Dina Regine discovered her passion for rock music as a New York City teenager and began taking photographs at the concerts she attended. She fell into a singing career, first as a backup vocalist on a Jimmy Cliff album. This led to other background vocals gigs until she auditioned for Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run tour. The Boss told her she ought to front her own band. So she did. After three bands—the Dina Regine Band, Naked Grape, and Swamp Honey—Regine went solo. Songs from Regine’s second and most recent album, 2014’s Right On, Alright, were featured in movies and television soundtracks, and Steven Van Zandt’s Underground Garage radio show named “Gotta Tell You” as the Coolest Song in the World. Regine followed with a series of singles, videos, and collaborations, and performs these songs both solo and with other musicians in local clubs. Meanwhile, her rock photography continues to appear in museums, album covers, books (including the official Led Zeppelin book in 2018), and she DJs on weekends.
Regine opened for Steve Conte & the Crazy Truth at Lola, a music club where she was a regular weekend DJ when the venue was known as Coney Island Baby. Throughout her set, Regine showcased original, easy-flowing, melodic songs with honest, homespun inflections of blues, folk, and rhythm and blues marinated in deep-rooted rock ‘n’ roll. Straddling between sweet and melancholy, her introspective lyrics were thought-provoking and heartrending. Above all, her gentle delivery was all heart and soul. Regine played a standard guitar, a four-string tenor guitar, and harmonica, backed by guitarist Tony Scherr, bassist Mark Plati, and drummer G Wiz. The sparkling touch of Charlie Giordano’s accordion on most songs and Michelle Casillas and James Maddock’s dual backing vocals at the end of the set added extra polish to an inherently robust production. Regine is a class act. She does not perform regularly on the club circuit, so her few engagements must be sought and treasured.
Jesse Malin/Webster Hall/September 14, 2019
As an adolescent, New York City native Jesse Malin gravitated to the hardcore punk rock scene at CBGB’s, hanging with the musicians even though he was only 12 years old. From 1980 to 1984, Malin sang in Heart Attack, a hardcore band in which the musicians were 12 to 16 years old. Malin later worked as a gas station attendant, a health food store clerk, and a “man with a van,” returning to the stage with the glam-punk band D Generation from 1991 until 1999. He ultimately launched a solo career in 2001. His released his eighth and most recent studio album, Sunset Kids, produced by Lucinda Williams, on August 30, 2019.
Jesse Malin plays his hometown often. At Webster Hall, perhaps the largest local venue he has headlined so far, he was backed by his regular band (guitarist Derek Cruz, keyboardist Rob Clores, bassist Catherine Popper, and drummer Randy Schrager). As this was a record release party, the set featured seven of the 14 songs on the current album, along with a smattering of older originals and cover songs. Malin promised guests for this party, so selected songs featured guest spots by singer/songwriters Alejandro Escovedo, Joseph Arthur, Tommy Stinson, Liza Colby, and Kia Warren, as well as saxophonist Danny Ray and trumpet player Indofunk Satish. As usual, Malin introduced many songs with personal anecdotes about how life events invoked the lyrics, some of which were sentimental and others which were powered by an aggressive New York attitude. Malin sang well and the sharp musical arrangements contributed by the band gave additional depth and vitality to the story-songs. On many songs, Malin was carried away by his own manic energy. The performance was explosive, with Malin breaking his microphone stand several times, the first time tossing it into the photographers in the photo pit. The stage proved to be not big enough; Malin sang through the audience, winding up standing on the bar in the back of the venue. Count on Jesse Malin to perform every concert as if it was the last rock ‘n’ roll show on the planet.
Night Gallery/The Red Party at Mercury Lounge/September 14,2019
In 1986, Kitty Hawke heard a bass line in a dream and remembered it upon waking. This bass line formed the skeleton of what would become her first musical composition, “Funeral Parlor.” She continued playing bass and writing songs, forming the gothic rock band Night Gallery in New York City in 1991. Night Gallery played the local club circuit and recorded some of its music, but then ceased in 1995. Ten years later, Hawke was inspired to revive the brand with new musicians. Night Gallery released its one album, Inside Out, in 2013. In recent times, the band has consisted of Hawke, vocalist Mark Demon, guitarist Gerry Barnas, keyboardist Jennifer Bobbe, violinist Helen “Destroy” Buyniski, flautist Cheryl Pyle, and drummer Jimmy Dragon.
Hawke and her husband, Demon, are relocating to Florida. Hence, Night Gallery fittingly performed its final concert at the monthly gothic celebration called the Red Party at Mercury Lounge. Demon sang dark, melodic songs with a haunting voice, pausing midway into the songs for the violinist, the flautist, or keyboardist to grab the melody and run with it. This was the frequent point when the band shifted from gothic to a more psychedelic folk style until Demon’s ominous vocals reentered the songs. Other songs exuded a mysterious aura or Bowie-esque dramatic flair. As such, Night Gallery broke open the traditional confines of gothic music. Freshly dismantled, the innovative Night Gallery will be missed in local gothic circles.
Band of Skulls/Webster Hall/September 16, 2019
While attending college in Southampton, England, vocalist/guitarist Russell Marsden and bassist Emma Richardson played in a band called Fleeing New York, which performed in music clubs in the greater London area. The band became Band of Skulls in 2008 and released its debut album in 2009, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey. The track “I Know What I Am” appeared in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Another track that was not on the album, “Friends,” was included on The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack in 2009. Band of Skulls released its fifth and most recent album, Love Is All You Love, on April 12, 2019.
Although Band of Skulls promoted its most recent album with a Mercury Lounge concert only three months ago, the performance at Webster Hall utilized a different marketing tool. The band was celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of its debut album and promised to perform all 12 tracks. With the help of drummer Julian Dorio of the Whigs and Eagles of Death Metal, Band of Skulls played not only the entire album, but also performed “Hollywood Bowl,” a song found only on the British pressing. Marsden sang raw and gritty blues-rock songs that often hinged on his muscular guitar riffs. The trio also demonstrated its softer side on the song “Honest,” with Marsden and Richardson switching to acoustic guitars and singing harmonies into a common microphone. After performing the first album, Band of Skulls concluded with several pop-flavored songs from later albums. As a finale, the band started playing “Carnivorous,” then put down their instruments to dance in the audience to the pre-recorded rhythms of the song. Band of Skulls mix of bluesy garage-rock with soulful pop will appeal to fans of many rock genres.