Obie Night 2012: New Guard, Loud Crowd, Devil Puppet – The Village Voice

Obie Night 2012: New Guard, Loud Crowd, Devil Puppet

By James Hannaham Wednesday, May 23 2012

To the late Alien Comic:

Hey, Tom Murrin! I don’t think performance artists go to heaven, so I hope it’s fun to haunt the P.S. 122 dressing room or the basement of Theater for the New City. Anyway, I wish you’d been alive for this year’s Obie Awards at Webster Hall on Monday night—well, you and a lot of other folks, actually, but you in particular. Here’s why: For one thing, the show wasn’t glamorous or spectacular, which you would’ve appreciated, given your “Tom Trash” persona. NY1 didn’t send cameras, neither the presenters nor the recipients could figure out which of the microphones worked, and there was so much loud talking from the bar and balcony that award presenterJonathan Pryce blurted out: “Should we play bingo? Would that help?”

Even so, one could feel a generational shift—you would’ve been able to see your aesthetic children grabbing Obies and becoming the establishment; folks who, under your influence, made performance out of junk: playwright Erin Courtney (whose wedding you officiated) and director Ken Rus Schmoll, writer-directorRichard Maxwell, Elevator Repair Service. Jim Fletcher, who you called “downtown’s finest actor,” praised the attendees because “everybody got their ass in the room.” People who worked with them (and probably you at some point) got lauded, too: lighting designer Mark Barton,Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra, director Jay Scheib (“one of our most theatrically inventive and truly powerful directors,” you once said), actors/sound guys Matt Tierney and Ben Williams, and actor Steven Boyer, who won forHand to God, which he called “a dramedy about a devil puppet.” Right up your alley, Tom!

It also might have given you a thrill to see younger, mainstreamier actors like presenters Tracee Chimo and Justin Bartha flummoxed by the predominant atmosphere of low-rent awkwardness created by those who, like Maxwell, identify as “show trash.” Jim Fletcher’s ass was invoked more than once. Before accepting her acting Obie for TribesSusan Pourfar exclaimed, “Oh, my God, it’s Jonathan Pryce!” and warned us that she would “dork out” for a second by recalling her childhood desire to meet people who made intelligent theater. When Linda Lavin, who won for performance in The Lyons, took a 10-second pregnant pause that silenced the revelers, she eventually said: “I’m not silent so that you will be. I just want to be in the moment.”

The generational shift wasn’t limited to the new guard, either, Tom—the young’uns acted out in their millennialway. Grant recipients the Bushwick Starr and the Debate Society tried to remain professional but ended by thanking their mothers, their dads, their baby, and “anyone who’s ever bought anything from our benefit stoop sales.”

Plenty of other high-quality stuff you would’ve enjoyed garnered a whimsical plaque, too—they wrote the word “Obie” in a circus font on the certificate this year. Milk Like Sugar playwrightKirsten Greenidge and actress Cherise Boothe won; Amy Herzog‘s play 4000 Miles took Best New American Play, and its two lead actors, Gabriel Ebert and Mary Louise Wilson, shared an Obie—I bet you would’ve liked the scene in that play where the kid smokes pot with his Communist grandma.

And while Michael Feingold reminded us that we still have those who have passed away in our memory, that’s not always good enough, Tom. I still felt you should’ve been there, in the room, with Jim Fletcher’s ass.

Alabama Shakes Shake Up ‘Live in NYC’ – MTV Hive

Last week Hive celebrated the release of Boys & Girls, the highly anticipated debut album from Alabama Shakes, with a Live in NYC bash. The quartet tore through an hour-and-fifteen-minute set, filling The Studio at Webster Hall’s intimate space with pure, unadulterated blues punk jams. If you’re a first time Shaker, check out these on-demand performance clips and learn about the awesome power that is Brittany Howard’s voice. If you’re already part of the faithful? Well, welcome back.

