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Author: Subject: Ode to Wetlands...where have all the great clubs gone?

Peach Master





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  posted on 7/31/2008 at 09:01 PM
I was waxing nostalgic the other day about one of the live venues we sorely miss in NYC when I came across this gem from Jambands.com reviewing, a Yosi Piamenta show from Wetlands back in 1998.

While I often post about Yosi Piamenta, this is less about him and his playing, (which is fantastic by the way ) and more about a great vibe we once had here in NYC. On any given night something great was going on at the club. Wetlands is sorely missed by those of us who experienced it.

Only in NY..........

Wetlands, NYC--Yosi Piamenta--12/16/98
By AJ Abrams

I walked into Wetlands, took a quick walk around the club and immediately noticed something was different. The club was packed, yet I was all alone in my own club. Where were the familiar faces of Wetlands regulars? There wasn't a tie dye shirt in sight. Instead, the tie dyes were replaced with hundreds of yarmulkes on the heads of every guy in this place. The sight was surreal. Wetlands, the biggest Deadhead/Jam band club on the east coast had been taken over by Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish college and yeshiva students. Instead of looking like a rock club, the place looked like a bar mitzvah. Even though I am Jewish, I felt like an outsider. Wetlands is my home turf, yet I was outnumbered by these Yeshiva kids.

But we were there for the same reason. To see Yosi Piamenta rip it up on electric guitar. And rip it up he did. Piamenta is the best undiscovered guitarist on the jam band scene. At this Wetlands gig, Yosi played in a power trio format with a bassist and drummer. But Yosi always has different guest musicians join him, so you never know what kind of band he will be playing with. Yosi shreds on guitar and he never disappoints.

He is one of the most electrifying, energetic and awe inspiring guitarists you will ever see. His playing is focused, but also filled with reckless abandon at the same time. He can play slow, soulful and emotional solos yet he also attacks his guitar with fiery, fierce rock and roll abandon. Two of his nicknames sum up how he can be fiery yet soulful at the same time - Hasidic Hendrix and Gefilte Garcia. He resembles Jerry Garcia both musically and in personality. He is a rather large man with a big bushy beard and glasses.

When he talks he is an amicable man, with a huge smile and kind vibes that rub off on you. He emits an aura of energy that lifts up the spirits of any room, just like Garcia did. In between songs, he is all smiles while talking to the audience. But while he is playing,he has an extremely focused look on his face as he attacks his guitar with precision.

Yosi worked the crowd of yeshiva students into in an immediate frenzy with his opening tune. The yeshiva students were getting rid of all the stress bottled up inside them. It's difficult work studying the torah and Jewish laws and customs and now it was time for them to let loose in a real rock club. The concert was only ten minutes old, yet a mosh pit had already erupted in front of the stage. The most pit was all fun and games until a yarmulke flew off a head onto the floor. When that happened, the mosh pit came to stop, so the yarmulke could be safely picked up and given a gentle kiss. But as soon as the guy who lost it put it back on his head, the moshing resumed. The guy got so excited that Yosi had to tell them to calm down. "I appreciate very much you enjoying the music. There is no problem with moving and dancing, just don't hurt anybody, don't hit anybody please." But, unfortunately, Yosi's request was ignored. The moshing continued all night as the guys terrified girlfriends looked on from the edge of the club. The only thing that could stop the moshing was a fallen yarmulke. There was even an occasional stage diver flying off the stage and into the crowd's waiting hands.

Halfway through the first set, I was finally joined by some familiar Wetlands faces. I told many friends to come experience the mind blowing guitar playing of Yosi Piamenta,and they finally showed up. A small group of Wetlands regulars had arrived and started dancing right alongside all the religious kids. The first set was filled with mostly straight forward hard rock songs. Most were sung in Hebrew, but a few were in English and there were also a few instrumentals played. When he sings in Hebrew, it doesn't matter that you don't know the words because the music flat out rocks. You'll hum along to Yosi's singing and play air guitar. He may be singing in a different language but the melodies and music are catchy and memorable. One of his best Hebrew songs Yosi said was 500 hundred years old "and still a classic." This song contained a jam that easily could have been modern day Phish instead of being centuries old. As the first set came to a close Yosi reminded everyone that "the second set has no songs from the first set."

It was the second set where this show really took off and Yosi showed off his rock and roll side more than his Jewish side. Most of the songs in the second set were his incredible instrumental compositions. The instrumentals, some of which are named after his five children, were Piamenta's best and most unique songs. These instrumentals were well crafted, psychedelic progressive rock excursions like nothing you have ever heard. He used middle eastern guitar scales and chords combined with the playing styles of John McLaughlin, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia. He created a stew of fusion and progressive rock that would impress the most demanding listener of these types of music. His fingers flowed effortlessly, smoothly, and quickly across his guitar as he played intricate, complex musical passages.

