Mural Remembers Ramones

Joey Ramon (Jeff Hyman) headstone. Photo by Tony Fischer

Joey Ramon (Jeff Hyman) headstone. Photo by Tony Fischer

Across from the former location on the Bowery of the famed music venue CBGB artists Solus and Dan (Crash) Matos created a mural to commemorate the debut of the Ramones over 40 years ago there.

The mural depicts the band leader Joey Ramone with bright red boxing gloves clutched together in front of his chest, looking ready for a fight. The non-profit group Little Italy Street Art Project NYC is behind the organization of paintings creation, which was executed within 6 hours on September 3.

Wayne Rada of the LISA Project explained that the fighting position Joey Ramone strikes in the portrait represents the many years of struggle the band had to invest before becoming the household name they eventually became.

“It was pretty cool that the boxing gloves have a symbolic meaning of the struggle,” Rada said.

Solus pointed out on Instagram that in the 22 years the Ramones toured they performed 2,263 times.

CBGBs closed in September 2006 after hosting live music for 33 years. August marked the 41st year since the Ramones first performance there.

The mural can remain for one year until the permit expires, at which time, the rules stipulate, the wall must go back to its “Tawny Rose” color. Rada needs to check with the community every 90 days to make sure there are no problems.

Rada said that word is quickly spreading through social media about the mural, and people have been coming to see it and take photos.

The Bowery Ballroom’s Swier Heading West

The Bowery's New Branch Coming Soon to Los Angeles

The Bowery’s New Branch Coming Soon to Los Angeles

Michael Swier, founder and owner of the Mercury Lounge, which opened in 1994, and the Bowery Ballroom, 1998, is about to open a new music venue on the west side… of the country!

Yes you heard it right- Swier, a non-apologetic New Yorker, has purchased a 100-year-old former silent film theater on the outskirts of downtown LA and is transforming it into the Teragram, a deluxe modern rock club which can entertain 600 people in one go. Swier’s brother Brian, an architect who helped design the New York clubs, is one of his partners on the LA venture.

Swier also started Bowery Presents, a concert company that for the past ten years has become one of the country’s largest independent promoters. The company has become a major force, not just in New York, but all the way from Maine to New Orleans. According to Pollstar, a trade publication, Bowery Presents sold 1.1 million tickets in 2014.

The LA venture, Teragram, is scheduled to open in March, 2015. The $2 million spent on renovating the old space will make it completive with such venerable Southern California hot spots as the Roxy and the Troubadour.

“I just want it to be the best-sounding room and the best experience for people coming to see the music and for how bands are treated when they get here,” Mr. Swier said. “I want to bring my reputation of how I do that in New York, and I think there is room for a place of this size and this quality in L.A.”

Constance Cooper Coming to the Bowery Poetry Club

Constance Cooper

Constance Cooper

Constance Cooper, known for her poetry reading and piano and electric keyboard tuned just a quarter-tone apart, will be appearing on September 14 at the Bowery Poetry Club.

Cooper will perform as a soloist as part of the 9/11 Cultural Festival, reading poems about violence and loss by the Polish, Nobel-prize-winning poet Wyslawa Szymborska. The specially tuned piano and keyboard are known for their uncanny ability to reproduce the elusive pitches found in the spoken human voice.

Cooper has had a busy year, creating and collaborating on several projects. In March she performed together with mime Andrea Clinton in a without-break, three-hour duet improvisation which was inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe poem “A Dream Within a Dream.” Cooper and Clinton had previously collaborated on Poe’s “The Raven” at the New York Poe Visitor Center.

She also appeared as the keyboards improviser for George Bernard Shaw’s “Don Juan in Hell” at the Medicine Show Theater in June and July. In the middle of July Cooper improvised one of her own compositions for the “Walt Whitman Opera” at the underground zero festival, also in New York.

Bowery Presents Seeking Williamsburg Venue for New Music Hall

Building on Frost Street is proposed for new Bowery Presents music space

Building on Frost Street is proposed for new Bowery Presents music space

The minutes from Community Board 1 in Brooklyn’s May 13 meeting includes a presentation for “a proposed new music venue.” The venue, it is hoped, will be at 319 Frost Street, between Morgan and Debevoise Avenues in East Williamsburg, and will hold about 2000 seats.

Bringing the proposal to light are Bowery Presents owner Jim Glancy, proposed manager Brian Harkenrider, and Hal Gold, to be head of operations.

Bowery Presents is currently and independent music promoter which runs the Bowery Ballroom, the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and other sites. The new venue, which, if all goes well will hopefully open in about a year, is using the working title “Brooklyn Classic.” In addition to getting the Community Board’s approval the project, known as FroBro LLC, is also seeking a license from the State Liquor Authority.

Jim Glancy, owner of Bowery Presents stated that “we don’t have a timeline on opening and aren’t doing press right now.”

He added that Brooklyn Classic is just the working name of the venue at the moment and a final decision on a name won’t be made until much closer to the hoped for opening date in about a year.

Remembering Punk Rock’s Incubator Forty Years Later

Iconic CBGB Opened 40 years ago in December

Iconic CBGB Opened 40 years ago in December

Forty years ago, in December, 1973, what was to become one of the most iconic music clubs in New York City opened its doors: CBGB. Its full name was CBGB&OMFUG, which stood for Country, Blue Grass, Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers.

