ON THE BIG SCREEN…Burning Down The House

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Text © M.A. Cassata

Image from the internet

  This 90-minute tribute to CBGBs and its founder Hilly Kristal may be a little rough around the edges, but then again wasn’t the famed club sorta the same way—  rough and messy, but oh so worth it in its heyday.  So, how did a club called “Country Bluegrass Blues” transform in to what Joey Ramone had once termed as “the womb of creativity” for generations of punks, new wavers, and rock-and-rollers?

   Directed by Mandy Stein, (Too Tough To Die), the film follows the rise and fall of the legendary and infamous rock club that made its home in the Bowery — (yes, the same seedy, yet colorful neighborhood, on New York’s Lower East Side). “The film not only bears witness to one of the most public battles for a landmark ever launched in NY, but also brings the viewer in the world of CB’s,” Stein says. “The crowd, the stench and the sound that launched the careers of some of the most respected acts in rock history.”

    No doubt Stein knows what she’s talking about. She is the daughter of legendary Sire Records founder Seymour Stein, who hand-picked many of the bands straight from CBGB’s stage onto his record label. “Making this film was an emotional journey,” the director   concludes. “I spent my youth at sound checks with my parents, who managed many of the bands who played the venue.”

   From its very first show in 1973 until the establishment closed down over a rent dispute in 2006, Burning Down the House offers an insider’s peek behind the curtain of one of the most legendary rock clubs in American history. Patti Smith performed the club’s final and most memorable concert.

  Burning Down The House   combines iconic performances and archival footage and photographs with new interviews that tell the story of the tiny music club located at 315 Bowery at Bleeker Street became a forum for American punk and punk-influenced bands including The Ramones, Television, Patti Smith Group, The Dead Boys, Richard Hell, Talking Heads, The Dictators and Blondie.


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