Monday, January 26, 2009

Back to The St. Adrian Company Once Again

"The St. Adrian Company - Third Street & Broadway"
New York Magazine - 02/03/69

Artists, like truck drivers, have power to make a restaurant's reputation. Just look at what happened to Max's Kansas City after the New York art scene collected there: Over $2 million annual gross and long lines and fights for good tables. Now the artists have flocked to the St. Adrian Company, which used to be the bar of the Broadway Central Hotel. The Broadway Central, unforgettable for Theodore Drieser's portrait of Hursthood living out his life on faded plush and memories in Sister Carrie has fallen to modernized seed. But oh what it used to be in the days when Diamond Jim Brady built it for Lillian Russell, it was the place where the National League of Baseball was organized in 1876, the place where Walt Whitman hung out. What a mantle of history. From it's 30's elegance, the place went to steam tables and service for anyone who could prop an elbow on the bar.

Then, with the Muscatell still stocked in the cellars, Bruce Bethany & Jerry Houk moved in. They painted, changed the lighting to a pleasant dim, covered the 30's murals with paintings of artists who live in lofts across the street (some of whom helped them with finances) and beginning in December [1968] opened, with a good bar, good food, oysters for $1, snails inside mushrooms cooked in Brandy, to their own special public - the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Kenneth Noland, Janis Joplin (they had no Southern Comfort and none of her records in the juke), critic Clem Greenberg, Ivan Karp and the Pale Extensions. The Pale extensions are these youths who extend themselves with longness of hair, coats, face, furs, fingers, legs. Robert Rauschenberg had just warmed the seat of our booth as we sat down to watch and drink some very good table wine. Our waitress, Jane, was wearing the St. Tropez belt and had just returned from out west where she appeared in Antonioni's new film.

That's the kind of place St. Adrian's is.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

01/17/09 Bush Tetras/ Suicide Commandos/ Dave Thomas/ Skoal Kodiak - The Laura Kennedy Benefit Concert @ Nick & Eddie, Minneapois, MN

(Ticket Stub & Flyer: NYCDreamin Archives)

Laura Kennedy Liver Fund Benefit Concert
/W/ Bush Tetras/Suicide Commandos/David Thomas/Skoal Kodiak
@ Nick & Eddie, Minneapolis, MN

*See my full set of photos from the show HERE.

*See an amazing full set of photos from the show.
by GregSchaal via

Yea, you shoulda been there. Nick & Eddie in Minneapolis served as a beautiful, if not somewhat strange setting for an old-school punk reunion noize-a-thon last Saturday night. The occasion: To celebrate with Guest of Honor Laura Kennedy, original bassist for the Bush Tetras, her recent succesful Liver Transplant, and to help raise funds for ongoing medical costs associated with said transplant.

It was a balmy +15 degrees as I arrived in Minneapolis. I parked my car (for free) and took a quick stroll across the frozen, completely deserted wasteland that is Loring Park in the winter. I walked across to Nick & Eddie, located on the North edge of the park and stepped inside, welcoming the immediate respite from the cold. My inital impressions of the place, never having been there before, were that, to me, it looked like a "chic", "hipster" bar and eatery. But the staff is a very rock and roll looking bunch. I stepped further inside and spotted an empty stool at the bar and made my way over to have a seat. A few minutes later the bartender, who looked a little like Rikki Rockett of Poison, asked what I'd like. "A plate of fries and a soda..." I replied. I sat back and took in the scene. The place was quite packed with people, the bar was full and most of the tables seemed to be filled with diners. And more people were arriving still. My fries arrived in short order and I began munching my way through them. After they were gone, I decided to give up my spot at the bar and stepped out to have a smoke. It wasn't getting any warmer out, so a few minutes later, I was back inside, and I began to make my way closer to the small stage set up near the end of the longish-narrow room. I was wondering where all the people were supposed to view the show...the floor was filled with tables of dining customers, most of whom really didn't look the rock 'n' roll type.

