I’m guest blogging for the review stalker while he’s away on vacation. My summer holiday has consisted of me sending my son off to sleep away camp which gave me the opportunity to see more rock shows since he was born 13 years ago! The season has offered the usual summer touring from bands from now and then with many noteworthy free shows all over the New York City area.
Many of the nights have been spent reliving several harmonious music memories seeing mostly older acts and hearing songs from my youth. Over a 6 week period I took in performances from The Zombies, She & Him, Camera Obscura, The Rascals, Leon Russell,Cheap Trick, B.B King, James Hunter Six, New Order, NRBQ, Bob Dylan, Wilco (w/ special guest Ian Hunter) and a tribute to Big Star. Combined these acts performed a myriad of unforgettable classic songs including “She’s Not There”, “Sunday Girl’, “People Got To Be Free”, “The Letter”, “September Gurls”, “Delta Lady”, “Surrender”, ‘Blue Monday”, “All The Young Dudes” and so many more.
The Letter from the Big Star Tribute in Central Park on June 30
The Dylan/Wilco show was billed as the AmericanaramA fest and went down on the Hoboken pier on July 26. That was appropriate since days later and blocks away, the home of American music Maxwell’s was closing their doors.
All The Young Dudes-Wilco w/ Ian Hunter, James Mastro, Warren Haynes & My Morning Jacket on Hoboken Pier on July 26
I was fortunate enough to have had the venue be a big part of my life throughout some of my formative years in the mid-‘80s where I attended more shows there during that period then any other rock club. I hadn’t had the chance to make it back throughout the month for the final shows so it was imperative that I venture back to Hoboken one last time for the closing festivities on July 31.
The celebration started off with a block party that had 11 street closed off with beer and food stands. Raucous party tunes blared throughout the street as various DJs from the club’s 30 plus years (Guy Ewald, Charles Charas, Gaylord Fields, Vince Brnicevic, Billy Miller, Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan) took turns spinning records while the crowd built up throughout the evening to pay their respects to the club. Hundreds of people were packed into the bar spilling onto the street. Both the Individuals and the Bongos were booked to close the back room. I was lucky enough to pick up tickets for the earlier set from the Individuals. The band was in fine form and had a blast playing as one of the final bands on the Maxwell’s stage. They brilliantly recreated the sound of the early ‘80s NYC rock club scene. I stood there and realized, this is the sound that’s categorized as post-punk. I flash backed to watching bands in that same room and other NYC area clubs in the ‘80s. I realized after seeing so many remarkable bands, hearing various legendary songs and reliving magical music moments over this summer season this tiny back room of a bar/restaurant was where so much of ’80s music was born influencing me and so many others.
It reminded me that there were so many punk and new wave spin-offs incubated and championed at Maxwell’s. Alt-country, grunge, power pop, roots rock, college rock, garage, paisley underground, shoe gazing and the most peculiar named genre, indie rock were all heralded there. That ubiquitous tag came from the countless acts that recorded for scores of independent record companies. Twin Tone, SST, Slash, Homestead, Enigma, Dolphin, Frontier, K Records, Ace of Hearts and Hoboken’s own Coyote and Bar/None were just some of the bigger players in the growing soon to be coined “alternative” music business.
Adding to the sounds and styles were cities and towns the labels and music originated from. Musicians arrived from all over the USA. They piled in vans and drove miles to play at the club. Some performed at Maxwell’s numerous times over several years. They traveled from Los Angeles, Portland, Minneapolis, Athens, Boston, Seattle, Chapel Hill and many other American regions. The list of acts I’d seen (or heard from the front bar!) is endless and in no particular order.
The Replacements, The dbs, Husker Du, X, Alex Chilton, Meat Puppets, Long Ryders, Pylon, Dreams So Real, Tommy Keene, Young Fresh Fellows, Redd Kross, Gun Club, The Three O Clock, Jason and the Scorchers, The Dream Syndicate. Dumptruck, Miracle Legion, Del Fuegos, EIEIO, Soul Asylum, The Chesterfield Kings, Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, Game Theory, Let’s Active, The Neats, Ben Vaughn Combo, Leaving Trains, Guadalcanal Diary. The Minutemen, Rain Parade, Green on Red, The Wipers, Daniel Johnston, Camper Van Beethoven, The Bodeans, 10,000 Maniacs, Beat Happening, Rank and File, The Lyres, Dinosaur Jr, Galaxie 500, The Morrells, True Believers, Fetchin’ Bones, Big Black, Southern Culture On The Skids, House of Freaks, Naked Raygun, Salem 66, Big Dipper, The Dead Milkmen, The Dogmatics, Swimming Pool Qs, Drivin’ N Cryin’, Green River, The Flies, Pontiac Brothers, Giant Sand, Scruffy The Cat and many others.
Some bands traveled from overseas: Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians, The Go-Betweens, Hoodoo Gurus, The Lime Spiders, The Fall, The Mekons to name a few.
And then there were those from the NY/NJ metro area that kept the venue thriving as opening acts for many out of town bands or headlining the club and packing it with their family, friends and fans:
Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, The Feelies, Mofungo, Syd Straw, The Nightmares, The Raunch Hands, The Wygals, The Clintons, Pianosaurus, Laura Cantrell, The Scene is Now, Deep Six, The Last Round Up, World Famous Blue Jays, Beat Rodeo, Gutbank, The Vacant Lot, Fleshtones, Das Damen Del-Lords, Hugo Largo, The Raybeats, The Golden Palominos, Phantom Tollbooth, The A-Bones, Crazy Sunday, Chris Stamey Group, Soul Attack, The Ambivalent Brothers, House of Usher, Leap of Faith, Fish & Roses, Winter Hours were just some of the local names that kept the scene and spirit alive.
There isn’t one room in the NY metro area that could boast all of these accomplishments showcasing quality music with integrity for over three decades.
It was a space and a moment in time that will never be recreated. I feel lucky to have been there when both the club and I were coming of age. It’s bittersweet that Maxwell’s is gone but its legacy will continue to live on through the music and the influence it had on a vast group of music fans that sometimes fit into a small room with a legal capacity of 200 people.