Friends of the late music journalist Scott Schinder will come together for a tribute concert, telling stories about him and playing music in his honor at the Mercury Lounge in New York, Aug. 23 at 6:30 p.m.
“Scott Schinder was one of the most unique people I have known,” said concert promoter, DJ and former Maxwell’s co-owner Todd Abramson, one of the event’s organizers. “His knowledge was obsessive and his sense of humor was inspiring. He was a huge presence in the New York music scene and he is sorely missed by many of us.”
The Health & Happiness Show (James Mastro, Vinny DeNunzio, Tony Shanahan and Dave DeCastro) will reunite for a few songs. George Usher will join his longtime guitar-slinging partner Doug Larcey for a number of tunes. Tammy Faye Starlite and Jill Richmond will perform together. Mary Lee Kortes, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel and Steve Almaas will perform and so will others TBA.
“It’s not easy to find the right words to say, but somehow Scott always did,” said Mastro. “Combining honesty with a vast knowledge and understanding of music always equaled something written from the heart. Funny, humble, kind — seeing Scott in the crowd always gave us musicians a boost of confidence.”
Schinder “was a music lover, and I think music loved him back,” said Kortes. “It gave him real joy. And he was generous with his enthusiasm. I don’t know how many CDs he gave me over the years of stuff he thought I should have and hear. Also, beyond being wildly and articulately supportive of what I was doing, he brought other people to my music and encouraged them to listen, from very early on. Thank you, Scott Schinder, again and again.”
Originally from Long Island, Schinder — who died on June 4 — devoted most of his adult life to the music scene in New York and New Jersey. He spent many evenings at CBGB, Maxwell’s and other venues and wrote for varied publications including Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Time Out New York and The Austin Chronicle.
Jay Lustig of NJArts.net posted at the time of his death: “When I worked for East Coast Rocker (now known as The Aquarian Weekly) in the ’80s, many of the cover stories were by Scott Schinder (writing under the pen name Harold DeMuir) and they were almost always the best thing in the paper. A very sweet, friendly guy, and incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about music.”
Schinder wrote liner notes for many albums and contributed to six editions of “The Trouser Press Record Guide” and 1996’s “Rolling Stone’s Alt-Rock-a-Rama: An Outrageous Compendium of Facts, Fiction, Trivia, and Critiques on Alternative Rock.” He co-wrote, with Andy Schwartz, the two-volume “Icons of Rock: An Encyclopedia of the Legends Who Changed Music Forever.”
“From the many musicians he loved, the music writer pals he often sparred with and the publicists that fed him the free records, bio assignments and concert tickets, let’s come together in a venue where he spent many a night and honor Scott … It’s time for a Schindig,” said Glenn Morrow of Bar/None Records, one of the event’s organizers.
“He could be curmudgeonly and stubborn, but he was also smart with a cynical sense of humor that always made for great conversations. He seemed to go out most nights to see music and I think he saw the musicians, publicists and fellow writers that he hung out with as surrogate extended family.”
Usher reminisced about Monday nights in the ’80s and ’90s when house band Beat Rodeo played at the Ludlow Café. He said that those nights were “legendary and literally a case of ‘You had to be there.’
“It’s very difficult to explain the set-up, the execution and the wildly, positive impact the nights had on the clientele — many of whom would unexpectedly step out of the audience to do a number — and the battle-worn rockers who were playing for fun and beer.
“Scott, a somewhat shy critic/music writer, would often get up and plow through a powerful rendition of Neil Young’s ‘Powderfinger.’ If Scott was there and he was heading for the stage, you knew his signature tune was ‘Powderfinger’ and he was gonna deliver it as if his life depended on it.
“So I’m going to perform ‘Powderfinger’ in honor of Scott. Anyone who knows me knows I rarely do covers. But I’ll do this one.”
The event is free. “In honor of all the concert tickets and promos Scott received over the years, everyone is on the guest list,” said Morrow.
“We are accepting donations at the door to cover the costs of the event. We will donate profits beyond costs to MusiCares Foundation,” said Richmond, one of the event’s organizers.
She added: “Scott was a very close and dear friend of mine. Always generous with his time, he taught me a lot about music during our many adventures seeing Eric Burdon every time he came to town, all the great Rig Rock bands, the Stones, and even hanging with Yogi Berra. I miss him.”
In 2011, Schinder moved to Austin, Texas, where he continued to work as a journalist. In 2016, he was hospitalized with a kidney-related ailment and endured seven years of treatment.
“Scott Schinder was such a huge part of the alt-music world of downtown NYC — inextricable,” said Starlite. “He was stratospherically knowledgeable, funny, cranky, crotchety, contrarian, with the softest, hugest heart. He was a blast to talk with. Even when he said he thought Sticky Fingers was a terrible album. Man, I miss him.”
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