This is going to be short and sweet – well, maybe splendid. Fashion Week is making me weak and it’s just starting. I shoulda, woulda, if I coulda attended the Ami James Pop-Up Tattoo Shop thing at the Empire Hotel yesterday but I was otherwise distracted. Besides, I will be at the Empire Rooftop tomorrow night DJing, and being north of 23rd street two times in a week is… problematic for a BBurger like myself. I’m opening for the fabulous Mel DeBarge. Mel and I have a long history of being in the same room and other things more times than I care to discuss. He is a great DJ and I am honored to be mentioned in the same breath and invitation with him. Kirill is taking pictures and he somehow always manages to shoot me on my good side -not an easy accomplishment. I’m on from 9pm to 11pm, although the invite says doors open at 10pm. Either that’s an error or someone has heard me DJ before or they want me to provide rhythm for the wait-rons as they set up. I’m excited about this and Fashion Week in general.
Happy Sam Valentine’s Day and Week! I’m talking about Sam Valentine; the cool, cool rock and roll promoter that I work with every Thursday at Hotel Chantelle whose birthday is tomorrow. He lives rock 24/7, 365 days. He has the hair to prove it. This week, he is all over town celebrating, culminating in his sleaze rock festival called “Big City Rebels 5,” this Friday at Webster Hall. He has the band CRASHDIET playing, and much, much more. He says that he hasn’t been this excited in years. I caught up with Sam and asked him to tell me all about it.
It’s your birthday week and you have been celebrating this blessed event. What’s happened so far and what’s ahead?
So far I’ve been taking it easy and concentrating on promoting the big event coming up on Friday: my once-a-year sleaze rock festival called "BIG CITY REBELS 5.” This year I got the leading band in this new rock ‘n’ roll movement called CRASHDIET; they are basically the Motley Crue of our generation along with the bands THE LAST VEGAS, WILDSTREET, WICKED, and NASTY HABIT… lots of new blood with lots of passion, talent, and attitude. On top of this we have the rock n roll designer TOXIC VISION doing her party “GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS” with us; we get 30 girls and dress them in her trademark sexy bodysuits and they just go wild all night. As if that isn’t enough, for the after-party we are filming for a future episode of the popular TLC show NY Ink; Megan Massacre and Jes Leppard from the show will be guest DJing along with Joe Letz, the drummer of the industrial band COMBICHRIST. This is considered to be the rock ‘n’ roll event of the decade here in NY and it will live up to that.
Before the Festival on Friday, I have my weekly Wednesday the rock party RIOT AVENUE at Webster Hall. It’s known for its high level of debauchery, and this week we have a heavy metal magician and a strip contest.
On Thursday night, my actual birthday, I’ll be celebrating with my intimate friends at Hotel Chantelle’s GENERATION WILD party; that’s where the hangover will be started, and I expect the night to be crazy. I’ve got some very special guests coming as well.
You are a true rock and roll disciple. Tell me why rock is the true religion.
Growing up I had nothing to keep me company but rock ‘n’ roll. The moment I saw bands like Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, and Motley Crue on TV, I was hooked. I connected with this larger-than-life sound, look, and attitude. I like all kinds of rock ‘n’ roll, though I have a passion for the sound of loud guitars and pounding drum beats. It’s a style of music that rebels against the norm, and it expresses every feeling – from the love songs to the angry or just the party songs – it has it all. I don’t know where I would be or what I’d be doing with my life if rock ‘n’ roll hadn’t been there to guide me. I had no role models growing up but the rock stars on TV, which probably explains why I get in so much fun trouble all the time.
I DJ with you on Thursdays at Chantelle. You incorporate local bands into your set. Tell me why this is so important.
This is the most important thing to me. The hits that people know are needed, but these bands already had their success and got their money. The local bands are struggling to push and keep rock ‘n’ roll alive, and if we ignore them by not playing their music or rocking out to it, how is rock ‘n’ roll going to survive? Everyone likes to get a new car or a new apartment… new things are great, so why not want new music made by our generation? By playing these songs, we teach people there’s still great talent out there and rock ‘n’ roll is getting stronger than ever. It’s been growing in the underground for quite a bit now and it’s almost ready to explode again. It’s our local talent that is making this possible; their songs are as good as any classic, so why not play it in our sets? Someone has to put a stop to the same Bowie and Blondie songs being played over and over at every "rock" party.
