Joey Ramone, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, D-Generation and the Dictators were among the hundreds of punk rock artists that graced the stage at Continental from 1991 until 2006. Towards the end of this era the owner, who goes by the singular name Trigger, realized he could actually make an income from the bar if he did not have bands play. Rock and roll remained in his veins, however, and now every January he has one all-day rock fest where he features his favorite bands. Today and tonight, he hosted his fifth annual "Rock and Roll Reunion." Here are a few of the highlights of tonight's bands.
Christopher Joseph Ward, better known as C. J. Ramone, was the youngest member of the Ramones when he replaced Dee Dee Ramone as bassist in 1989 until the group disbanded in 1996. He then played in perhaps the first Ramones tribute band, the Remains or the Ramainz, which was formed by Dee Dee Ramone, Marky Ramone and Dee Dee's wife, Barbara Zampini (Barbara Ramone). At the Continental tonight, C.J. had the audience moshing to "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend", "Do You Wanna Dance", "California Sun" and other staples of the Ramones' legacy.
Murphy's Law was born in 1982 while the hardcore punk scene was at its peak in New York. Murphy's Law released five full-length albums, of which the last was released in 2001. Murphy's Law was the last band to play at Continental when the amplifiers were unplugged in 2006. Vocalist Jimmy Gestapo has been the band's only constant member over its three decade history. The band tonight even included a saxophonist and a banjo player, both of whom were rendered virtually inaudible by the overpowering onslaught of guitar, bass and drums. Gestapo brought alive the spirit of hardcore punk, singing band anthems including "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In." He also encouraged the spirit of partying by bringing onstage a case of beer and passing the bottles to those fans near the stage, leading into the song "Beer Bath." The band was in fine musical form.
More than 30 years ago, Lenny Kaye was a rock journalist and worked at the Village Oldies record store when he met poet Patti Smith. He first backed her on guitar at her reading at St. Mark's Church in 1971 and became her mainstay guitarist when she formed the Patti Smith Group in 1973. He joined the Jim Carroll Band in 1979, and also began playing the club circuit in his own Lenny Kaye Connection. In recent months, he has performed periodically at special events as a solo artist. Tonight, he started alone and was later joined by Shannon Funchess of Light Asylum on drums and Yv of Ingrid & the Defectors on bass. Kaye is a historian of early rock, and so performed several rock oddities tonight before closing with an extended Patti Smith-style "Gloria." He mentioned several times that the Continental was his favorite rock club.
Trigger introduced Sea Monster tonight as his favorite band. Sea Monster started playing regularly at the local punk rock clubs in the mid-1980s, becoming almost a house band at CBGBs and the Continental. The band released a few albums, the latest of which is Here Come the Moon. Once more of a garage band, the five-piece band has maintained its scrappy sound, only it pounds with a harder rocking edge now. Vocalist Arthur Stevenson sang with a passion tonight, eyes often squeezed tightly shut, while guitarists Fred Wagner and Mike Rock played remarkable leads on their guitars.
Johnny Thunders formed the Heartbreakers from the ashes of the New York Dolls in 1975 and asked Walter Lure of the Demons to play guitar. Moving away from the Dolls' glam-rock garage sound, the Heartbreakers became a straight-ahead rock and roll party band. The Heartbreakers became a club favorite, with Lure writing or co-writing many of the band's best-known songs. The band split apart in 1977, but continued to play occasional "greatest hits" club dates until Thunders' death in 1991. Lure then started several bands, finally settling on the Waldos, whose Rent Party album in 1994 included songs Lure originally written for the Heartbreakers. The Waldos presently is comprised of Lure, Takto on guitar, EZ on bass and Joe Rizzo on drums.
The Waldos' concerts have not changed in decades. The set tonight once again consisted largely of fan favorites from the Heartbreakers history, including "One Track Mind", "London Boys", "Too Much Junkie Business", "Get off the Phone" and "Chinese Rocks." This was classic rock and roll, and it was a barrel of fun.