For more of the Alabama Shakes’ Live in NYC performance, check out the photo gallery below:

CBGB Music Festival Line-Up Announced – The New York Times

CBGB Music Festival Line-Up Announced


Cloud Nothings, Pains of Being Pure at Heart and War on Drugs are among the bands that will participate in the first CBGB music festival being produced this summer, joining a line-up that is heavy on New York groups and spans rock from the mid-1970s to today, organizers said.

The four-day festival will take place at more than 30 bars and music halls in Manhattan and Brooklyn from July 5 through July 8. It is being organized by a group of investors who last year bought the assets of the defunct CBGB & OMFUG club on the Bowery, which in its heyday was an incubator for punk and new wave groups like the Ramones and Talking Heads. The club closed six years ago shortly before the death of its founder, Hilly Kristal.

The new owners say they hope the festival will revive Mr. Kristal’s philosophy of supporting original, hard-edged rock music and will prepare the ground for reopening the club itself at a new location. One highlight of the festival will be a hard-core show at Webster Hall, featuring the Cro-Mags, the thrash-metal group Vision of Disorder and the punk band Sick of It All. The festival’s lineup also includes some old proto-punk figures from the 1970s, among them Rocket from the Tombs and David Johansen, a former singer with the New York Dolls.

But another major event on the festival schedule is a free concert at SummerStage in Central Park featuring indie rock groups who are not identified with a punk or hard-core tradition. That show will be anchored by Guided by Voices, and will feature Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Cloud Nothings and War on Drugs.

The music lineup – which will total more than 300 bands – also includes a bevy of New York bands with loyal followings, including the So So Glos, Firehorse, the Dirty Pearls, D Generation, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. Craig Finn, the front man of the Brooklyn band the Hold Steady, will do a solo show. So will the veteran folk-rocker Willie Nile.

Film is also part of the festival. Organizers plan to screen more than two dozen rock ’n’ roll films at Landmark Sunshine Cinema and City Cinemas Village East in Manhattan. Among them will be the premiere of “The Rise and Fall of the Clash,” a film about that seminal British punk group.

The promoters are also planning a series of conferences and workshops aimed at helping working musicians, as well as an exhibition of high-quality liquors made by small distilleries.

After-dark inquiry: DJ Jess – Time Out New York

After-dark inquiry: DJ Jess

The Trash! man talks turkey to TONY.