You swear by sleaze rock. Who are the sleaze rock players and what defines that sound?
Sleaze rock is the freshest most dangerous and fun sound in rock ‘n’ roll right now. It takes from bands like Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue – that party, badass, rebellious sound – but it’s being made by young people from this generation, so it took a life of its own, updating that sound to what we now call sleaze. It was made popular by bands like Hardcore Superstar, Crashdiet, Backyard Babies, and such. All these bands are from Sweden. Over there it’s the style of rock ‘n’ roll that dominates, and now it has spread to America with bands like Wildstreet, The Last Vegas, Dirty Penny, Sex Slaves, and such solidifying the following over here. It’s music to party to. It brings the fun back to rock. It has the larger-than-life rockstar look. It has danger, is dirty-sounding, and speaks to us, the generation that’s fed up with all this emo and generic sound that rock has had for the past decade. Plus, it’s giving strippers all around the world new songs to get naked to!
“Hey, Hey, My My” rock and roll will never die, but most clubs don’t play much of it. Will rock be played in clubs in five years? Is it a viable genre for anyplace except dive bars and hipster hangouts?
I believe so. If you look back five years ago, there’s no place that would have ever let me play a sleaze rock track, but now they call ’cause every club wants that edgy look that this scene is bringing. I believe that in five years the sound will be just like the ‘80s again. It will be everywhere. It will be a great time, and everyone is going to want a piece of it. The pop world has drowned itself. Kids are bored. They need this new edge that sleaze rock and sleaze metal is bringing to music again… plus, it’s feel-good music and no one can be against that. In five years, I think my word will be proven right; it will be rock ‘n’ roll land once again. It’s long overdue.
OK, you’re going on a long rocket ship trip and can take 10 songs…what are they?
- Crashdiet – “Rebel
- Guns N’ Roses – “Night Train”
- Skid Row – “Youth Gone Wild”
- AC/DC – “Whole Lot of Rosie”
- Crashdiet – “It’s a Miracle”
- Wildstreet – “Easy Does It”
- Hardcore Superstar – “Run to Your Mamma”
- Motley Crue – “Kickstart My Heart”
- Backyard Babies – “Drool”
- Airborne – “Raise the Flag”
Tonight the house community will gather to support Gwen McCrae who gave us the hit "Funky Sensation" and so much more. Ajna, 25 Little West 12th Street, will be packed to the rafters with DJs, performers, and hosts. Gwen suffered a major heart attack in London and this event is being held to raise cash to get her home to her family.
I wouldn’t recognize Fashion Week if Nur Khan wasn’t presenting one or more serious Rock and Roll shows. Fresh off The Kills‘ 10 Year Anniversary party hosted by Lovecat Magazine the other night, Nur throws Guns N’ Roses into the Hiro Ballroom. Talk around town has Mark Packer soon converting the space into a Tao Downtown, gobbling up Hiro and Matsuri in the process. Nur was the hero at Hiro when it was what it was. He is seriously happy about sending his old turf off with a bang. I caught up with him and gave my regrets.I cannot attend, as I will be DJing with Kelle Calco at Hotel Chantelle while all the hoopla is hooplaing. I asked Nur all about it.
OMG! FYI, EVR – pronounced ever which is soooo clever or is it clvr – is wonderful. It’s that lounge on 39th street between 5th and 6th Ave. I DJd there last night for the early-evening sexy time. It was well-dressed adults mixing with the wonderful staff as I mixed my rock into disco and soul and funk and other fun genres. Everything is new and clean and state-of-the-art. It looks great. There are bold design decisions keeping the travel areas and service areas raw while the rest of the place is completely done up. There is cool art everywhere – or is it evrywhr? Lots of my pals came and will again as they’re having me back. I hung out with industry stalwart Mikey Lights who showed me what all the bells and whistles do on the mixing board and CD players I use. OMG! I have a whole lot of new knobs to play with. After the gig, me and mine went to see Zero Dark Thirty in not-too-far-away Times Square. I think it should be renamed "Zero Dark Three," as the movie – except for the wonderful, obviously no-surprise ending – was a colossal bore.
