Tag Archives: New York

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)

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Broadway Billie Joe Makes His Debut On Broadway and London Billie Joe on B’way Flashback Moment

Broadway Billie in My Red Hat by Erial Grove - London, O2, Oct. 24, 2009

DATELINE OCTOBER 24, 2009, LONDON

I posted the following on Feb. 23, 2010:

When I saw Green Day at the London O2 back in October, I brought a shiny red hat all the way from New York for Billie. When he asked for it during “King for a Day,” it was a semi-perfect toss and a great catch and he just looked like the perfect Broadway showman. The video below isn’t the best, but at about 3:58, you can see him catch it, parade around, and then do his best little James Cagney impersonation.

King for a Day – London at the o2 – October 24, 2009 – Bad Video, but it shows Billie catching my red hat at 3:58 to near end of video.

At the first O2 show the night before, I stood for the first time near the end of the catwalk. It was a spot that was enjoyable but I won’t do again. I like to see all of the band, and not just BJA. I had my “Green Day’s American Idiot” t-shirt on from the Berkeley show and someone had given Billie a pink fuzzy hat (I think it was my friend Gerg). The next thing I know, he looked at me with a slightly wicked smile and literally did a James Cagney in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” move with the hat in his hand. I swear to God he saw my shirt. I had by this time seen five Green Day shows and I had NEVER seen him do this move before… straight outta B’way. I still crack up with laughter when I think of it.

Broadway Debut – Bring It On

The move that Billie Joe did so briefly at that London show on Oct. 23, 2009 at the end of the catwalk will never be forgotten in my mind. If you’ve seen American Idiot on Broadway, it’s the move Johnny and St. Jimmy do during the “St. Jimmy” song line, “it’s comedy… and tragedy…” The two move together in old-fashioned vaudeville-style unison, swinging their arms back and forth in unison and moving their leg simultaneously. It’s a hard move to explain, but if you’ve seen the show, you know what I mean.

Now, Billie Joe Armstrong will do that move onstage all this week, as he takes on the role of St. Jimmy for Tony Vincent, who, for personal reasons and vacation, will be taking a two-week break from the show. I hope all is well  with you, Tony! Here’s Tony doing St. Jimmy in Times Square recently. Vincent’s understudies, Joshua Kobak and Andrew Call, will cover the role from Oct. 5-10.

Tony Vincent Performs “St. Jimmy” in Times Square with Cast of American Idiot – blockhead29

Rumors of Billie Joe appearing in the musical surfaced on a Broadway message board a day prior to the American Idiot talkbacks that took place last week, 9/14-9/19. It was nothing much, just a poster saying that the press release would go out in a day or two. When nothing materialized, we all took it for one of the many rumors that come out about Green Day and the show, but then, another rumor came out that Green Day was performing in Boston at a secret show earlier this week, and combined with some other things, my Spidey-sense started kicking up. Something was afoot, and soon, we would all find out.

Twitter was going a bit crazy on Friday, when someone from the Twitterverse tweeted that “my coworker’s husband made this really cool lipstick for billie joe armstrong that writes in blood. He’s going to use it in AI tomorrow!” That tomorrow would have been Saturday, and there wasn’t any clue about it and didn’t Billie Joe go home like he said he would just the week previously? The plot thickened when he was spotted in the West Village on Saturday (yes, somehow, people know where he is in public, lol), but then Saturday’s performance came and went, and no Billie Joe in the show.

Hmm.

Unfortunately, once the lipstick information got on Twitter, all bets started being called off as to whether the information would stay secret or not. In fact, it may have prompted (or may not have prompted), Billie Joe to Tweet on Saturday:

I’ve got a big fat fuckin secret!!! Hehehehehehhehehahahahahahahahaha! 6:14 PM Sep 25th via ÜberTwitter

You got a secret, Billie Joe? Really? Lol. What could it be? Well, actually, it could have been two things, the first about him appearing in the show, and the second, there was a strange little piece out of nowhere that Green Day was performing a secret show in Boston on 9/25, in the same place where they were arrested so many years ago for public indecency and inciting a riot. As the Twitterverse picked up more steam regarding the rumor of BJA appearing in the show — some of us started joking about it. Somehow, this entire announcement was beginning to feel a bit like the crazy announcement of the Foxboro Hot Tubs shows back in April when DJ Rich Russo announced the Bowery Electric show. Chaotic and crazy, but in the end, wonderful.

