When Vin Scelsa said he planned to retire on May 2, we knew we couldn’t let him just drift away without a proper sendoff. So we rounded up some of his favorite musicians, writers, and friends to say Fare Thee Well, Vin Scelsa on Monday, June 8, in front of a packed house of WFUV members, guests and friends at City Winery.
Fittingly, to the opening strains of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” (played by saxophonist Peter Hess), Rolling Stone Senior Writer David Fricke kicked things off with a benediction and explained how he initially came up with the “Three Essential Commandments” (“Respect the elders; embrace the new; encourage the impractical and improbable, without bias”), a phrase which would eventually become the opening credo for every “Idiot’s Delight” from the early ’90s onward.
Some of the musical highlights included Albany’s own Blotto performing their immortal surf rocker “I Wanna Be a Lifeguard.” The evening’s house band was The Bongos (led by the show’s indefatigable musical director, Richard Barone, and including the Smithereens’ Dennis Diken on drums), reunited for this special occasion, and they followed Blotto with a jaunty version of “Barbarella” (playing “The Bulrushes” later in the evening).
Lucy Wainwright Roche and Martha Plimpton duetted on a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and later in the night, Lucy and her mom Suzzy Roche chose a road-tripping classic, Simon and Garfunkel’s “America.” Both Lucy and Suzzy backed Dar Williams on a perfect choice, her new song, “FM Radio.”
Yo La Tengo recruited David Bromberg for a tender cover of Bob Dylan’s “Wallflower” and also tore into a searing version of their own “Tom Courtenay.” Southside Johnny tapped Bromberg for B.B. King’s “Beautician Blues” and embarked on an especially soulful version of “Spanish Harlem,” joined by The Bongos, string players Deni Bonet and David Mansfield, and Tracy Stark on piano. In the last hour of the show, Bromberg, on his own, played a compelling “Statesboro Blues/Church Bell Blues.”
Marshall Crenshaw amusingly recounted an anecdote about his album #447 and Vin’s response to it, and played two songs from that 1999 album. Mary Lee Kortes chose her own “Will Anybody Know That I Was Here” while Laura Cantrell and Dayna Kurtz opted for Johnny Cash’s “A Little At A Time.” Larry Kirwan spoke eloquently about Vin before rousing the room with Black 47’s “James Connelly.”
Stephen Trask, composer and lyricist of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, stepped up as a strong vocalist himself with a stunning version of the musical’s “Midnight Radio,” backed by The Bongos and Dar Williams. Garland Jeffreys, Willie Nile, and James Maddock teamed up with rowdy gusto on John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth.”
There were also salutes from writers Paul Auster and Rick Moody, radio compañeros Kara Manning and Marty Martinez, concert promoter John Scher, and the evening’s MCs — Dennis Elsas, Meg Griffin, and Rita Houston. Recorded well-wishes from Sheryl Crow, Tim Robbins, Jim Jarmusch, John Cameron Mitchell, Dean Wareham, Mike Doughty and Steven Van Zandt were scattered throughout the evening.
One special moment came when Vin’s daughter Kate Scelsa, an accomplished actor and writer, gave a personal and witty toast to her dad. Vin himself took the stage near the end, to a standing ovation, to offer thanks in his inimitable fashion. Then The Bongos and David Johansen brought it home with “Funky But Chic” and the standard, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” It was a rocking, heartfelt evening all around.
The owner of City Winery in Hudson Square has been chosen to run the largest restaurant on a Hudson River pier that’s been redeveloped as a park and public space.
The Hudson River Park Trust, the group that operates Pier 26, has selected Michael Dorf to operate the restaurant that’s been constructed on the east side of the pier. Named City Vineyard, it will open in May of 2016, according to Madelyn Wils, the trust’s chief executive.
Pier 26 was used to dock large passenger ships in the 1800s and early 1900s, according to the trust. Its redevelopment is part of a plan launched in 1998 to transform 4 miles of waterfront into public space. Pier 26, reconstructed in 2008, is now home to a dog park and a kayak launch.
City Vineyard will focus on food and wine, and won’t have a performance space like City Winery does. There will be more than 1,600 square feet of indoor dining, with casual-dining areas on the terrace and the roof.
It will seat 300 to 350 patrons and its menu will be broader than the one offered at City Winery, according to Ms. Wils. The glass building ensures diners will have views of the Hudson River and the city, as well as a nearby boathouse that serves as a kayak launch.
The trust is also planning to create an estuarium on Pier 26 to study the ecology of the Hudson River. Late last year, it announced that it had awarded that project to Clarkson University. Clarkson’s Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries is joining the New York Hall of Science and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater to develop the project, which will include research, education and public discovery.
Hudson River Park Trust receives no public money to maintain and run its parks and public spaces, so tenants like City Vineyard and nearby Chelsea Piers are essential, according to Ms. Wils. “A lease like this helps support the park operations,” she said.
Full article in Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/whats-the-deal-1433122395
It’s taken a long time settle on a restaurateur, and the restaurant itself is still a year away.
Two years after the Hudson River Park Trust put out a request for proposals to New York’s “experienced restaurateurs” to fill an insane indoor/outdoor restaurant space on Pier 26, they’ve finally announced their choice. The restaurant, which is enclosed mostly in glass and crowned with an enormous terrace, will be run by Michael Dorf, the owner of Soho’s sprawling restaurant/bar/music venue City Winery. It will be called, reasonably enough, City Vineyard.
Unlike City Winery, there will be no live music or performances at Pier 26 – City Vineyard is a restaurant/bar only. Nonetheless, it’s a big one, with seating for 300 to 350, and 1,600 square feet of indoor dining space alone. Though construction has already been going on for at least two years, and the building looks pretty much done, City Vineyard supposedly still won’t open until May of next year.