Tag Archives: Glenn Mercer

A foretaste of New Jersey rock without Maxwell’s: Speed the Plough, East of Venus play Mexicali Live

Speed the Plough performs at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, N.J. on July 18, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Speed the Plough performs at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, N.J. on July 18, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

We know what it’s going to be like without Maxwell’s. We learned it pretty clearly at Mexcali Live in Teaneck, N.J., on Thursday, July 18.

Speed the Plough, a very Maxwell’s-identified band, ripped through an excellent headlining set after warmups by Lianne Smith and East of Venus.

Toni (Paruta) Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee of Speed the Plough.  (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Toni (Paruta) Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee of Speed the Plough. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Nobody in the audience crowded the edge of the stage, which is tradition at Maxwell’s. Not there’s anything wrong with that. It just seemed a little alien. But you had the distinct feeling that if you tried to stand in front of the stage, you’d be shouted away by the audience or escorted away by management. So it seemed better to keep a bit of distance.

Only one person in the crowd stood near the front of a rather cavernous room filled with tables, chairs and stools — and he was far, far from his usual front-and-center spot.

Never mind that the sound at Mexicali is crisp and the raised stage provides sight lines that are, to say the least, more audience-friendly than Maxwell’s. Continue reading

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Speed the Plough joins Bar/None’s July 24 farewell to Maxwell’s

Speed the Plough at Maxwell's on Oct. 20, 2012. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Speed the Plough at Maxwell’s on Oct. 20, 2012. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

STP is part of a promised ‘cavalcade of mystery stars’ joining Headliners Freedy Johnston and Band, James Mastro’s Health & Happiness Show and Chris Stamey with Anton Fier and Gene Holder

Myrna and the Hangar Boys (Human Switchboard’s Myrna Marcarian, Jared Michael Nickerson, Dave Schramm and Ron Metz) join lineup

WFMU to broadcast live from the lounge

Even before Maxwell’s closing was announced, Speed the Plough was gearing up get active again. The band, which can trace its lineage back to The Feelies through The Trypes, became active in 2009 after a long hiatus, but has been picking up steam lately in anticipation of a new album — a compilation of some of its long-out-of-print music from the early days plus six brand-new tracks.

But now they’re preparing to say goodbye to the venerated Hoboken club with one last gig there, on Thursday, July 24, as part of a Bar/None record label lineup.

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The Feelies’ final Fourth of July at Maxwell’s

Maxwell's in the dim light on Independence Day 2013. (Photos © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Maxwell’s in the dim light on Independence Day 2013. (Photos © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

It’s always a tough, emotional thing to get to Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J.,  for The Feelies‘ annual Fourth of July show. You’re fighting for access to the Mile Square City with thousands trying to get to the waterfront to watch the Macy’s fireworks show in Manhattan.

But the Fourth of July 2013 was particularly tough, even with showtime pushed back to the throwback hour of 10 p.m. (Remember when rock shows didn’t really get started until nighttime had really settled in?)

It was the very last Independence Day that The Feelies would be playing the venerated Maxwell’s music club.

For fans and newbies alike, the night — the first of the band’s three-day holiday stand — was a touching one.

Glenn Mercer, Bill Million and Brenda Sauter onstage at Maxwell's on July 4.

Glenn Mercer, Bill Million and Brenda Sauter onstage at Maxwell’s on July 4.

For their part, members of the band — Glenn Mercer on guitar, Bill Million on guitar, Brenda Sauter on bass, Stan Demeski on drums and Dave Weckerman on percussion — didn’t get maudlin and sentimental. They just did what they always do, playing a solid, well-planned set of crowd favorites, mixing their own turns — the older, nervous one and the new, slightly more melodic numbers — with a bunch of rock covers that they’ve added to their bag of tricks over the years.

They brought up a longtime friend and associate, John Baumgartner (of The Trypes and Speed the Plough, and also involved in a graphics business with sister Janice Demeski), to join them on “Bluer Skies” early in the evening.

