Losers’ Lounge

“I spent three weeks in [New York] in January and found it […] as full of people worth living near as I knew it would always be,” writes Wil from Tokyo. It is.

Going back to Losers’ Lounge felt like a reunion with old friends. This moveable feast was founded ten years ago by Joe McGinty and Nick Danger, and is gaining strength as the performers edge past forty. McGinty is the MC and keyboard player for The Kustard Kings, the tight band that backs a dozen or twenty downtown singers in a laidback monthly tribute to a chosen singer-songwriter.

“I spent three weeks in [New York] in January and found it […] as full of people worth living near as I knew it would always be,” writes Wil from Tokyo. It is.

Going back to Losers’ Lounge felt like a reunion with old friends. This moveable feast was founded ten years ago by Joe McGinty and Nick Danger, and is gaining strength as the performers edge past forty. McGinty is the MC and keyboard player for The Kustard Kings, the tight band that backs a dozen or twenty downtown singers in a laidback monthly tribute to a chosen singer-songwriter. They’ve done Burt Bacharach, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, The Kinks, Harry Chapin, Elvis Presley, Roxy Music, Abba…and, well, name that tune. Last night, for St. Patrick’s week, they toasted Van Morrison. Next month, to celebrate Easter, Jesus is the featured artist, with the music of Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Losers’ Lounge started at Fez, the basement under Time Café. A few years back they moved to the Westbeth Theater in the Meatpacking District, where café tables gave a cabaret air and the musicians always seemed to be having fun. Sadly, last night’s Van Morrison tribute at the Knitting Factory was an altogether slicker event sponsored by Guinness. They ran two shows back to back, and limited the number of singers drastically. Instead of the usual rambling three or four hour show, this was an hour and fifty minutes of greatest hits, though still studded with an oddity or two. David Terhune delivered a medley of the demo tapes he claimed a disgruntled Van had delivered when he was more pissed off than usual with his recording contract. “I see from your face you have ringworm,” he warbled, “Ringworm, ringworm…” Hmm.

Even if the show delivered only one song per dollar instead of the usual two, Van’s genius still made it a good deal. If you don’t know the man, perhaps Paul Durcan’s celebration, “The Drumshanbo Hustler”, can convince you to make his acquaintance.

You can hire the Losers for your wedding or bar mitzvah. On their website there’s a photo of Illeana Douglas in a veil duetting with Joe McGinty. His lanky, bedhead sex appeal makes him a younger brother to Bob Geldof, and I’ve nursed a crush on him ever since he dj’ed when my friends Cliff and Arlene married four years ago. Cliff is the official Losers’ Lounge cartoonist, and so he called in the favour of decent music, the only ingredient that turns a wedding into a party.The average American wedding costs in the region of $30,000 these days, apparently, which, amortised over the length of an average American marriage, comes out pricey. I am free of Bridezilla instincts, but if I ever did feel the urge to drop an annual wage on a public display of affection, I would fly the Losers to a beach on Lake Superior, import my pals from their continents, and dance barefoot for a day to interpretations that made me hear something new in my desert island discs.

7 thoughts on “Losers’ Lounge”

  1. ah, van the man. on my desk, where i sit writing my book (and reading dervala.net) every day, is a stack of van morrison cds–and most days i don’t think i’d notice or mind if this was the only music ever recorded! (i’m an astral weeks through veeden fleece man myself).

    dervala, come back to canada, we need you up here!

    i’m waiting for a Ranger Tim blog. waiting . . .

    Like

  2. In anything to do with anything we call art, it is in the end all about audience – so that even if, say, you’re a writer, it is what you read that counts most, not what you write – Paul Durcan, Dublin born poet.

    Paul Dercan may have been born in Dublin but there’s no way he was reared there. Is there? Was he? I never would have guessed it from his accent. Thanks for the link, Derbla.

    Sorry to hear Guiness ruined things for you.
    Still won’t stop me from having one though.

    Cheers.

    Like

  3. Well, the wedding is off for Bridezilla, since just after the time you linked to her site. Coincidence? I think not!

    As to why it is off: The lady prepareth too much, methinks.

    Like

  4. Jack: I’ve been wheedling Ranger Tim to blog for about three years now. He’s not biting, but maybe a request from Nova Scotia will carry more weight.

    Eoin: Bridezilla, say it ain’t so! Well, production weddings are daft, so I suppose I’m glad for her.

    BMO: Paul Durcan has west of Ireland ancestry (Westport, Co. Mayo), but his accent isn’t unusual for middle-class Dublin of his generation. You’re thinking of “Justin”, the spoken-word piece he did with Van a few years back, yes?
    Also, I miss your blog–any chance you’ll reinstate it?

    Like

  5. Justin – yes. Absolutely hypnotic. That was Durcan, was it? Where’s Hilverson?

    In the days before rock and roll.

    I miss my blog too. But no….

    Quick Van story. I actually saw the man in a town called Donghadee. In the post office. Decades ago. I was nine or twelve. I was unaware of who he was at the time, though he was pointed out to me by an uncle. No big fuss. In the Irish way. But that’s not my story.

    I was writing once, a marathon session, and I had Van on CD, the one he did with The Chieftans. Without warning tears began streaming down my cheeks. And, generally, I do not cry. In fact it’s a very rare occasion. Very rare. I’m not certain of the title of the track, but the song had to do with wandering and Your Own Ones.

    The song had everything to do with family and separation and return. It still blows me away that music – especially the lyrics – can have such a powerful effect on the unconscious.

    Duh!

    I’ve still never been able to draw a distinct and clear line back to those days and that place – it’s a crooked path – but somewhere within me there is a place and time of absolute beauty and contentedness and solitude that transcends mere nostalgia. It’s odd that this happiness is inextricably linked with a sort of melancholy and longing. I think that, for me, is the universal appeal of someone like Van Morrsion. His music that is. And it’s not just personal. There is a childishness there, that works on a mystic plane. Lost innocence I suppose.

    Sorry, I’m babbling and making very little sense.

    But, then what else is new? And maybe there is no making sense of it. Maybe there only ever is the poetic.

    Again, all the best.

    Like

Comments are closed.