Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Maxwell's Closes Tonight with Block Party & Final Show

[UPDATE, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday: The Individuals and Delicate Steve are playing the first Maxwell's closing-night show, at 6 p.m. The Bongos and a finish off the evening with a 9 p.m. show. Unfortunately we weren't able to update this post in order to let you know about these gigs, which sold out quickly, but it's hoped that you found out one way or another.

The free block party is now going on in front of the club, on 11th St. east of Washington (Maxwell's address is 1039 Washington). Even if you couldn't get tickets to one of the final shows, come on down to the block party (see photo below), which runs until 11 p.m.]

Maxwell's closing-night block party.

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It's been a great final few weeks of shows for the venerated Maxwell's, but it all comes to an end tonight with a block party and a final show in the back room (details still sketchy). More details on the last shows we've seen, but for now just a brief post on the party tonight: it will take place on 11th Street in front of the club, from 4 to 11 p.m. (according to this tweet from Maxwell's).

Exterior of Maxwell's in Hoboken.
Maxwell's, just as last night's show was starting.

There will be DJs and maybe some live music. The back-room show is said to feature The Bongos, a, and maybe The Individuals, too, but the gig has never been listed on the club's website, and even folks who work at Maxwell's aren't sure on tickets for the gig or whether it will be free, etc. (or how the countless people who want to attend the show would even be chosen).

In any case, do head on out to Hoboken this afternoon or evening and give Maxwell's a proper send-off!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hoboken's Bar/None Records Pays Tribute to Maxwell's in its Final Week

If longtime fans of Maxwell's hadn't started feeling the impact of its impending closing yet, they certainly were after Tuesday night's gig, an all-star show by artists from Hoboken's own Bar/None Records.

Speed the Plough on stage at Maxwell's.
Speed the Plough on stage at Maxwell's.

The label, which has been around since the mid-'80s, has put out recordings by a whole cast of musicians from Hoboken or associated with the town, and the club: The Feelies, the dB's, The Individuals, Freedy Johnston, Alex Chilton, Juliana Hatfield, Health and Happiness Show, They Might Be Giants, Speed the Plough, Kate Jacobs, and Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey, among many others. (See links to more articles about Maxwell's and its closing at the end of this post.)

The first band to take the stage was Speed the Plough, a band that grew out of the Trypes, which in turn was a spin-off of The Feelies. They played a solid set of a half-dozen or so songs, and were succeeded by acts that played anywhere from one song (Kate Jacobs) to 20 minutes or so (James Mastro's Health & Happiness Show).

Health and Happiness Show.
Health & Happiness Show, with Glenn Mercer (left) adding vocals.

Guitarist and songwriter Chris Stamey, a member of Maxwell's staple the dB's, played a satisfying set backed by Gene Holder on bass and Anton Fier on drums. Freedy Johnston, who also has played Maxwell's many times, played one song early in the show, but fortunately appeared later to play his own set, finishing with his classic "The Lucky One."

Chris Stamey at Maxwell's.
Chris Stamey, with Anton Fier on drums.

With this gig occupying the middle spot between two other shows at Maxwell's (... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead on Tuesday, and The Muffs on Thursday, we left the show at 12:30 a.m., after Johnston's set. We heard that the show didn't wrap up till nearly 2 a.m. Like early days of the Hoboken music scene, the show was sprawling, chaotic, and full of great music.

Freedy Johnston.
Freedy Johnston.
More about Maxwell's from around the Web:
"Val Emmich, one of Maxwell's' most successful post-millennial alumni, returns for one more show,"
"Farewell Maxwell's: Remembering the Legendary New Jersey Venue," talk with co-owner Todd Abramson,

"Remembering Maxwell's, New Jersey's Legendary Rock Club," videos, The New Yorker

"The Hoboken Sound: An Oral History of Maxwell's," New York Magazine

"Reliving Maxwell's glory days," Abramson notes the most memorable shows, New York Post

"Hoboken Moms Replace Maxwell’s Rock Fans in Housing Boom," Bloomberg

Friday, July 19, 2013

Maxwell's Adds More Shows: Mission of Burma, Freedy Johnson & Others, Terre T. Live Broadcast, & More

Mission of Burma, "Nu Disco," at one of Yo La Tengo's Hanukkah shows at Maxwell's in 2010. See the latest shows added to the Maxwell's schedule below.