They ended with three encores, featuring a surprise guest in the first set: Glenn Morrow, a longtime partner in Hoboken’s Bar/None Records and a member of Hoboken heyday bands like The Individuals, Rage to Live, and A, the band that later morphed, without Morrow, into The Bongos. Morrow joined The Feelies for The Monkees hit “I’m a Believer” and the Feelies favorite Beatles track, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey,” to cement the simian theme.

There were no surprises. But that’s not what Feelies fans want at the band’s shows. They want the satisfaction of a rock-solid set of favorites old and new. And that’s what they get.

And that’s a better tribute to the soon-to-be-gone club than a bucket of salty tears and maudlin speeches could ever be.

Click through to the jump for more photos. Continue reading

Hanukkah with Yo La Tengo at Maxwell’s in Hoboken — Sunday and Monday

YLT 2

Yo La Tengo jammed with Fred Armisen on a second drum kit. (Photos © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Yo La Tengo continued its massively wonderful holiday tradition, kicking off the first of eight shows — one for each night of Hanukkah — on Saturday night. The proceeds from tickets and most merchandise goes to charity. (This year all the charities support Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts.)_

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? managed to score tickets to four of the eight nights — not an easy thing to do the way TicketFly is set up.

Our first night was Night 2, when the amazing Sun Ra Arkestra (imagine a DOZEN musicians on the tiny Maxwell’s stage!) was the opener and Fred Armisen of “Saturday Night Live” and “Portlandia” was both the comedian and a musical guest.

Night 3 featured Hoboken’s hometown heroes The Feelies, which opened with a very strong set, and the members of which sat in at various points of YLT’s set. Guitarist and vocalist Glenn Mercer was absolutely on fire all night. And Brenda Sauter did a great job on vocals for “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” “SNL” writer John Mulaney was the comic for Night 3.

We’ll be back tonight, but wanted to share some images of nights 2 and 3 with you now.

This is a tradition that has been going on for 11 years, YLT’s Ira Kaplan pointed out last night. We hope it continues for many years to come.

Click through to the jump for lots of photos from Sunday and Monday nights’ shows.

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Jersey Fresh: Speed the Plough, Wild Carnation and The Thousand Pities

Photo by Katie Demeski

Speed the Plough (Photo by Katie Demeski)

It’s a great weekend for New Jersey rock and roll. In one fell swoop, three Jersey bands, all with links to The Feelies, are performing on a joint bill in NYC tonight and New Jersey tomorrow.

Shine is due out Aug. 16

Speed the Plough is using the shows to preview the sounds of its wonderful new album, Shine, which as Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has been telling you, is due out on Aug. 16. STP is a real family affair, fronted as it is by the husband-and-wife team of Toni and John Baumgartner and includes their son, Mike and STP co-founder Marc Francia and his sons Ian and Dan. New member Ed Seifert, another fixture on the New Jersey music scene,  is the only person in the band who, as far as we know, isn’t related to anyone else in STP.

 You can get a sample of the warm, rhythmic and familiar sounds of STP’s new work with the first single, “Something to Say,” which is streaming on the band website and on the Dromedary Records site.

STP is inextricably linked to The Feelies, in part through former member Brenda Sauter, who’s the longtime Feelies bass player and also a member of Wild Carnation, another band on this weekend’s bill.  STP grew out of the ashes of another legendary band, The Trypes, which also included Feelies members.

Wild Carnation bills itself as “the best Feelies spin-off band you never heard of,” is also on the bill, along with Montclair’s The Thousand Pities – which includes Michael Carlucci, who plays with Feelies singer Glenn Mercer.

Shows are 8 p.m. today (Friday, July 29) at at Piano’s, 158 Ludlow Street, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side ($10, tickets available here), and tomorrow (Saturday, July 30) at 8:30 pm tomorrow at Tierney’s, 138 Valley Road, Montclair, N.J. (No price announced.)

The Feelies feeling independent

The Feelies at Maxwell's on Night 1 of the 2011 Independence Weekend. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

The Feelies kicked off Independence Weekend, as they’ve been doing for ages, at Maxwell’s in Hoboken last night (Friday, July 1)

It was a homecoming as always at Maxwell’s since that was the band’s home club for its entire existence.

Last night was the first of a three-night stand. The hometown crowd was not disappointed, with The Feelies starting just a bit after 9 p.m., the posted showtime, and playing until almost 12:30, with just one short intermission.

