Friday, June 30, 2017

Raging Slab at the Map Room at the Bowery Electric

Greg Strzempka
Guitarists Greg Strzempka and Elyse Steinman met in 1983 in New York City and discovered that  they shared a common passion for 1970s heavy rock and blues boogie and 1980s punk rock groups. The couple enlisted like minded musicians and Raging Slab began playing its first shows in Manhattan rock clubs. As the band gained a following, it also wound up having endless lineup changes; about 20 drummers can claim to have had membership in Raging Slab. The band was also plagued with ongoing record company resistance and lack of support. In 1990, Strzempka and Steinman purchased a rural property in Hooversville, Pennsylvania, where they built a recording studio they named Slabby Road. The members of the group lived together on the farm in a communal relationship. Raging Slab went on hiatus in 2002, but Strzempka and Steinman reformed a new line-up in 2004. Steinman lost a three year battle with cancer on March 30, 2017.

The Raging Slab concert tonight at the Map Room at the Bowery Electric was a memorial to Steinman. Attendees were welcomed with a food spread, and also with photographs of Steinman from childhood to rocker along the walls. The audience cheered when after a few songs Strzempka strapped on his United States-shaped guitar. The band reunited Strzempka with former lead guitarist Mark Middleton and former bassist Alec Morton. Paul Sheehan played drums for the first few songs and then Bob Pantella replaced him for the rest of the set. Tom "5" Guay, formerly of White Zombie and Angel Rot, played guitar on "Sir Lord Ford." Pamela Le Grand sang a cover of Mountain's "Mississippi Queen." Vocalist Liza Colby of the Liza Colby Sound and guitarist Daniel Rey, producer of Iggy Pop, the Ramones and Raging Slab, joined Raging Slab for the Jeff Beck Group's "I'm Going Down," and Rey also played guitar on a cover of Bad Company's "Shooting Star." The Raging Slab songs were not the same without Steinman, but Strzempka and a series of guest vocalists and musicians performed with the blunt energy and fierce excitement that comes from playing raw hard rock. The jams borrowed from southern rock and stoner rock but remained knit in the boogie tradition. Raging Slab may have to rebuild once again, but it would be a shame for the band not to rock again in some form.

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