30 November 2006

8+

“War Pigs" by Alex Skolnick Trio which clocks in at 10:34

Two months ago the city, the music world as a whole, lamented the end of an era with the passing of CBGB. Weeks were spent eulogizing the landmark club with special show after special show and throngs of music fans came out of the woodwork to wonder what was wrong with a city that would let such a treasure fade into the night. As if the club had even mattered in the past fifteen-odd years...

Right around the same time that Patti Smith was onstage reminiscing about her first CBGB moment, two other East Village music venues turned off their PAs for good with nearly zero fanfare or public outcry: the Continental on 3rd ave. and Detour on 13th street. The Continental was an East Village standard for no frills up and coming rock & roll but this post is about Detour. I miss Detour.

What was Detour? Only New York City's best spot for free jazz. How would I know, given that I'm not even really a jazz nut? I guess I don't really, but then I think I kinda do. I know good when I see it and Detour was great.

I came to know Detour right before I moved into my current apartment (a few blocks away from their 13th street location). The first show I attended was to see the Alex Skolnick Trio. I didn't know who that was but my friend sold it to me as "the guitarist from Testament playing metal covers as jazz songs". Pssh, that's a no-brainer, right? It was, and I was amazed at the show we got. Skolnick shredded his way through song after song. Sabbath, Kiss, Metallica, Rush, The Who... they killed everything. And the venue was so fucking choice. It was a tiny bar with a low (maybe no) stage and about 18 (or so) tables. It was the perfect place to go on a date, to go alone, or to show up with a small group of friends. A simple PA for vocals meant that most of the music was heard acoustically: drums sounded extra brushy and pianos sounded like pianos. It felt like you were in your own little world of jazz and, for the Alex Skolnick Trio, the place was packed just right. From each seat in the bar you could hear, see, and feel every lick and I was blown away. After seeing the band play for about three hours I left swearing I'd just seen one of the best live guitarists I'd ever seen before. In particular, the version of "War Pigs" they played left me speechless.

Needless to say, I went back to Detour many many more times after that first show. I think I was lucky enough to see the Alex Skolnick Trio play five shows at the club (they're locals and it was a favorite of theirs) and I also caught countless other acts. Very often I'd just walk up to Detour by myself for a few drinks and free jazz (towards the end they started charging a cover of $5 from time to time) and it kinda felt like an escape to a friend's home. I mean, it was. An escape from the East Village to a place where the bartenders were friendly and knew your name. An escape from expensive NY things, from standing up at loud rock shows, from the pretentious bullshit that's everywhere, and from the kind of people who bothered shedding a tear for t-shirt mogul Hilly Kristal.

CBGB's time had come and gone but New York City still needs a Detour.

Buy Goodbye To Romance: Standards For A New Generation HERE on Amazon.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
!!! - “Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (a true story)"
Bark Psychosis - “All Different Things"
Deodato - “Also Sprach Zarathustra"
Grateful Dead - “Terrapin Station"
Suicide -“Frankie Teardrop"
Red House Painters - “River"
The Human League - “Morale... / You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
Arlo Guthrie - “Alice's Restaurant Massacre"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

7 comments:

mike said...

hey, this is one of the best posts i've read on this or any other site. makes me feel like a DUMMY for not going there while living in the EV

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