Saturday, November 12, 2005

Riding the New York Night Train

If you were a thirty-something mensch in a lengthy romance with American rock, a world-traveling musician with a talk show host's knack for conversation, the son of a Russian Studies teacher, and a pop-culture Zelig of sorts what might you find yourself doing in the early part of the Twenty-First Century?

Hosting a music webzine with in-depth features re: the Legends of American Music is one option. But then mensch that you would be, the world would be your oyster. So it is with great appreciation that I inform you that one good guy, Mr. Jonathan Toubin, has put all his coals in a single engine to brings us New York Night Train.

Toubin's articles, reviews and "oral histories" require the sort of focus you might not be used to hobo-ing about on the internets. If the first issue is any indication of what's to come (and I hope it is engine enough to haul a long and bountiful load) you won't get off this train easily. How does a six part two hour monologue by the legendary Kid Congo Powers (the Cramps, the Gun Club) grab you? Thought you knew everything about the early L.A. punk scene, Nick Cave, Reaganomics - think again.

Despite Toubin's expansive by-line (found only on the Mission page), NYNT is a self-effacing effort. This is very much in keeping with Jonathan's style. JT has found himself the sideman for a number of projects (Grand Mal, the Hammiks, de Schmog, and currently Cause for Applause) but he rarely makes it to the promo photos. Back in the day JT could get just about anybody to join his quirky bands (Tony Nozero/Drums and Tuba, Lymon Hardy/Pong-Ed Hall). If JT had a passion for somebody, it was relentless. When he was in a long distance relationship with Diane Koistinin (de Schmog/New Town Drunks), he had her face printed on a pillow sheet. For a guy dedicated to American Rock 'n Roll in all it's vulgar brashness, JT remains a sweet caring person.

That's why I think NYNT is going to be a smooth ride. JT is the right conductor for the job.

I first met JT when he was sixteen years old. I had just joined my first band, the ingopods, with our mutual friend Noah Sternthal, and later Greg Beets. JT had decided to be our manager. Back then JT sported oh-so-pinch-able baby cheeks, black suits and a bollo. His voice was "when it's time to change, you have to rearrange" era Peter Brady. The rest of us, being so much more mature, thought he was a riot. But we also respected him and considered him a brave soul. Hell, he got us some gigs. Like most first bands, the ingopod tunes should probably remain in somebody's school locker. What fortunately lives on is a shared passion for music and American culture and, for me, pride in seeing these folks venture from our shared Houston suburban roots, climb on those night trains, and fearlessly ride into the dawn. Long live New York Night Train.



Greg said...

Well put, my man. I feel lucky to have this shared history with you and JT and Noah (among many others) stretching all the way back to mid-Eighties Houston. And here we are in 2005 - definitely older, hopefully wiser but undoubtedly still passionate about music.

Kilian said...

Amen brother. See YOU in December.