Click through to the jump for more photos and info about the first night show. Also, check out a great Paste Magazine slideshow of a day in the life of The Feelies from their recent Philadelphia show at World Cafe Live.

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Catching up with The Feelies

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The Feelies

Since you landed on this post, you’ve probably already checked out the Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? post about The Feelies‘ Fourth of July weekend shows at Maxwell’s.

But if you’ve fallen behind on your Feelies news, here’s a collection of great items on the web about the shows, the band and the NEW ALBUM, for which the band has been writing new songs for a couple of years. Production is supposed to start any day. Read on for more.

Jim Testa‘s known The Feelies since Day One, so his voice in Jersey Beat is authoritative. Click here for his review and his insights about the new album.

Katie Demeski, daughter of Feelies drummer Stanely Demeski, blogs about a number of things, but mostly ruminates on her dad’s band. She posted some videos of her dad practicing here, gives her impressions of The Feelies demos here, talks about the in-the-works Feelies album here and weighs in on Feelies offshoot band Speed the Plough‘s new album here.

And The NJ Underground, a site aimed at younger music fans, did a good piece on The Feelies. Perhaps this accounted for the rather high percentage of young people in the audience at Maxwell’s last weekend.

Tonight may be your last chance to see The Feelies this year!

Glenn Mercer and Bill Million of The Feelies at Maxwell's in Hoboken, N.J., on Saturday, July 3. (Photos copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

As has been the habit of The Feelies since their comeback in 2008, they booked shows around a holiday — in this case the Fourth of July at the band’s musical home, Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J.

Glenn Mercer's singing: strong and clear

This year the band booked three shows starting Friday and ending tonight, on the holiday itself. If you love The Feelies and you haven’t seen them yet this year, now’s the time to book. Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? made it to last night’s gig, and we’re glad we did.  The set was much the same as always — The Feelies have typically played the same set, with slight variations, at every show since the reunion. This is a band that likes predictability. But frontman Glenn Mercer‘s singing seemed stronger, clearer and more confident than ever, and the overall sound was crisp and clear —something that has not been a hallmark of many recent shows.

One thing worth noting, though. The band did do quite a few new songs — some of which have been in rotation for awhile, with a couple of other, even newer tunes, one of which remains untitled. It was a real treat to hear new material. It sounds strong and very much in keeping with what fans know and love The Feelies for without sounding like retreads.

Bass player Brenda Sauter played and looked great, and wasn't wearing the wrist brace she usually sports.

We’re hearing that it’s not clear when the band will play again, since no other gigs are booked so far this year. And a member of the band’s team says the quintet is going into the studio after tonight work on a new album.

Doors for tonight’s show are at 8 o’clock at Maxwell’s, 1039 Washington St., Hoboken, N.J. Showtime is 9 p.m. There’s no opening band, so get there by 9 or you’ll miss out. Tickets are $25, and still available here.

If you drive, allow extra time. It’s the Fourth of July, and there will be crowds of people out to watch fireworks. It’ll be hellish getting around, and parking will be extremely difficult, especially if you usually count on parking along Sinatra Drive, which is closed for the weekend. Take public transportation if possible.

Click to the jump for more photos from last night’s show.

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An insider’s view of The Feelies

Glenn Mercer and Stanley Demeski.

Glenn Mercer and Stanley Demeski.

Katie Demeski

Katie Demeski

Katie Demeski, daughter of The Feelies drummer Stan Demeski, has come through as I hoped with a fastastic post on her blog about The Feelies’ Fourth of July Weekend shows at Maxwell’s. I’ll let her tell the story and try to get out of the way. Go, Katie:

So the Feelies shows came and went and, again, they were amazing. On the first night, three of my friends came. One of them, Matt, was even at the sound check. The sound check itself ran a little late, but in the first hour or so, Glenn started playing “Billie Jean”. Then Dave started singing in falsetto and playing his snare to the beat. It was absolutely hilarious and kind of made my day.

