And the bands played on… The worlds of music and fashion fused on Thursday night (4/17) as John Varvatos celebrated the opening of his second boutique in New York City at 315 Bowery, a space that formerly housed the seminal underground music club CBGB’s. In a flashback to the club’s legendary past, an electrified audience of 600 music lovers partied to the blaring sounds of an all-star lineup of bands, with 100% of the ticket proceeds from the evening going to benefit the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. The event raised over $30,000 for the charity.
The extraordinary concert line-up featured The Losers Lounge — the popular live music collective led by former Psychedelic Furs keyboard player Joe McGinty — as the ultimate back-up band to some incredible performances by Clem Burke, Keanan Duffy, Alan Vega, Ronnie Spector, Ian Hunter, Cheetah Chrome, Joan Jett, and Handsome Dick Manitoba. Full band performances came from Care Bears on Fire (the junior rockers from Park Slope), Pop Girls Etc, D Generation (their first show in 10 years) and The Hold Steady closed the evening.
The night really revved up when Wayne Kramer of MC5 fresh from his gig uptown and accompanied by Tom Morello, Slash, Jerry Cantrell, Perry Farrell, Joseph Arthur, and Sen Dog from Cypress Hill, all took the stage for an impromptu jam session.
The space, open for just 12 days, was transformed into a club once again — cleared out for the night and stripped down to its original four walls and a large stage, temporarily replacing the existing smaller one. The 25-foot mahogany cash wrap reclaimed its original purpose as the bar it once was in a pub on 14th Street (and prior to that on the Bowery). The new bathroom, now adjacent to the old greenroom which is the store’s current Tailor Shop, thankfully retains none of its original "charm." Reeling from the performances an ecstatic John Varvatos said, "I’m not sure who had more fun – the audience or the musicians. The power of rock ‘n’ roll showed its face here tonight."
Tickets to the eagerly anticipated event were sold out within two days of being listed, and the eclectic crowd included such scene makers as Bobby Cannavale, Bob Gruen, Breckin Meyer, Damien Fahey, Danny Fields, Gina Gershon, Jacob Dylan, Matt Pinfield, Mick Rock, Michael Stahl-David, Timothy White, Zoe McLellan, and Zoe Kravitz.
Backstage, four generations of musicians, ranging in age from 11 to 70, hung out sharing stories of old and new. The energy of the club’s past permeated the air as the crowd of artists spilled into back alley, reminiscent of years past. "We needed someone like John Varvatos to be the glue to pull something like this off" said Clem Burke of Blondie. Ian Hunter commented "It is a pleasure to play for John and for such a great cause. I never did CB’s, Hilly wouldn’t let me in, so we are doing it tonight."
Ronnie Spector noted "I loved the vibe of seeing Ian & Joan Jett back on the bus before going on stage, hanging out, laughing, everyone kidding, seeing people I haven’t seen in years telling stories, seeing the old crowd: Jesse, Arturo and Joey’s crowd. It was amazing, it was as if the spirit of CB’s came back for one last rave up." The evening’s sponsors were Converse, Gibson, CORZO Tequila, Luckybeer, OZ Water and Red Bull. The newest Varvatos store is a cultural haven and music venue featuring vintage clothing, records and audio equipment, music memorabilia, books and limited edition John Varvatos clothes. John scoured the globe for rare finds and relevant music memorabilia, and cherry-picked from his own collections of rare vinyl and picture discs, books and vintage audio equipment.
The Vh1 Save The Music Foundation which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring instrumental music education programs in America’s public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education. Donate. Educate. Rock. CBGB OMFUG (Country, Blue Grass and Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers) was founded in 1973 and quickly forsook its namesake musical styles to become a forum for rock and punk bands including Blondie, Talking Heads, Television, Patti Smith Group, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, The Ramones, and Green Day. The club closed in October 2006. The final show on its stage was performed by Patti Smith.