Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Heart on Fire: Concert for Ivan Julian

Ivan Julian played guitar in Richard Hell & the Voidoids beginning in 1976 during the nascent days of punk rock. Recently Julian was diagnosed with cancer and began six months of treatment. Many of Julian's contemporary musicians rallied at City Winery for two benefit concerts to raise funds for his medical bills, even as a GoFundMe page was set up for public contributions.

The first benefit was on May 4 and included Debbie Harry (of Blondie) as master of ceremonies, Richard Hell, Vernon Reid (of Living Colour) & Burnt Sugar, Ian Hunter (formerly of Mott the Hoople), Garland Jeffreys, Willie Nile with Fred Smith (formerly of Blondie, Television), Bush Tetras, the Dictators NYC, Ira Kaplan (of Yo La Tengo), Lenny Kaye (of the Patti Smith Group), Richard Barone (of the Bongos), and others. The house band consisted of guitarists James Mastro (formerly of the Bongos, now in Ian Hunter & the Rant Band) and Nicholas Tremulis, keyboardist/guitarist Al Maddy (formerly of the Nitecaps), bassist Tony Shanahan (of the Patti Smith Group), drummer Steve Goulding (of Graham Parker & the Rumour, the Mekons) and percussionist Vinny DeNunzio (formerly of the Feelies).

Addendum: A second benefit concert on May 7 included Lydia Lunch as host with performances by Richard Hell, Thurston Moore, Lee Renaldo, Matthew Sweet, Vernon Reid & Burnt Sugar, Arto Lindsey, the Dictators NYC, Ira Kaplan, and others.

To contribute to the Ivan Julian Fund, go to

Debbie Harry introduced the musicians at the May 4 concert but did not sing, despite several requests from the audience.

Lenny Kaye began the first concert singing a cover of the Foundations' "Build Me Up Buttercup." He dedicated the ‘60s pop tune to Julian for being a "foundation of the New York rock scene." He then sang a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Walk on the Water."

Richard Barone covered Richard Hell & The Voidoids' "I'm Your Man" and the Bongos' "Numbers with Wings."

Cynthia Sley (left) of Bush Tetras and Felice Rosser (right) of Faith dueted on "I Can't Help Myself." Pictured behind them is Tony Shanahan, bassist of the Patti Smith Group.

Bush Tetras performed their "Things That Go Boom in the Night" and "Cowboys in Africa."

Garland Jeffreys sang "Wild in the Streets," then dedicated his cover of the Velvet Underground's "I’m Waiting for My Man" to his college classmate, the late Lou Reed, and Reed’s wife, Laurie Anderson.

Ira Kaplan covered the Beatles' "If You've Got Trouble" and Them's "I Can Only Give You Everything."

Willie Nile performed his "Vagabond Moon" and "Heaven Help the Lonely."

Ian Hunter sang his New York anthem "Central Park n' West" and covered Mott the Hoople's "I Wish I Was Your Mother."

"Handsome" Dick Manitoba asked for and received a kiss from Debbie Harry before he and members of his Dictators NYC performed "Stay with Me" and a cover of MC5’s "Kick Out the Jams."

Vernon Reid and the nine-piece Burnt Sugar performed tributes to Prince ("When Doves Cry", "Controversy") and David Bowie ("Rebel Rebel", "Let’s Dance").

Richard Hell sang three songs from his Voidoid days, "The Kid with the Replaceable Head", "Time" and "Blank Generation."

Ivan Julian came on stage at the end of the night to thank everyone.