Anyway, so we ate at Maxwell’s and my other friends, Dan and Liebold arrived. It was pretty packed that night, but we were able to get pretty good spots. As for the actual show, this year the Feelies started things out with some more mellow songs like “When Company Comes,” and a cover of “Sunday Morning.” New additions to the lineup included “Egyptian Reggae”, “Moscow Nights”, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey,” and “Invitation” (although, as mentioned in a previous entry, they added that song on New Year’s Eve). There was even one new song, “Bluer Skies” on which Brenda’s husband, Rich Barnes of Wild Carnation, even played keyboard on it while sitting on the little crate that is used as a step to get to the stage at Maxwell’s.

Friday night I went to the sound check with my dad because my mom and my brother were going to take the train after my mom got out of work. Anyway, Dave again started singing Michael Jackson when Andy the sound man told him he could sing into his mic if he wanted. So he sang “Thriller” and I felt the need to text Matt and inform him about it. I just chilled at Maxwell’s for most of the afternoon, reading Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer. The show was pretty much the same as the day before, except I was standing next to a particularly obnoxious tall drunk man who got more and more drunk as the night progressed. Regardless it was fun.

On the Fourth of July, I took the train to Hoboken with my mom and brother and it was pretty damn crowded especially for the Hawthorne train station. My dad had asked me earlier in the week if I would help Bill’s nephew, Ben, film for his Feelies concert movie. Ben and his friend (Nick, I think?) had attatched a camera holder-thing to a pole and I was instructed to put the end of the pole in my pocket and film from a little farther away than I had been standing, using the screen on the camera to keep track of the shot. Ben also had all of the Feelies go into the dressing room alone and he filmed each of them for five minutes, not asking them any questions or anything. When Bill came out he said, “I feel violated.”

Thanks, Katie. You are awesome. Click here to read the rest of Katie’s entry.

The Feelies on the Fourth

Glenn Mercer, Stanley Demeski and Bill Million of The Feelies at Maxwell's on July 4, 2009. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

Glenn Mercer, Stanley Demeski and Bill Million of The Feelies at Maxwell's on July 4, 2009. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

It would be easy to get used to making a tradition out of celebrating the Fourth of July with The Feelies.

Although their long-awaited comeback started at Maxwell’s in Hoboken

Bill Million and bassist Brenda Sauter.

Bill Million and bassist Brenda Sauter.

on June 30-July 2,  2008 (and those shows thrilled me) , they announced their return in a big way  two days later, opening for Sonic Youth in NYC’s Battery Park on the Fourth of July. The sun, sweat, humidity and the huge crowd just made the experience more intense. The band did not disappoint.

Percussionist Dave Weckerman seems content to stay in the background.

Percussionist Dave Weckerman seems content to stay in the background.

As you’ve probably read here earlier, The Feelies took over Maxwell’s for three nights this month, from July 2-4.

On that last night, thousands crammed the streets and waterfront of Hoboken to see the Macy’s fireworks, while dozens of true believers ignored the holiday hoopla and chose to watch the guitar pyrotechnics of Glenn Mercer and Bill Million instead.

I didn’t mind missing the fireworks outside, not at all.

Glenn Mercer

Glenn Mercer

The Feelies are a band that doesn’t offer too many surprises. Their shows are like your favorite jeans, well-worn, broken in  and perfectly comfortable. They feel good — and just right. They don’t throw many curve balls — even the multiple covers they did as encores over the three nights had little variation from night to night. But none of that matters to a true Feelies fan. In fact, curve balls might ruin the equilibrium.

At the July 4 show, I was positioned very close to the stage. That made for clearer shots of individual band members or pairings of players, but didn’t give me a chance to shoot an overview. So this will give you a very different perspective than the previous night’s shots.

Rich Barnes of Wild Carnation (and Brenda's husband) helped out on keyboard.

Rich Barnes of Wild Carnation (and Brenda's husband) helped out on keyboard.

My position made it tough to spot local heroes in the audience. But at the end of the night, I spotted Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo returning to the music room as the majority of the crowd was filing out. You can always count on them being at a Feelies show. The only other face I wish had been in the crowd was filmmaker Jonathan Demme, who featured The Feelies as “The Willies” in his 1986 movie Something Wild. I guess that was his payback for making  Stop Making Sense two years earlier about the Talking Heads instead of The Feelies!