Monthly Archives: July 2012

The First Annual Catalpa Festival Comes to Town

New York City is not known for its music festivals. Sure, we have a lot of concerts here in the city year round, but festivals, not so much. Festivals usually occur outdoors over the span of two days and require large and open spaces from which to run. There’s not many open spaces in NYC except for Central Park in Manhattan, Randalls Island tucked away between Queens and the Bronx, Governors Island in the middle of New York Harbor, and Prospect, Commodore Barry, and Wingate Parks in Brooklyn. While there are a few exceptions here and there, these spaces are pretty much it in the city that are readily (for the most part) accessible to the public.

The recent CBGB Festival in New York and Brooklyn utilized a different festival pattern: it wasn’t contained at one space, but spread over many small venues. The Governor’s Ball held its second annual two-day festival this past June on Randalls Island, the same day as a smaller and grittier one-day festival, Punk Island, occurred on Governor’s Island (not Ball!). The Afro-Punk Festival occurs every year at Commodore Barry Park, although the 2011 festival was cancelled due to hurricane. (Afro-Punk this year occurs August 25-26.) Outdoor shows happen at the Waterfront at Williamsburg, Prospect Park (Celebrate Brooklyn!), and Wingate Park (Public Enemy with Salt-N-Pepa on July 30), but these latter concert spaces nor fledgling festivals can compare to Chicago’s Lollapalooza or Indio, California’s Coachella… yet.

This year marks a new entry into New York’s up-and-coming festival scene: the First Annual Catalpa Festival that’s being held this weekend (July 28-29) on Randalls Island. The headliners are The Black Keys and Snoop Dogg, with support from TV on the Radio, Matt and Kim, Umphrey’s McGee, Girl Talk, and Matisyahu, among others. In addition to the two stages, there’s also a Reggae Stage curated by High Times Magazine, headlined by the High Times Cannibus Cup Band featuring Ros Droppa with a full slate of other reggae bands performing as well.

The festival is put together by an Irish dude by the name of Dave Foran, who acknowledges that “NYC is a graveyard for musical festivals” and he’s right. He was recently interviewed on Billboard.biz and his rationale makes sense:

Billboard.biz: What was your inspiration for Catalpa and why bring it to New York?
Dave Foran: Bringing Catalpa to New York was trying to fill what, in my eyes, is a void for a large, well-done, comprehensive destination festival in New York. It’s one of the best cities in the world, and it doesn’t really have a festival to call its own…But what I’m trying to put together, if it’s done right, will have longevity. Essentially, it’s trying to establish something substantial that isn’t really here and is calling out to be done.

Time will only tell if his festival becomes a mainstay in a city that seems to be adamantly opposed to them. Festivals in surrounding areas of New York haven’t been too successful, but maybe Foran’s vision of not only bands, but “experience” may be a key in a city that likes things just a little weird.  So if  you get tired of music during the two-day festival, you can go and get yourself hitched to a stranger at the “Frisky’s Church of Sham Marriages,” or check out the Arcadia installation of military scrap art and other art installations, or the Silent Disco Tent. If you’re a big spender (which, believe it or not, a lot of  people in NYC aren’t), there are VIP passes complete with food, or a cabana with a hot tub and bottle service, too. If you’re not into that, the slate of music should be satisfying enough.

Catalpa Festival – Saturday, July 28th (Click on image to view)

Catalpa Festival – Sunday July 29th (Click on image to view)

About these ads

I Do Declare, It’s “Oh Love.”

First impressions:

Did not expect a slow song, even though I’ve heard it before at Webster Hall Studio. I don’t really remember the songs I heard that night. Thank you very much.

At least one lyric is straight out of the Who.

It will sound pretty awesome in an amphitheater of people singing along.

I’ve heard there’s a lion costume in the video… should be interesting how a lion in costume fits with a slow, slow, song.

So far, the sentiment toward it runs the gamut of “I love it” to “I hate it.” I’m in middle, leaning towards like. I’ve only heard it once, though.

What do you think?

 


CBGB: Living On, Despite Dying

“its over. let it go.”

“What’s next, a CBGB theme park in Orlando?”

