Jesse Malin guesting on this week’s CBGB-themed episode of The BrooklynVegan Show
The BrooklynVegan Show on Vans.com/Channel66 continues this Thursday (3/18) from 11 AM to 1 PM ET and this week's episode is all about CBGB and the iconic NYC punk venue's continued impact on culture.
For the show -- which airs live from Williamsburg and has a community radio meets public access TV vibe -- host Andrew Sacher (that's me) will be DJing some classic punk and talking to a New York punk lifer who definitely knows a thing or two about this topic, Jesse Malin. After releasing one of the first-ever NYHC 7"s with his band Heart Attack as a 12-year-old, Jesse went on to form the beloved '90s-era punk band D Generation, launch a highly prolific solo career, and collaborate with icons like Bruce Springsteen, Billie Joe Armstrong, Lucinda Williams, and several others.
Jesse also runs his own record label (Velvet Elk), and as a venue owner, he's been keeping the Lower East Side punk scene alive for decades, first with Coney Island High on St. Mark's Place in the 1990s, and currently with The Bowery Electric, Berlin, Lola (located in the space that used to be beloved club Brownies), and Niagara (located in the space that used to be NYHC club A7, one of the very places where a young Jesse Malin got his start playing in bands). With NYC music venues starting to open up with COVID protocols in April, Bowery Electric is set to reopen with two in-person Jesse Malin shows on April 2 & 3, which will also mark the end of Jesse's livestream series The Fine Art of Self Distancing.
Last year, Jesse penned an essay for Rolling Stone about the impact of COVID on the NYC music scene:
Bowery Electric, Berlin, Lola, and Niagara — we began all of them with the fantasy of creating a clubhouse like Sinatra might have had, with some New York punk rock in there too. I’ve always tried to put something back into the scene that I came out of. We put on shows with great sound, loud monitors, clean dressing rooms with bathrooms, cold beer, and more. A place where artists can hone their craft, build an audience and grow. We hosted almost a hundred bands a week at four different clubs.
Bars and nightclubs were the first to close, and will be the last to reopen, with no help from the government. The rent and bills are still due — for us, it’s close to $40,000 a month for each venue — so we’ve been raising money through GoFundMe, and some wonderful friends have made custom PMA face masks (Positive Mental Attitude).
Very few venues are going to be able to survive being closed this long. And even if they can brave the financial shit storm and eventually reopen, it would be close to impossible to pay the bills at the 25–50% capacity, let alone pay the artists what they require.
[...] As I walk around the city, it breaks my heart to see the great places that I love going out of business. I’ve lived through blackouts, wars, serial killers, and the horror of September 11th, but I have never seen anything like this.
Jesse's latest album is 2019's Lucinda Williams-produced Sunset Kids (which also features Billie Joe Armstrong, Joseph Arthur, and others), and last year he also released a single in honor of his former bandmate Todd Youth, who passed away in 2018. The song features Bad Brains' HR and the video features members of Murphy's Law, Cro-Mags, and more, and it celebrates the very same L.E.S. scene that Jesse's been devoted to for four decades. Watch that, stream Sunset Kids, and check out some other classic Jesse Malin stuff below.
Tune in to The BrooklynVegan Show on Thursday (3/18) at 11 AM ET at Vans.com/Channel66 to watch. It only airs live (no archives or re-broadcasts), so don't miss it!
Fun fact, Heart Attack's last-ever show was at CBGB in 1984, and it was also Cro-Mags' first-ever show: