Tag Archives: The Bongos

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

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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Maxwell’s bowing out with a block party; many details still to be revealed

Patrons enter Maxwell's at 11th and Washington streets in Hoboken, on July 5, 2013, (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Maxwell’s at 11th and Washington streets in Hoboken, is planning a farewell block party on July 31. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

is reporting
that Maxwell’s, the restaurant and music
club in Hoboken, N.J., will make its farewell with a block party on
11th Street at Washington Street on July 31. It’s clearly an effort
by longtime booker and co-owner Todd
to make the 200-capacity club accessible to
the masses of people who will want to be a part of the venerated
venue’s last day. But a block party with DJ music as its final

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Saying goodbye to Maxwell’s: Share your ideas for the final show

Patrons enter Maxwell's at 11th and Washington streets in Hoboken, N.J., on July 5, 2013, (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Patrons enter Maxwell’s at 11th and Washington streets in Hoboken, N.J., on July 5, 2013, (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

We’ve been thinking a lot about closing night at Maxwell’s, the well-loved Hoboken, N.J., music club that hosts its last show on July 31.

There’s a selfish motive, in part, of course: How can WE get to be there. Surely with all the bands and fans that have passed through the Washington Street club over the last 35 years there will be far, far more people trying to get in than the small (capacity 200) venue can possibly hold. With closing a bit over three weeks away, Todd Abramson, the club’s booker and co-owner, is working on a plan.

Todd Abramson with the New York Post's Mary Huhn in Austin in 2003.

Todd Abramson with the New York Post’s Mary Huhn at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, in 2003.

But, as he told us by phone this morning, “there’s no news here” just yet. He definitely has some ideas about ways to make it accessible to more people and to level the playing field for those who want to be there. But he says he still has a lot to work out.

What we know is that “a,” the first band to play Maxwell’s, is supposed to reunite for the farewell show. And The Bongos, the much better-known band that grew out of “a,” will also be on the bill. But after that, just about everything is pure speculation.

Since things are in flux, you have a chance to weigh in with ideas of your own.

How should the final show be handled? Should it run all day. Should it be free on a first-come, first-served basis, a normal Maxwell’s price ($15-$25 from TicketFly) or should it be premium priced, a la Neil Young at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y., where’s the best seats are tabbed at $285? (Then again, when speaking of Maxwell’s, there are no SEATS, really.)

What about timing? July 31 is a weekday. Should the show start at 9 and go all night? Or should it start in the early afternoon and go on and on?

Who else — band, solo artist, influential individual or fan — be a part of the show in some way?

Don’t just tell us who or what. Tell us why — make a case for your idea. There should be a good reason for every eulogy and every participant in the farewell proceedings.

The sky’s the limit. Share you ideas in the comments section. Get a conversation going. Have fun thinking of the wildest ways possible to pay tribute to Maxwell’s incredible legacy.

Meanwhile, The Bongos promise details of some sort about the show on their Facebook page soon. And keep an eye on Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? We’ll be sure to let you know of any developments as soon as we can dig them up.

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

City Winery’s four nights for Haiti relief

Patti Smith is just one of the artists who will perform for Haiti relief at City Winery. (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? will be at the first of four nights of fantastic Haiti-relief. I’d like to make all four, but I’m not sure I have the cash (it’s $75 minimum,  but it’s worth as it’s for an important cause!) or the free time to do that. But everyone who cares about music and about the tragedy in Haiti should try to make it to at least one of these shows. It’s a great way for music fans to make a contribution.

All four nights are shaping up to be amazing. Patti Smith, Yo La Tengo, John Wesley Harding, comedian Lewis Black, Vernon Reid, Corey Glover, Roseanne Cash, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Carolina Chocolate Drops and many more entertainers of all types. City Winery promises that more will be added.

The third night (Jan. 25) in particular, should be a great party given that U.S-based Tabou Combo (misspelled on the poster as Tambou Combo), one of the longest-running bands specializing in an irresistible Haitian dance music called compas (or konpa direk), is on the bill. I haven’t seen TC in years, but by all accounts it remains an amazing dance band.

City Winery’s goal is to raise $100,000 for Haiti relief over the four nights. Tickets ($75 general admission, $200 for Big-Hearted Donor tickets, which include a bottle of special wine) are tax deductible. Proceeds are being split among three charities: Wyclef Jean‘s Yele Haiti Foundation, Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health.

