Tag Archives: New York City

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)

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

Green Day Across the World – May 28, 2011

2nd Place "Green Day Across the World" Logo Contest by GD Jonny

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when I’m writing this announcement, I’d like to take a moment to say a word of thanks. Who would I like to thank, besides Dr. King? Well, I’d like to thank all of you who have stopped by Green Day Mind to read and say hello. I appreciate your visits and comments and I hope we all have a great 2011!

I’d like to also take a second to thank those people throughout time immemorial (like Dr. King) who have contributed some positive hand to the rights of man, beast, and land. The world is a crazy place and we each have our own beliefs, but it’s nice when people can come together on at least one or two basic issues. Your issues will differ from mine, and that’s OK. My beliefs tend to center around the ideal that people deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, free from genocide and war with the ability to take care of their families and community, have safe water, healthy natural resources, and sustainable energy. While that sounds all high-minded, let’s not forget the most basic right, the inalienable right to party (or celebrate, you take your pick)!

At the East River Resting at the Opening of the Newtown Creek -- Kayaking in New York City

While everyone won’t agree on everything, I hope we can concur on one thing: that a clean, robust and healthy planet is probably better than a filthy, dirty and rotten one. I think about the environment at lot, particularly about the waterways of the world and especially about the ones here in New York City.

New York is a City of Water, filled with massive and powerful rivers, tiny inlets, and an ocean just a subway ride away. If there’s one thing that is true, humans and animals alike cannot survive without clean water. While that’s true, we also need to use waterways for transport and industry. How we balance the two needs, human consumption and industry (as well as sanitation issues), makes all the difference between dead and healthy seas.

New York City’s waterways were a mess from industry and pollution, but they have come a long way toward health and less pollution over the last ten years. Once absent dolphins and seals have been spotted here and there in the East River in small numbers, a sure sign of potential health. Clean rivers prompts crazy people like me, as part of the Long Island City Community Boathouse, to take little boats out for kayaking good times. The kayaking is free at the LICCB and we encourage the community to jump back into the water. In recent years, I’ve kayaked around the island of Manhattan at night for ten straight hours, resting at small beaches and other free public kayaking clubs around the borough. I’ve seen beautiful shoreline in Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx, as well as the harsh remnants of the Five Borough’s broken industrial docks and rotting timbers.

On the whole, it’s a beautiful sight. Except for a few nasty places here and there, like the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn or the Newton Creek. The latter small creek, located between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, was and still is, an industrial wasteland. Back in the day, a massive oil spill combined with oil leakage from the companies that used to thrive along the riverline, has rested at the bottom of this creek for a long, long, time. After years of petitioning and review, the Newtown Creek is now a Superfund site and as such, the restoration of its health is a National priority. Here’s a story at Gothamist about the Creek, and includes a photo that I took while kayaking down the inlet a while ago. Here’s a full set of Newtown Creek photos that I took from 2007 on Smugmug.

Green Day Across the World Official T-Shirt by Ms_Gd_Lover Logo Contest Winner

We are lucky here in New York, but a lot of places aren’t so lucky. Pollution, poverty, lack of sanitation, et al, takes a toll on the water and the land, wherever you are. If you like a clean environment and are looking for a good cause, there’s a fan-based initiative that started at the Green Day Community over the last four months called “Green Day Across the World.” I am not quite sure who the idea started with, but it ended up being a collective effort ultimately organized through sheer tenacity and true grit into the “Green Day Across the World” environmental event. It’s a day to honor both Green Day and a green world. The event will take place on May 28, 2011 in a city and town near you.

Please note that this is a fan-based initiative and it’s going to take fans to pull it off, which means you! If you’d like to learn more about both the event and what you can do to host an event in your city, town or area, please visit the Green Day Across the World website or click the logo above. You can come up with your own environmental themes and issues. To get involved, you can send a message directly to dawnwilcox1@gmail.com and can also find them on Facebook and Twitter @GreenDayATWrld.

From what I understand, Billie Joe and Adrienne have both heard of this event and while I do not know if they have officially endorsed it, they are said to be enthusiastic about it. Find out more information from the website on prizes, t-shirts, action groups, and events. I believe that all money except for operating costs will go to the National Resource Defense Council. I’ll write more in the coming months about the event as details unfold!

I did not help to organize this event, so all questions should go the email above for more information.

Thanks to Dawn and everyone at the Green Day Community who worked so damed hard on this. You guys all rock. If you’re a member of the Green Day Community, here’s the thread at the GDC.

Green Day Across the World

Honah Lee Premieres New Video, “I Hate My Job!”

Honah Lee – “I Hate My Job” – Check out more music and performance dates at Honah Lee Music

Honah Lee is a fun band, snappy and brusque and they rock out in a nerdy-punk sort of way. I met them during the Party! Party! Party! Tour that they and the Mystic Knights of the Cobra did back in April 2010. They were the first opening band for the Foxboro Hot Tubs at Don Hill’s on April 23, 2010.

The band is from the Trenton, NJ area and were recently highlighted in the Trentonian’s “On The Beat” column about local Halloween shows. The paper said:

Cross-dressing with smeared makeup and marker-ed-up from head to toe in tawdry, faux tattoos, Halloween arrived three months early for the city wild bunch the last time On The Beat caught them at The Mill Hill Basement. It was a crazy scene, as they’re a crazy band — that we’re hoping will save this scene someday — and came at the conclusion of a windswept weekend tour with Michigan’s own intoxicated demons, The Plurals. There were lots middle fingers and people trying to crowd surf. Was thinking there might have been a chicken fight or two. Even some male nudity. And a blurry experience from this end. Pretty much rocked our socks off. Well, The Mill Hill Basement (300 S. Broad St., Trenton) is where local legends are born, and its Halloween hootenanny — from what we’ve heard — tends to get a bit loony. Perfect marriage, right? It goes down on Saturday night and comes a few weeks after Honah Lee debuted their yet-to-be-released new video for “I Hate My Job.” For fans of debauchery, debasers, The Replacements and Weezer.

I hope they save the local scene too! I’ll be at their show in New York City coming up on November 13th at Arlene’s Grocery on the Lower East Side. Hope to see you there, too!

Happy 70th Birthday, John! LENNONYC: Beyond Broadcast – Episode 2: Bob Gruen | American Masters

LENNONYC: Beyond Broadcast – Episode 2: Bob Gruen | American Masters.

Foxboro Hot Tubs by Bob Gruen

Friend of Green Day and rocknroll’s legendary photographer, Bob Gruen, recently spent an hour with NPR talking about his friend and photographic subject, John Lennon. One of the things I love about Green Day is their obvious love for the history of Rock, particularly the history of punk. In that respect, it’s always great to know the history of your favorite subject. Gruen, a long-time friend of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, gives a straight-forward, funny and heartfelt interview not only on Lennon but also rocknroll history. Take some time to click on the link above and listen.

Today, October 9, 1940 is Lennon’s 70th birthday. We miss you here in NYC, John. The world misses you, too. Thanks, and happy birthday.

Also, thanks to Moffieee for reminding us that today is also John Entwistle’s birthday, too. Visit her Tumblr for a nice tribute to him.

Here’s a nice little message from Yoko Ono on this day:

h/t for interview: AbbeyFox on Twitter; for Yoko Ono message: Beatles on Facebook

The Reverend Meditates on Poor Yorick, Don Hill’s, 4/23/10

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the shenanigans of the two Foxboro Hot Tubs shows that I attended in NYC (Don Hill’s and Bowery Electric) a few weeks ago. It seems like a dream, and since my bruises have all healed, I ask myself: Did it really happen? I’m pretty sure it did, there’s photographic evidence! I’ll write about the shows, I promise! In the meantime, go and take a look at some photos on Flickr of the crazy time had by all!