Soon, an announcement was made that at around 9:30, anyone who didn't have a hand-stamp for the show was going to have to finish eating, pay up and leave. Or they could buy a ticket to the show and they could stay. A few tables soon cleared out, and the staff appeared immediately to whisk them off the floor to some unknown destination. But it was nice, it made alot more space, which was definately needed. The place was jammed by the time the members of Skoal Kodiak appeared on stage. They took some time to set up their equipment and after much screwing about, finally started their first number. I was prepared for anything. The one guy, for those that don't know, plays a modified electric plastic Clorox bottle. They were noisy. And bizarre. The bass player certainly seemed into what he was playing. It was loud. And did I mention bizarre? After they managed to screech and skronk their way through the first song and as they began to attempt a second number, there appeared to be some sort of problem with the PA system. Power loss or something. And problems with the vocal mics? The bass player, seeing his chance, took it. He jumped off the stage and cruised over to the bar to grab another brew, then ran back over and jumped back up on the stage. The band again tried a second song and had nothing but further technical difficulties. A few minutes later the Clorox bottle player announced, with a slight shrug of his shoulder, that their set was over. They were done. There was some light applause and some general confusion as to what had just happened. They began to pack up their gear and a few minutes later they were off the stage.

As people began to shift and change position, some heading outside for a cigarette or to the bar for a drink or to the bathroom know, I took the opportunity and moved up a little closer, now having the luxury of a railing to lean against. About the same time I was making my move, the final guest to be added to tonight's bill, David Thomas of Pere Ubu, appeared seemingly out of nowhere, stepped up on the stage and began to deliver a few spoken word pieces, poetry and annecdotes. He was on the stage for maybe 15 minutes, delivering his unique monologue as the room began to fill back in now in anticipation of the next performance.

Mark Trehus, owner of TreeHouse Records in Minneapolis and long-time local music scene supporter jumped up on stage and began to introduce the next act. He was obviously very honored to announce one of his favorite bands, the local legends, really the 1st punks ever from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area - The Suicide Commandos. A couple of minutes later I noticed the guitarist of the Commandos making his way to the stage. A minute or so after that, the entire band walked out, and without wasting much time at all, plugged in and cranked 'er up for the first number, proving in about the first 30 seconds or so that we were really gonna see and hear something great now. And as they proceeded to tear through a set of absolutely ass-kicking tunes, the crowd was dancing along, some people air guitaring, many raised fists pumping in the air in the first few rows. A few songs in, the problems with the microphones again became an issue, but were soon ironed out. Then the drummer was asking for more guitar in his monitors. He asked a few times throughout the set. And then at some point during their set, I heard a "pop" and the music seemed a little less loud. It was announced they had blown the PA and were going to continue despite this minor setback.

David Thomas again appeared about 3/4 of the way through the set and got up and joined the Suicide Commandos as the blasted through the rest of their set, ending with a stomping version of Pere Ubu's "Final Solution". At one point during the jam that made up this spectacle, another local boy done good, drummer Grant Hart of Husker Du, who was rocking-the-fuck-out just feet away from me during the entire set, was pulled on stage and joined in with Thomas on the bizarre vocal mayhem that followed, bringing the Commando's amazing, energetic set to a close.

Suicide Commandos Setlist
Emission Control/Cliche Ole/Monster Au Go-Go/She/I'll Wait/My Little Red Book/Fireball 5000/Tent/I Need A Torch/Jam/Non-Alignment-Pact/Personality Crisis/Jam /W/ David Thomas/Final Solution

The Commandos grabbed their gear and headed off the stage, making way for the main event of the night. During intermission between sets at some point, a lone, short figure clad in a red sweatshirt stepped on the stage. It was the evenings most honored guest herself, all smiles and looking quite happy to be there at all, Laura Kennedy. She stepped up to the mike and jokingly admonished us all to shut up and listen. She thanked everyone for coming and for all the support she's received over the past several months from her obviously loving inner circle of friends and family and fans as well. She said a special thanks to her former bandmates, The Bush Tetras and told us that if anyone had to bass in her place that it should be no one other than Julia Murphy. Laura also told a story of how she and Cynthia used to go see the Commandos and Pere Ubu all the time back in the 70's at some hole-of-a-club in Cleveland, OH where they grew up. And how, at these shows, they would dance around like a few geeks, earning them the nickname "the Nerve Gas Dancers." After a few minutes, to loud cheers and applause, she said her final thank you's and got down off the stage and went back to sit with her crew to watch the rest of the show.

The Bush Tetras, in their first Minneapolis appearance in over 20 years, were soon making their way to the stage. After a few minutes of setting up, drummer Dee Pop asked "Alright, Minneapolis, you guys ready? You better be, we haven't been here in 26 years!", and with that they began their set with "Things That Go Boom In The Night", sounding excellent right away. Whatever the earlier problem had been with the PA it seemed no matter, the BT's sounded GREAT, loud and crystal clear. Walls of cascading guitar distortion provided courtesy of the amazing Pat Place sent cold chills through my blood. Not having seen the band previously, I had nothing to judge against, which I almost like better. They were really tearing the lid off the place with totally kick-ass versions of their old songs and some of their newer material as well. So many layers and textures to their music. You could see how serious this band is in a live setting. Dee Pop is a powerhouse drummer, and he is fun to watch as he makes some pretty interesting facial expressions as he plays. Pat is just so serious...really amazing to watch as she plays guitar in a way that should inspire admiration from anyone with half a brain.

