Friends of the late music journalist Scott Schinder came together to honor him with a tribute concert at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge, Aug. 23.
An impressive collection of talented artists packed the venue, sharing stories that brought Schinder’s spirit into the room. Organizers Todd Abramson, Jill Richmond and Glenn Morrow connected old friends in a love fest for Schinder. “It sure felt like Scott Schinder was there,” said Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, who sang a powerful version of Neil Young’s “Don’t Cry No Tears” (see video below). He added, “We’ll all miss him for sure.”
Each act rocked the house with stellar musicianship, passion and appreciation for Schinder’s music journalism. Among those in the lineup were Morrow; Marshall Crenshaw and The Smithereens’ Dennis Diken, who sang Peter & Gordon’s “I Go to Pieces” together (see video below); and The Schramms. Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley sang Herman’s Hermits’ “There’s a Kind of Hush” (see video below) and Will Rigby’s “The Question.”
The reuinited band The Health & Happiness Show (James Mastro, Tony Shanahan, Dave DeCastro and Vinny DeNunzio) performed “Drunk-Eyed Waltz” (see video below) — George Usher guested on the song, which he co-wrote with Mastro.
Usher and Douglas Larcey also grabbed me with their version of Young’s “Powderfinger.” “This song had been Scott Schinder’s signature tune when he’d step out of the audience to do a number with the Beat Rodeo band at the Ludlow Cafe during their decade-long residence on Monday nights,” said Usher, who also sang harmony with Beat Rodeo’s Steve Almaas on a cover The Byrds’ “You Showed Me.”
Tammy Faye Starlite performed an explosive version of The Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed” (see video below), singing with backing vocals by Bibi Farber and an outstanding band that included Richmond, Mastro, Andy Burton, Dave Schramm, Ron Metz and Jeremy Chatzky.
Mary Lee Kortes sang dreamy versions of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” and “The Warmth of the Sun” with Diken on drums, and Vicki Peterson (of the Bangles) and Peterson’s husband John Cowsill (of The Cowsills) on backing vocals.
Laura Cantrell sang a gorgeous version of the folk song “When the Roses Bloom Again” and Washington Squares member Lauren Agnelli performed a rousing rendition of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.”
Some musicians mentioned Schinder’s thoughtful and supportive coverage, some referenced his cynical humor, and many spoke about his passion for music.
Amy Rigby said in a poignant pre-recorded poem:
Would you burn me
Robyn Hitchcock, “Queen of Eyes”
Yo La Tengo
Are playing tomorrow
Let’s go see a show
I’m not a fan of this sorrow
Is just no fun
It was an honor to be
Your plus one
Peter Holsapple sent his greetings via his former Continental Drifters bandmate Peterson, who performed that band’s “Anything” with Cowsill.
Morrow called the event “a real river of song,” adding “we raised a nice sum of money for MusiCares. I saw many a $100 bill in the bucket. We joked that it felt like a high school reunion or our own version of the movie ‘A Mighty Wind.’ The musicians rehearsed all day and delivered at night and the singers offered up a fantastic, surprising playlist of both the familiar and the obscure.
“It definitely felt that we conjured some magic. Musicians, publicists and music scribes all came together to celebrate their often-complicated connection to Scott Schinder, a man they didn’t know they missed until he was gone.”
Schinder — who died on June 4 — devoted most of his life to writing about the music scene in New York and New Jersey, spending many nights at Maxwell’s, CBGB and other venues. He wrote for varied publications including Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Time Out New York, The Aquarian and The Austin Chronicle.
Here are some videos from the show. For more on Schinder click HERE.
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