Ludlow Manor & Electric Room Revitalize the Rock Scene

I took a tour of Ludlow Manor, a quite large restaurant/club/lounge on the south side of Delancey and Ludlow. It’s right across the street from Hotel Chantelle. The joint will open this Friday, with owners Georgie Seville and Luc Carl doing the inviting. It is the sister club to The Delancey, that wildly famous joint just east. The owner of that joint, Robert, is hanging out behind the scenes letting the rock studs run with it. I worked with Georgie back in the day, and he is pure Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo. This makes me happy. I am a rocker to my core, and am pleased to have another joint where I can hang.

Joining Georgie as a partner is former St. Jerome honcho Luc Carl. Yeah, that guy. I asked the publicist if he was still dating Gaga, and then withdrew the question. Sorry I brought it up. He’ll be making things run right on the second floor Casino room. This has a separate entrance on Ludlow street. If he’s not there, you can catch him on Sirius/XM Channel 39,

 Hair Nation. He has a book coming out in March called The Drunk Diet (St. Martins), about losing weight without giving up booze. His Drunk Diet blog has garnered over a million hits.

Ludlow Manor has a roof to die for, with 20-foot ceilings and a retractable roof for warm weather, and a very bubbly wading pool in the center. Like The Delancey, large tropical trees and lush foliage add to its charms. I didn’t notice when I was there, but was told later that the requisite lounging beds in this case are water beds. There are miles of stairs so be prepared. The first floor boasts a long bar and familiar talent behind it. They’re serving food along with the booze. This Friday’s DJ lineup includes Alexandra Richards, Nick Cohen, and of course, Luc Carl.

Another rock and roll joint that always gets my attention is Nur Khan’s Electric Room under the Dream Downtown. To enter, patrons must travel down the parking garage ramp which is adorned by paintings by art player Harif Guzman. I caught Harif the other night as I was heading down to the club. He was holding court, er, ramp, with a bevy of beauties including Margot Bowman, who DJs in Paris and London, and threw a long-running party there. Her painted jacket had me drooling. They are rock and roll hootchie koo. Margot Bowman is an artist, illustrator, designer, as well as a DJ. She is the creative director of The Estethetica Review, a publication focused on ethical fashion published biannually in conjunction with the British Fashion Council. Other ongoing projects include the Painted Truths series for Notion magazine, and Another Fashion Cartoon for Another magazine, and everythingissoamazing.com.

Rock is coming back stronger than ever, and the Electric Room  provides an outlet for the set that doesn’t feel comfortable anymore in the grungier joints (where I live).This crowd just can’t get into the R&B, hip-hop offerings found at most clubs, and considers the mash up or mixed format DJ scene unacceptable. House doesn’t do it for them at all. Electric Room is a playground for rockers with a little success in their pockets.

When you talk of rock, hootchie koo, and all that, purists will mention the Bush Tetras. They never quite made it out of the scene to stardom, but carved out a reputation as a real-deal band in the ’80s no wave scene. What separates bands from arenas and big paychecks can often be lack of a great song, but the Tetras had a few including "Too Many Creeps"(1981) and "Can’t Be Funky"(1982). Too many creeps and wannabes often cash in, while some great talent never breaks out. The original bassist for the Tetras, Laura Kennedy, passed Monday after a long battle with liver disease. We offer condolences.

Summer Banger: Italoset from Paolo Xz

Summer is well underway, and you’ve finally decided to either tackle that long to-do list you’ve been writing, or you’ve chosen to go do nothing on Governors Island because — let’s be real — there is nothing to do there. Or maybe you’re fortunate enough to be tossing back a couple of your favorite summer ales at the beach on a hot Friday afternoon. Whatever you may be doing to enjoy the life, you’re still probably missing one thing: Brooklyn-based hitmaker Paolo Xz’s Italo mix from his jumpin’ set at Cameo Gallery.

