Event: Bobby Mahoney at CBGB L.A.B.
When the phrase “iconic music club” is used, the old CBGB in New York may be that the very top of the list.
The full name is CBGB and OMFUG. Almost sounds dirty, but the letters really stand for “Country Blue Grass Blue and Other Music For Upstanding Gentlemen”. That’s a mouthful so CBGB is much better.
Anyway, the club closed in New York City on October 16, 2006 – Patti Smith closed it – and is now the site of a John Varatos fashion store. Yes, he keeps the legend of CBGB still alive in the store…but it’s still a high-price fashion store now. Oh well, capitalism.
An offshoot of CBGB has been the CBGB L.A.B. – Lab and Bar (this franchise loves its initials, don’t it?) at the Newark International Airport in New Jersey. And, though an association with Tito’s Vodka and the Asbury Park Music Foundation, a number of local NJ acts are playing sets throughout the summer there.
Back at the end of July, it was my buddy Bobby Mahoney doing a solo set there. I wanted to help out the APMF and shoot the event and help give it some exposure. Bobby and his band have had a good year – they opened for Bon Jovi at The Rock in new Jersey, and then he helped out Asbury Park’s Williams Honor when they opened for Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden, too.
But despite those big stages, he still picks up gigs where he can get them to help get the word out about his music. And this stage definitely was not big.
Basically, it was a small platform, but more than enough space for him to plug in and roll through some of his original songs as well as some really cool covers.
It was an interesting experience for me on a couple of levels. First, we had to get issued something that looks like a boarding pass and still go through security, even though there was no plane to catch. It’s a little weird walking though an airport with an escort but without having a plane to catch.
When I fly out of Concourse C at Newark (it’s actual name was changed to Liberty International Airport after 9/11 but it’s still Newark Airport too all of us), I often grab a bite at this CBGB. So while I’ve been in CBGB there, I’ve never really paid attention to it.
There’s a whole merchandise area with everything from CBGB t-shirts to harmonicas to actual vinyl albums (more on that in a bit). Whereas the original CBGB made its name (at least in later years) as hardcore punk rock, this outlet was pretty commercial. Make money anyway you can, I guess. Maybe Hilly Kristal (who grew up not far from me in Hightstown, New Jersey) wouldn’t have had a problem with that.
Anyway, it was a little surreal covering this. And while I usually have problems getting good sight lines during a Bobby Mahoney club show, here it was wide open. Almost too open – I had to search around for some interesting looks.
I even went to “back of the house” – well, into the terminal basically – pulled out the long lens and grabbed some shots from there. Which was illuminating – not many people were actually paying attention to Bobby: They were on their phones, trying to shovel down a burger before flying, or trying to keep kids occupied. I would akin it to being being at an open-mic night at some joint where there’s a bunch of things going on around the performer.
But when you’re performer, you have power on. And to Bobby’s credit, he did. He played for a good hour and a half or thereabouts, passing on taking a break to keep playing.
I think he got the best reception – meaning people actually payed attention – when he did a cover – Tom Petty, Chris Cornell, Neil Young, Johnny Cash (he did Folsom Prison via my request)
It was all a little surreal. Even at the end, when Bobby signed the pillar, almost like tagging a spot in the original CBGB.
When Bobby was done, and before we rolled out, I had to do a quick portrait session with him in the record section of CBGB L.A.B. I asked him to pick out a vinyl album that meant something to him, and we’d do a Danny-Clinch-Shoots-Patti- Smith-Holding-Coltrane type shot.
He went with The Rolling Stones Some Girls which I thought was an interesting choice since Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town and Southside Johnny’s Hearts of Stone – Jersey guys, of course – were nearby.
And with that, we non-travelers headed out into the post-rainstorm, muggy early evening. Definitely one of my more interesting shoots. Probably one of the more unique gigs for Bobby, too.
Flo liked it, though.
For a little travel-related tunes, checked out Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son doing “Empty Passenger Seats”…and look for a very brief cameo from yours truly.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2018