Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

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



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