To live up to his nickname, Yosi played Hendrix's Little Wing with Marty Bastoff (bassist of Toni Brown Band and Tiberius) on vocals. But the real cover tune treat came at the end of the show. Believe it or not Piamenta played a scorching version of Men at Work's classic 80s cheeze, "Land Down Under" sung in Hebrew. The crowd went nuts, singing along with every Hebrew word. Yosi played guitar behind his back, including a blistering solo. It 's been years since I've seen someone do this stunt and I enjoyed it immensely. The crowd stormed the stage, and jumped up and down,with their arms wrapped around their guitar hero. A few kids went to grab mics to sing along, but the sound engineer smartly cut off the mics before they could be heard. It was a friendly rock and roll riot to end the night, only few of these yeshiva students have ever been to a real rock and roll concert before.................



[Edited on 8/1/2008 by SAMMYSPOP]

 
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Peach Extraordinaire



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  posted on 7/31/2008 at 09:37 PM
Hey Steve - thanks so much for posting this.

I loved Wetlands and very much miss the place, VW bus and all.
Great great shows, terrific bands any night, playing ALL night, and a great vibe and attitude as well.

There is a documentary that was recently released about the club. I caught most of it on the Sundance Channel and it really brought back some fun memories for me.

Hey, I haven't gotten my copy of the new Yosi live CD yet, but i am very much lookin' forward to checkin' it out soon!

 

Peach Master



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  posted on 7/31/2008 at 09:49 PM
Rob-

Hey my friend how are you? Truth is I only caught a handful of shows at the club, but the vibe was great. Wonderfully eclectic music and characters. Haven't had a chance to see the movie, though it sounds great.

The club used to like Yosi cause he'd fill the place on crappy nights. "Monday? sure let's do a show Monday"- Made no difference to Yosi lol.

 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 8/1/2008 at 05:25 AM
quote:
Hey Steve - thanks so much for posting this.

I loved Wetlands and very much miss the place, VW bus and all.
Great great shows, terrific bands any night, playing ALL night, and a great vibe and attitude as well.

There is a documentary that was recently released about the club. I caught most of it on the Sundance Channel and it really brought back some fun memories for me.




I am actually in the Wetlands documentary! I was at the show where Bob Weir jammed with the Hanson brothers, front row center! My image appears twice although if you blink you miss me.

 

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  posted on 8/1/2008 at 06:00 AM
quote:
Rob-

Hey my friend how are you? Truth is I only caught a handful of shows at the club, but the vibe was great. Wonderfully eclectic music and characters. Haven't had a chance to see the movie, though it sounds great.

The club used to like Yosi cause he'd fill the place on crappy nights. "Monday? sure let's do a show Monday"- Made no difference to Yosi lol.


Hi Steve - that's one of the great things about Wetlands - they were willing to take chances and have a lot of different things going on. Offering different kinds of music and different trips each night. I think it really helped to introduce people to a lot of stuff that they probably wouldn't have heard other wise.

I am doing okay I guess. The last couple weeks have been a struggle, but overall I am doing a lot better than I was at this time last year

 

Peach Extraordinaire



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  posted on 8/1/2008 at 06:01 AM
quote:
quote:
Hey Steve - thanks so much for posting this.

I loved Wetlands and very much miss the place, VW bus and all.
Great great shows, terrific bands any night, playing ALL night, and a great vibe and attitude as well.

There is a documentary that was recently released about the club. I caught most of it on the Sundance Channel and it really brought back some fun memories for me.




I am actually in the Wetlands documentary! I was at the show where Bob Weir jammed with the Hanson brothers, front row center! My image appears twice although if you blink you miss me.


That's hilarious! Next time I see it, I'll have to look for you

Hanson and Bobby was always a little scary to me!

 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 8/1/2008 at 06:31 AM
Great place! I saw the Zen Tricksters play there a couple of times!
 

True Peach



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  posted on 8/1/2008 at 07:10 AM
Can you get a Mazel Tov cocktail at Wetlands?

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 8/1/2008 at 09:06 AM
Wetlands great place, Dead Center every Tuesday night. My friend played there many times. Hes in the movie several times...His Name is marty
Check out the movie its very good.

 

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  posted on 8/1/2008 at 09:46 AM
Loved to see Merle Saunders there - we called it the Sweatlands because boy did it get tropical there!
 

Peach Extraordinaire



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  posted on 8/1/2008 at 03:17 PM
Yea, that's one of the things I remember most too - it was hotter than hell in there!
 

Peach Master



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  posted on 8/1/2008 at 03:45 PM
Saw a lot of great bands there. Local heros Solar Circus/Juggling Suns, Merl Saunders,
New Riders, Babatunde. Saw Warren there several times, including the record release
party for Tales of Ordinary Madness. The club was not really laid out for music, the room
where the band played was small and wider than it was deep. There was part of a VW
bus in the front that they sold tshirts and stickers from. Downstairs was a nice room
to crash where they piped in the music from upstairs. The neighborhood was not
that great but there was a nice tai resturant down the street. I remember we had
dinner there before one of the shows and looked over and Warren and the band
were there eating at another table.

I found some fliers the other day from '93 that listed all the bands that were playing
that month. It was quite a list.

[Edited on 8/1/2008 by jersey_devil]

 
 


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