August has been a big month on a number levels. Summer festival season continues to cook, with three big events, for instance, taking place on the weekend of August 10-12: The Berkshire Mountain Music Festival, Walther’s Grassroots Festival and String Cheese Incident Summer Camp. However, on a less celebratory note, Wetlands owner Peter Shapiro announced that the club would be closing its doors in September (the building was sold as part of the ongoing gentrification of the area).
The closing of Wetlands is tragic from any number of perspectives. Above all else I wonder where club-level bands are going to find a welcome home in the Big, Bad City. What club is not only going to encourage them to perform two sets of music until 5AM, but mandate that they do so :) I also worry that some bands will have trouble booking dates in NYC- which is a drag for routing purposes and also because, let’s face it, New York is an important media market and anything helps. Of course, I’m afraid that audience members will swiftly lose their comfort zones as well.
I’m sure you’ll hear more from me next month on this, but I first visited Wetlands in the spring of 1989. It was not too long after the club opened and the headliner was New Potato Caboose (who incidentally also were the first band to perform at the club). The bus loomed large as I entered but I I was struck by every element of the club, including its social consciousness. On a personal level, Wetlands has long been a booster and later a partner of Jambands.com. For two years I have worked with Pete Shapiro to develop the Jammys and I expect we’ll do so again in 2002.
All in all this is real disappointing. I know that in the excitement of bands returning to the club during its final days that this feels like a celebration (and in many ways it should) but a month or two or ten later it will really sink in. So if you haven’t had a chance to check out Wetlands recently (or any time at all), do yourself a favor and head on down to 161 Hudson. There will be plenty of fine shows leading up to September 15’s climactic close with many familiar faces on stage and in the audience. Wetlands is our Fillmore East, be part of the celebration…
Oh right, new issue. We have another strong one. My favorites this month include John Patrick Gatta’s lengthy conversation with John Molo, Mick Skidmore’s interview with Buffalo Springfield co-founder Richie Furay and the "Swampadelic Diary." Oh yes, we also have feature stories on Al Schnier, Les Claypool, Umphrey’s McGee, DJ Harry and many more (including Jesse Jarnow’s improv exercise with Col. Bruce Hampton, ret.- which is unlike anything we’re published here before, I can promise you that). Our Departments are strong as ever, and we even added a new columnist (Rob Kallick). BTW, many thanks to folks who have started submitting show reviews, please keep ‘em coming…
So enjoy the site and be sure to hit Wetlands for this final month of shows (I have quite a few pencilled in myself).
later days and peace,