By

Saying Farewell to a Legendary East Coast Venue: After 35 years, Maxwell’s closes its doors

bongos19
The Bongos’ grand finale at Maxwell’s | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

All photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

A rousing cover of Big Star’s “Thank You Friends” was a sincere and apt final song for the occasion last Wednesday in Hoboken, N.J.

On July 31, Maxwell’s closed its doors for good after 35 years of intimate gigs with established and unknown bands of local and international pedigrees. A full house of 200 attendees packed the back room of the restaurant, bar, venue and nexus of alternative musicology for a double-bill curated with an air of history. The first band to ever play the venue, “a,” which had not played its songs since 1978, and The Bongos, a Hoboken band of the past (and the future). As there was a dream for a Hoboken of a time gone by, there is a wealth of evidence for the spirit of Maxwell’s to continue on in bands, other venues and the desires of the public for great music.

“In a lot of ways, Maxwell’s was to Hoboken what J.C. Dobbs on South Street in Philly used to be in the ‘80s and ‘90s and what Johnny Brenda’s is to Philly now — a center of a great local music scene that brought in emerging national bands,” WXPN program director Bruce Warren said. ”I saw one of the earlier Yo La Tengo Hanukkah shows, Freedy Johnston, the Bongos, fIREHOSE; I saw an insane Sonic Youth show there. I was also a fan of Bar/None Records, from Hoboken, which is still thriving, and if one of the bands on the label were playing, I’d go up.”

mccaughey
Scott McCaughey performing with Dennis Diken with Bell Sound in August of 2010 | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Musicians also eagerly reminisced about their Maxwell’s experiences.

“The closing of Maxwell’s is sad, primarily because of all the essential rock ‘n’ roll memories it brings to me,” said Scott McCaughey, who played there with Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus 5 and The Baseball Project.

McCaughey cited performing “The Gorilla” on the bar, singing with Dennis Diken and Bell Sound, “any number of rabble-rousing Fleshtones shows and especially the many ridiculous Young Fresh Fellows nights, going back to our earliest days.”

Linda Pitmon, who plays drums behind McCaughey in The Baseball Project, said Maxwell’s shows were particularly memorable.

“As a performer I’m going to miss that little thrill I’ve always felt walking in to that small, square, unassuming but perfect rock room,” Pitmon said. “Maxwell’s gigs never cease to stand out in my mind. They don’t become subsumed into the blob of generic shows.”

Glenn Morrow, one of the founders of Bar/None Records and member of two bands that played on the last night of Maxwell’s – “a” and The Individuals – will miss Maxwell’s more as a member of the public than as a performer.

“I’m probably sadder as an audience member,” Morrow said. “I live four blocks away! Even more than being on stage, it was such a great place to see music. I saw so many great shows there: The Feelies, the Replacements, the Gun Club, Mission of Burma, Pylon, Husker Du, the dB’s, They Might Be Giants, Sonic Youth, Big Black, The Fleshtones, Ted Leo. The list is endless.” Continue reading →

By

Photo Recap: Ken Stringfellow, Roomtone and Josh Levandowski at the North Star Bar

All photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Last night Ken Stringfellow performed to an intimate crowd at the North Star Bar. The Posies frontman, R.E.M. and Big Star collaborator was joined by Philly’s Roomtone and Josh Levandowski, formerly of New Motels. Check out a scenes from the night in the gallery above.

By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ken Stringfellow at North Star, Bridge and Tunnel at The Fire, Tayyib Ali at Chameleon Club

Photo Credit: Eva Vermandel
Photo Credit: Eva Vermandel

Ken Stringfellow has nothing to prove. He’s made plenty of successful records– he is on three Big Star albums, six REM albums and twelve of The Posies’ albums. He has worked with dozens of other artists and somehow also made time for a solo career. His most recent release is a solo album, his fourth, called Danzig in the Moonlight. The album is eclectic, which is hardly surprising from an artist with an array of experience such as Stringfellow’s. The diversity of genres, though, may surprise someone who is not familiar with Stringfellow’s diverse projects and interests. He is currently touring with the album and will be at North Star Bar tonight. Tickets and information for the 21+ show are available here. Below, watch Stringfellow’s music video for “Superwise” from Danzig in the Moonlight.

Continue reading →

By

SXSW Dispatch: M. Ward, Tommy Stinson and more pay tribute to Big Star’s “Third”

Last night at Austin’s Paramount Theater, an all-star cast of indie / alt-rock luminaries – from M. Ward, to The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, to Wilco’s Pat Sansone and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck – gathered to pay tribute to Big Star‘s Third, arguably the best unfinished record in rock. This was the second time a Big Star tribute has taken place at South by Southwest in recent years; the legendary power-pop / art rock band was set to reunite for the 2010 festival, but band leader Alex Chilton died suddenly just days before, prompting a troupe of his fans in the music community to convene and pay their respects in song. While that performance was spontaneous and emotional – captured in “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” a documentary that screened before the performance – this one was celebratory, punctuated by a dazzling orchestra and the elegant surroundings (and acoustics) of the Paramount. The performance of the album was followed by a dip into the Big Star back catalog, including songs from the solo career of Chilton (“Bangkok”) and founding singer-guitarist Chirs Bell (“I Am The Cosmos,” “You and Your Sister”). Check out a slideshow of the tribute above, and a video of “I Am The Cosmos” below.