Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Rock-and-Roll Is Here to Stay. Of Course, They Don't Say Where....

First the good news: I got quoted -- accurately -- in the New York Post's article on Monday's closing night show at Kenny's Castaways.

Village Club is Cast-away

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.”
And now the bad news: Given my politics, I had no business talking to a reporter for the New York Post.

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.


Anonymous said...

I remember seeing the FloMos there. Good room.


steve simels said...

The crazy thing is that you could see bands almost as good as that, making music almost that good, on almost any average night at Kennys.

I mean Willie or the 'Reens, not the Flo Mos.

In any case it was really quite amazing....

Anonymous said...

"Given my politics, I had no business talking to a reporter for the New York Post."

C'mon, someone asks you for a quote (that you obviously want to give them and will revel when they use it) and you're thinking about the politics of the paper? Has it really come to this?

steve simels said...

Have you ever actually read the NYPost?

It may not be the most evil outpost of Rupert Murdoch's criminal empire, but it's right up there with the top five of them.

I've taken Rupe's money in the past, and I guarantee if there's a heaven, it's one of the reasons I won't get in. Nor should I.

MJConroy said...

The Smithereens are always worth seeing live. Nice bunch of guys too.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't believe my ears at first but yes, the Smithereens are playing the Overture from Tommy. I may have to order their Tommy CD now.