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 Court Tavern benefit 30 April

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PostSubject: Court Tavern benefit 30 April   Court Tavern benefit 30 April Icon_minitimeTue Apr 20, 2010 7:09 am


Benefit for the Court Tavern, with Patti Smith, the Smithereens, Glen Burtnik’s Slaves of New Brunswick

By Jay Lustig/The Star-Ledger
April 20, 2010, 5:57AM

The New Brunswick rock club the Court Tavern was rescued in dramatic, almost storybook fashion in December, with friends and patrons lending money at the last minute to keep it from having to close.
But the club, a vital part of the Jersey rock scene, is still on shaky financial ground, and that money has to be repaid. So supportive musicians have teamed up to present a benefit. It takes place April 30 at New Brunswick’s State Theatre.
Patti Smith, whose band includes two musicians with strong New Brunswick ties (guitarist Lenny Kaye and bassist Tony Shanahan), will headline. The Smithereens, which once considered the club its home base (and recorded a live album there in 2008), will also perform, as will Glen Burtnik, who will reunite his loose-knit Slaves of New Brunswick ensemble (Kaye, Shanahan and others).
Bobby Albert, who owns the club with his wife Eileen, says he needs about $26,000 to pay back his supporters. “Of course, we’d like a little extra (from the benefit), to help down the road, give us a little nest egg,” he says.
New Brunswick was once filled with rock clubs. But now most of them — the Melody Bar, the Roxy, the Corner Tavern — are gone, or no longer presenting live music.
“He’s the last man standing,” said Shanahan of Bobby Albert.
Albert’s father, who died in 1997, owned the original Court Tavern, across the street from the club’s current Church Street location. It moved in 1981; later that year, Bobby Albert began booking rock shows there. Over the years, the club helped launch Jersey bands like Bouncing Souls, Screaming Females and the Gaslight Anthem, and hosted touring acts such as the Flaming Lips, the Replacements and Henry Rollins.
There is no shortage of reasons why the Court Tavern, and other clubs, have found it hard to survive. The raising of the drinking age. The countless distractions — cable TV, video games, the internet — that didn’t exist, or weren’t much of a factor, in 1981. The proliferation of big shows at stadiums, arenas, amphitheaters and theaters, which take business away.
The Court, which presents live music four or five nights most weeks, has faced other challenges, too, like construction in the area.
“It started around 2002 and went up to almost 2007,” says Albert. “We were basically encased in scaffolding that whole time. Most people didn’t even know we were open. If you walked past us you wouldn’t know it, really.”
This year has been rough, too, because of the weather. Revenue on four weekends has been severely cut by heavy snow and rain (there was a blackout on one weekend, a brownout on another).
“We’re really dependent on weekends, and when you lose four of them, it’s hard,” says Albert.
Kaye sees the April 30 concert as a celebration of New Brunswick’s musical history, as well as a benefit for a club that has been a big part of it.
“The town needs a place where you can go, any random night, and see who’s onstage,” he says. “That’s the true grass roots of rock ’n’ roll.”

Jay Lustig may be reached at jlustig@starledger.com or (973) 392-5850.

Benefit for the Court Tavern, with Patti Smith, the Smithereens, Glen Burtnik’s Slaves of New Brunswick
Where: State Theatre, 15 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick
When: April 30 at 8 p.m.
How much: $25-$42; call (732) 246-7469 or visit StateTheatreNJ.org.
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