Richard Barone — recording artist, performer, producer, author — is here, there and everywhere, spreading his musical genius and reflections about and insights into music, culture and people’s struggles. March 15 at 9:30 p.m., you will find him at the Loft at City Winery in New York, at the launch of a monthly series curated by him titled “Loft Party.” For information and tickets, visit citywinery.com/newyork.
Indie rock icons Barone (of The Bongos) and Glenn Mercer (of The Feelies), both dynamic performers, will start off the series with a rare duo performance. Sharing a strong Velvet Underground influence, they will perform songs from their own repertoires as well as from the post-Velvet Underground wave of mid-1970s artists.
“When I first came to the New York area from Florida (in 1977), the arts scene in SoHo was at its peak,” said Barone. “It was exciting to perform in venues that were more like gallery spaces, where visual and theatrical arts mingled with music, fashion, and literature. When I was shown the new upstairs space at City Winery, I fell in love with it, partially because it recalled that era. It is quite literally, itself, a SoHo loft, and the perfect place to revive and renew that spirit.”
Barone’s Loft Party is intended to bring back the late 1970s and early 1980s era with live music in an intimate setting, featuring performers of all generations.
Barone, one of the architects of the Hoboken rock scene, has produced many studio recordings and collaborated with a gallery of talented artists, including the late Lou Reed, Alejandro Escovedo, Pete Seeger, John Sebastian, Tony Visconti and Donovan. As musical director of many shows in the tri-state area, he demonstrates a unique talent for creating memorable gatherings of singer-songwriters.
He did so as organizer and musical director of a three-hour concert, “Music + Revolution: Greenwich Village in the 1960s,” last summer at Central Park’s SummerStage by bringing together Jesse Colin Young of The Youngbloods, Melanie, Happy Traum, John Sebastian, José Feliciano, Jeffrey Gaines, The Kennedys, Syd Straw, Tammy Faye Starlite, Marshall Crenshaw and others. He also hosted and performed in another edition of the show — two days before the midterm elections — at Joe’s Pub in New York, galvanizing performers to embrace the hopeful message and compelling music of protest songs.
And he will bring the show to the Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair, March 29, with a lineup that includes Mercer, Gaines, Starlite, The Kennedys, Eric Andersen, Steve Addabbo and others; visit outpostintheburbs.org. Sharing iconic music that made it acceptable to write deeply personal and political songs, Barone uses the show to introduce subjects that impact our current political and cultural landscape.
Barone teaches a course titled “Music + Revolution” at the New School in New York, exposing students to the music history surrounding their school, which he also explored on his 2016 album, Sorrows & Promises: Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Barone, who lives in Greenwich Village, is also affiliated with Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University and serves on the board of governors of The Recording Academy (the Grammys).
New Jersey native Mercer and his bandmates in the legendary band The Feelies released four albums in the ’80s and early ’90s, including the critically acclaimed Crazy Rhythms, before disbanding. Mercer and Dave Weckerman formed Wake Ooloo, releasing three albums in the ’90s. In 2007, Mercer released a solo album, Wheels in Motion, and in 2008 he reunited with The Feelies, recording Here Before in 2011. The Feelies have continued to perform and, when they do, their high- energy, lengthy shows are extraordinary. The band’s’ cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” appears in Jonathan Demme’s 2015 film, Ricki and the Flash.
Here’s a video of Barone, Mercer, James Mastro and Elk City performing together at Tierney’s Tavern in Montclair, last year: