August 8, 2012

The Smithereens Rock The River This Friday Night! Ten Good Reasons To Go!

By Anne M. Raso

The Smithereens will be rockin' the Hudson River this Friday night, August 10th at 8PM. Being a die-hard New Yorker for the past 25+ years who actually grew up in northern NJ, I dare to say that there's no better river to rock and no better band to rock it! 

A Smithereens show is a real event and almost like a reunion where the hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of fans there all seem to know each other for years! Summer is (not surprisingly) the time fans get the most chances to catch them on tour; their most recent album, 2011, released in April 2011, was their first studio album of original material since 1999's God Save The Smithereens. They've been around now since forming in Carteret, NJ in 1980 via an ad that lead singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist Pat DiNizio put in The Aquarian Weekly, and the band has not changed members except for bassist Mike Mesaros, who left seven or eight years ago to move to San Francisco and pursue a career as a chef. Stepping into to "take over the thump" was LA native Severo Journacion, aka "The Thrilla From Manila" who also seems to act as a comic foil for DiNizio. (They're sort of like the Abbott & Costello of classic rock, LOL!)

I can easily list ten reasons off the top of my head why you should be at the Smithereens' Rockin' The River cruise on Friday night, and any apologies are made ahead of time for sounding like a gushing fan even though I'm a member of the AARP age group (LOL):
1) The Smithereens have a not-so-secret weapon--the greatest drummer in the world, Dennis Diken, who also has backed up numerous legendary artists in the studio and in concert (including Ronnie Spector). He also happens to be a great rock historian and journalist/liner notes writer who's got 50,000 albums in the basement of his central NJ home.
2) DiNizio's still got it--the best baritone voice in rock and roll and one of the Top 10 songwriters of all time.
3) The booming bass of the Thrilla--and his trademark scream. I think it says "Go Nuts!" on the back of his famous red bass, and he holds it up to make the audience well, "go nuts."
4) Jim Babjak is one of the unsung masters of the Rickenbacker--I go ballistic when I see that early 60s model brought onstage that was used on many original Smithereens recordings. Let me add that he's not bad on the Telecaster, either!
5) The band's newer material is written in the classic style of the band. It sounds modern, but classic.
6) The Smithereens are masters of Beatles and Who covers and they put their own trademark sound on them. For a big kick, view the cover of Meet The Smithereens, which features bobble head dolls of each member of the group. (Hats off to graphic artist Todd Sinclair who designed it!)
7) They've been called "the seminal college rock band" but they're so much more.
8) They still rock even when they are doing one of DiNizio's legendary ballads like "Cut Flowers" or "Beauty And Sadness."
9) These guys know how to rock Buddy Holly glasses and Hawaiian shirts like no other band in the land.
10) They're so consistent at what they do! Their consistency level live is especially amazing and I've seen the "reensabout seven times, not to mention their splinter groups and DiNizio's solo sets. They rock because they are huge FANS, not just ace musicians.
AND A BONUS REASON: The band has Paulie Smith as their head--possibly the longest running roadie for ANY band if you count the bands Pat DiNizio was in prior to starting the Smithereens back in 1981. Smith is a childhood friend of the Scotch Plains native and can be traced back to DiNizio's bands of the 70s. Smith's also an ace electrician and you can catch a glimpse of him in the band's last video, "One Look At You." You'll know Smith at the Rockin' The River Cruise--he's the guy with the ponytail doing the retro-style dancing to the more uptempo numbers!

Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 the same day as the show--for more info or to purchase advance tickets, go to All Rockin' The River Cruises are rain or shine events, which boarding beginning at 7 PM for the official 8 PM show time. You can also email info@rtrcruises although there is an FAQ on the site or call 212-630-8888. Cruises leave from Circle Line Pier 83 at 42nd Street and the Hudson River. 

Whether or not you "make the boat" on Friday night, if you are in the NYC tristate area, you can also catch the band's famous Infinity Hall Live performance this Saturday night at 10 PM on WLIW!

(Top photo courtesy, bottom photo courtesy Infinity Hall Live/WLIW.)
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