This track is 45 minutes of pure summer gold sure to keep you moving and grooving from start to finish. After releasing this gem last year, Paolo has been grinding hard all over the scene with his counterparts in collective Astro Nautico, playing everywhere from Crown Heights basement parties to the venues such as Southpaw and the Delancey. No matter where you are physically or mentally this summer, simply put on your favorite pair of shades and do a little shoulder shimmy to this banger.

Photo: Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez

Startup Social: Socialisting @ Tribeca Grand

“I want it to be like Friendster,” declares Socialisting founder Lawrence Lewitinn, then quickly clarifies: “The early days.” We’re at Socialisting’s launch party. I found out about this party because I spotted it on Facebook and recognized some attendees. I found Lawrence at the party through Peter Gaston, a SPIN editor my girlfriend met through work. Friends of friends! Theme!

Socialisting is like Craigslist, only centered around your friends and friends-of-friends. You only see listings of people up to two degrees of friendship from you. This doesn’t make too much sense to me when it’s applied to yard sales and free couches, but it does make sense for roommates, job offers, and free kittens. These things are best handled through contacts, where the social trust breeds better fits and better behavior.

“Everyone has a hookup story from Friendster,” Lawrence says. There’s been a lot of Friendster nostalgia in the tech and media crowds now that the site is deleting people’s old photos and blogs. Many of the people in this crowd (and at this party) were Friendster’s first users back when social networks, and the kinds of interactions people had on them, were novelties. And one of those interactions was finding new friends on the network.

The early days of a new social network are always heady for the owners. The first thousand users are more exciting than the tenth million users. Every data point on the site, every user interaction, can be seen in real time. (In the first year of Twitter, one page showed everyone’s tweets in a live feed. Impossible now.) The site could become anything. Everything could still happen. And there are parties.

This party is in the large lobby bar of the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Unlike most New York hotel bars that host startup parties — the Hotel on Rivington, the Delancey, Le Bain at the Standard — you can actually tell you’re in a hotel. On a Saturday night. there are plenty of non-party patrons. The party is chiller, less crowded with bold names, than most. I do catch Barbarian Group founder Rick Webb and Kevin Kearney of Hard Candy Shell, and upon arriving I immediately recognize the first three clusters of people.

Lawrence acknowledges the party’s laid-back nature. “No velvet ropes,” he says. There actually is a velvet rope separating the party from the rest of the lobby, but, you know, not a douchey rope, and it disappears at midnight when the free rum drinks end. No one’s checking a list here.

Lawrence’s sister Sarah is DJing. She plays some NIN, some radio pop and “Black Hole Sun”. Sarah emerged a decade ago as Ultragrrrl, a DJ, producer, manager, and blogger. She has a Wikipedia page. When I met her last year, she didn’t mention any of that, though she did say she managed Heinz’s Facebook page. The last song I hear her play is Modest Mouse’s “Float On.”

We leave a bit after the open bar ends, because while there are many people left, we just don’t know them. This sounds like a stupid sentence unless you know that media startup parties in New York mainly attract the same core crowd, called “the 250” by a certain group of critics. Rex Sorgatz, the 250’s club president, is busy with a birthday party (which swaps guests with Socialisting throughout the night). Lawrence has made his party open and apparently hasn’t concentrated on luring big names. These are friends and friends-of-friends.

So what does the launch party say about the startup? First it shows us who’s gonna join first: Lawrence’s friends. Very different from Facebook, which started with the founder losing all his friends. It also shows us how the competitive market will shake out. Socialisting has to fight old-school competitors like Craigslist and any innovations from Facebook, as well as all the other classifieds startups. Third, I have no analogy for free rum drinks.