Bush Tetras Setlist (Click to see a photo)
Things That Go Boom In The Night/Punch Drunk/You Taste Like The Tropics/Rituals/Stare You Down/Das Ah Riot/You Can't Be Funky/Motorhead/Page 18/Nails/Cowboys In Africa/Too Many Creeps/Encores *Probably 3 songs, I think.

After they finished their main set, which to my great pleasure included "Page 18", the band quickly played a few encore songs, not listed on their setlist. As they played, I noticed Laura and her group slowly making their way to the doors to leave, and I thought again how special this night must have been for her. Then, just as things seemed to be winding things down, here comes the members of the Suicide Commandos, and David Thomas, joining the 'Tetras, making for a total of 8 people on the tiny Nick & Eddie stage. I'm not even sure what song(s) they played, it was all a fantastic blur by this point, watching this bit of punk rock history-in-the-making.

Around 1:30a.m.-ish things were winding down and then it was over. An announcement was made that your ticket stub would get you $5.00 off brunch the following morning at Nick & Eddie. Facing a somewhat long drive home, I bundled up and made my way to the exit. Just outside the door I encountered Mark Trehus and David Thomas in conversation. I nodded to them, pulled my hood up over my hat and made my way back across the park, hopped in my frozen car and was on my way, completely thrilled to have just witnessed something so very special. And completely ass-kicking as well...

Update: 05/04/14 - Some additional video has surfaced from this show.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Laura Kennedy Benefit in Minneapolis Tomorrow

(Ad: NYCDreamin Archives)

The latest update from Laura, now updating her blog personally!

"Bush Tetras Bring Love To Laura"
Also appears in 01/14/09 Print Issue

"Old-School Punks To The Rescue of One of Their Own"
(StarTribune.Com) (01/15/09)

Full show lineup info/details HERE

Thursday, January 15, 2009

RIP: Gary Kurfirst - Music Biz Mover & Shaker

Concert promoter, artist manager, record label exec and founder of the fabled New York City music venue the Village East Theater (which later became the legendary Fillmore East), Gary Kurfirst passed away at the age of 60 on Tuesday, 01/13/09, while vacationing in the Bahamas. Cause of death was not immediately known.

More information at New York Times.Com
Learn more about the man at Gary Kurfirst.Com

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

B.4.C.B.G.B. - Hilly's On The Bowery

315 Bowery will always belong to Hilly Kristal...
(Graphic via ManhattanUsersGuide.Com)

"Going Out Guide"
by Richard F. Shepard
New York Times - 02/22/73

Jazz - So atmospheric that it looks as though it comes from an imaginative designer's set, Hilly's on the Bowery, 315 Bowery, near Bleecker Street (777-8500), is one of those places to take someone who wants to try something different.

In a dowdy, depressing block, which you may feel more secure in approaching by car or cab, this bar at first blush looks as though it is an unimproved quarters; at second blush you can see that it is quite painstakingly laid out. The illumination comes mostly from neon beer-signs strung overhead above the endless 75-foot bar.

As you walk in, there is an old stepladder you pass under to get to the rear where the music is made. You sit at the bar or at various sized tables or on what seem to be old railroad waiting room benches. Toward the rear of this long, narrow place is a pool (or billiard?) table where the performers may tarry while waiting for their turn - and presumably customers can join in, too. There are rocks all over, from the collection of the owner. There are dart boards, an old furnace and air-conditioning ducts all on display.

This week, the entertainment is by the Rashid Ali Quintet and the Medodic Octet, Thursday through Sunday starting at 10. It costs $2 apiece to enter (students, $1) and you must buy one drink; food available, sandwiches and suchlike ranging up to $1.75. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, there are jam sessions, admission is only $1.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Meanwhile, Over At Max's - Part 2: The Summer of 1970 - Velvet Underground Edition

Village Voice ad for the Velvets at Max's - from the 07/02/70 issue.
(Graphic via Velvet Underground Web Page)

"Velvet Rock Group Opens Stand Here"
by Mike Jahn
New York Times - 07/04/70
The Velvet Underground was playing experimental rock in 1965 when the Beatles just wanted to hold your hand and San Francisco was still the place where Tony Bennett left his heart.