Maxwell's in Hoboken continues to go out with a bang, adding more shows as it heads into its last week and a half in existence. (Get tickets to the shows here.) Just added to the lineup:
  • Wed., July 24th: Freedy Johnston, the Health & Happiness Show (led by former Bongo James Mastro), Anton Fier, and others (8 p.m.)
  • Sat., July 27th: WFMU's Cherry Blossom Clinic hosted by Terre T.—live remote broadcast starring Hackamore Brick (3 p.m.)
  • Sun., July 28th: Mission of Burma (9 p.m.)
  • Mon., July 29th: Bern and The Brights, Secret Islands, and Val Emmich (8:30 p.m.)
  • Wed., July 31st: Closing Night Block Party (DJ music) (4 p.m.)
The Wednesday show is billed on the website as "Bar None Records Presents A Night Of Folks and Fondue feat. Freedy Johnston, The Health and Happiness Show and Chris Stamey with Gene Holder and Anton Fier plus a host of special guests." That should be a great one, and it's only $15.

Maxwell's schedule
 The Maxwell's website shows a dwindling number of remaining concerts... and a photo of a sad puppy underneath "Upcoming Shows."

No show has been announced for the night of the 31st, though says that the final show will feature the first band to play the club, called "a," as well as the classic bands that grew out of "a": The Bongos and The Individuals.

Maxwell's has been hosting a number of sold-out shows in the last few weeks as it counts down to the end. We were fortunate to attend several of these concerts, all great stuff, featuring acts of wildly varying styles: garage-rock masters The Fleshtones, Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter, singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata, and Glen Rock punk rockers Titus Andronicus (on the first gig of their three-night run). Podcast Party be at at least five more shows at the club at 1039 Washington St.

Maxwell's to Rise Again in Jersey City?

Amid the sad news of Maxwell's closing, there is hope that it may live on (in some sense) in a nearby location. Various sources have reported that co-owner Todd Abramson is actively looking to open a club elsewhere in New Jersey, with Jersey City (next to Hoboken) as the most likely location. Particular attention has focused on the under-renovation White Eagle Hall, which is about a half mile from the Grove Street PATH station.

We hope that plan works out. Stay tuned for details.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, Tanya Donelly! (VIDEOS)

Tanya Donelly, a very gifted singer/songwriter/guitarist who has been making infectious indie pop-rock music for several decades now, turns 47 today. Known for her work in Throwing Muses, The Breeders, Belly, and her solo work, she hasn't recorded anything lately as far as I know, I'm guessing because she's been focusing on being a mother in recent years.

Tanya Donelly and Belly performing "Red" on The Jon Stewart Show.

Donelly has made some occasional live appearances, including a few weeks ago when she joined The Breeders on stage when they played in Boston (Donelly is from Rhode Island and I think still lives somewhere in that neck of the woods). A couple of years before that she took the stage at New York's City Winery as part of the Cabinet of Wonders series, which features John Wesley Harding curating performances by a number of musicians, comedians, and storytellers.

She's been one of my favorite artists since the 1980s, and whenever I go back to her old songs I enjoy them just as much as I did when they first came out.

Happy birthday, Tanya. Hope you'll be recording and performing new material sometime soon.

Video for "The Bright Light," from Tanya Donelly's solo album "Lovesongs for Underdogs."

Belly doing "Slow Dog" on "Later... with Jools Holland.'

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Great FREE NYC Concerts This Week (including B.B. King & DJ Kool Herc Tonight)

This is a big week for great free shows in New York (and you may, in fact, have to make some tough choices when shows conflict). Tonight is such an occasion, when the legendary B.B. King plays the first night of the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival at Brookfield Place Waterfront Plaza (formerly the plaza at the World Financial Center). The show starts at 6 p.m. with the James Hunter Six.

BBKing free concert
B.B. King plays free in Lower Manhattan tonight; see other free shows below.

But B.B. King isn't the only legend playing a free show tonight: DJ Kool Herc, considered the "founder of hip-hop culture," is playing a SummerStage concert in Crotona Park in Queens, also at 6 p.m. And there are three great free gigs to choose from Thursday night.

