‘Til the Tears Run Dry
“If you hear me crying by myself/sitting on the bed with the tears watering out/thinking about all the trouble I’m in. . . well I’m crying for the good times,” belted out Craig Fox on Saturday at the Mercury Lounge, during the Greenhornes’ “Good Times.” Yet the Cincinnati quartet’s ’60s-styled songs about the ladies and being so down are anything but grief-provoking—they’re rousing. The Greenhornes stand out in a current crop of lauded garage rock bands (remember that lame EW article?) not only because of 26-year-old Fox’s striking vocal prowess (one critic wrote that it’s hard to believe it’s just a “white kid from Ohio singing these songs”), but because they pull off—amazingly—a legitimately soulful sound. It’s the best of vintage without a boring veneer of kitsch.
There were enough “yeahs” to match all the crying, too. A new number called “Too Much Sorrow” was followed by “My Baby’s Alright” (“She makes me say yeah”). The band also worked the spazzy buildup of the Animals’ “Inside Looking Out” and “Lost Woman” by the Yardbirds. The highlight of the night was “Thank You,” a 1966 tune by the Boston band the Remains, a gorgeous, slowed-down melody with Fox’s voice reminiscent of a less slurry Mick Jagger. (After the show, he muttered something ambiguous about “Wild Horses” always making him feel bad.)
Detroit’s Von Bondies (two boys, two girls, half in white belts) supported the Greenhornes with likably menacing thrash featuring bold, eerie vocals from Jason Stollsteimer that come across, as someone in the audience put it, “like he’s singing in an empty cathedral.” They had a damn “Cryin’ ” song, too, but it summed up the ethos of the night well: “Just stick with the rhythm, child/it’ll save your soul.” —Hillary Chute
Crisis breeds some strange bedfellows, but perhaps none stranger than nightclubs and police officers. Yet there were New York’s finest on September 25 outside of Centro-Fly, exchanging friendly chatter, salutes, and applause with those in the queue. The occasion was a benefit for the widows and children’s funds for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association, and the support was clear—a line three or four deep stretched around the block for much of the night. DJs donated their services and more: Louie Vega wrote a check for $2500, and German dark-trance master Timo Maas sent a check for $1000 in his absence. Adding that to every cent the patrons handed over—from door and bar receipts to the tips from waitresses and coat checkers—Centro-Fly raised more than $150,000.
Adorned in an American-flag do-rag, Armand van Helden stayed long enough to check out Danny Tenaglia’s set, which didn’t begin until 3 a.m. “Host” Moby meandered through the crowded club in his red Adidas sweatjacket, seemingly nonplussed by his role as ringleader. “I guess they think more people will come if I just show up,” he said. (He was seen walking away from the club at about one in the morning.)
Those who stayed received their money’s worth—no small feat, considering the $40 “donation” required for entrance. Folks were off their collective tits, hands held high and brains held higher as night became morning. Downstairs in the crowded, sweaty Pinky Room, François K, David Morales, Louie Vega, and Joe Claussell took turns playing alternately tribal and funky, then soulful house, while upstairs on the main floor, the show was Tenaglia’s. He spun everything from techno to house to remixes of pop songs until around seven Wednesday morning, when the final dancing philanthropists headed home. —Bill Werde
Bully for Johnny
When he met the Bullys in 1998, Marky Ramone liked the band so much he produced their first album, Stomposition. Feral as Deadboys, polished as Professionals, bridge-and-tunnel like the Ramones (three of the original members grew up in my hometown, Rockaway Beach), the Bullys mixed old-school punk with a Gen X face and a strong left hook. Songs chronicled life on suburbia’s mean streets. “It’s Still My Home” was an oath of blood loyalty, a Celtic warrior’s do-or-die pledge to love and defend his turf.
Bandmates agree that Johnny Heff was the Bullys. The rhythm guitarist sang backups, wrote most of the material, set up their Web site, fronted cash for recording, and booked shows. Onstage, Johnny and voxman Joey Lanz boasted of bad-boy brawling, boozing, and womanizing. Offstage, Johnny didn’t drink, he was a devoted son, and his heart belonged to his wife, Laurie, and her nine-year-old daughter, Samantha. He was also a firefighter with Engine 28-Ladder 11 on East 2nd Street. He had eight years on the job. On September 11, FF John Heffernan had the day off, but he decided to go in for the overtime. By the second alarm, John’s truck headed out toward the WTC. To date, all six members of Ladder 11 are M.I.A.
The Bullys already had a show booked for September 22 at their favorite punk palace, the Continental. With hope still alive, nobody wanted to call it a memorial, so owner Trigger declared the event a tribute, donating the night’s earnings to a family relief fund. The Waldos, Turbo AC’s, and Pisser played for free and the club rotated the Bullys’ second album, Tonight We Fight Again. On September 11, Johnny walked into hell, in full stomp position. Whether you were his friend, his blood, bandmate, neighbor, or FF brother, Johnny had you covered. That day, homeboy showed the real bullies what our Bullys are made of.
For information regarding donations to the family and future events in honor of FF John Heffernan, log on to the band’s Web site at www.thebullys.com or e-mail Walt at email@example.com. —Donna Gaines
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 2, 2001