By Bruce TantumTue May 15 2012

DJ Jess
DJ JessPhotograph: Angelica Glass 


The Trash! shindig, one of the city’s longest-running weekly affairs—and one of its raunchiest—recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The inimitable DJ Jess has been at the helm for the affair’s entire run.
What’s the secret to keeping a party fresh for such a long time?
The spirit of Trash! lies in its warm-hearted embrace of debauchery, exhibitionism—and very excellent taste in music. When the party first began in 2002, it was the first club night to really smash all genres together, where you would hear the Smiths alongside Michael Jackson alongside the Strokes alongside Donna Summer. Tack on new-wave nymphomaniacs, rock & roll ravers, drunk drag queens and burlesque bombshells in their undies, and you’ve got a celebratory disco experience where no one has to sacrifice their musical standards, and everyone gets laid on the dance floor.
Other than “excellent taste,” how would you describe your deejaying philosophy?
What I do is connect the dots between the old and the new. A Trash! party flows from electro to ’80s to dubstep to rock—melody reigns over genre, and sincerity over novelty. With the recent wave of mash-ups I’ve been releasing on my website [], you can hear where the Clash meets Alesso, the Rolling Stones meet Sidney Samson, or Morrissey meets Swedish House Mafia.
Did you always dream of having a nightlife impresario’s lifestyle, as opposed to holding down a nine-to-five job?
I was a punk vagabond when I first hopped off the train in NYC, and immediately was seduced by the ghosts and hookers of the East Village. Granted, Coney Island High is now a Thai restaurant, the drug rehab center is now a Supercuts, and where there were once seven record stores to shoplift from, there is now only Sounds. But still, the chi of the romantically insane runs strong in those gutters. I can still hear the disco drums of Andy Warhol’s Electric Circus. I share egg creams from Gem Spa with Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. I swoon at the siren sounds of Klaus Nomi and Debbie Harry singing from their ratty apartment windows. I’m not a DJ; I’m not a club promoter or producer; I’m simply another troubled youth, kidnapped and seduced into the open arms and legs of Manhattan. One day I was unemployed and living on couches, and the next I was being paid to play my favorite records. It’s bizarre and unorthodox, but there are others like me, and I dance with them every Friday night.
Are there any eras from NYC’s past that give you inspiration? The electroclash days, the club-kid era or anything like that?
The past will always be a part of you no matter how much therapy you pay for, but I’ve never been so excited about the future as I am now. Kooky kids are whipping up outlandish outfits that look phenomenal, but can barely fit through a door. Clever college freshman are turning out electro-pop gems on tiny laptops with booming bass riffs. I don’t look behind me for inspiration so much as I look to the dance floor in front of me. I find that the next wave of club kids is always well-dressed, always inquisitive—and always very, very sexy.
You’ve been spinning at the burlesque party Shaken & Stirred for years, and you seem to have a certain affinity for burlesque artists and go-go boys and girls. Trash! itself is known for being a touch on the lascivious side. As the city becomes more and more staid, do you feel you have a certain duty to remind people that sexiness is a big part of the nightlife scene?
I truly forget sometimes how inhibited the rest of the planet is, as Trash! is surrounded by so much flesh and fanaticism. I believe people are sexual, sans prefix. Forget hetero or homo or bi—people are simply sexual, and that is all. Trash! is a party where everyone and anyone can shake off the shackles of their cubicles, paint some glitter on their faces and throw their underwear into the rafters—all to a wild, piercing, throbbing, heaving disco beat! What do you picture yourself doing ten years from now? Who do I picture myself doing ten years from now? Hopefully some performance art genius such as Stormy Leather or the like. Wait—“who” or “what?” I think I got the question wrong.

Trash! takes place every Friday in the Studio at Webster Hall.



Webster Hall was chosen as the location for a two day shoot of the film “Kill Your Darlings,” which tells the tale of a 1944 murder that draws together the three great poets of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. On site were actors Daniel Radcliffe (“Harry Potter”), Michael C Hall (“Dexter”) and Ben Foster (“3:10 to Yuma”).  In the past,Webster Hall has been depicted in such iconic films as “Big,” “Raging Bull” and “Radio Days.”



New York, NY, April 30, 2012

Webster Hall hosted the incomparable Jack White this past Friday April 27, 2012. The concert was part of the American Express “Unstaged” series, and was directed by actor-director Gary Oldman for a live stream on You Tube.

Jack White played two full sets with backing bands The Peacocks and Los Buzzardos. Material from throughout his career was dispensed to the packed audience, which included the likes of Jay-Z, Jude Law and Jim Carrey. The crowd sang along to favorites from each stage of Jack White’s career: The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, as well as his new solo album “Blunderbuss.” Jack even dug into material from the Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams album for which he contributed “You Know That I Know.”

Webster Hall is celebrating its 125th year as New York City’s premier nightclub, entertainment venue, and event space.  It was one hundred years ago that playwright Eugene O’Neill came out at one the famous Pagan Balls, establishing Webster Hall as a home for the entire artistic community. It was 50 years ago that Bob Dylan’s first ever recording took place as part of a Harry Belafonte session at the Webster Hall RCA recording studios. And it was 30 years ago that U2 landed in America and played a series of landmark shows at Webster Hall when it was known as the Ritz.  The Ballinger family re-established Webster Hall over two decades ago, and have hosted everyone from Mick Jagger to Madonna to Prince to Adele.

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WEBSTER HALL – highlights from a record breaking year

WEBSTER HALL – highlights from a record breaking year

New York, NY, December 16, 2011

Webster Hall celebrated its 125th year as New York City’s premier nightclub, entertainment venue, and event
space. It was one hundred years ago that playwright Eugene O’Neill came out at one the famous Pagan Balls, establishing Webster Hall as a home for the entire artistic community. It was 50 years ago that Bob Dylan’s first ever recording took place as part of a Harry Belafonte session at the Webster Hall RCA recording studios. And it was 30 years ago that U2 landed in America and played a series of landmark shows at Webster Hall when it was known as the Ritz.