There are also free SummerStage gigs as part of the annual Latin Alternative Music Conference, as well other free shows. Here's what's going on this week; check the links to shows for concert locations and directions:

Wed., July 10th:
* B.B. King and the James Hunter Six, Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival, Brookfield Place, 6 p.m.

* DJ Kool Herc, SummerStage (Crotona Park), 6 p.m.

Thurs., July 11th:
* Waxahatchee, Generationals with Sallie Ford, and the Sound Outside, RiverRocks, Hudson River Park (Pier 84), 6 p.m.

* Lila Downs, Natalia Clavier, Pamela Rodriguez, and Raul Campos, SummerStage (Central Park) in association with the Latin Alternative Music Conference, 6 p.m.

* Los Lonely Boys, Los Lobos, and Alejandro Escovedo, Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival, Brookfield Place, 6 p.m.

Fri., July 12th: 
* Cheap Trick and The Cringe, Seaside Summer Concert Series (Coney Island), 7:30 p.m.

* War and DJ set by DJ Afro, SummerStage (Crotona Park), 7 p.m.

Sat., July 13th: 
* Julieta Venegas, Carla Morrison, and Alex Anwandter, SummerStage (Central Park) in association with the Latin Alternative Music Conference, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Concert Catch-Up: 4 Knots, Canada Day Concert, Ian Hunter at Maxwell's

Having fallen off the blog-posting wagon, we herewith present a round-up post of some recent concerts we've been to (two of them free, no less).

4 Knots Music Festival, South St. Seaport

Parquet Courts at the 4 Knots Festival.
Parquet Courts at the 4 Knots Festival.

The third edition of the successor to the Coney Island Siren Festival once again featured two stages with bands of varying styles. Most of the ones we saw at Saturday's festival were firmly in the indie pop/rock vein: The Men, Parquet Courts, The Babies, and White Lung (the latter having a punk feel to them). And then there was Marnie Stern, a New York singer/guitarist whose chops on the axe are impressive, but whose singing style resembles screaming too often for our tastes.

Sadly, we missed the two top-billed acts at 4 Knots, Reigning Sound and Kurt Vile and the Violators, because we had to head uptown for the next show..

Canada Day Concert, Central Park SummerStage

The Joel Plaskett Emergency at SummerStage.
The Joel Plaskett Emergency at SummerStage.

The variety of styles at the three-act Canada Day concert was even more evident. The concert started with a performance by a First Nations group (native Canadians) group, followed by the roots-Celtic band Spirit of the West, pop-rockers The Joel Plaskett Emergency, and electronic pop star Lights.

Plaskett really got the crowd going with tunes such as "True Patriot Love" and "Nowhere with You," and then the teen girls moved to the front of the stage for the very popular Lights. Although she started out writing and performing her songs by herself on electronic keyboards, for her current live shows she performs with a full band, including a drummer and two additional keyboard/laptop artists (who also play guitar and bass).

It was a good night of music, and even the non-Canadians in the house had to be touched when all the show's musicians came out on stage to sing the national anthem, "O Canada," along with show host George Stromboulopolous.

Ian Hunter and the Rant Band, Maxwell's

Ian Hunter on stage at Maxwell's Tuesday night.
Ian Hunter on stage at Maxwell's Tuesday night.

The final month of shows at Maxwell's is upon us, and the much-loved club is going out with a band with a schedule packed full of great gigs. Ian Hunter, who last year played the much-larger Highline Ballroom to launch his latest album, brought his six-piece band to the small stage in Hoboken for a sold-out out.

Hunter played songs old and new, from Mott the Hoople to his earlier solo works to a couple of tunes from last year's album "When I'm President." As with the Highline show, Hunter showed he can still rock, and his Rant Band is full of skilled veteran players (including former Hobokenite and Bongos member James Mastro).

The show was opened by the duo of Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric, two performers who have played Maxwell's many times over the years, together and individually. It felt nostalgic to see them on the stage for the last time, one of many such moments to come over the next few weeks.

One big moment (or rather, set of them) will be when The Feelies play their final year of 4th of July weekend shows at Maxwell's. The Haledon, NJ band formed just a couple of years before Maxwell's open, and it has played the club many times (as have its various spin-off groups).