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Here is an exclusive article about CBGB, thanks to Spencer a freelance entertainment blogger. He had this great idea to write an article on how the CBGB started, about the Punk bands that got to performed there and how it came to an end, he also mentions the upcoming movie. So, be sure to check it out below and let us know what you think.

On September 5th the new film CBGB, about the New York City bar of the same name, made its debut on DirecTV Cinema. The film will be released theatrically on October 11th, and is highly anticipated thanks to the big-name cast and the various singers and performers that are being portrayed. The cast includes Alan Rickman as CBGB owner Hilly Kristal, Ashley Greene as his daughter Lisa, Malin Akerman as Blondie front woman Debbie Harry, as well as Justin Bartha and Rupert Grint as Stiv Bators and Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys. While the big names have attracted a younger audience to the film, many teenagers and young adults today are not fully aware of the cultural impact that CBGB had in the 70’s and 80’s and why it became such a cultural icon.

Hilly Kristal first opened CBGB & OMFUG (standing for Country, Bluegrass, Blues, & Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers, but going by the much easier CBGB) in 1973 at 315 Bowery in Manhattan. As is made obvious from its name, it was first created to be a place to showcase country, bluegrass, and blues music. However in 1973 the nearby Mercer Arts Center, where many local rock and punk groups would perform, collapsed and left its regular performers looking for a new home. Hilly allowed almost anyone to play at CBGB during the early days as long as they played original music – no covers were allowed. CBGB was also very welcoming of new bands and gave then unknown bands, like the Misfits, Ramones, and Blondie, a platform to perform and help build a following.

In the 80’s the club started to attract more hardcore punk bands thanks to it’s Sunday matinees which allowed struggling bands to take the stage. Among those bands were Reagan Youth, Cro-Mags, Beastie Boys, and Agnostic Front. However, as the punk following began to grow, so did the violence in and outside of the club and in 1989 Kristal banned hardcore bands from performing there. By the 90’s the club was cemented as an iconic place for music, particularly punk. It was also during this period that the club began to expand, opening an art gallery next door as well as expanding into merchandising, primarily the famous CBGB t-shirts that are still sold today.

In 2003 the beginning of the end came for CBGB when the Bowery Residents Committee took legal action against the club for back rent and missed rent increases totaling over $390,000. The landlord of CBGB also happened to be the head of the BRC and this all occurred right before CBGB’s lease was up, prompting the landlord to ask for a 200% rent increase. Unable to pay the high rent bills, Kristal was forced to shut the club down. The final night, October 15, 2005, was marked by a powerful 3 ½ hour performance by Patti Smith who played original songs as well as covers of songs made famous by the club. A little after 1AM on October 16th CBGB’s shut its doors for the last time.

The spirit of CBGB lives on today, and I’m not only talking about the merchandise. Every year in New York City, the CBGB Festival welcomes bands of all kinds which are booked by the former CBGB booker and current co-owner of the CBGB name Louise Parnassa-Staley. Last year’s MET Gala, which was themed “Punk: From Chaos to Couture”, featured a replica of the infamous CBGB bathroom which welcomed guests as they entered the exhibit.

In fact, the spirit of CBGB is injected directly into the film CBGB thanks to their use of some of the real parts of the CBGB club as sets and props. In a way, the new Cinema channel from www.directstartv.com that is streaming the film everywhere also marks the beginning of a new era in movies in the same way CBGB itself offered a way to circumvent the traditional music industry for so many artists in the 70s and 80s, and so it’s very fitting that a movie called CBGB is poised to help break the mold for how art can or should be offered to the public.

Posted By Maria    September 19th, 2013    Comments Off on CBGB: How it Started, Punk Bands & The End

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