The Smithereens (with guest lead vocalist Marshall Crenshaw)

Last night I got to see some live music. That’s not a shocking statement for me. I love live music. A friend and I went to see the Smithereens play at musikfest café in Bethlehem. It’s a small venue seating about 350 people.

The Smithereens made a name for them selves locally mostly in the late 80s and early 90s. They had several top 50 hits and a few videos on VH1 and MTV. They never made it really big but over the years they’ve  continued to record on and off.

Founding member, lead vocalist and principal songwriter Pat DiNizio unfortunately passed away in 2017 after a series of injuries and other  health problems. That was seemingly the end of the band however they are embarking on a tour this year and recruited veteran singer Marshall Crenshaw,who had done some work with the band in its early days, to take over as lead vocalist. After watching their two hour plus show last night I can say that they made the right choice.

The band sounded great, they were tight and the vocals were terrific. The show felt like  part tribute to their lost brother and part pure celebration of the music. They spoke lovingly at times of Pat and how some of the songs were created. They still played with the passion and joy that often seems to elude musicians who’ve been playing much of the same music for 30+ years. These guys were childhood friends and it still shows.

They of course played their hits, including “Only a Memory”, and closed the show with “A Girl Like You” their biggest hit but the stand out for me was “Blood and Roses” They also threw in a couple covers including the Beatles and Interlude in the middle of one long guitar solo where the  Who popped in.

By now, people my age are used to seeing their rock ‘n’ roll heroes perform and tour well into their 60s and 70s. Jagger and Springsteen and Townsend though, are playing in front of 50,000+ fans and are getting PAID.

These guys are playing in front of 350 really appreciative fans. They’re not getting rich and they’re not going to be famous* but they’re doing it for the love of the music. They are soldiering on without a key founding member and that’s pretty cool

  • They HAVE been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame!

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