Curiously, if we are all remembering correctly, the bands that first got their start their and torpedoed into stardom, such as the Ramones, Television and Blondie, could not be confused with country and bluegrass bands by anyone with ears. So what happened?

Hilly Kristal opened CBGB at 315 Bowery. This was the address of his previous business, Hilly’s on the Bowery. Kristal was forced to move his West Village nightclub to the new site after neighbors complained about the noise.

The mid 70s was not such a friendly time for new bands in New York that wanted to play original music. To make ends meet Kristal allowed a few young music promoters to feature their local groups at his nightclub, provided that they followed only two dictates: The band had to be willing to haul their own equipment themselves, and they were not to play covers of songs. This meant that Kristal did not have to pay ASCAP dues.

Since CBGB was one of a very few number of clubs that showcased young, up-and-coming acts the place was bursting with bands embracing the latest phase in the evolution of rock & roll: extremely loud, stripped down, high energy sound that was played fast and hard. It took only one year for the bar to play host to the likes of Television, the Ramones and the Stilettos, which later morphed into Blondie with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. It did not take long for the ‘scene’ to develop, and the natural progression was for the biggest acts at CBGB to be go on to sign lucrative music deals.

In the 1980s CBGB was the headquarters for the truly hardcore punk rock bands. The tiny bar stayed open for decades after. It became not only a place for music, but a tourist site, and a punk rock kind of rite-of-passage.

CBGB was forced to close in 2006 over a rent dispute due to the extreme gentrification of the neighborhood. Many of the biggest bands that played there also lowered the curtain and played their list gig at the site, making it even harder for the club to stay open. Kristal passed away in 2007. The famous CBGB awning now resides in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Lauryn Hill Returns After Her Last Engagement: Jail Time

Lauryn HillDon’t let Ms. Hill’s prison time turn you off to her music, after all, it seems no one else is too bothered by three months in jail followed by three months under house arrest. Tickets begin at $106.60 for her two November 27 back-to-back performances at the Bowery Ballroom.

Lauryn Hill was caught not paying her taxes. Even though she was able to pay the $900,000 she owed the IRS at the last moment right after signing a lovely record deal with Sony, she still had to spend 6 months in government custody. Oh, she did not exactly serve the house arrest time yet. She managed to have that postponed so she could arrange her “Homecoming” performances.

The shows will take place at 6:00 PM and 10:30 PM at the Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street.

Lucy Morningstar Coming to Bowery Electric

Lucy Morningstar

Lucy Morningstar

The Bowery Electric, located at 317 Bowery at 2nd Avenue will be the venue for recording artist and songwriter Lucy Morningstar this coming October 20th at 6:30pm.

The special performance will celebrate the new release of her recording “Strands of Light.” Also playing will be master percussionist Jimmy Lopez.

Morningstar’s music has been touching the hearts and souls of audiences on the East and West Coasts. She presents poetic lyrics and melodic guitar sounds combined with her soulful voice.

For more information call 212-228-0228. There will be an $8 cover fee charged.

The Bowery Presents: Tom Jones

The Bowery Presents

Tom Jones

At the beloved Ballroom at the Bowery presents some of the most admired musicians from both the past and the present. For instance, last Saturday night the impressive 72-year old Tom Jones was on hand with a four-piece band backing him up, and he proved our admiration is well-deserved.

Jones is a mighty presence on stage. He is tall, with a wonderfully deep, resonant voice that fills the room with energy. Jones also likes to show off a bit. He also loves to engage the audience with chitchat between songs, with much humor and warmth. At one point he remembered when he first arrived in New York, “48 years ago. I thought, ‘How can that be? I’m only 35!” From the audience’s response, that comment struck a chord.

Tom Jones’ 96-minute performance was a wonderful venture into the musician’s world of swampy blues, rock, soul and country. Unbelievably, it was Jones’ first appearance at the Bowery Ballroom, and it was a show to remember.

Five Years for John Varvatos on The Bowery

John Varvatos

John Varvatos

Taking over the space where the punk rock club CBGB used to be can’t be easy, but it has already been five great years since the John Varvatos Bowery boutique opened, and it seems to be swinging over there.

Last Wednesday the boutique celebrated the five years it has been since April 2008 when Varvatos took over the legendary space at 315 Bowery.

On hand and welcomed by the designer Varvatos was blues musician Gary Clark, Jr. and the soul-rock band Vintage Trouble. All were dressed in perfectly cut John Varvatos suits. The store has often hosted live shows in commemoration and celebration of the history and heritage of the site.

Bowery Ballroom Hosts “Rhyme Sayer” Wale

In early January Wale performed at the Bowery Ballroom to an enthusiastic crowd, filling the room to almost capacity. DJ Clark Kent spoke to the crowd for a moment before Wale hit the stage.

"Most of y'all listen to Wale's music and you just think 'oh my god, great songs!' The reason why I work with Wale is cause Wale is one of the best rhyme sayers right now," the awesome DJ exclaimed.

"What you need to understand is when I met him ten years ago, he was spitting like that then. So many people missed how good of a lyricist he is that the reason why I did it is that people recognize me for working lyricists I.E. Jay-Z, Biggie, they know me for doing that. So what I wanted to do is work with my little brother so they understood he's a dope lyricist."