Bassist Jared Michael Nickerson launches two nights of sizzling guitarists and their bands from the 1980s rock club scene on Aug. 18 and 25 in shows titled “Turn It Up!!” at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center in New York.
The longtime Hoboken resident, who will serve as both the curator of and a performer at the shows, co-leads and plays bass for the eclectic, improvisational collective Burnt Sugar: The Arkestra Chamber; and has performed with Bernie Worrell, Melvin Van Peebles, Vernon Reid, Tammy Faye Starlite, Freedy Johnston, Charlie Musselwhite and many others.
“Turn it Up!,” he said, “is a celebration of my too-lit-to-mention ’80s New York City club scene memories.” He added that the shows are also “an acknowledgment that in 2022 there are rockers from that scene, some 40, 45 years later, still kicking out the jams and turning it up.”
Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m., Nickerson will present three outstanding bands.
Guitarist and producer Ivan Julian (co-founder of the seminal punk group Richard Hell & the Voidoids and a member of many notable New York and New Jersey bands) fronts his band The Magnificent Six that features James Mastro of The Bongos and Ian Hunter’s Rant Band on guitar and vocals, Al Maddy on guitar, Stephen Goulding of Graham Parker & the Rumour on drums, Nickerson on bass, and Debby Schwartz and Judy Ann Nock on background vocals.
Julian has been touring in support of his inventive and evocative album Swing Your Lanterns, previously written about by NJArts.net.
“If you believe in power, don’t miss it,” said Julian about the Lincoln Center show. “I’ve been pondering what name to give the band. I am surrounded by such incredible talent that the name has to be worthy of their forte. So, ladies and gentlemen … we are Ivan Julian & the Magnificent Six. You could say this is our debut.”
Joining Julian on the bill is the psychedelic rock group Gods & Monsters, led by guitarist and songwriter Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley) with Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers) on bass and Richard Dworkin on drums. Guests Richard Barone (The Bongos) and Alison Clancy will add vocals.
Hailing from Raleigh, N.C., The Veldt, led by twins Daniel and Danny Chavis, will also take the stage.
Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m., two bands that influenced the power-pop and alt rock sound of the 1980s — and a relatively new one featuring musicians from that era — will perform.
Cynthia Sley (vocals) and Pat Place (guitar and vocals) — founding members of the band Bush Tetras, who were part of the New York no wave/post-punk era — will be joined by Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) and R.B. Korbet.
The Bongos — the Hoboken pop-rock band that energized the New Jersey rock scene of the 1980s with its elusive lyrics, propulsive guitar grooves and edgy sound — features Barone and Mastro on guitar and vocals, Frank Giannini on drums, and Rob Norris on bass.
Tape Hiss — featuring Ernie Brooks on bass and vocals, Steve Shelley on drums, Peter Galub on guitar, David Nagler on keyboards and Peter Zummo on trombone — will round off the evening with music by the late avant-garde composer Arthur Russell as well as songs originally recorded by the musicians’ respective bands, including The Modern Lovers (Brooks) and Sonic Youth (Shelley).
Born in Cleveland and raised in Dayton, Nickerson graduated from Notre Dame University in 1974. He left for Boston to attend the New England Conservatory of Music and returned to Dayton in 1980, where he worked as a studio musician and met members of the post punk band Human Switchboard when they were recording there. After filling in for Human Switchboard’s bassist, he officially joined the band in 1981 and frequently performed in New York with them. “CBGBs, Danceteria, Peppermint Lounge, Irving Plaza, and of course Maxwell’s, became my new playground,” Nickerson said. “We played it hard, played it fast and we turned it up.
“I missed all the moving-on-up activity every band has to experience. By the time I joined Human Switchboard in the fifth year of their existence, they were headliners throughout the Midwest and all along the East Coast, while also being courted by major labels and major artist management.
“This enabled me to develop personal relationships with club owners such as Steve Fallon (of Maxwell’s), Hilly (Kristal) and Louise (Staley) of CBGB, and Jim Fouratt of Peppermint Lounge, which became extremely useful when I started booking bands for the Black Rock Coalition.”
He says there is a synergy between his touring connections and his work with the BRC (where he currently serves as an advisor). On its website, the BRC states that it serves to form a “united front of musically and politically progressive Black artists and supporters” with a mission of “creating an atmosphere conducive to the maximum development, exposure and acceptance of Black alternative music.”
We talked about the trajectory of Nickerson’s varied and lengthy career.
“I would say my ability to play ensemble bass at a high level … holding the bottom for all different kinds of musical ensembles — while also developing fruitful friendships with other players and movers and shakers throughout the 50-plus years of my musical career is the thread that allows me to do what I’m doing at Lincoln Center on Aug. 18 and 25,” he said. “And of course, my time in BRC is a significant part of that thread.”
The Aug. 18 and 25 concerts are free, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For information, visit LincolnCenter.org.
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