Summer is here, shows are back, and Jesse Malin has some music for the occasion. He's playing 7 & 9:30 PM shows at City Winery tonight (6/25), and ahead of the shows, he penned a short essay on the return of NYC nightlife and made us two playlists: one with music he recently released on his Velvet Elk label and one of his favorite summer songs. Take it away, Jesse...

Here we go. The summer is here. After the previous pandemic came the roaring ‘20s. Well, here we are again, and it’s roaring out there, the streets are hot, the kids are having fun, people are ready for the music, the doors are open. The clubs I’ve been involved in with my friends have opened up again – Bowery Electric, Berlin, Niagara are playing full-tilt to live bands. People dancing, connecting in the way that New York should be.

We recently put out the forthcoming single “The Way We Used to Roll,” which took on a new meaning.

Here’s a playlist of some of the releases we put out on our own independent label Velvet Elk that I’m really excited about. And they are:

“Dim Red Light” by Don DiLego, optimistic summer anthem that I produced over at Flux Studios in New York.

“Breath” by Cat Popper, directed by Vivian Wang. It’s a cover of the Pere Ubu song. It’s a great dog days of summer, “kinda wanting, needing, kinda love” kinda song.

“The World is a Goner” by Diane and The Gentle Men, it’s a song with a slinky summer soulful groove and a little jab at those naysayers and negative thinkers that are all doom and gloom, thinking it’s all over when it’s just beginning to spark up again. It came out recently on Velvet Elk.

“Adios Muchacho” by Richard Bacchus and the Luckiest Girls, really great song with great saxophone, very smoky, midnight kind of a lounge-y but still a bit angry and punk.

“Surrender” by Ursa Minor, great single and video off a brand new album. The great '90s downtown New York band fronted by Michelle Casillas, the sound engineer from venue Tonic with Tony Scherr from the Lounge Lizards.

“Eight Men” by Hennessey, the political side of our releases, a great band with a lot of edge, great lyrics, very real, very now.

“Better Now” by Oso My Brain, from California, needs no explanation. Holly Ramos from the group Fur and a writing partner of mine. Her band is out of Los Angeles, we put that out recently, seemed to make a lot of sense, connect the emotion that we’re all feeling right now.
James Mastro from the Bongos who also plays with Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople put out his single “My God”, beautiful song with a great video, out of Hoboken, but have been a big part of the New York music scene.

“My God” by James Mastro. Great video, too!

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My summer songs:

“Fight the Power” by Public Enemy kind of kicks off the summer, reminds me of Do The Right Thing, especially the heat, the passion, and protecting your freedom which we need to do often these days—but it still has that James Brown groove.

“Summertime” by Janis Joplin. Her version is one of the best. Just anything Janis sang kind of breaks hearts.

The trilogy of “…In the Streets.” I’ll explain:

Martha and the Vandellas' “Dancing in the Streets”

The Rolling Stones' “Street Fighting Man” where “the summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the streets.”

Bruce Springsteen's “Racing in the Street,” where “the summer’s here and the time is right for racing in the streets.”

The Undertones' “Here Comes the Summer” off their first album.

Ramones, God it’s a tie for this, “Oh Oh I Love Her So” with the Coney Island reference and of course “Rockaway Beach.”

“In the Sun” by Blondie.

The Hold Steady's “Constructive Summer” A lot of people take the time off, a lot of people make stuff happen, a lot of people do both, especially in New York.

St. Vincent's “Pay Your Way in Pain” off the new record.

Bob Dylan's “In the Summertime” from Shot of Love, a very underrated record, beautiful song.

“Looking for a Love” by Neil Young, the optimism that getting out there brings.

Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” feels like it’s never summer until that song kicks in, makes me think of the film with Mickey Rourke, The Pope of Greenwich Village.

“Nightswimming” by R.E.M. Most of us have been there at night, and naked, exposed, and vulnerable.

“Summer in Siam” by The Pogues. Unbelievably beautiful, and you might notice it in the movie Basquiat on the soundtrack. It’s one of the greatest recorded pieces of music, produced by Joe Strummer.

“The Summer Place” by Fountains of Wayne. Really fun, still thinking about Adam Schlesinger, what a loss that was and what a great songwriter.

Going forward with a few more…

”How Low” by the Heartless Bastards.

The Clockworks' “Feels So Real.” Great band out of England, a pretty exciting band, really full of energy.

Steel Pulse's “Can’t Stand the Heat.” It’s gettin’ that way but it’s much appreciated as well, kind of a love hate thing with those balmy dog days of New York City.

Wallflowers' “Roots and Wings." New single, they haven’t had one in a long time, with some great lyrics. One of my favorite lines is “I was there when God stood you up.”

Bad Brains' “Riot Squad,” because it’s gonna be so wild this summer, who knows? Might have to call out the riot squad…just kidding.

Peace, Love, PMA, looking forward to getting back on stage tonight, June 25 at City Winery, our first shows outside of Bowery Electric. We’re playing two different shows, two different sets, and we have more tickets available due to Covid restrictions loosening up.

That’s the report from the streets of New York City. Excited for the summer, summer Strummer, and I’ll leave you with one late night last one – “Sleepwalk” by Joe Strummer off the Earthquake Weather record, but recently re-released on a compilation on George Harrison’s Dark Horse Records called Assembly, a compilation of all of Joe’s solo work post-Clash. “Sleepwalk” just has a beautiful, late-night kind of sunset feel, very romantic, I once heard he wrote it for Sinatra.