Socialisting grew out of Lawrence’s List, a Facebook group for people to exchange job and gig leads. There seem to be a lot of these lists online. Lawrence’s friend Anthony De Rosa, a Reuters employee and popular blogger, launched the spinoff “Soup’s List” for some media friends. This spring, former AOL exec Jonathan Dube started a LinkedIn group called “You’ve Got Talent” for everyone he’d had to fire before getting fired himself. (Facebook has a Marketplace app for these functions, but nobody uses that.) Craigslist famously grew out of Craig Newmark’s events list, then lost a lot of its friend-of-friend advantages. When a general structure like Facebook groups keeps inspiring a specific use like job lists, there’s usually an opportunity for someone to replace it with a better structure.

The description for Lawrence’s List asks members to concentrate on listing jobs they’re involved with. “This list is effective when it’s my friends or their friends meeting/hiring/moving in with my friends or their friends, not if it turns into another Craigslist where crazies/kooks/stalkers can find/meet/harass/kill/cook each other.”

Aren’t strangers the worst?

Startup Social evaluates new tech and media startups based on their party-throwing prowess.

Three Bands Not to Miss at CMJ

CMJ is a big festival featuring many, many bands. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. And sure, you can always just go see the hyped and often overhyped bands you’ve already heard of like Deerhunter and My Morning Jacket. But CMJ is really about exposing up-and-comers to the world, and allowing them to rock it. In that spirit I recommend three under the radar bands who are definitely worth your time.

Hooray For Earth

Brooklyn’s Hooray for Earth remind me a lot of Yeasayer, what with their electro-tribal pounding rhythms, hippy-meets-hipster environmental concerns, and ultimate danceability. But there’s something a little more rugged about these East Coasters, a bit of lo-fi fuzz and squeal that separates them from the current batch of 80’s appropriators. Plus, their songs are catchy as hell. Check out their new single on “True Loves” on Pitchfork, head over to the band’s Myspace to stream my favorites, “Surrounded by Your Friends” and “Comfortable, Comparable,” and watch the video below. Hooray for Earth play Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at locations around the city, including the Johnny Leather/NYPRess party at Williamsburg’s Spike Hill on Wednesday the 20th.

Zambri

Zambri is a band featuring hot, gothy sisters who sing like wrist-cutting, trance-inducing pop sirens, vocals soaring over poly-rhythms, horror film sound effects, and mean guitar. Their latest single, “Carry,” features Jon Philpot from Bear in Heaven, and is and absolute brain-ripper. Check out the video below for a taste of the Zambri live experience, then see them next Tuesday at Delancey or Saturday the 23rd at Fat Baby.

Miracles of Modern Science

All you need to know about The Miracles of Modern Science is that they are a psych rock band who play amplified, traditional classical and bluegrass acoustic instruments and wear space suits onstage. Which means you love them or hate them before even listening to their music. Which is a shame, because gimmickry aside, their music is really good. Think Bowie meets Andrew Bird meets Sun Ra meets a ho down. Think awesome. Download some free tracks, watch the video below, and see them next week with Zambri at Fat Baby, or else Thursday afternoon at Bar Matchless in Greenpoint.

The Top 10 Shows to See at CMJ

If exposure is the reason that the College Music Journalism Marathon takes over every single venue in the city each October, then there’s no reason to see bands you already know are good. Bands like Cold Cave, The Atlas Sound, Deer Tick, or Ted Leo + The Pharmacists have gotten enough attention so far. Instead, here’s a list of shows that basically explain why CMJ was invented.

1. Duchess Says (Montreal) – Singer Annie-Claude Deschênes wears a hockey goalie mask while performing, barking like Stasi commander above a din of guitar shreds and deep synth. Perversely anthemic, in the way Joy Division is. Thursday, October 22, Santos’ Party House, 12am.

2. Panache Booking Showcase #2 – Epic show on Saturday night is headlined by the legendary, underrated noise rock band An Albatross (Wilkes-Barre, PA). Also playing are the exuberant, cynical southern twanged, many-tentacled Dark Meat / Vomit Lazers Family Band / Galaxy (Atlanta), and zZz (Amsterdam, Netherlands) who, with nothing but a voice like Danzig’s, an organ, and a drum kit make a dark panic disco you aren’t embarrassed to dance to. Saturday, October 24, Union Pool, 7pm-12:30am.