The group came into prominence in 1965 and 1966 through an association with Andy Warhol and Nico, the singer and actress. The musicians played a long-standing engagement at the Balloon Farm, now the Electric Circus, on St. Mark's Place, where they were part of Warhol's mixed-media show, The Plastic Exploding Inevitable. They are appearing through tomorrow night at Max's Kansas City, 213 Park Avenue South, their first New York Appearance in three years.

The music, which after all this time rates very high, is more rhythmic and forceful than ever before. The Velvet Underground plays a hard driving rock that is powerful and tight as a raised fist; so unified and together that it just rolls itself into a knot and throbs.

The group defies categorization as well as any other group currently making the rounds; better to say their music is loud, driving, with a remarkable interchange of dynamics between guitars and bass, and that awesome sense of unity. The vocals tend to be second-rate and subserviant to the instrumental, which is a common condition.

The musicians should be seen, more often than once every three years; they make 80 per cent of today's popular rock groups seem pointless and amateurish.

The Velvet Underground consists of Lou Reed, vocals and guitar; Sterling Morrison, guitar; Doug Yule, bass and vocals; and Billy Yule, sitting in on drums.

Doug Yule (Bass/Vocals - Velvet Underground)
Excerpt from:
"Velvet Underground Live at Max's Kansas City" CD Liner Notes
Max's was the place to be in 1970. On any night the bar was filled with a cross section of New York's subculture: Musicians, actors, artists, entrepreneurs, drag queens, and wannabes.

Walking into Max's the first time was like walking into the bar scene in "Star Wars"; a slow pan across alien beings engaged in unfathomable activity.

Oliver Rish (Max's Patron)
Excerpt from:
"High On Rebellion - Inside The Underground at Max's..."
by Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin
(1998)[p. 237]
I used to go to Max's and the Velvet Underground would play upstairs. They would perform the song "Heroin", and during the long instrumental, part of the audience would empty out and go into the bathroom and shoot up and come back out and nod out through the rest of the set.

Danny Fields (Publiscist/Artist Manager/Record Company CEO/Author)
Excerpt from:
"Velvet Underground Live at Max's Kansas City" CD Liner Notes
I lived about four blocks away. Before the neighborhood was populated and trendy like it is now, it was grim and deserted at night, so Max's was a destination, no one just walked in off the street.

Maureen Tucker (Drums - Velvet Underground)
Excerpt from:
"Velvet Underground Live at Max's Kansas City" CD Liner Notes
I don't think the Velvets were the first band to play [Upstairs at Max's Kansas City], but I don't think they'd had bands up there for very long when they played [there].

*In fact, the earliest mention of "live music" upstairs at Max's that I've been able to unearth suggests that there were a few musical performances of some sort or another upstairs as early as some point in 1969:

Excerpt from:
"High On Rebellion - Inside the Underground at Max's Kansas City"
by Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin
(1998)[p. 212]
The music performances that Sam Hood organized for the upstairs room at Max's beginning in 1969 drew even more of the rock and roll crowd than was already hanging out there.

Doug Yule (Bass/Vocals - Velvet Underground)
Excerpt from:
"Velvet Underground Live at Max's Kansas City" CD Liner Notes
We spent the whole summer there, playing five nights out of seven on a tiny stage, rubbing elbows with the audience. Midweek, the first set would be slow, but the room always filled.

We played [upstairs], in a room not much bigger than a good-sized living room. Tables lined the walls, and the center was clear for dancing. The stage was big enough to hold the amps, the drums, and us. No more. My brother Billy, with one year to go in high school, had been drafted to fill Maureen's place [she had just given birth.]It was a casual thing, as most events were with the Velvets; I mentioned that he was free to play, and Steve [Sesnick - Velvet Undergound's manager] said great.

The nights were very informal. Lou joked with the audience and the band, throwing out casual remarks as the muse moved him. Sterling lurked in the background, the quiet observer, tossing out the occasional terse comment accompanied by his mischevious smile. It was a wonderful summer with very little pressure and lots of music.

Brigid Berlin (Warhol Superstar)
Excerpt from:
"Velvet Underground Live at Max's Kansas City" CD Liner Notes
I was never interested in rock 'n' roll music, ever. I don't think I've ever bought a rock 'n' roll record in my life - to this day I haven't. And I never went to concerts. But I knew Lou. I was always taping everything, and we were friends.

The nights[s] I did go upstairs at Max's, Lou was playing, and I taped it.