Everybody wants to know where I’m going to watch the Super Bowl and well…I’m not. I have never seen an entire football game and I’m not going to start now. I hear the major sports bars are sold out. I’m going to do something a little more my speed, like catch Joey Arias, the performer, diva… the legend at Joe’s Pub. This is week two of three, so get your act together and catch this act. Joey ruled at the now-shuttered Bar d’O for a decade. He performed with Bowie. He cavorted with Klaus Nomi. This week, he will be joined by Flotilla DeBarge. If all this doesn’t make any sense to you, then by all means pop some brews and watch the game.
Just wanted to mention the 130th birthday of the Hotel Chelsea. I spent my social Wonder Bread years at the old hotel. At one time I lived in the big penthouse, which was actually a house sitting on top of the hotel with a magnificent giant garden around it. I was told that Arthur C. Clark wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey in my joint, and that John Garfield and John Wayne and a hundred others passed through. I don’t have enough space to mention the celebrities and bright lights that called it home. Friends lived and died there. For me, it was like a town that I could leave but was always welcome back to. Now, it’s all tangled up in real estate legalities and it isn’t the same and we…all New Yorkers, are a lot poorer and less fabulous for it.
Saturday is my 100th birthday or something like that. I will be celebrating…or something like that at the Mercury Lounge, where I will be amazed and amused and maybe even aroused by Guns N’ Hoses – which I am told is an all-female G N’ R tribute band. Afterward, I will paint the town red or just head straight to bed, after all, I’m old—er, or something like that.
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When Kanye West, Guns N’ Roses, and Kings of Leon signed on to perform at the three-day, island music party Governors Ball, snagging a general-admission ticket got as hard as grabbing a seat on the 6 train at rush hour. So for all you folks who can’t get the last-remaining tickets or don’t want to pay the lowest-priced $95 stub, there are certain…alternatives. And by alternatives, I do mean very special cocktails made with Governors Ball’s official spirit – SKYY Vodka – that you can get at two bars in NYC all weekend long: Cowgirl Seahorse and Rockbar.
Cowgirl Seahorse – the nautical spot right by South Street Seaport with mounted fish heads and antler chandeliers – and Rockbar – the grungy West Village gay bar – are doling out these three SKYY cocktails for just this weekend:
Moscato Envy: SKYY Infusions Moscato Grape, tonic, and lime
SKYY Palmer: SKYY Vodka, lemonade, and iced tea
Wild Strawberry Lemonade: SKYY Infusions Wild Strawberry, lemonade, wheels of lemon, and strawberries
Ask the bartender to blast Kanye’s "Stronger," and you’ll feel like you’re on Randall’s Island – but without the ticket price, face-painted crowds, and nonstop Instagramming.
The fissure between Axl Rose and his original Guns N’ Roses bandmates — Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagen, and Steven Adler — is a well-recorded one, fraught with the ego showdowns and cocaine blowouts only found in hair metal lore. But could it be healed in time for the band’s April 14 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? That’s what GNR keyboardist Dizzy Reed thinks, telling Billboard, "I know that all the original band is going to be there." Reed isn’t a founding member, but he’s played with the band since 1990 making him the longest tenured non-Axl player. "I don’t know exactly what’s going to go down," he added. "It’s one of those things I’m sure will all come together and be really cool. I’m just going to go in with a good attitude and a clear head and a grateful heart."
While the rhythm section was undoubtedly important to GNR’s success, it’s the Axl-Slash pairing that will interest casual fans: They haven’t played together since 1996, when Slash officially quit the band following creative disputes and Axl just being a giant dick in general. Since then, Axl has ambled about with a retooled lineup built from unglamorous career musicians, while Slash has had success with some of the other former GNR musicians in Velvet Revolver. While he gets set to release a new solo album on May 2, the new GNR is in the middle of a tour. But we’ll have to see if that April 14 ceremony makes everything right as rain, and if they’ll actually share the stage to perform some probably-rusty-but-still-awesome version of "Sweet Child O’ Mine."
The 2012 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced this morning and, unsurprisingly, the list of five performers encompasses a wide variety of dudes, and just one lady. The five inductees in the performer category are as follows: Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donovan, Laura Nyro, the collected bands The Small Faces / The Faces, and Beastie Boys. Blues guitarist Freddie King will also be inducted as an early influencer of rock and roll. This is the first year that Guns N’ Roses were on the ballot, whereas the rest of the performers had been nominated in previous years.
