Hilly Kristal, the longtime owner of New York's CBGB's, died yesterday at the age of 75, following a battle with lung cancer. Although he planned to book bluegrass music when he opened the place in 1973, rock soon took over; few clubs have ever achieved a reputation comparable to the ramshackle Bowery dive, which closed after a long landlord dispute last year. It more or less provided a home for the punk rock movement in the mid-70s, presenting some of the earliest shows by the Ramones, Television, and Patti Smith, among many others. The club remained a crucial New York venue through the early 90s, but as competition sprung up Kristal's haphazard booking policy—the same policy that originally allowed the punks to land shows at a time when no one else would touch them—got him trounced by promoters with a sharper vision and sense of what was actually happening.
I probably hadn't been to CBGB’s since 1990 or 1991, but I definitely have some vivid memories of the long, rectangular room, none more brilliant that a showcase for Homestead Records I caught in the fall of 1986: in order of appearance the line-up was Dinosaur (before they were forced to add the Jr), Antietam, Salem 66, and Sonic Youth. His passing sort of drives the final nail in the coffin for the original punk movement.
Mlimani Park Orchestra, Sikindi (Africassette)
Benson Orchestra of Chicago, Volume One, 1920-1921 (Archeophone)
Tidiane et les Dieuf Dieul, Salimata (Justin Time)
Mats Eilertsen, Flux (AIM)