The Ballinger family re-established Webster Hall over two decades ago, and 2012 has proven to be its most fertile year with the following highlights:

– On New Year’s Day after a sold out celebration Bloody Beetroots packed the ballroom at 6AM.

– Best Club Awards were presented by the Village Voice, Paper Magazine and Nightclub & Bar Magazine.

– Bloomberg TV/Tech Stars presented its acclaimed “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained” series.

– Origins presented a private showcase with Train, performing their chart topping hits.

– MTV put the emphasis back on music with the Hive webcast series, live from the Studio at Webster Hall with Two Door Cinema Club, the National, and the Horrors.

– Webster Hall hosted once in a lifetime radio showcases in the Studio with Grace Potter, Foster the People, and The Naked & Famous.

– There were sold out shows in the Ballroom by the biggest electronic acts like Skrillex, Porter Robinson, and NERO Live.

– Chris Brown, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes & others came down to party on the famous Thursday ladies nights.

– Rock and roll hall of famer Patti Smith performed for the French consulate and brought the house down with a career-spanning set.

– Paul Simon recorded the Live at Webster Hall DVD which was broadcast on PBS, his most acclaimed live work in decades.

– The “Halloweek” 5 day celebration culminated in the official Halloween parade after party (a Webster Hall mainstay), as well as Wyclef’s birthday bash.

– Green Day chose the Studio at Webster Hall for a late night Halloween themed show and rocked until the wee hours.

– Webster Hall celebrated the opening of Hanky Panky, its first ever exclusive VIP club within a club.

– The Black Lips produced a live video stream from the Marlin Room.

– The Skateboard Marketing CMJ event in the new Draft & Pizza Bar was featured in Billboard.

– The Hoodie Allen concert was quickly moved from Studio to the Ballroom due to overwhelming demand for tickets.

– The Ballroom also hosted packed shows by Lucinda Williams, James Blake, the Kooks, and dozens more of the world’s premier artists.

– Motionless In White filmed its “Immaculate Misconception” music video in the Studio, featuring a cameo by Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider.

– Susan Sarandon appeared in one of the many feature and indie film shoots, “What Maisie Knew.”

– Webster Hall again hosted the 56th annual off-Broadway “OBIE “ awards in conjunction with The Voice, where Alec Baldwin, Liev Schreiber, and Ethan Hawke feted the crowd.

– The Black Keys performed an invite only showcase to launch its new album and sold out tour. And those are just some of the highlights of 2011!

NEXT UP: The Sports Bar will be transformed into THE STADIUM at Webster Hall, a totally unique experience for soccer & sports.

The STUDIO at WEBSTER HALL opens to greater capacity, enhanced amenities, and museum- like homage to Webster Hall’s glorious past.

WEBSTER HALL RECORDS, which has sold millions of recordings in the past, re-launches with a revolutionary audio and visual digital platform.

For more information please contact:

Where Music and Passion are Always in Fashion

ByDrew – July 18, 2011Posted in: East Village

The grand ballroom of Webster Hall (image via 

Just last week the famed Copacabana nightclub reopened yet again. At its newest incarnation at Times Square, guests were treated to an opening night performance by salsa great Willie Colón. One of the most recognizable names in nightclub history, the Copa opened its doors in 1940 at its original location at 10 East 60th Street. Over the years it hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Tito Puente, and Celia Cruz among countless other music notables. By the mid-1970s it transformed itself into a discothèque (as Barry Manilow can tell you), and after a series of openings and closings in new locations, in 2007 it was forced out of its last home at 34th Street and 11th Avenue to make way for the extension of the 7 subway line. Its new home in Times Square will offer a new generation the chance to participate in a 70-year-old tradition of dancing the night away.

But far from the pulsing lights of Times Square, a dancehall in our neighborhood has been keeping that tradition going for an incredible 125 years!

