Category Archives: Photo

The Smithereens do it ‘Especially for You’

The Smithereens at B.B. King Blues Club (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Smithereens at B.B. King Blues Club (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Smithereens unleashed their debut album, “Especially for You,” on the world 30 years ago, and the band played it — and much more at B.B. King Blues Club in Manhattan on Saturday night.

The Times Square feels like an odd place to see the band, which formed in Carteret, New Jersey, in 1980. The band seems far more at home in the grungy basement music room of New Brunswick’s Court Tavern. But B.B. King was the place the band booked — it’s become the band’s Manhattan go-to for a number of January shows — so there I went.

The show was superb, despite the questionable venue: great performances, great sound.

Yes, singer Pat DiNizio has been through some tough times and isn’t in the best physical shape. He’s unable to play guitar because of recent Tommy John surgery as well as other procedures to correct carpal tunnel problems.

But the man can still sing. His voice, while a little less flexible than it was 30 years ago, still has that distinctive quality that instantly identifies a Smithereens song, and remains superbly expressive.

Without DiNizio’s guitar, the band brought in keyboard player Andy Burton of John Mayer’s band to fill out the  sound — keys are a surprisingly nice addition, actually. And  guitarist Jim Babjak worked harder than ever to make up for the lack of a second guitar, with a rock-solid beat established by Dennis Diken, the world’s hardest-working drummer and bassist Severo “The Thrilla” Jornacion.

See more photos and info on upcoming shows after the jump.

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Jonathan Larson’s lasting impact honored in song (video)

The crowd gathers to hear Jonathan Larson's dad and sister talk about the late composer in the Grand Tier lobby at New York City Center on June 25, 2014. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The crowd gathers to hear Jonathan Larson’s dad and sister talk about the late composer in the Grand Tier lobby at New York City Center on June 25, 2014. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

New York City Center Encores! Off-Center (whose website is offline at this writing) revived “Rent” creator Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical show, “tick, tick … BOOM!” last week.

It was important enough that it lured Karen Olivo, a Broadway star (an alum of “Rent” and “In the Heights”) who has otherwise abandoned New York in favor of a life in Wisconsin, back to town.

And it really got actor and “In The Heights” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda fired up to write some reflections on Larson for The New York Times.

Leslie Odom Jr., of “Rent” and TV’s “Smash” fame, rounded out the cast.

If you missed it, that’s a terrible shame. But you can read the New York Daily News review here and check out the Times review here.

I saw the first performance, on Wednesday, and made a point to arrive early for the pre-show “Lobby Project” event in the hot-as-Hades Grand Tier lobby featuring Larson’s dad and sister talking about their late relative and promoting awareness of Marfan syndrome, the genetic disorder that contributed to his untimely death.

When “Rent” became a big hit after Larson’s death, his family and friends set up the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation to provide grants for composers, lyricists, and book writers in musical theater. The grants program is now run by the American Theatre Wing as Jonathan Larson Grants.

After Larson’s relatives spoke about him, the subject of the grants program came up, and it was announced that 107 people had received money from it so far  — and that many of those people were in the packed lobby.

That’s when people pulled out sheet music or opened it on their mobile devices and broke into a serenade, performing Larson’s iconic “Rent” tune “Season of Love.”

It was a grand moment.

I managed to catch much of it on video. Check it out:

 

 

 

 

Intentional nostalgia: Mission of Burma and Speed the Plough played The Bell House

Mission of Burma at The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY, Feb. 7, 2014 (Photos © 2014 Steven P. Marsh)

Mission of Burma at The Bell House, Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 7, 2014: Roger Miller, Clint Conley and Peter Prescott. (Photos © 2014 Steven P. Marsh)

Back in February — it seems such a very long time ago — I stopped by at The Bell House in Brooklyn to catch a double bill featuring two of my favorite bands.

Speed the Plough at The Bell House in Brookly, NY, on Feb. 7, 2014.

Speed the Plough at The Bell House in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 7, 2014: Ed Seifert, Toni Paruta Baumgartner, Mike Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee.

Mission of Burma and Speed the Plough both factored heavily in my experience at the late, lamented Maxwell’s in Hoboken, so it was a real joy to see them together at the Bell House, which was becoming Maxwell’s musical successor even before the lights went out in Hoboken. (And it’s no surprise, given that former Maxwell’s booker and co-owner Todd Abramson has been booking bands at the great Gowanus club for quite awhile now.)

The show was awesome, as expected. And the crowd — packed with more than a few familiar faces from Maxwell’s — was enthusiastic.

So step into my time machine and get a look at some shots from the show. If you were there, the pics will spark some good memories. If you didn’t make it, I apologize if my images make you envious.

Either way, enjoy them.

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