3. Underwater Peoples Label Showcase: “Afternoon Delight” – Since they’re buddies, there will be repeats from the Chocolate Bobka showcase, but this selection includes the not-to-be-missed Big Troubles (Ridgewood, NJ), who’ve managed to absorb the lessons of the Jesus and Mary Chain, No Age, and Wavves without sounding too derivative. This is also a New Jersey extravaganza with New Americana weariness of bands like Liam the Younger (New Jersey!), Alex Bleeker and the Freaks (New Jersey!), and the fuzzed out Fluffy Lumbers (Ridgewood, NJ). Saturday, October 24, Cameo Gallery, 12pm.

4. Generationals(New Orleans) – A crew of clean-cut kids who write sincere pop songs, though they haven’t really decided what they sound like yet. Con Law, their debut album, is an uneven group that wavers between the excellent and bad Rick Springfield. Nevertheless, their single “When they Fight, They Fight” sounds like a legend off of Girl Group Greats, while “Nobody Could Change Your Mind” is a contemporary ode to Elephant Six. Friday, October 23, Union Hall 9:30pm.

5. Steel Phantoms (Brooklyn) – Brand-new band comprised of ex-Islands members plays keyboard — heavy pop, but don’t expect the former’s sound. Instead, expect steady drumming and the occasional horn section. Alternating between Yos Munro’s baritone and Aaron Harris’s plaintive wail, Steel Phantoms sounds like a mellowed out Wolf Parade, albeit dealing with similar psychoses. Thursday, October 22, Santos’ Party House, 7pm.

6. Golden Triangle (Brooklyn, NY) – Do not confuse with Golden Silvers, or Golden Filter, two other dance bands also playing at CMJ. Golden Triangle are girl-fronted garage-rockers with dirty tambourine moves that give Karen O a run for her money. Wednesday, October 21, Santo’s Party House, 12am; Saturday, October 24, Mercury Lounge, 11pm.

7. The Official Twosyllable Records/Underwater Peoples Showcase presented by Chocolate Bobka – Bloggers/bookers Chocolate Bobka host an unofficial CMJ show of young bands they support. See Real Estate at their hype saturation (trippy sun-stroked guitars from New Jersey), Frat Dad (high-energy Wavves-esque with fake harmonies, from Ridgewood NJ), Pill Wonder (jangly pop played out of a drowning transistor from Seattle), Claymation Velociraptor (goofy joke-popsters wearing animal costumes from Brooklyn). Friday, October 23, The Delancey, 8pm.

8. Beach Fossils (Brooklyn, NY) – Justin Payseur’s one-man band on the Woodsist Label makes some of the best psychedelic lo-fi coming out of Brooklyn these days. Wednesday, October 21, Santos’ Party House, 6:30pm.

9. Wild Yaks (Brooklyn, NY) – Wrestling down their instruments, including a broken-sounding saxophone, as if they were squeezing the last breath of life out of them; they’ve taken the Beastie Boys’ recommendation and shown us what it means to “fight for your right … to party”. Wednesday, October 21, Santo’s Party House, 7pm.

10. Male Bonding (Dalston, UK) – Kinetic power-punk with chants, a harsher improvement of the Matt and Kim thing. Wednesday, October 21, Cake Shop 1am; Thursday, October 22, Delancey Lounge, 11:45pm; Friday, October 23, & Sunday, October 25, Mercury Lounge, 2am.

Duchess Says photo by Jess Watt.

New York: Top 10 Ways to Get Drunk on the Cheap

imageAre you tired of hokey recession specials that never end up scratching your gnawing, thirsty itch? We are rapidly becoming a city of broke drunks, thus it is vital we learn how to be the best broke drunks we can be. If you have no job, no prospects, and only a few bucks, but still maintain flawless taste, then check out the top ways to get your drink on without further damaging the already broken bank.

