If you’ve had your morning cup of caffeine brewed up by someone without a beard today, we salute you. You clearly have a keen eye for supporting minorities. Quite where the beginnings of hipsterdom’s rag ‘n’ bone man chic lie, what is for sure is that you can’t throw a stone in a major international city without hitting a young chap in braces, flat-cap, neatly-ironed shirt and a billowing mass of facial hair. Some see this as a positive, for example: I know plenty who want to throw stones at these people. Whereas for many, the 1800s rail-worker look is grating.
Oft deemed as the birthplace of the modern hipster, Brooklyn’s Williamsburg has seen a transition over recent years. As Manhattan city-types move in to enjoy their slice of cool-cake – the gentrification wheel turns, spewing much of its young creatives and Mario lookalikes out down the L line some stops, into rough-around-the-edges Bushwick. Inevitably, recent years have seen a flurry of openings: galleries, shops, restaurants, bars. Montana’s Trail House, one of Bushwick’s latest outposts, comes courtesy of Montana Masback, a man who looks more like the sort of person who would have been holding up one of the trains that ran on the tracks that East London or Melbourne’s hipsters had laid. Masback means business with his own branch of 1800s revivalism, there is an air of authenticity that would stop Mumford and his Sons in their tracks. I can’t help but hear Bad Moon Rising when I look at him.
A Betsy Ross flag, an axe, an oil lamp, a deer’s head. The paraphernalia surrounding Masback’s Bushwick shack leave you in no doubt as to the particular vibe this former bartender wants to invoke. In fact, such is Montana’s commitment to the cause, his Trail House has been constructed from wood salvaged from a Kentucky barn he purchased especially for the project. Food here is billed as “Appalachian east coast country” with “some black-magic inspired dishes” – something that got the New York Observer‘s knickers in a twist; the cultural region (that stretches from New York to Mississippi) has long been the source of sneering stereotypes of banjos and moonshine. But let me refer you back to that authenticity. Naysayers can tell Montana to his face.
Whatever your outlook, Montana’s blood, sweat and tears have hatched a ramshackle delight in a corner of New York where creativity is yet to be stamped out by developers, chains and adventure-seeking Wall Streeters. It might remind me of a corner of Disney World dedicated to telling the story of America’s frontiersmen, it might encourage me to bang down my tankard and cry ‘yeee-haaa’, but most of all it makes me want to heartily shake Masback by the hand and come back for more.