Village Club is Cast-awayAnd now the bad news: Given my politics, I had no business talking to a reporter for the New York Post.
By CHRISTINE PARKER
Last Updated: 3:06 AM, October 2, 2012
Posted: 1:23 AM, October 2, 2012
The show’s over.
The sound system forever went silent Monday night at a famed Greenwich Village club that had provided a stage to struggling artists and superstar musicians over a storied 36 years.
Adoring fans had packed Kenny’s Castaways on Bleecker Street to hear singer-songwriter Willie Nile and garage rockers The Smithereens blister through a pair of last sets inside the closing music Mecca.
“We started playing here in July of 1980. We were just starting out,” said Jim Babjak, lead guitarist for The Smithereens. “A lot of people wanted you to play cover songs. This was one of the few places that let us play our own stuff.”
Former neighborhood resident Steve Simels was in awe seeing his idols play one last time at the club.
“I used to live across the street and this was my clubhouse. Willie Nile and The Smithereens were like gods to us,” said Simels.
Club owner Maria Kenny, whose father, Pat, started the club and moved it to its current location in 1976, said that high rent and the area’s gentrification had forced her out. A gastro-pub is slated to take over the space.
“It’s too expensive for this kind of business,” she said. “When you’re a small guy, it’s really difficult.”
Her fondest memories, she recalled, were of young musicians coming to the club to seek the approval of regular and famed singer-songwriter Doc Pomus, who penned the immortal hit, “Save The Last Dance For Me.”
“People like Joni Mitchell would just come down and want to know what he thought of their stuff,” she said.
Both patrons and performers remembered the club for having a huge “heart” in the otherwise cut-throat nightlife industry.
“This was one of the last rooms where the people really cared about the music you played, not the number of heads you brought in,” said Bill Popp, whose own band had played there numerous times.
Famous acts that had performed at Kenny’s included Bruce Springsteen, The New York Dolls, The Fugees and Patti Smith.
“It was the first time I ever performed in NYC. It was my first gig ever,” said Jessica Gleason, 31, of the band Lady J. “But the energy was so warm, it was really special.”
In any case, it was an amazing, emotionally charged, evening, and as you can make out from the following crude cellphone videos, both Willie Nile...
...and The Smithereens...
...absolutely killed in their respective sets.
Kenny's Castaways. R.I.P.