“Please….Let it R E S T in Peace”

CBGBS Facebook Page Commenters

Reviving the Spirit

CBGB’s Festival 2012 “Spirits” Poster

I’ve heard the grumbling over the Interwebs and spreading throughout the streets of New York and Brooklyn. The cries of the punks (paraphrasing): “sell-out,” “it’s dead,” “NYC and CBGBs throwing a concert in Times Square… a commercial miasma!” and so on and so forth. The comment backlash began immediately after a May 7th, somewhat out-of-the-blue, Festival-announcement article in the New York Times, with a subsequent May 8th article in Rolling Stone. The gist of comments posted on the Rolling Stone article boiled down: the Festival is a blatant commercial ploy.

It’s possible that that’s the mindset behind the four-day event that starts today in Manhattan and Brooklyn, though Lisa Kristal Burgman, the daughter of CBGB legend, Hilly Kristal, after wrestling control of the brand name in a fierce legal battle following the death of her father in 2006, seems to have made sure to sell the rights to people with former vested love in the club itself. Sure, my brain screams that it’s another death knell in NYC’s neverending march toward clean-cut oblivion, but heck, it’s like everything else in this town. We won’t even talk about the CBGBs movie currently filming in Savannah, Georgia, of all places, either. For better or worse, CBGBs is a commercial product and holding any type of festival in New York City automatically equals a hell of a lot money spent, lost, or earned. But here’s the bottom line: at least the organizers are giving it the old college try, maybe for the love of money, but probably also out of love for the passed-on spirit of CBGB. I’m willing to see what the festival brings before I pronounce it dead on arrival.

You Can Never Go Back

CBGB will always live in the hearts of those who frequented the now-defunct building located at 315 Bowery in the heart of what used to be the grimiest, grittiest, most “real” part of New York City known as The Bowery. Intermixed with the “real” New York of the Bowery (where you can still find people splayed drunk on the ground), are fancy restaurants, apartment buildings, and hotels where lowly NYers like me can’t — and never will — afford dinner let alone an apartment or night’s hotel stay. For those of us who remember the Bowery and CBGB as it was, we miss not necessarily the grime or crime (it’s still plenty dirty though much safer), but the spirit of independence that seems to be dying with each closing venue or flophouse on the Bowery, the East Village, or Lower East Side. There’s too many closed places to mention, but two good blogs that capture both the overall changes in NYC and the East Village are Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York and the EV Grieve. EV Grieve’s by-line reads: “Here, you’ll find things that you may or may not be interested in about the East Village and other parts of New York City. Appreciating what’s here while it’s still here. Remembering what’s no longer here. Wishing some things weren’t here that are here.”

CBGB Old School

All I’m Hoping for is a Heartbeat

Starting with Mayor David Dinkins in the early 1990s (yes, I know, some will scoff and say it all started with Rudy Giuliani), the city began a cleanup from the accumulated blight of three centuries of existence and moved toward what it is today: a Disney-fied playground for the rich. The bandshell of Tompkins Square Park in the East Village was vanished and the park beautified in the late 1980s, beginning that area’s overpriced tenement real estate craze. The Meatpacking District‘s S&M club, The Vault (aka The Manhole, and the Hellfire Club), shut down and slaughterhouses turned into Fifth Avenue-type clothing stores. Times Square’s porn palaces ended in movie megaplexes and Broadway got a facelift away from bulb-powered billboards to huge plasma screen displays all over the goddamned place, but at night, it’s a beautiful sight to behold, if you look up long enough to gaze at the displays without wanting to punch a tourist.

There’s a constant pull between the old and the new, but it’s always been like that in New York City. In 1898, when the city consolidated its current area as Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, Brooklyn lamented its being swallowed up by Manhattan, and 114 years later, people still bitch about Consolidation. NYC is a place — for good or bad — that constantly remakes itself every couple of generations.

Today, the old CBGB’s space is a high-priced John Varvatos clothing store. Socks go for big bucks, and the cost of a jacket? Fudgeddaboutit. Whether John Varvatos loves music or not (which he obviously does as many of his publicity campaigns include rock stars such as Green Day)… thats, just… wrong, in the eyes of not only me, but others as well. No offense to Varvatos himself, but when the battle between Hilly Kristal and his landlord ended in the demise of the club and the Varvatos store moved in, it felt like a knife slicing through the heart, the end of a spirit of independence, of a connection to the poor and the punks, and an ironic twist of angst was left that’s difficult to let go of, even years after CBGBs closed.

