Squat Theatre Nightclub - Concert Chronology 1979-1981
Year/ Event/ Date/ Notes
Sunnyland Slim with Big Time Sarah, Johnny Copeland Band, Ola Mae Dixon 13-Jul-79 / Squat opens its "rock, blues, jazz theatre." The club is managed and booked by Janos Gat and staffed by members of the Squat Theatre.
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Sunnyland Slim with Big Time Sarah, Johnny Copeland Band, Ola Mae Dixon 14-Jul-79 / In the beginning, we advertised two sets for our shows, starting at 9 & 11pm. By August we had shifted most of the set times to 11pm and 1am.
Sunnyland Slim with Big Time Sarah, Johnny Copeland Band, Ola Mae Dixon 15-Jul-79
Oliver Lake Quartet, featuring Michael Gregory Jackson, with Billy Hart 18-Jul-79
Oliver Lake Quartet, featuring Michael Gregory Jackson, with Billy Hart 19-Jul-79
J.B. Hutto & his New Hawks; Left Hand Frank Band 20-Jul-79 First appearance at Squat by Chicago blues guitarist Left Hand Frank Craig, who would become a regular guest. Frank's band at this time included Ted Harvey, from Hound Dog Taylor's Houserockers. Frank would become a willing participant in our first jazz-blues fusion experiments near the end of 1979.
J.B. Hutto & his New Hawks; Big Walter Horton with Sugar Ray and the Blue Tones; Left Hand Frank Band 21-Jul-79 Chicago slide guitarist J.B. Hutto became another Squat stalwart. He had a tight road band (featuring Silvertone Steve on backup guitar) that could definitely rock the house.
Flyer of the program > <(click on the image)
J.B. Hutto & his New Hawks; Big Walter Horton with Sugar Ray and the Blue Tones; Left Hand Frank Band 22-Jul-79
Ujamaah 21st Century Collective (Abdullah Ibrahim Orchestra) 25-29 Jul-79 South African exile Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) was also our neighbor, and used to practice on Squat's piano.
Leroy Jenkins Mixed Quintet with James Newton, J.D. Parran, Marty Ehrlich, John Clark 3-Aug-79
Charlie Rouse & Cinnamon Flower, featuring Dom Salvador and Claudio Roditi 5-Aug-79
J.B. Hutto and his New Hawks 8-Aug-79
Lounge Lizards 10-Aug-79 First appearance by the Lounge Lizards at Squat. They would become regulars, headlining 11 times.
Peter Gordon Love of Life Orchestra 11-Aug-79
Guanabara 12-Aug-79 We begin to sell advance tickets, initially at Record City, (B'way & Waverly St.). Tickets for weekday and Sunday shows are priced at $5, Friday and Saturday shows are $6.
Sun Ra Arkestra; Dorothy Donegan & Sun Ra duet 14-Aug-79 First landing of the Arkestra at Squat. Sun Ra would go on to become our most frequent guest, appearing 47 times during the life of the club. The fit between the Arkestra and the Squat Theatre was a natural one, as both were in essence creative communes.
Sun Ra Arkestra; Dorothy Donegan & Sun Ra duet 15-Aug-79 Members of the Arkestra during this period included John Gilmore, Marshall Allen [on the photo], Elo Omoe, Danny Thompson [on the photo], Michael Ray, June Tyson [on the photo], Pat Patrick, Hayes Burnett, and James Jackson, Jr.
Sun Ra Arkestra; Dorothy Donegan & Sun Ra duet 16-19 Aug-79 Dorothy Donegan (1922-1998) was not widely known, but was regarded by other musicians as one of the great Chicago jazz pianists.
Marty Watt 22-Aug-79
Hooks; Boyfriends 23-Aug-79
Sun Ra Arkestra 24-Aug-79 "Back by popular demand." We originally had booked Nana Vasconcelos for this weekend but he was rescheduled.
James Chance and the all new Contortions 25-Aug-79 First appearance by James (Siegfried) Chance at Squat. Sets are beginning to start later; this show was scheduled for 11pm and 1am. This lineup of the Contortions included Patrick Geoffries, Bradley Field, Kristian Hoffman and Steven Kramer. James appeared at Squat over 21 times.
Material; The Futants (Martin Fischer and Stuart Arbright) 26-Aug-79 First appearance by Martin Fischer at Squat.
Blue Humans with Rudolph Gray and Beaver Harris; Ramsey Ameen 30-Aug-79 Ramsey Ameen was violinist with the Cecil Taylor Unit at this time.
DNA; the Db's with Chris Stamey 31-Aug-79 First appearance by Arto Lindsay and DNA at Squat. DNA would headline 10 times over the next two years.
DNA; the Db's with Chris Stamey 1-Sep-79
Sun Ra Arkestra 6-Sep-79
Jah Malla with Max Romeo 7-8 Sep-79 Jah Malla was one of the main local reggae groups, and backed up many Jamaican stars when they played in NYC.
U.S. Ape; Rattlers 9-Sep-79
Joseph Bowie with the St. Louis Ensemble, featured guest Lester Bowie 13-Sep-79 First appearance by Joe Bowie and Luther Thomas at Squat. This show was also a rare joint appearance by all three Bowie brothers: Joe, Lester, and Byron. This was still the old St. Louis Ensemble lineup featuring mostly mid-western jazz musicians: Luther Thomas on alto sax, Amina Claudine Myers on keyboards, Philip Wilson on drums, Kelvyn Bell on guitar, Olu Dara & Ted Daniel on trumpet, as well as guests Tom Smith and Hassan Jenkins. Charles "Bobo" Shaw was also part of this crew, although I don't believe he performed with the group this night. Left Hand Frank joined the group both nights as a special guest. Joe and Luther would soon jettison this lineup, keeping only Kelvyn Bell, and bring in a group of very young New York-based players to form the nucleus of what would become Defunkt.
Joseph Bowie with the St. Louis Ensemble, featured guest Lester Bowie 14-Sep-79
Left Hand Frank Blues Band; Marie Buggs, guest vocalist 15-16 Sep-79 Marie Buggs was a vocalist from Jacksonville, Florida, who had once toured with Josephine Baker in Paris. Janos brought her out of retirement to perform at Squat.
Sun Ra Cosmo Jet Set Arkestra 21-23 Sep-79
"24 Hours of Rock & Jazz" 28-Sep-79 Our first marathon festival. Scheduled from 8pm to 6am on Friday & Saturday. Invited performers included Saheb Sarbib, Joe Bowie and the St. Louis Ensemble, Peter Muni and Basic Maintenance, Barry Harris, the Futants, the Raybeats, Joe Bidewell, and many others. Joe Bidewell lived next door at the Chelsea Hotel; whenever we couldn't find an act to go on, we would run and get him and he would jump on stage and fill in the time with a solo set at the piano.
"24 Hours of Rock & Jazz" 29-Sep-79
Khaliq al-Rouf & Salaam 3-Oct-79
Frank Wright Sextet 4-Oct-79 The reverend Frank Wright was one of several American expatriate free jazz musicians Janos knew from Paris who we were able to bring to the club. Wright had played on Albert Ayler's "Holy Ghost" session in 1966.
Nico; Joe Bidewell Group 5-Oct-79 First appearance by Nico at Squat.
"A New Rock Opera," performed by the Futants & the St. Louis Ensemble 6-Oct-79 First concrete example of so-called punk-funk fusion taking place at club. Martin Fischer would eventually join Joe Bowie's Defunkt and appear on their first album.
The Addictions 7-Oct-79
Delmar "Mighty Mouth" Evans & the Blues Busters, with Wild Bill Thompson 11-Oct-79 Delmar Evans used to perform with Johny Otis in the Bay Area and was a really nice guy with a great band. Unfortunately this show was memorable for attracting only one paying customer.
Saheb Sarbib Unit, featuring Booker T., Denis Charles, Mark Whitecage, and Monty Waters 12-Oct-79 Saheb Sarbib was a European free jazz bassist and bandleader.
2000 Statues with John Zorn and Bob Ostertag 14-Oct-79
Fred Frith & Chris Cutler 15- 16 Oct-79 Guitarist Fred Frith performing with improvising percussionist Chris Cutler. At Squat, Frith would show his more experimental side, improvising with treated guitar and other sound effects. He could also play mean straight-ahead electric, but generally only when sitting in with Bill Laswell's Material.
John Cale (solo concert) 19-20 Oct-79
Luther Allison 22-Oct-79 A rare NY appearance by legendary blues guitarist Luther Allison. This show received a rave review in the Village Voice the following week.
Luther Allison 23-Oct-79
"Ultrasonic Superfunky Dancing Disco Party with your host James White" 25-Oct-79 Punk-funk fusion begins to germinate. This is the first time that James bills himself as "James White" at our club. Our ad notes: "Celebrity panel of judges: Debbie Harry, Richard Hell & August Darnell."
Invaders; Marbles 26-Oct-79 We move the location for advanced ticket sales to our friends at the Soho Music Gallery, 26 Wooster St.
Sun Ra and his Jazz Discography Cosmo Jet-Set Angel Ensemble 27-Oct-79
L. Shankar 28-Oct-79 LakshmiNarayana Shankar was the violinist of John McLaughlin and Shakti. This appearance featured Fernando Saunders on electric bass.
Halloween night with Nico & best friends 31-Oct-79 Nico would become a semi-permanent house guest, living at the Theatre, mostly in Klara and Peter Berg's living quarters on the top floor. Ari, her son joined her occasionally when he visited her from Paris. This would change our lives in a number of interesting ways. Nico agreed to sing and record a haunting rendition of "New York, New York" for our new play "Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free.
"Blues '79" with Eddie Kirkland, Left Hand Frank Craig 1-Nov-79
"Blues '79" with J.B. Hutto, Eddie Kirkland 2-3 Nov-79
Left Hand Frank Blues Jam, "with the Greats of today's jazz" 4-Nov-79 This was a really important show for us--the kind of event that made Squat unique among NY clubs. The idea was to mix NYC's best improvising musicians with an old-school Chicago blues band. If memory serves, for the first session we used Left Hand Frank's Chicago backup band as the rhythm section. We repeated this concept again the next weekend using a New York rhythm section (Melvin Gibbs on bass, Martin Aubert on guitar, Steve McCall from Air on drums). We did it again in December, this time using the newly-formed Defunkt rhythm section. My notes for the guest soloists from this first show include Joe Bowie, Lester Bowie, Henry Threadgill and Hayes Burnett.
Dead Boys (alcohol-free afternoon matinee) 4-Nov-79 "Special show for teenagers"
Etron Fou Leloublan; Fred Frith and Bob Ostertag 9-Nov-79 Etron Fou were a phenomenal French band, featuring Guigou "Samba Scout" Chenevier on percussion. Bob Ostertag was an improvising musician who used an old-school synthesizer that looked like a mad scientist's experiment. This show introduced Fred Frith and other musicians associated with the "Rock In Opposition" movement to Squat. These musicians (including Frith, Chris Cutler, and others) had previously in a festival at Giorgio Gomelski's Zu space around the corner. They would appear at Squat several more times.
Left Hand Frank All-Star Blues Jam, with Henry Threadgill, Steve McCall, Joe Bowie, and surprise guests 10-Nov-79 Second session of our jazz-blues fusion experiment. "New York's Own Blues band." The lineup included Joe Bowie (trombone, vocals), Henry Threadgill (tenor sax), Hammiett Bluiett (baritone sax), Melvin Gibbs (electric bass), Martin Aubert (electric guitar), Ted Daniel (trumpet), and Steve McCall (drums). This was the cream of the crop of NY's great improvising musicians. It was fascinating to see who of these greats was going to give up the blues the best. This night it was Henry Threadgill. Robert Christgau was at this show and Threadgill blew his mind. Christgau still talks about it to this day.
Left Hand Frank All-Star Blues Jam, with Henry Threadgill, Steve McCall, Joe Bowie, and surprise guests 11-Nov-79 This series was a great artistic success, but we were barely breaking even at the door. Getting so many great musicians on stage at the same time was not cheap.
Night of reggae dancing with the Sylvesters 10-Nov-79 The idea was to host an after-hours reggae dance party beginning at 1 am. There was a huge pent-up demand for live (and recorded) reggae in Manhattan at this time, but few reliable bands. We tried our best to tap into it, but had a lot of problems with local musicians failing to show up, and with UK & JA musicians unable to get visas.
Fall Mountain 15-Nov-79 Bob Ostertag again.
"Funky Futuristic Astrodash with guest DJ Mr. James White" (a.k.a James Chances 16-Nov-79 "Come as you will: $5; with costume: $3"
Raybeats; Joe Bidewell Group 17-Nov-79 The Raybeats featured George Scott on bass.
Night of reggae dancing with the Black Eagles 17-Nov-79 Another disastrous attempt at an after-hours reggae party. We had a big crowd, but the headliners failed to show. We had to run around at 2 in the morning trying to find a reggae group willing to perform on half-an-hours notice. We actually found one, too.
Henry Threadgill Sextet 22-23 Nov-79 Henry's band featured Joe Bowie on trombone, Fred Hopkins on acoustic bass, Olu Dara on trumpet, Abdul Wadud on cello, and John Betsch on drums.
Henry Threadgill Sextet 23-Nov-79
An evening of solo concerts featuring: Jaki Byard, piano; John Lurie, saxophone; Joe Bowie, trombone 24-Nov-79
"Funk Night: after midnight concert dancing with the St. Louis Ensemble" 24-Nov-79 A landmark concert in Squat history: the birth of Defunkt. This was the first appearance of Joe Bowie's new electric band. The group hadn't been named yet, so we were still using the old band name of St. Louis Ensemble. The original core lineup was: Joe Bowie on trombone and vocals, Martin Aubert and Kelvyn Bell on electric guitars, Melvin Gibbs on electric bass, and Ronnie Burrage on drums. Some of the material that the group was performing was funked-up blues from the St. Louis Ensemble repertoire, but Joe and Squat club manager Janos Gat had also begun writing new songs together. This material would appear on the first Defunkt album.
Iris Lord with the divine monochord orchestra 25-Nov-79 An afternoon matinee by close friends. Iris' band included Mik Ortiz, Melvin Gibbs, Robert Karlowich, Kim Plainfield, and Ornette's guitarist Bern Nix.
Assum, featuring Nana Vasconcelos & Colin Walcott 27-28 Nov-79 This was the rescheduled appearance by Nana Vasconcelos. It turned into a great night featuring musicians associated with Manfred Eicher's ECM label, including Colin Walcott from Oregon. The group also included Ayib Dieng on percussion.
U.K. Subs (cancelled) 29-Nov-79
"A night of concert dancing with Joe Bowie and the Defunked, with special guest star Mr. James White" 29-Nov-79 First appearance by Defunkt under the new name. Defunkt was named by journalist Alan Platt. It took a while for the name to stabilize. As seen here, we actually printed it as "Defunked" for the first few shows. Defunkt headlined Squat 27 times during the life of the club.
National Health; Bob Ostertag & Fall Mountain 30-Nov-79 There was a quiet but large prog underground in NY, and they all turned out for this rare US appearance by the legendary Canterbury band National Health. The band was cooking on all cylinders and did not disappoint their fans. This was a fun evening, the club was packed with prog fanatics from Long island and Queens. Some of them were "electric" (tripping on acid or mushrooms), but they were all very nice and well behaved. This show has been bootlegged and portions are also included on the National Health album Missing Pieces.
Linton Kwesi Johnson (cancelled) 1-Dec-79 Sadly, the dub poet's appearance was cancelled because he was unable to obtain a US visa. This difficulty might have been politically driven--LKJ was editor of the UK journal Race Today, and very active in protesting policies of the British government.
Lounge Lizards 1-Dec-79 The Lounge Lizards lineup at this time was John Lurie on sax, Evan Lurie on keyboards, Steve Piccolo on electric bass, Arto Lindsay on guitar, and Tony Fier on drums.
Sun Ra Arkestra 6-8 Dec-79 Our most reliable event. We could usually break even with a Sun Ra show and at least make sure that the electricity would stay on for another week (the heat was another story). The regular gigs at Squat were good for Ra as well, who had an entire commune to support. The exposure from the frequent gigs at Squat also helped open up other gigs for him at clubs such as Club 57/Irving Plaza.
"Rock 'N Blues '79," with Eddie Clearwater Band, J.B. Hutto and the New Hawks, Carey Bell 13-Dec-79 At this time there were very few venues that would book live blues in Manhattan, so the blues shows at Squat were important events for musicians and fans. The other consistent blues club was Tramps, at 125 E. 15th St.
"Rock 'N Blues '79," with J.B. Hutto and the New Hawks, Left Hand Frank 14-Dec-79
Carlos Santos 15-Dec-79 Early evening piano concert
Defunked, with surprise guest superstar 15-Dec-79 After-hours show.
The Left Hand Frank Blues Jam with the All Stars of Jazz 15-Dec-79 Third round of our jazz-blues fusion experiment. This show used Defunkt as a rhythm section (Melvin Gibbs, Martin Aubert, Kelvyn Bell, Ronnie Burrage) with a horn lineup of Joe Bowie, Lester Bowie, and Ted Daniel. Previous guests Henry Threadgill and Hammiett Blueitt are also listed in the ad, but my notes from this night do not show them as appearing.
The Left Hand Frank Blues Jam with the All Stars of Jazz 16-Dec-79 Frank was a game participant in our experiments, but he was having a hard time meshing with this rhythm section. Kelvyn had a highly unique Monkish harmonic sensibility that was just too progressive for Frank to adjust to. Frank remarked after this show: "The boy can play, but he ain't playin' the blues." We would next try a different tack with Frank, pairing him with a rock rhythm section drawn from the members of the Patti Smith Group and the Heartbreakers.
Defunkt; Luther Thomas Dance Band 20-Dec-79 We finally reach consensus on the correct spelling of "Defunkt." Saxophonist Luther Thomas--former BAG member and Joe's partner in the old St. Louis Ensemble--also formed a dance band. This version of the band was still semi-acoustic, and featured Frank Lowe on tenor sax and Wilbur Morris on acoustic bass, as well as Jody Harris and Danny Christianson from the Raybeats. Luther's band would eventually become an electric group called Dazz. (Note: Luther's Dazz is not to be confused with the hit R&B group of the same name. Luther came up with the name first and I believe they later had to pay him for copyright infringement.)
DNA; Nana Vasconcelos 21-Dec-79
Sun Ra Arkestra 22-Dec-79
The The; Leisure Units 23-Dec-79
"The Little Devils Club Presents a Week of Dance Party: After Hours Dance For Lost Souls" 24-27 Dec-79 James and Anya Phillips programmed this week to culminate with the premiere of James' new band on December 28th.
see Anya Phillips' guest list for this night > Little Devils Club Presents a Week of Dance Party: After Hours Dance For Lost Souls" 24-27 Dec-79 James and Anya Phillips programmed this week to culminate with the premiere of James' new band on December 28th.
James White and the Flaming Demonics in Hell 28-29 Dec-79 James previews his new band, which is essentially Defunkt with James as frontman. The only holdover from the old Contortions is Patrick Geoffries on guitar. The Defunkt lineup was augmented by Vernon Reid on guitar and John Purcell on saxophone. There would remain significant overlap between the membership of Defunkt and the Flaming Demonics/James White and the Blacks for the next few months, although eventually James established his own distinct rhythm section so that he could tour. see photo >[x]>
New Year's Eve with the Lounge Lizards 31-Dec-79 Our first New Year's show. We distributed free champagne on the dance floor.