some people called tunes, and some had charts. Do you think there is a “level” one must have to do Maureen’s open mic or is it a whatever happens happens type deal? 

“There is no real “level” that a performer has to be at to perform at our Open Mic. Some nights we have great performers, other nights not so good. It’s really a whatever happens happens type deal.  I do, however, ask first timers to come and check it out, because it can be a little intimidating. The range of talent can be colossal! We do our best to welcome all and make sure all get to perform. Sometimes people leave mad (when they don’t get to perform) and write nasty stuff on Facebook.  Whatever. You can’t please everyone. Ever.”

I know you are booked forward for a few months already but how does one book a show at Maureen’s? Does one submit a video and resume? How do you prefer to be approached?

“The best way to book a show is to e-mail me at directly at: Links are usually sent to me from the artists. That helps me, especially if I am not familiar with the Artist’s work. Performers just need to be patient because I can be slow at responding because of my musical schedule. I still practice Classical and Jazz piano every day to try to improve, so my time for booking is limited.  Presently we are booked thru the end of the year. I don’t like to book too far in advance for various reasons.  I will resume the booking for 2019 in December.”

Now it’s all about YOU David Budway! You just did a long run at the very fancy and prestigious Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle and you were just terrific. What’s next for you? Where are you performing and when? How can my reader’s get your music and CDs?

“I just did my CD release party October 26 at Maureen’s of “The Jazz Piano Man Sings” which your readers can purchase at:

Other places to find my music:

♫ 3 Budways – 3 Budways. Listen @cdbaby

I will also be performing with various artists at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar thru the end of the year as follows:

October 27 with Lynn Stein  8pm and 9:30pm

November 2nd with Vincent Curatola (star of the Sopranos) 8pm and 9:30pm

November 3rd with Neal Caine (bassist with Harry Connick) 8pm (one show only)

November 9th with Peter Furlan (Rockland County composer, educator and recording artist) 8pm  and 9:30pm

November 21 Piano Bar Night with the Budman at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar 8pm—4am

November 23 My Trio at the Cellar  8pm and 9:30pm

December 7th with Shirley Crabbe 8pm and 9:30pm

December 22nd  3rd ANNUAL HOLIDAY SHOW with the Budman and Lizzy Kates  8pm and 9:30pm

I plan to return to the Carlyle in 2019. I’ll keep Cabaret Hot Spots posted. I’ll also be performing in India with Hubert Laws in April 2019.

Other Artists that I’ve played for and/or recorded with are:  Christiane Noll, Mark Murphy, Stanley Turrentine, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Maureen Budway,  Hubert Laws, Jimmy Heath and many more.”

Speaking of your new CD, “The Jazz Piano Man”, your collaboration with lyricist Lou Tracey…WOW David…awesome tunes. I wanted pretty much every tune on the CD.

NOTE: To all my readers, if you’re looking for great original tunes, this is how you find them! I also loved “A New Kiss” and “Bud Way” so definitely go buy a few of David’s CDs as they are all AWESOME! They make GREAT Holiday gifts too!

I want to thank you David for such a fun and insightful interview. Cabaret Hot Spots wishes you and your beautiful wife Brianne continued success in your mission to provide a lovely space and presenting amazing music at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar! 


OPEN MIC NIGHT EVERY TUESDAY FROM 8:30 pm (No Cover / No Minimum)

2 North Broadway – Nyack, New York 10960 – 845-535-3143 (For a complete list of upcoming shows.)