Curious as to how the nomination process works? Let’s take it a look at the official rules:
Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.
The Foundation’s nominating committee, composed of rock and roll historians, selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of more than 500 rock experts. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes – and more than 50 percent of the vote – are inducted. The Foundation generally inducts five to seven performers each year.
This year, there were just fifteen nominees in the performer category (you can check out the ballot over at the Village Voice, where critic Maura Johnston reveals her five picks), and the shortlist was a bit more diverse, including The Cure, Eric B. & Rakim, Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Rufus with Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, and War. Writes Johnston:
Of the people I voted for, Heart, Rufus and Chaka, and Eric B. and Rakim were the first-time nominees who didn’t get in. (Donna Summer has been on the ballot before; the "disco sucks" sentiment is still holding over from the ’70s, apparently. It’s kept seven-time nominee Chic out, too, which, sigh.) Given that so many of this year’s inductees were return trippers to the ballot, maybe it’s a wait ’til next year sort of thing?
In the meantime, it’s a good excuse as any to listen to the somewhat underappreciated Laura Nyro all day. Nyro, who’s kinda like a bluesy, psychedelic Carole King, is perhaps more known for her songwriting, having penned many pop hits recorded by other artists like Three Dog Night and the Fifth Dimension. Here’s a video of her performing the latter’s hit "Wedding Bell Blues" as well as "Poverty Train" at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967:
● Fox Business News has challenged the Muppets to a debate. "Froggy, Miss Piggy, if you wanna debate this any time, I’m all for it," the network’s Eric Bolling offered on his show yesterday. He might want to think twice before engaging so closely with the enemy. [Huff Post]
● Ellen Degeneres, for some reason, has been awarded first dibs on Lindsay Lohan’s $1 million Playboy spread by the young star herself. [NYDN]
● Always the bad boy of the bunch, the Backstreet Boys A.J. McLean’s wedding invitations are bloodied and gothic. [TMZ]
● 2007’s much beloved Once, a romantic jaunt featuring music by the Swell Season, is being staged for a Broadway run. [NYT]
● Alec Baldwin was kicked off his American Airlines flight yesterday by a "reaming" flight attendent when he just couldn’t quit Words With Friends. [NYT]
● Is Kristen Wiig dating Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti? Almost too cool-like, they were caught "literally on top of each other" at the Black Keys record release party in New York this week. [Page Six]
● Guns N’ Roses, The Beastie Boys, Laura Nyro, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, are amongst this year’s class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. [Billboard]
So The White Stripes are dunzo. The’ve played their last appropriated blues riff. The dynamic duo have became two lonely unos. It sucks. But what sucks even more are all the bands out there who should call it quits, yet continue to persevere in the face of their own un-awesomeness. Below, a list of bands I’m really hoping will break up soon.
Guns ‘N’ Roses: The problem here is that they already broke up, but no one told Axl Rose. So I’m telling him now: Axl, you’re nothing without Slash. In fact, even with Slash, you still can’t sing anymore, and your cornrows make you look like a prehistoric douche. Retire!
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Didn’t this whole band die in a plane crash or something? How are they still touring? Also, their logo is the confederate flag. That is not appropriate. Even their namesake is dead by this point. Let’s never hear “Sweet Home Alabama” live again.
The Grateful Dead: Okay, so they’ve dropped the “Grateful” and just go by “The Dead.” Still, Jerry Garcia is no longer alive, and the other ones are old. I love the Grateful Dead’s music, but this isn’t it.
Creed: This band hasn’t run its course — they never had a course. Or maybe their course was: Be the worst band in America. In which case, they’ve won already. Time to give someone else a chance.
Nickelback: So the next generation can be saved from developing poor taste.
Wilco: Jeff Tweedy, what have you done for me lately? Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was arguable the album of the decade. The follow-up, A Ghost is Born, was quietly great. But now Tweedy is sober and a good father, and they are a dad band who play dad rock.
Phish: Phish are like the Brett Favre of jam bands. They retire, then return. Retire, then return. And they’re only getting older. Their fans are now all thirty year-old bankers in hemp necklaces. Lame.
Korn: Enough with the noise already.
Lil’ Wayne: Weezy is my favorite, and I would never want him to quit. But he does need to break up with certain parts of himself. Like the part that plays guitar.