On May 25-27 the Bowery Electric hosted another rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza, this time a three-night “Max’s Kansas City Festival” – dedicated to the legendary NYC venue that existed from 1965 to 1981, and its equally legendary performers. On tap for night number one: a roster of acts, both new and old, two of which easily fall into the “legendary” category: The Sic F*cks and The Waldos. Starring two of the greatest punk rock front-men of all-time – two guys who not only know how to rock, but how to entertain. Performers who can make you dance one minute and laugh out loud the next: Russell Wolinsky, co-founder and lead singer of outrageous comic-punks The Sic F*cks, and Walter Lure, co-founder and guitarist of proto-punk band The Heartbreakers and, more recently, leader of The Waldos.
The Sic F*cks (truly living up to their name at every performance, even now) were formed in 1977 by Bronx-born Wolinsky and sisters Eileen and Tish Bellomo – better known as Tish and Snooky and who had briefly been backup singers in Blondie. Recruiting a gaggle of guys who took stage names like Dick String, Bob Hopeless, Stink (the bassist – poking fun at Sting), and Harry Viderci (as in Italian for goodbye – haha), they were soon appearing regularly at Max’s and CBGB. Fun, tasteless numbers like “Insects Rule My World,” “Rock Or Die,” “Teenage Abortion,” “Spanish Bar Mitzvah,” and “Chop Up Your Mother” – coupled with wacky (to say the least) costumes and props (like Tish and Snooky’s coat hanger, plunger, and two-headed baby doll on “Teenage Abortion”) made their performances an evening to, uh, remember. And still do! A few of those songs even made it onto vinyl in 1982 on…ready?…Sozyamuda Records. Oy vey.
Meanwhile, Walter Lure formed The Heartbreakers with ex-New York Doll Johnny Thunders in 1975, and the band existed on and off (with numerous gigs at Max’s of course) until shortly before Thunders’ death in 1991. Lure and a few of the later Heartbreakers members re-named themselves The Waldos (after Walter’s occasional nickname), continued making noise in and around NYC, and in 1994 released an album, Rent Party. Nowadays the Waldos experience is bookended by Japanese axemen Ichiuji Takanori (aka EZ) on bass and Takto Nakai on guitar, drummer Joe Rizzo propelling everything along in the back…and master-of-ceremonies Mr. Lure providing off-the-cuff commentary between signature tunes “Damn Your Soul,” “Cry Baby,” “Sorry,” and Heartbreakers staples “One Track Mind,” “Chinese Rocks,” “Get Off the Phone,” “Let Go,” “Sad Vacation,” and “Too Much Junkie Business.”
And like some of the great entertainers of yore (Frankie S. anyone?), both Russell and Walter appear onstage in classy, if trashy, jacket-and-hat motifs (orange-ish jackets for both this evening), peppering their bands’ sets with corny jokes and hilarious anecdotes. Advice for lead singers everywhere: Sing loudly…and carry a big shtick!
Max’s photo courtesy maxskansascity.org
Videos courtesy YouTube/Alan Rand, YouTube/Nanchanger
Band photos by me
* Correction to the May 21 post: the band in Vinyl was called the Nasty Bits (not the Naughty Bits).