Monday, May 31, 2010

The Pay Problem

The other night I was outside Otto's Shrunken Head in Manhattan, watching the band manager distribute the "pay" to the band. Everyone got $6. That was money from the tip jar. One of those dollars was from me.

Many NYC bars have stopped paying bands. They expect bands to want to play for free.

It started because a lot of really wealthy people moved to this city, and they have hobby bands. They have plenty of money and don't need to be paid for gigs. So, if the bar owners can get these rich guys and gals to come in and bring 20 of their friends, why should they pay real musicians for real music and real fans? It ruined things for working musicians, people who paid their rent and bought food with money made from playing out at bars and nightclubs.

You may say, "That's tough. That's the market right now. People shouldn't be making that much money having fun anyway." I say it takes a lot of work being a musician. How can you play at night till 2am or 4am and then expect to go to work the next day? It also takes money for rehearsal spaces and to repair and maintain musical instruments.

Should the bars start charging a cover? Should the person in charge of booking bands at these bars start trusting their own aesthetic instinct and book better shows? Should you give a little extra the next time the tip jar goes around? At the end of a shitty show, should we go up to the bandleader, and tell him he sounded like crap, and that he, personally at that moment, is ruining the NYC music scene for everyone else?

Probably all of the above, and more that I haven't thought of yet. But I think we should take this very seriously. It is not just about money, but also the quality of life for both musicians and listeners, and the reputation of New York City as the entertainment capital of the world.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friend Marc Campbell Today If You Are Not An Asshole

I just quit Facebook. Probably because I had too many of the wrong kind of friends.
The only regret in my facebook-free life is leaving behind fb friend Marc Campbell, formerly of The Nails (88 Lines About 44 Women).

I miss Marc not only for his irreverent and poetic status updates, but also for the many videos and songs he posts all day and all night long.

Here is one I can't stop watching:

He also posts some of his newer work:

He has also posted hilarious anti-drug propaganda video from the '60s, great movie clips from around the world, and crazy right-wing crappist videos we can all make fun of.

Marc will friend you because he is a musician, and has to promote his new album, "Tantric Machine." It's fantastic, interesting rock, without that whiney, indie sound. It is set to release this summer.

The only caveat to friending Marc Campbell is that he drops assholes and wimps even faster than he drops beats.

Marc Campbell also has a youtube channel:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why New York?

I first started going out by myself in New York City in December 1993, after college. I had left my boyfriend Len, who had told me that's how single adults met each other. I went to CBGB's, spent $5 for a cup of coffee, and looked around a gloomy room at a lot of unattractive people. It was too loud in there to hear what any of them had to say, and the band was terrible, so I packed it in.

I was hanging around with Jay Braun on St. Mark's Pl. I ran into him there probably because he had an apt. there, and I worked at St. Mark's Comics for $5/hour, under the table. He told me if I wanted to see some good music, I should see his teacher Simon Chardiet play with Simon and the Bar Sinisters at the Continental. The first time I went, it was full of people dressed like it was 1955 in Kentucky--Western shirts, poodle skirts, pompadours and ponytails. Weird for me, but I hung out and enjoyed the show. Simon rocked, lots of dancing in the audience. I started hanging around there Friday and Saturday nights.

All of this was a real lifesaver. I was having trouble getting used to being an adult without the support of college, living on $5/hour without the support of my parents, and being single--which I had had a boyfriend for the final 2 years of college, who spent a lot of time and money on me. He was a great guy, but like a lot of guys, the 2-year time limit was up by the time I was leaving school. Fortunately, Charles returned to being my roommate around this time. It was great because I was feeling so isolated.

Hours at St. Mark's comics got lower, so I got an office job at a beeper company for--oh boy!--$6/hour under the table and 40 hours a week. The price of this raise was dealing with pimps all the time, "Yo, I need a beeper for mah girl," and a boss that yelled at me all the time. By that I mean he wouldn't just tell me something in a normal tone of voice, even though I asked him politely. He just yelled and said racist things about my coworkers. I found this very difficult to deal with, but I didn't feel like I should look for another job right away. After going out a few weeknights, I found that sleep deprivation really numbed me out to the yelling and sick atmosphere at work. I started going out 5 to 6 nights a week, or till I fell down with exhaustion.

The Senders, unfortunately not the year in which I saw them. I think I must be the only 38 year old woman who wished she was OLDER, just so I could've seen some great performances.
Along with Simon, I saw the Senders, the all-night jazz and blues jam at Ludlow St. Cafe, Mike Mok and the Big 5, the Waldos, The Vibes, Poppa Chubby, Seamonster, Collective Soul. I had no idea some of these bands had been a big deal at Max's Kansas City, etc. I just went where the good music was. If the place was conducive to dancing, dance near the wall by myself. When the shows were over, talk to the band a little bit to tell them that I enjoyed their performance.

In March of 1994, I started to think about leaving New York City. It was a terribly difficult place to live. Rent was high, public transit expensive and unreliable. Small businessmen couldn't be honest and remain in business. I had real problems working for dishonest people.

At one of his shows at the Ludlow St. Cafe, Simon said he was going to be playing bass there with Barbecue Bob and the Spare Ribs. I had never seen him play bass before, and decided to go. It was a night I would always remember. I sat there at a table with my feet up on one of the other chairs, drinking a Yueng Ling. Barbecue Bob was playing the blues, and singing into his old-timey microphone for old-timey sound. And Simon got such an amazing, light buttery sound out of his bass, I never felt so much pleasure in my life from simply listening to anything.

Walter Lure of the Waldos.
I realized in that moment, that I would have to stay in New York City. I would never find so many great musicians anywhere else, or rejoice in quite the same way anywhere else. Later that year, I had a long talk with the drummer from Barbecue Bob and the Spare Ribs, Scott Byrne. We quickly became constant companions, and got married the following year.

So, that's why I go out to see bands whenever I can...mostly to make New York City worth it. I have a better job now--thank goodness. And I tried to live other places, which were easier in a lot of ways, but nothing can compare to the great sounds I hear in New York, and the feelings they bring out in me.

Still going out! Otto's Shrunken Head with Edie. :)

The Waldos

When I first started seeing bands in Manhattan in 1993, I was impressed with was The Waldos right away. Tony Coiro, a big man with a goatee and a suit jacket played bass and sang. Walter Lure, a tall, slim man in a t-shirt, vest, bowler hat and tie played guitar and did some vocals. Both of them looked like they had done time on the real punk scene. Jeff West, a pale man with long, platinum heavy metal hair played drums. And Joey Pinter, at 5'8, was the shortest of the group. He played guitar and jumped around. A lot.

The Continental was mainly a punk rock n roll club with, at most, a $5 cover. Audience size could vary there from 3 people (the band's girlfriends/boyfriends) to over a hundred, standing room only. On Fridays and Saturdays the bands that drew the largest audiences played were scheduled to play at midnight, but often started at 1am. The Waldos always started at midnight. The place was always packed when they played. I took to dancing by the wall, next to the stage so I wouldn't get pushed from behind every time someone needed to use the bathroom, or, more annoying just push to stand in front, whether they got there first or not.

Walter Lure, left, and Joey Pinter 2007. Photo by John Nikolai
The Waldos played a lot of Johnny Thunders tunes, including Chinese Rocks, Born To Lose, Seven-Day Weekend. The band played loud, fast, real rock and roll. Joey did the Pete Townshend windmill move and hit his hand, hard, against the corner of the monitor* in the ceiling. His hand came back to the strings, bleeding profusely, and he continued to play with the same energy.