Jim Carroll (Poet/Author/Musician - The Jim Carroll Band)
Excerpt from:
Velvet Underground Live at Max's Kansas City" CD Liner Notes
Brigid Berlin and I recorded a number of the Velvet's shows that summer, but there was something different about this particular show (08/23/70). For one thing, the place was packed, which wasn't always the case. It's hard to comprehend - yet somehow perfectly appropriate - that a band, considered today the single greatest influence on serious rock music, played most of their shows that summer to a half-filled house. So we found a table near the left front and I set up the gear such as it was...a Sony cassette recorder, which was, unfortunately, strictly mono. It was the type that reporters used to carry around on a shoulder strap for interviews. It wasn't made for recording music, but Brigid bought a top-of-the-line microphone that compensated for alot. It was fiathful to the ether-washed accoustics of that room.

The band came out rocking, staring as usual, with "I'm Waiting For The Man". The first set consisted of mainly songs from the new studio album "Loaded". I remember there was a large number of aficionados in the audience, cranked, dark hipsters who went back to the days at The Dom. The main topic of conversation during a short break was the immense difference between Moe Tucker's spare drum style and this young, blonde kid, Billy Yule's pure rolling thunder, all over the place with fills and frills.

After the break was over, Lou opened himself up to the crowd in a way I'd never seen before. There was this surge of super-energised meloncholy. He began with "I'll Be Your Mirror". Lou's phrasing locked into every heart in the room. The entire set was all sad, early ballads.

Afterwards, someone told me that Lou had split with the band, which made that night's stunning performance his las show with the Velvet Underground.

Danny Fields (Publicist/Artist Manager/Record Company CEO/Author)
Excerpt from:
"Velvet Underground Live at max's Kansas City" CD Liner Notes

They finished playing, the guys went off stage, and then someone came out and said to me, "Lou just quit." And I ran back to tell Brigid that, and I saw she had her little tape recorder on her table. And I said, "Did you get that?" And she said, "Yeah!" I said, "Well, Lou just quit, so you got the last performance of Lou with the band." And she said, "What do we do with it?" I was working at Atlantic Records then - sort of a lowly publicist - and I took the tape over to Atlantic the next day. The Velvets had a record deal with Atlantic; Ahmet [Ertegun] signed them, for the "Loaded" album. I think they owed them a record; I'm not sure. So we brought [the tape] over to Atlantic, and they ran it through A&R or legal or whatever, and gave us $10,000 for the tape.

*Order your own copy of this historic recording at Amazon.Com.

Doug Yule (Bass/Vocals - Velvet Underground)
Excerpt from:
"Velvet Underground Live at Max's Kansas City" CD Liner Notes
Lou's leaving was a complete surprise to me, but apparently it had been brewing between Steve and Lou for some time. Sesnick delivered the news as we finished dinner one evening late in the summer. He threw the comment into the conversation: "Lou won't be joining us tonight." I misunderstood, thinking he was sick, but no, Steve assured me, he had quit the band forever. It was presented in a way that gave us no choice but to rally our forces and play...

"Meanwhile, Over At Max's" to be continued...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Final Reminder: 01/17/09 Laura Kennedy Benefit Concert - Minneapolis

Bush Tetras (Photo by Spencer Lloyd via KEXP.Org)
@ Nick & Eddie
1612 Harmon Place (Near Loring Park)
Minneapolis, MN.
Tickets available at:
Please join us at Nick & Eddie in Minneapolis to celebrate Laura Kennedy's recent successful liver transplant and help to raise funds to defray the costs associated with her continued medical care.
Opening the show will be Minneapolis' own "Skoal Kodiak", followed by a special appearance by Minneapolis punk legends "The Suicide Commandos". The latest addition to the show, appearing 3rd, is David Thomas from the seminal Cleveland, OH noise makers "Pere Ubu". The night closes with a very special appearance by Laura's friends and former band-mates, the amazing "Bush Tetras", coming in from New York City, making their first Twin Cities appearance in over 20 years. It's sure to be an amazing event.
The weather forecast calls for extreme cold next week, so dress warm, bring a few spare dollars to use in the Silent Auction to be held throughout the evening and come ready enjoy some food, drink and great music...See ya there!
*If you can't make it to the show, please consider making a donation anyway.
You can help Laura out here: LKLF.Blogspot.Com

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

RIP: Ron Asheton - Guitarist - Iggy And The Stooges

Ron Asheton in action in Chicago, IL - 04/15/2007
(Photo by: Andy Argyrakis via ConcertLiveWire.Com)

Stooges guitarist and founding member Ron Asheton was found dead in his Ann Arbor, MI home early this morning. Cause of death is unknown at this time but a heart attack is suspected. Asheton was 60 years old. More information at