Calle Ocho (Upper West Side) – Go to this spacious, attractive UWS Nuevo Latino on Sundays and order an appetizer. The policy is you must eat some sort of food in order to partake in the monster “sangria station,” which is totally and completely F-R-E-E! That is correct, kiddies. A bevy of fruits, wines, rums, and all sorts of tasty drinkable treats line the dining room buffet-style, where you can ladle yourself to inebriation for hours. ● Welcome to the Johnsons (Lower East Side) – I like my bars how I like my men: grungy and cheap. This place is suitable for getting sloshed before going to the neighboring, pricier hotspots such as the Hotel on Rivington, 205, or Stanton Social.

Bar 13 (Greenwich Village) – If you don’t mind a little poetry slam, Monday features two-for-one cocktails. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration, grab the mic, and produce your very own poem for the crowd. Here is mine: There once lived a broke girl from New York. She could barely afford fried rice with pork. She spent her dollars on drinks. It is not foolish she thinks. For calories taste better via straw vs. fork. ● Village Pourhouse (Upper West Side) – The Columbia-area outpost has a deal so creative and alluring you will consider grabbing a cab to 108th Street from wherever you are right now (I know I am). If you take a taxi anytime and save your receipt, the bar will reimburse you in alcohol for whatever amount you spent to get there. Afterward, take the subway home, and you just had yourself an almost free night, other than tipping the bartender and one swipe of the MetroCard. ● Delancey (Lower East Side) – The roof is wonderfully enchanting for a spot on the less-attractive edge of the LES. If you are unemployed, they give you free shots of tequila on Tuesdays, which is magical in its own regard. Do not ask me how to prove you are jobless. Perhaps bring a record showing your pathetically low bank statement or letter of dismissal from your most recent employer? ● Antik (Greenwich Village) – This lounge on the Bowery employs bartenders that are fantastic about buybacks, and the occasional surprise open bar is a bonus too. Promoter Ruben Araneta told me the real secret: Go on a Monday, say his name at the door, then find him inside to cop a free vodka cran from his bottle — especially if you are female (duh!) and attractive (double duh!). ● The Orchard (Lower East Side) – BYOB Sundays. Go to the liquor store and buy a cheap bottle of wine (or stop by a bodega and grab some brew) which you can bring to this delightful restaurant. From there, order the cheapest dish on the menu and enjoy a night out while your money stays in — your wallet, that is. ● Hill Country (Chelsea) – Tuesday is the day to venture here and let your nostrils take in the BBQ aromatics while putting back two-for-one specialty drinks from open till close. They also have their usual 3-6pm Happy Hour all day on Tuesday, which includes two-for-one PBRs, $5 well drinks, $20 buckets of Lone Star, and $2 well shots. Spend $10 on five shots. Before you know it, you will have forgotten your money woes, mindlessly square dancing to the live country/rockabilly bands. ● Alligator Lounge (Williamsburg) – Because let’s face it: When one gets boozy, hunger is sure to follow. With the purchase of any alcoholic drink at this Willyburg dive, you receive a free personal pizza hot out of the wood-burning oven. The pies are surprisingly tasty for the fabulous cost of free, and they become even yummier after two beers. ● Rosa Mexicano (Union Square) – Warning! This place is not inherently cheap. But there is one drink that you will only need two of to do the trick. Avoid all expensive food and cocktails — except for the pomegranate margaritas. These lethal, frozen concoctions look harmless enough. They are pink after all. But the drink must be laced with sodium pentothal or something because they get you stripping-in-the-streets-singing-show-tunes-dialing-your-ex smashed. Do not consume more than three.