Yesterday, Sunday, 9/26, the charity event, Broadway Cares, an Actor’s Equity Foundation that raises money to support AIDS research, held their annual street fair and event. They had some excellent merchandise up for auction from various Broadway shows, including this beautiful musical phrase from “Good Riddance,” signed by Billie Joe:

Good Riddance Musical Phrase Signed by Billie Joe Armstrong - Broadway Cares Auction - Thanks to Plaid Ducky for the heads up!

Photographs with Billie Joe, John Gallagher, Jr., Stark Sands, and Tony Vincent were also supposed to happen yesterday, but things got lost in the crazy shuffle of the fair that occurred on 44th Street in front of the theater and Gallagher got stuck in traffic trying to get to the theater. (He tweeted about it yesterday, updating everyone on his whereabouts.) I guess because of all of the chaos, the photos didn’t happen, but the following did, and fans of Green Day heard it first, officially, which actually feels kinda special:

I’m gonna be playing the part of St. Jimmy in AI on broadway sept 28 thru Oct 3. All week! See ya there! Rage n love-billie joe about 19 hours ago via ÜberTwitter

BJA as St. Jimmy with My Green Lei - Albany, Times Union Center, July 25, 2009

So there you have it! Billie Joe, who from what I hear, has been thinking of playing this role since the show started, will finally go on in the part of St. Jimmy, and will make his Broadway acting debut from 9/28-10/3, for eight shows, and then off to South America for him and his bandmates for that leg of the 21st Century Breakdown tour.

Michael Mayer, at one of the talkbacks last week said that “BJA was the reincarnation of Al Jolson,” and I can see that, with a little James Cagney, and frankly, Marlene Dietrich thrown in, too. These three were great performers and showpeople, full of energy and verve from back in the day.  While I’m not too impressed with Billie Joe’s acting chops, (he’s ok, and has appeared on a few shows here and there, though he does excellent voiceover work in John Roecker’s Live Freaky! Die Freaky!), I am completely impressed by his St. Jimmy chops, and I will never forget seeing him that first time in Albany last June 2009, with him wearing the silly green lei that I had brought for him, chewing up the stage as the enigmatic and crazed St. Jimmy. Literally, one of the  most powerful performances of a song at a rock show that I have ever seen.

I didn’t think I’d be able to see Billie Joe in the part this week. I’m broke. Flat-out broke from my Green Day adventures of the last year, and I have no one to blame but myself… and Green Day, lol. But thanks to Nicole W-M, I’ll be seeing the show once this week, on Thursday, unless some miracle happens and I get to see it again. From what I understand, it’s already sold out since the official announcement went out after Billie Joe’s tweet.

Break a leg, Billie Joe, break a leg!


Foxboro Hot Tubs by Bob Gruen

Bob Gruen finally posted photos of the two Foxboro Hot Tubs shows that happened in New York City on his website.

Billie Joe chipped his tooth from the Bowery Electric show… THAT’S how much it rocked!

Thanks to Abbey for posting the link!


Three Shows, And the Third One is a Charm

This will be brief but I wanted to share this amazing setlist from the second Madison Square Garden Green Day show from yesterday, July 28th. All three Green Day shows I went to (Albany and two MSG shows) were amazing, and I thought Albany was incredible, but these guys never cease to amaze… me, at least. The second MSG show was the most incredible experiences of my life, and that’s saying a lot.

I’ll more about the shows soon, but I wanted to share the setlist below. I’m a bit sad that it’s going to be awhile before I see them again, but I hope they do a second leg and I plan it better and travel to see them more. I really wish I were going to England! Ugh.

Anyway, last night was the  BEST DANCE PARTY EVER… and that’s NOT an exaggeration.

Green Day — Madison Square Garden 2nd Show — Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

1. Song of the Century
2. 21st Century Breakdown
3. Know Your Enemy
4. Murder City
5. East Jesus Nowhere
6. Holiday
7. Static Age
8. Before the Lobotomy
9. Are We the Waiting
10. St. Jimmy
11. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
12. A Quick One While He’s Away (The Who)
13. Hitchin a Ride
14. Welcome to Paradise
15. Stop, Drop, and Roll/ Eye of the Tiger
16. FOD
17. When i come around
18. Going to Pasalacqua
19. Stuart And The Ave./ Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?
20. Iron Man riff
21. Brain Stew
22. Jaded
23. Knowledge
24. Basket Case
25. She
26. King For a Day
27. Shout/ Earth Angel (The Penguins)/ Christie Road
/ I’ll Be There
28. 21 Guns
29. American Eulogy

30. American Idiot
31. Jesus of Suburbia
32. Minority
33. Macy’s Day Parade
34. “Say I Love You” (Unreleased song)
35. Good Riddance


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