In May 1993, the New York-based Irish-rock band Black 47 was hired to headline a free, outdoor “Spring Festival” that took place at Eric Lackawanna Plaza in Hoboken. Apparently the popularity of the band — and the rowdiness of its fans — was underestimated. So many people turned out that the band was asked to stop playing — Black 47 leader Larry Kirwan refused, thinking that some in the crowd might turn violent — and the bars in town were ordered to close early.
Or, as described in the defiant Black 47 song, “Green Suede Shoes” (see the video below):
Man on the phone says, “I ain’t jokin’
Would youse ever come and play for us out in Hoboken?”
So we hop in the van and we drive overnight
Goin’ to sweet New Jersey, startin’ to feel alright
But the word is out, the boys are back in town
30,000 paddies start gettin’ on down
When we hit the stage, police chief goes nuts
“What the hell am I gonna do with 30,000 drunks?”
He say, “Stop the music, I’m in charge”
Then he goes and he shut down all of the bars
The incident took on a almost mythological quality for Black 47 fans — as a general rule, nothing short of a hurricane will get Hoboken bars to close early. And there was a rumor was that Black 47 was banned from playing Hoboken again (though they did, in fact, have more Hoboken shows, albeit quite a few years later).
“Green Suede Shoes” was the title track of Black 47’s 1996 album (on which a Hoboken bumper sticker is pictured on the guitar case on the cover illustration). The group did a farewell tour this year, which ended in November.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.