New Years Eve Eve of 2017 (Dec. 30th, 2017) I had the opportunity to finally catch the famous Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba of The Dictators , (AKA the “hansomest man in rock-n-roll), a legendary Jewish Punk Rocker from the Bronx.
He was performing with his new bandmates “The Soul Punk Kings” at the Bowery Electric in downtown NYC, the apparently new “Go To” spot for punk music in Manhattan these days.
After an extended period out of the country filming for Raw Travel, followed by holiday timeout down south with family and then the knowledge that most likely I’d be spending New Year’s Eve happily at home in my NYC apartment alone (as Handsome Dick pointed out when he took the stage, a party on 12/30 instead of 12/31 meant the A-hole factor on the street was cut by 50% or more), I was itching for some punk rock.
I’d considered hitting the Television concert at the Bowery Ballroom but when I was reminded (social media ain’t all bad) of the Dictators, er excuse me I mean, Handsome Dick Manitoba (of the Dictators) with the Soul Punk Kings show at Bowery Electric, it was a no-brainer. It had all the elements I was looking for.
- Legendary punks I’ve always wanted to see? – Check!
- Small, intimate, laid-back venue? – Check!
- Affordable ticket ($15 compared to $55 for Television)? – Check!
- Other interesting performers on the bill? – Check Mate!
As I said, a real no-brainer.
Now I won’t attest to being a Dictators expert or even fanatic as I have more of a propensity for 80s-90s west coast punk (Social Distortion, Offspring, NoFX, Rancid, Pennywise, etc, etc.), but NYC has a special if frustratingly small punk scene and I greatly appreciate the history here, as excruciatingly complicated as the Dictators’ History are.
Handsome Dick Manitoba is firmly a big part of NYC punk history and at 63 years of age (soon to be 64) he shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
In fact, he’s now writing songs (they’re good!) and has plans to release an album in 2018 with a “Nashville label” (Nashville: About time you added more punk to your repertoire).
But first, we were treated by a raucous and rowdy performance by Sick Walt, whom I was briefly able to meet after his show.
Sick Walt regaled the crowd with a smattering of covers but some really, really tight originals that I dug. SW strike me as the kind of band you really need to see live to appreciate fully, so if you get a chance to take in a performance of these fellas, don’t think about it, just hop to it.
Sick Walt is a rock-n-roll band first and foremost but they’re definitely influenced by good old-school punk rock, of that there is no doubt.
Next up, was a female fronted (bass and drums also female) rock band Soraia with a HUGE variety of musical styles, but pretty much all rocking.
My favorite tune of the night was their psychedelic, ethereal jam at the very end that sadly I didn’t think to record for you guys (Hey, I didn’t know it would be so kick ass until 1/2 way through and when they were 1/2 way through I assumed they were 90% finished as it is a long song). Nonetheless, below is a short clip of Soraia as well.
HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA & THE PUNK SOUL KINGS
When Handsome Dick and his talented & seasoned musical sidekicks took the stage, I was ready for some hardcore punk rock and that’s what we got.
Though I only recognized a couple songs, the crowd, which ranged from young (20s) to older folks (60+) now appropriate for the punk scene, seemed to know every lyric to every song.
But it was Handsome Dick’s new songs that were my favorite. The new stuff is actually written by Handsome Dick (a fairly new skill he’s honed) and it’s very melodic with simple and easy to understand lyrics you want to repeat, repeat, repeat, which I think is a sign of a good song.
Handsome Dick is a pro and has hung with folks that have played in the upper echelon of rock music (Bruce Springsteen, Twisted Sister, etc.) but he came across as extremely authentic and so very likable that I hope I get to meet him at his bar in the Lower East Side, the aptly named Manitobas, someday soon.
Oh and no worries, Handsome Dick, when that album is released, I’ll be buying it (and promoting it). From the sound of things last night, I don’t think you’ll be heading out to pasture anytime soon.
Keep rocking, keep rolling Handsome Dick, you’re still sick (in the good way)!