Industry Insiders: Johnny T, Cabin Fever

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in New York, you’ve walked into one of Johnny T’s East Village hangs. A staple in the NYC music and nightlife scenes, Johnny recently opened Cabin Down Below, an insta-speakeasy sensation. We sat down for an afternoon cocktail in the basement of his bar Niagara, source of many rock n’ roll memories.

What bars do you claim as your own these days? Black & White, Niagara, Bowery Electric, Cabin Down Below, and Pizza Shop.

How’d you become the East Village guru? I started hanging in the East Village when I was 16, working for artist Mark Kastabi. My first bartending job was at Ludlow Street Café, an after-hours café. I went to work at 2 a.m. and left by 8 in the morning. It was my first introduction to bartending and New York nightlife. I had my first bar upstairs at 2A, a local hangout on 2nd Street and Avenue A. By this time, I knew I wanted to start up another bar too. Along with Michael Sweer, who owns Bowery Presents, and Laura Fluto, we found a tiny place called Walley’s, which eventually became Niagara & Tikki Bar. I also became involved in the Motherfucker events, another collaborative party project that I participated in for years, throwing massive downtown events with Michael T, Justine Delaney, the booker at Le Poisson Rouge, and George Seville, a partner at the Delancey. I opened up Black & White in 2000 with my brother Chris Yerington. After that, Bowery Electric in 2008 with Jesse Malin and Mike Studo. My newest projects are Pizza Shop located next to Niagara and Cabin Down Below, which is my new underground speakeasy-style bar, opened in January with Matt Romano.

You’ve been a staple of this neighborhood forever — what’s your secret? My secret is perseverance and the people that are always around me. Whether they are the employees or the people that hang in my bars, I always try to focus on a great crowd. I want people that wanna have fun and come together for a good time. I found a way to do what I love and make a living. I’ve been playing drums since I was 15 and bartending since I was 18. Having a bar where bands can play, and where local and touring musicians can come and hang was the dream. Being a touring musician for many years too, I met all these people all over the world. I wanted to set up a real rock n’ roll bar. My secret weapon is the music. Rock n’ roll DJs and music are at all my places seven days a week. It’s all about the rock n’ roll lifestyle: making music, getting messy, and getting laid.

Any side hustles? I’ve been a drummer forever. I used to play in a band called Clowns of Progress … we all lived in the “Big Clown House” on Avenue B. I also played with Ryan Adams for a couple years, recording and touring with him. Now I’m in a band called Pop Girls Etc., one of the best projects I’ve been involved in. We’re all music geeks trying to cram a lot of influences into one. We‘re in the studio now and about to release a single in the UK, which Jesse Malin is producing.

What are your favorite hangs? It’s very rare that I’m not in one of my own bars. The drinks are free.

Anyone in the industry that you look up to? I have a great deal of respect for anyone that takes on this industry. I mean it’s fun, but it’s hard work to make something last. Anyone with a enough money and a publicist can have a bunch of celebrities parade around and open a venue for a year or two, but it will always be a flash in the pan. It’s the exact opposite of what I’ve done: start from the ground up, grassroots style. Know your neighborhood and the locals. I have a lot respect for my peers, but I pretty much just jumped into this … so to be standing here now, I feel grateful to still be carrying the torch.

What people have come into your bars? Of course I’ve had a lot of great people in my bars, but I hate to drop names. The reason I still have high-profile patrons is because we have a no rope policy, no bottle service, and we don’t tell magazines what celebrities have come through our doors.

What’s on the agenda for 2009? We’ve renovated Tikki Room downstairs at Niagara, and the gallery upstairs. We’ve also expanded Bowery Electric and opened the downstairs there.

What’s your favorite destination? Hawaii.

What are you doing tonight? Going to Bowery Electric.

Guiltiest pleasure? Late-night food runs to Blue Ribbon. What’s your dream spot for a project? I kinda have my dream spots already … this was an accidental occupation. I never wanted to open bars; it was a means to an end. It was so I could go out and drink, play drums, and make money.