Green Day in John Varvatos

Since you can’t go back to the old days… and really, if you remember what the Bowery was like in 1985, the year I moved to NYC from Detroit — drug infested, dangerous, and just plan nasty — what is there left to do? You can either let CBGB die a noble, final death and still make money from the brand profits alone… or you can create a giant festival in the name of CBGB, in the heart of New York (and Brooklyn) and attempt to infuse some spirit back into that once independent club on Bowery, if in name only.

I was discussing this on Facebook and a Native New Yorker friend wrote: “CBGB’s never represented anything to me other then a nasty hole in the wall that smelled like Port Authority. Sure a LOT of great bands were fostered there, but the mystique around it has to do with the Energy, the Time and specific Place fusing perfectly [emphasis mine]… [Today’s CBGB has] GOT to be sincere, in it for LOVE, not some concept of success — maybe not PUNK ethos, but certainly one for any kind of REAL Authentic expression, however it manifests.”

CBGB’s old haunt has died, Hilly Kristal has died, and maybe New York has died, too, but if CBGB’s was worth it in the first place, isn’t it worth breathing life back into it and hoping to find some heartbeat of authentic expression? I believe it is. So I hope, despite a strange and somehow lackluster slew of bands listed for the festival, that I’ll hear somewhere, a faint heartbeat of the old Bowery and CBGBs.

CBGB Closed


Is This Blog On??

Tap, tap, tap… Testing, testing, one, two, three… is this blog on?

Hello, Green Day Mind readers!

It’s been a “long time no see” situation here on the little old blog called Green Day Mind. You may or may not be following me on my very active Twitter account (and thanks if you are!) but frankly, the blog has gone stone cold silent since December. I can hear the sound of tumbleweeds across these here pixels, for sure. I mean, what was there to talk about? Has anything happened in Green Day land in the last few months? Hmmm… oh yea… this epic trilogy thing called “Uno!” “Dos!!” “Tre!!!” coming out from Green Day beginning this September 2012 and continuing to January 2013. I guess there is something solid to start talking about! I mean, I’ll leave all of the important stuff to the Green Day Authority and GreenDay.com. This little blog here is a specialty site, mostly posting about Green Day, but also branching out to other bands as well.

Green Day “Uno” Banner from GreenDay.com

Now that there’s solid albums coming out (dates are set, the tracklist for the first album released, and some summer/fall tour dates happening in Europe and at least one here in the United States), we have the date of July 16th to look forward to when the first song from “Uno!” entitled “Oh Love” will be released upon the public! Oh yes! Can’t wait!

I’ve read that a theme runs through the three albums, primarily the before, during, and after of a big party or celebration, and the emotional highs and lows that come from celebrating just a bit too much. You can read the most recent Rolling Stone interview on the trilogy at Green Day Authority here.

DOS! banner from GreenDay.com. Click on the link for the teaser!

Green Day has put out multiple 30-second videos while they’ve been in the studio, including the little gem for “Tre!” below. This clip is my favorite for two reasons: I’m very much looking forward to some drumming action from Tre Cool first of all. I have no idea how the writing credits “drum out” in the trilogy, but I suspect that this album will let us really get a taste for Tre’s wide range of drumming skills. I read awhile ago that he had been in Cuba taking lessons and sitting in on drumming sessions with Cuban masters and I’m looking forward to hearing what he’s learned. Plus, I just miss his wacky face.

TRE! Banner from GreenDay.com

The second reason is a little more personal… There’s a super quick segment in the video from Green Day’s Halloween show at Webster Hall Studio that me and one of my favorite super people, David Burgos, are in that includes another super guy, Michael Esper from “American Idiot on Broadway.” In the segment, Esper crowd surfs over both of us, and there’s an awesome shot of David surfing like the pro he’s becoming, too.

Green Day teaser for “TRE!!!”

I know, though, that’s not why you’ll enjoy this clip so much!

Stay tuned for more on Green Day as well as a few other things in the works. I will be at the first CBGBs Festival beginning this week (July 5-8) and will post on the Music and Film Conferences there and some music that I’ll see. In addition, I will finish my post on the KERPUNK Festival from January 2012 (yea, it’s a little late), and will also introduce you to a band I met along the way called Mad Anthony from Cincinnati, talk about my love for The Dopamines, and tell you all about Larry Livermore‘s “The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore” shows at the Knitting Room in Brooklyn last week.

Until then, thanks for sticking around!


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