Webster Hall ca. 1900 (via LPC) 

Webster Hall on East 11th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues has been home to dancing and so much more over its incredible lifespan. From the start, Webster Hall was a “hall for hire” where groups could rent either certain rooms in the building or the entire space for whatever functions they chose. In 1886, the New York Times noted that the hall was “intended for balls, receptions, Hebrew weddings, and sociables.” By the turn of the twentieth century, the area near and south of Union Square was packed with large and small structures housing theaters, dance halls, and other forms of entertainment, but today very few of these buildings remain intact or are not used for their original purpose.

Webster Hall was designed in 1886 by architect Charles Rentz in the Queen Anne style and topped with an elaborate mansard roof. Six years later in 1892, Rentz was hired to design an addition to the building, occupying the site of 125 East 11th Street and designed in a Renaissance Revival style using the same materials as the original building. Throughout the early twentieth century the building was plagued by fires, which occurred in 1902, 1911, 1930, 1938, and 1949. The original mansard roof was likely lost in one these fires.

The spaces at Webster Hall were always popular places for gatherings of the working class, whether it was for union rallies or for evening entertainment, and were the site of significant events in social and labor history. In 1888, the Brooklyn Eagle described Webster Hall as “a big, bare, dingy place, where all the year round discontented men meet to discuss their wrongs and sympathize with one another, and where secret societies and political organizations, labor unions and similar associations make a business of pleasure. It is a grimy neighborhood, where the rattle of trade continues all day and leaves poverty to toss itself to sleep at nightfall.” The hall hosted notable figures including labor leader Samuel Gompers, who visited the Hall for a meeting of striking brewery workers in 1888, and social activists like Emma Goldman and Dorothy Day. The founding convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America also took place at the hall in December 1914.

A costume ball at Webster Hall (date unknown). From the Alexander Alland, Sr., Collection. 

By the 1910s and 1920s, Webster Hall became famous for its masquerade balls, following the success of a 1913 fundraiser for the socialist magazine The Masses. The parties, which attracted the bohemians of the Village and beyond, grew more and more outlandish–and the costumes, skimpier and skimpier. Although Prohibition could have killed the momentum of the parties, in fact, it had the opposite effect. As liquor consumption was driven underground, Webster Hall became a speakeasy, and the legends of the parties grew. Gay and lesbian Villagers first attended the parties of accepting organizations like the Liberal Club, but by the mid-1920s were putting together dances and celebrations of their own at the hall. These celebrations were able to continue without harassment, as long as the police were paid off properly. When Prohibition was finally repealed, a large ball called the “Return of John Barleycorn,” was thrown on New Year’s Eve to celebrate.

The dulcet tones of Perry Como among others filled Webster Hall during its stint as an RCA recording studio. 

By the end of the 1950s, RCA converted the building into their East Coast recording studio and called it the “Webster Hall Studios.” Elvis Presley, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte, and Julie Andrews all sang at the studios, and several musicals, including Hello, Dolly! and Fiddler on the Roof, were also recorded here.

Webster Hall reemerged on May 1, 1980 as The Ritz nightclub, and until its relocation in 1986, it was a leading venue for rock shows in New York City. The roster of Ritz performers included, Madonna, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, Prince, Sting, Guns N’ Roses, KISS, among many others. In 1990 the building was purchased by the Ballinger Family from Toronto, and returned the Webster Hall name to the reborn dance club and concert venue which remains today.

Webster Hall has designated an individual New York City landmark in 2008. 

As real estate development pressure grew exponentially in the East Village during the 2000s, and historic sites like St. Ann’s church just one block north were lost to out-of-scale developments, GVSHP and others saw the need to protect the scale and character of many of the East Village’s unique historic structures. In the summer of 2007 GVSHP supplied the Landmarks Preservation Commission with extensive research on the history of Webster Hall, and urged the LPC to landmark the site. Shortly thereafter the LPC commissioners voted to consider the building for landmark designation and in spring 2008 the building was officially designated a New York City landmark, recognizing its extraordinary role in the cultural development of the Village.

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