A survivor of Hoboken's past looks to the future
Nominated for Hoboken Music Award
by Jim Testa
The second annual Hoboken Music Awards will take place this
Saturday, November 20 at Northern Soul. And while the list
of both nominees and performers at the show includes some
very distinguished names, none epitomizes the Mile Square
City's music scene quite like Karyn Kuhl.
Despite Hoboken's reputation as a city of transients –
a place where young professionals get their first apartment
after college – the city's music scene has been defined
by its permanence: Names like Jim Mastro (owner of the Guitar
Bar and former member of the Bongos,) Gene "The Singing
Plumber" Turonis, Upstart Studios owner and musician
Chris Gibson, folksinger Tom Vincent, and others have been
here since the early Eighties, when an industrial ghost town
filled with rotting docks and abandoned factories first began
to experience a rebirth as a haven for musicians and artists.
Karyn Kuhl remembers that Hoboken. As a teenager, she and
her lifelong friend Alice Genese became part of the first-wave
of Hoboken indie rock in Gutbank, who recorded for then-Maxwell's
owner Steve Fallon's Coyote Records. In the Nineties, Karyn
and Alice formed the popular blues/metal band Sexpod, and
experienced the alternative rock revolution that saw bands
like Nirvana and Green Day bring underground music to the
mainstream. And for the last decade, Karyn Kuhl has performed
as a solo artist and with her own band, forging a new sound
based on reinterpreting the blues and classic rock.
"The thing that keeps me here is my rent controlled apartment,"
Karyn joked, as she talked about her Mile Square memories.
"Even though Hoboken has changed drastically, there is
still an inexplicable magic that won't die. It must have something
to do with the spirit of Frank Sinatra. Somehow the music/art
community continues to re-invent itself. New people have come
along and kept a scene going."
"We've been lucky to have Maxwell's in town and now we
have people like Dave Entwistle, Lea Simone, and Jen Lampert,
who are always thinking up new ways to get people together
to play," Kuhl continued. "It may not be the 'Liverpool
of the 80's' anymore, but there is a warm, supportive vibe
right now. I'm really happy to be a part of it."
Kuhl's whole life revolves about music. When she is not performing
or writing, she passes on her love and respect for music as
a teacher. "I teach music to very young kids, babies
to 4 and 5 year olds," she said. "I make it a point
to indoctrinate their young minds with the Beatles, Elvis,
Queen, Joan Jett, Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Jackson 5, Siouxsie,
Pretenders... and the list goes on. They will be exposed to
a lot of bad music in their lives but hopefully I'm planting
the seed of ROCK in them! Big thanks to Sally Robertson who
owns Creative Groove Studio."
The challenge in implanting a love of music in youngsters,
she said, often means getting her students to look past the
instant celebrity and often smutty sensationalism of today's
instant pop stars and find inspiration in the classics.
"If you are really meant to be a musician, you will find
great music andart to inspire you. It's out there. It always
has been and always will be despite the cheap imitations,"
Kuhl said. "As the world gets more and more detached
with technology, the beauty of just picking up a guitar and
singing a song with simplicity and soul becomes even more
appealing. It all goes back to the blues. Rock 'n' roll has
always been about sex. It's just way more effective when there
is some soul or brains mixed in."
On Saturday at the Hoboken Music Awards, Kuhl will be performing
along with local favorites Dave Calamoneri & The Trainwreck,
The Fave, Hudson Crossing, Hey Tiger, and Bern & The Brights.
Kuhl is also nominated for "Outstanding Female Solo Performer."
"I'm happy to be a part of it," she said. As far
as her career these days, she performs both as a solo artist
and with her Karyn Kuhl Band at area clubs frequently, and
working on a new solo album. "I'm also writing and recording
with a new band called Crucified By Planets with Alice Genese,
Lou Ciarlo and Mike Sabatini," she noted. "We will
debut in Spring, 2011. And I'm shooting a video for a hip
hop song I sang on with Arty McFly. The album is called InHalium
and the song is called 'Slip Away.'"
The Hoboken Music Awards will take place at Northern Soul
(557 First Street, Hoboken) on Saturday, November 20, beginning
at 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.hobokenmusicawards.com.
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