Saturday, August 06, 2005

More Fill (-ins)

You can count on the formidably fornatalented Mike Fornatale for many things. Excellent musicianship, vocalizing, and stage managing. Not only hobnobbing but actually Sharing the Stage with Such Stars as the Monks, Richard and the Young Lions and Mark Lindsay, among others. Beyond-encyclopedic knowledge on many aspects of life, music being merely one of his areas of expertise. Keen powers of observation and insight, manifested in elegant, witty, and hilarious writing (on his site, in Ugly Things, and on various listservs). Passionate and opinionated--but always well-reasoned and info-substantiated--debate. The ability to take my wiseass first impressions with a sense of humor. But I think what I admire most about him is his total recall of seemingly every moment of his longtime Zelig-like presence on the New York/New Jersey rock & roll scene. HE WAS THERE. And though he's not shy about letting you know it, he never does so in an obnoxious "AND YOU WEREN'T" way. His participation dates back to at least 1968, when at the tender age of 14 (and IIRC as part of a junior high field trip!) he attended his first rock concert at the Fillmore East--the Jefferson Airplane, Buddy Guy, and the Chuck Davis African Dance Company.

As part of a BLR-list debate about the likely demise of CBGB, Mike offered some thoughts on the effects of past venue closures, waxing most eloquently about the fate of his beloved Fillmore East. He kindly allowed me to quote an excerpt from his e-mail, which I offer as an update to the 7/1/2005 post:

All I can tell you is this: when the Fillmore East shut down, the building stayed empty for three years -- then some shoestring promoter tried to repoen it as the "NFE" in '74 or '75. I think there were only about three or four shows there before it shut down again. IIRC, Ike and Tina were the headliner on opening night. Then the building was sealed up like a tomb for years and years. Finally it reopened, after a radical re-modeling, as The Saint -- essentially a gay disco. Three floors, replacing the old orchestra/mezzanine/balcony sections. In 1984 or 85, someone had the bright idea to have some sort of Hippie Reunion Show thingy there. It was on the top floor. The stage was up against what had been the back wall of the old theatre. Everything inside was different -- EXCEPT the lobby, which was just as it had been back in the day. And I can't describe to you the way it felt to walk into that lobby. And, once inside, to note what parts of the stairwells were still as they were, and what architectural thingamabobs were still in place from 1968 (hell, from 19-TWENTY-8) and gaze at them fondly. Well, now the building's gone, except for the facade. And nobody will ever see that again. Of course, hell, none of us are still alive anyway.

Mike's next local appearance will be on September 30 at Magnetic Field with Shaw 'Nuff. Also in the band are Wendy Fornatale, Michael Lynch, the Headless Horsemen's Peter Stuart, and the Gripweeds' Kurt Reil. No, they're not an Enuff Z'Nuff tribute band, but they do specialize in tasteful covers, and at this show they'll be aping the Monkees. Be there if you know what's good for ya!

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