503 Social Club concert will feature George Usher, Dave Schramm, Steve Almaas

george usher hoboken


Singer-songwriters George Usher, Dave Schramm and Steve Almaas will perform separate sets at the intimate Hoboken gallery/performance space 503 Social Club, March 16 at 7 p.m.

Usher, a New York-based songwriter and indie pop innovator since the late 1970s, has deep roots with Almaas and Schramm. “I feel great about playing Hoboken again, particularly with Steve and Dave,” he said. “Steve fronted Beat Rodeo, and began on Hoboken’s Coyote Records in the early ’80s. Dave still fronts The Schramms, who have always been based in Hoboken. I put in a few years playing in both bands at different times. So I’m well versed in both their superior songcraft. And they’ve both always been supportive of mine.

“I’ll play a few songs people will recognize like ‘Not the Tremblin’ Kind’ that WFMU-DJ Laura Cantrell covered. James Mastro (owner of 503 Social Club) produced my version some years back. And I’ll do ‘River to River,’ a song I wrote with Bongos frontman Richard Barone, as well as a handful of numbers from my solo albums.

“I’m looking forward to playing two or three numbers from Stevensonville, the album I’m currently recording with (bassist and producer) Tony Shanahan. Mark Sidgwick plays guitar with me on the album.” Sidgwick will back him at the show as well.

Usher has released seven solo albums, and has recorded with Edward Rogers and Lisa Burns.


“My experience in Hoboken has always revolved around music and a certain relaxed, joyful camaraderie that flows between everybody,” he said.

I spoke with Usher in 2020 during the height of the pandemic about his song “Don’t Be Afraid to Love” (see video below) from his Mastro-produced 1995 album, Miracle School. Co-written with Barone in the midst of the AIDS crisis, the song conveys a message that love is the perfect response to fear.

Usher’s lyrics resonated during the pandemic, and do so now, too, during a time of war and a fraught election season. He sings:

Eyes looking down, so full of loneliness
Wondering what could be worse
Hearing a voice, angry at everyone, misquoting chapter and verse.
Don’t be afraid to love, don’t be afraid to love.
Eyes full of tears, heart full of emptiness, watching the world in reverse.

Best known as an original member and lead guitarist for Yo La Tengo, Schramm has worked with accomplished artists including The Replacements, Freedy Johnston and Richard Buckner. He will be joined by Andy Burton on keyboards, Sam Lazzara on vibes and Ron Metz on percussion, and will play The Schramms material as well as songs written for The Radio Free Song Club, a monthly radio/podcast show created with Kate Jacobs and Nicholas Hill.


Dave Schramm, right, performs with James Mastro.

The Schramms released their seventh album, Omnidirectional, in 2019.

Almaas (who played with The Suicide Commandos as well as Beat Rodeo) will perform with Daria Grace, Vibeke Saugestad (a pop artist from Norway) and Sidgwick.

Since opening in late 2023, The 503 Social Club has presented shows by artists such as Jill Sobule, Freedy Johnston, Diane Gentile, Karyn Kuhl, Jon Langford and Sally Timms, and Ivan Julian. Upcoming concerts include Richard Lloyd on March 20; and Mastro on March 23.

For information, visit the venue’s Facebook page.

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