A CBGB Newbie

Oct 19, 2019

I was hungover from trawling the other pubs in Highgate last night and loitering around the bar, declaring that I’m going home to eat ramen and watch TV. The chef at The Boogaloo picks up on this and suggests the CBGB movie on Amazon (released 2013).

The lead (Hilly Crystal) is played by Professor Snape (also known at Alan Rickman) so I was pretty delighted with that. I precariously balanced my DIY ramen on my lap and settled in to get some music history education.

People are often surprised/ amused at my lack of music knowledge. Like, I’ve heard of the CBGB club and of course, I’ve listened to The Talking Heads, but until today I did not know they were connected. 50% of you will find this shocking and I’m hoping the other 50% of you will say, ‘Jenn, I didn’t know either, don’t you fret’.

Other bands the film features, as artists who began their careers at this joint, include The Ramones, Blondie and The Police. Watching the various scenes where these iconic bands were just starting out and auditioning kinda reinforces your admiration for these artists, or at least gives some context as to why people of that generation, now moan about ‘the state of the industry’. I do personally like artists such as Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande, but after finding out a bit of the punk rock heritage in 70’s New York, it does suddenty make you jealous that authenticity is thin on the ground today.

It’s sad that even if I rack my brains, I cannot think of anyone currently in the charts that would be considered a real rock star, or shaking things up. Typing this, I realise I sound dangerously like those nay-sayers I often poo-poo for their ongoing grumblings about ‘there’s no such thing as real music anymore’.

The spirit of CBGB culture is very much alive and well at Boogaloo Radio. I love the fact this bar created a scene because there wasn’t one for these kids wanting to make their own music. In a similar vein, Boogaloo Radio has given shows to countless people, who otherwise would never have been on the air. So many stories would not have been told, playlists not curated and bands not had their songs played on the radio. Some unlikely collaborations have sprung up too- such as Food Records’ Andy Ross and new music conniseaur Peggy are going to go on tour soon with their ‘punk lecture’ (come to the debut show at The Boogaloo 7th November).

If you’re staying in tonight, give this a watch. Whether you’re in the music industry or not, it might give you some inspiration to go take some risks. I am no Hilly Crystal, but I am proud that our little bin-shed-studio is pretty damn punk.