It was especially during the Thunders tunes when the crowd would get very excited. People would jump around. There was no mosh pit, but sometimes a very drunk man or two would climb up on stage and try to sing into Walter's mic. Joey would act like a bouncer then and try to push him back off stage. If that didn't work, he'd hit him in the head with the back of his guitar.

I was very impressed with his performance. There was so much action, and Joey was always in the groove and hardly missed a beat. I went backstage to tell him how much I enjoyed his performance. We ended up dating for about 6 weeks. During that time, I saw a lot of good shows, including Jayne County at Maxwell's.

I hung with them backstage. Joey was very quiet during the shows and so I talked with the drummer. Both he and Joey taught me a lot about music, everything from the construction of songs to how to set up a drum kit. The drum stuff came in useful later, when I met my husband, Scott Byrne, a very good drummer who played with Barbecue Bob, countless blues bands, as well as Instant Death.

*Monitors are speakers pointed toward the band so the band can hear themselves.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Buzzcocks at The Fillmore New York 05-13-10

I first heard The Buzzcocks in the fall of 1988, about seven years after the band broke up for the first time. James Harrington III, the only other real punk in a 20 mile radius from my suburban home, made me a mixtape introduction to punk music. He included the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fall in Love With Someone (you shouldn't have)" "What Do I Get?" and "Orgasm Addict." I danced around to those songs after doing the dishes every night for about a year. I never thought I would see them live. (Left: James Harrington III, after he became Jimmy Reject)

What I liked about the Buzzcocks was their music sounded so much like me. I had fallen in love over and over again--I had been obsessed with boys and sex. And Peter Shelley could whine about it! And it sounded great.

And then the other day I was playing them on rhapsody at work. There was a promo. The Buzzcocks were playing! And I could afford the tickets! At lunchtime I ate fast and took the Q to Union Square the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza in the City of New York City. (Why do we have to keep the Irving Plaza brand?)and bought tix so I would be sure to get in.

The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza is a large black box (1000 capacity) with balconies, and a large screen that hangs in front of the stage. They played The Clash and Jet and had some psychedelic eye-candy.

The Dollyrots opened, but people were hungry for Buzzcocks! The place was packed. 50 year olds in suits were shoulder to shoulder with 20-year-old retro punks with purple hair.Bearded college kids were shoulder to shoulder with 30-year-old plumber-types who were shoulder to shoulder with, well, me.

At 10:15, Pete Shelley said, "The first two albums! 1-2-3-4," and the mosh pit full of 30-50 year olds began with fullblown slamdancing and smashing. The silent Irish plumber next to me and I held the line and pushed people back into the mosh pit. And then the 40-year-old crowd surfing began.

I think Steve Diggle really got off on the action, because his energy rose higher and higher consistently during the hour and 3/4 show. A great time was had by all. Even the musicians. I hope.
The Buzzcocks today. (Left to right) Steve Diggle on lead guitar; Danny Farrant, kid drummer; Chris Remington tall, silent bassplayer; Pete Shelley, love-lorn singer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Dollyrots at The Fillmore at Irving Plaza 05-13-10

The Dollyrotsopened for the Buzzcocks on 5-13-10. Left to right, Chris Black on straight ahead rock drums, Kelly Ogden little girl voice and bass, and Luis Cabezas on pretty face and punk guitar. The Buzzcocks gave them nicknames--Blackie, Jelly, and Moose.

The Dollyrots were all original, fairly fun, and good with their instruments. The audience was unsure at first, but the band had a lot of energy. The singer tried to get New Yorkers to raise pump their fists in the air to the beat at one point. Good luck with that, Kelly. About 30% of the crowd did it. I am pretty sure they were from Jersey. I was unsure about her myself until she sang "Fight like Jackie Chan." Then I knew that even though I am not wild about little girl voices, she and I were from the same planet.

By the time they finished off with "Bad Reputation," the crowd was going crazy. I'd go see them again.

Hello World!

I am busy constructing the first post. And making breakfast. Back soon!