Click here for more info and to buy tickets. As of this posting, it seems that tickets are still available for all four shows. Showtimes vary slightly from 8 to 9 pm, so check the time when you buy tickets. Unlike many City Winery shows, these shows are all general admission — although the $200 ticket will get you into the VIP area. My advice to you is to ignore your New York concert-going instincts to arrive late. If you want a good spot, arrive on time. Or even early! The good people at City Winery assure me that the kitchen will be open for all four shows, so you’ll be able to pass the time until the show starts with eating as well as drinking.

City Winery is at 155 Varick St., New York, NY 10013. Call (212) 608-0555 or email info@citywinery.com for more information.

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Happy 63rd, Patti!

Patti Smith, sharper and more focused on her birthday. (Photos copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

Patti Smith was still as giddy as a little girl last night, for the second of her three New Year’s shows at The Bowery Ballroom. She had reason to be happy — it was her 63rd birthday, or “burfday,” as she so charmingly says it.

But, unlike the first night, Patti brought a bit more snarl and a lot  more focus to the show. (She mentioned that The New York Times said she did some “bad things” on the first night. Check out that review, by Ben Ratliff, here.) The only slight disappointment last night was that the set list largely repeated the first night’s set. It was a spirited evening, though — good enough to make me regret my decision to skip tonight’s show to avoide the craziness of a Manhattan New Year’s Eve.

It didn't look like there were 63 candles on the cake that Jesse Smith brought onstage for her mom. But who's counting!

The evening had a few surprises. For me, the best came when James Mastro of Hoboken’s The Bongos, resplendent in a red hat, materialized onstage to assist on a cover of Neil Young’s Powderfinger. Last night’s version was much stronger than the opening night’s tepid effort, and Mastro’s professional attitude, great guitar work and solid vocals made a huge difference. (It would have been helpful if somebody had bothered to introduce James when he came onstage. While plenty of people in the audience recognized the local hero, his name wasn’t announced from stage until after he was done playing.)

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The Bongos at Maxwell’s

The Bongos at Maxwell's. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

The Bongos at Maxwell's. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

If you didn’t go see The Bongos at Maxwell’s in Hoboken last night, you missed a magical evening. The band was tight and very much into performing for a (surprisingly light) hometown crowd. You have another chance to see Richard Barone, James Mastro, Rob Norris and Frank Giannini tonight at Hiro Ballroom in Manhattan, where they’re performing a CMJ show.

The Bongos' set list at Maxwell's.

The Bongos' set list at Maxwell's.

They played two solids sets, performing just about every song in their catalogue — which isn’t huge, since they only recorded two full albums and one EP in their 1980s heyday. But they played every one of them with great joy and energy. Plus, they threw in a couple of covers and a couple of their own songs that were never released.

They were joined by Dennis Kelly, who played synthesizer in the band’s early days, and Nick Celeste, a singer and guitarist who worked with Richard on his first post-Bongos project, Cool Blue Halo, in 1987.

Check out more photos of last night’s show after the jump.

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The Bongos dates and ticket information announced

The Bongos

The Bongos

The Bongos’ frontman Richard Barone has announced the dates of the band’s two shows next month: Thursday, Oct. 22, at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., and Friday, Oct. 23, at Hiro Ballroom in Manhattan.

Although Barone piqued fans’ interest by announcing on Twitter and facebook that the two shows were coming up next month, he slyly announced the dates by replying to a comment in his facebook thread rather than make a separate announcement:

Maxwell’s on Thursday, OCT. 22nd… Hiro Ballroom on Friday, OCT. 23… Hope to see you there!
Yesterday at 5:13pm
Tickets for the 8:30 pm show at Maxwell’s on Oct. 22 are $15 and available on TicketWeb. Tickets for the Hiro Ballroom show the following night are not on sale as of this posting, but should be available soon through TicketWeb as well.

More drumbeats along the Hudson

As Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? reported yesterday, The Bongos are coming back with at least two shows in the NYC area next month. Until that happens, enjoy this video of The Bongos performing a Pylon cover last March at City Winery during the afterparty for the R.E.M. tribute at Carnegie Hall.

Meanwhlile, our friends over at Cliffview Pilot scored an interview with The Bongos’ frontman Richard Barone, in which he talks about the reunion shows and a number of other projects he has in the works. Check out the full interview here.