Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Robert Quine Tribute / CBGB's 313 Gallery / Dec. 4, 2004

Robert Quine might not be one of the most famous figures to emerge from the original NYC punk scene, but chances are, everybody reading this owns at least one record he played on. The legendary guitarist was a member of the Voidoids, bootlegged the Velvet Underground, and collaborated with Lester Bangs, Lou Reed, Lydia Lunch, Tom Waits, Matthew Sweet, Brian Eno, among countless others. Quine committed suicide in May, and a bunch of his friends and admirers gathered at CBGB’s Gallery to remember him.

I went to the tribute to support Jason, who became friends with Quine after conducting an interview with him in 1997. Jason told the story of when he first met Quine, how he asked Jason what his birthday was, and immediately told Jason what the number one song was on the day he was born. Apparently, this man had an encyclopedic knowledge of music history that we can all aspire to accruing one day. He also was a bit of a curmudgeon until you got to know him, and then he was a loyal friend who loved to make mixtapes to educate people about his favorite artists.

A parade of NYC punk luminaries, including photographer Roberta Bayley, journalist John Piccarella (accompanied by his thirteen-year-old son in a Pavement t-shirt, on guitar!), producer Hal Wilner and Voidoid Ivan Julian talked about their relationships with Quine. Thurston Moore played a John Fahey-like solo acoustic piece, Yo La Tengo played a bluesy, droning song, and Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell, as well as Jody Harris and David Hofstra, played duets. I had to leave in the middle, but James Chance, Richard Hell, Legs McNeil, Gillian McCain, John Holmstrom and many others were supposed to talk.

Is it appropriate to say that you had fun at one of these things? Because I sure did. I learned so much about Robert Quine, I felt like I had bathed in his spiritual essence. I got to see some big-time musicians at their most raw and vulnerable.

When I die, can somebody organize one of these things for me?