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Kenny's Castaways

Tonight’s the last night that the legendary club, Kenny’s Castaways on Bleecker St. in Greenwich Village is going to be open. The club has featured free live music nightly since 1967. Some of the bands that have graced Kenny’s stage in the back room include Blondie, The New York Dolls, Aerosmith, The Allman Brothers Band, Doc Pomus, Johnny Winter and of course, Willie Nile.

I had been planning on stopping by and getting some pictures before it closed, but hadn’t gotten around to it. A couple weeks ago I was having some drinks with my friends Goggla and Ed and they told me that they had stopped in Kenny’s and asked the bartender when it was closing. He told them that Monday, October 1st would be the last night, but then he leaned in and told them that Tuesday, November 25th was a night that they should definitely try and attend.

When they told me this, one word popped in to my fermented brain: “BROOOOCE.”
Kenny’s Castaways was the first venue that Bruce Springsteen played with The E Street Band. Goggla, Ed and I discussed how it must hold a ton of memories for The Boss and the next day I got an email from Goggla saying that she looked at his touring schedule and he wasn’t playing a show that night.

We were certain he’d be showing up at Kenny's and so we met there to witness this historic event. And you’re welcome to come along too! Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for Tuesday, September 25th!

Thank you Sherman and Mr. Peabody, here we are at Kenny's Castaways last Tuesday, September 25th.

Live music, seven nights a week, always hate to see a live music venue close. Oh well, let's go in and pay our last respects to the joint.

Here's the bar, with some regulars propped up at it.

A brightly lit chandelier illuminates the front room, hanging from the black tin ceiling overhead.

Here's the original sign for Kenny's that hangs in the middle of the bar.

Small wooden tables and wire chairs line the wall opposite the bar.

Obligatory Kenny's Castaways mirror shot! And if you look to the right of the photo you can see Goggla and Ed, who thought they were safe from the TWM camera. You can run, but you can never hide!

You gotta love that old cash register.

The specials for the night are posted on this chalkboard behind the bar.

And here's where the magic happens, the back room where the bands play. I couldn't wait to see who showed up on this night and courtesy of the magic of the internet, you don't have to wait long.

First up was a band called Four Jacks and a Jill. The played a five and a half hour version of "Proud Mary." I know that sounds like a long time to stretch out that song...

And it really was. Thankfully there was plenty of booze to be had while enduring this marathon jam session.

And now, the surprise guests have started filing in. First up, the legendary Shaggs! A rare treat as always!

Next on the bill was the giant floating head of Bill Cosby. This was a little frightening. Oh and those claims of Bill that he doesn't work blue...

Is total bullshit! Go choke on a pudding pop, Bill, you're creeping us out over here.

Wow, look, it's Richard Nixon! Living up to his nickname of "Tricky Dick" he sang and tap-danced the song, "Me So Horny." I loved this long time!

The word in the crowd was that Bruce was about to come out, but instead they teased us by bring out this chair from Flooring From Bruce. What a gyp!

And of course when you've got an empty chair on stage, this guy is going to follow. Please, someone put another Dirty Harry movie into production and give Clint something to do, it wasn't funny the first time and now it's beyond pathetic.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for, Sonny and Chair. (Rimshot.)

And finally it happened. Bruce Springsteen comes onstage and the crowd goes wild. He did a ten minute medley of John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band songs and cited them as his greatest influence. A touching moment and I was happy to have witnessed this historic moment in time at Kenny's Castaways.

I read once that in the early days of Saturday Night Live, if they couldn't think of an ending from a sketch, they would drop down an inflatable elephant to end the skit. I don't know if that's really true, but look, it still works! Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.

P.S. Thanks to all of you for the nice wishes and words about my move back to Peoria, Illinois. It looks like I’ll be taking off on Thursday, October 18th. Look for two more Monday posts and then on the 18th I’m going to live blog my move back and that will be the final blog for TWM, so mark it on your calendars, if you so desire!

Further Reading: Lost City, New York Blues Legends and Brooklyn Vegan.

I’m just around the corner from the light of day.

Surprise link...click on it, I dare you!

References (6)

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Reader Comments (37)

lol!!! loved this! brilliant post! and thanks for the joan jett bruce video, never seen that one!

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D.

Just heard the news from Stupefaction about Kenny's Castaways closing. And yet another character of NYC is being cast away for another bank? condo? Starbucks? Duane Reade/CVS/Walgreen's? artisanal bar?

“This is precisely the kind of place that entices people to come to New York City in the first place.”, ain't no more, unless it's it involves cupcakes or fro-yos ...

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteresquared

Ha ha. That took an unexpected turn.
Thanks for the post lil' buddy. One has to be brave to do a three hour tour at a place with Castaways in the name.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

@Bobby D: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it and I love that Bruce/Joan video too!

@esquared: Thanks for the links! The bartender said he thinks it's going to become a restaurant. It'll probably put the anal back in artisanal.

@csp: And so now we know what the "s" stands for! Thanks for chiming in Skipper, we got out before the weather started getting rough!

October 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty


A gastro pub. NYC really needs more of these !

A depressing story - but this post made me smile for about 15 seconds !

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE



October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

All the legends leaving NYC..including you
bummer.. guess you need to find a few legends out here..
i've never been to kennys.. bigger bummer..
but the times they a changing baby...

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

I always LOVE your Obligatory Mirror shost!

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

"Be good or be gone" sign at the front door says it all. They showcased live music, for that alone they had a great place. Now gone, and next up another "Six flags over a bar" joint, be good or be gone.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

Of course, a gastropub. Maybe they'll put the gas in the patrons of the gastropub. And Clint will be a regular, since there's going to be a lot of empty chairs; it'll make his day.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteresquared

@GENE: Glad you got a smile out of this! Thanks for the linkage! A gastro pub, like you said, just what this city needs. Hate to see places like this close, but it does make leaving this city less painful.

@Gidget: I'm so grateful to have been able to go to so many places that are closed now. Times are changing, for sure!

@meleah: The next obligatory mirror shot will be dedicated to you!

@Al: "Be Good Or Be Gone" is my new motto for my move!

@esquared: "And Clint will be a regular, since there's going to be a lot of empty chairs; it'll make his day." Ha ha ha! Good one!

October 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

ABSOLUTE SLAMDUNK of a post Mahhhty!

Looks like your leavin' JUST in time......'da city seems to be meltin' before our very eyes.

First time I saw Brucie was in Bryn Mahr PA, 'bout two weeks out of 'Nam........opening for Odetta......waaaay before E St Band.......had a violin and oboe player......NO drums, bass or electric guitar......mostly just him hidin' under his old mans golfin' hat....started with NYCity Serenade and I was HOOKED......my buddies left for the strip club down the street........I stayed and watched my mind take a trip with this wonderfully weird rock'n'roll poet......Little Billy's Cicus Strory.......Meeting Down By The River.........REALLY thought I was seein' a new-urban kind of Dylan.....and I was RIGHT!

Got floor tickets to see him over in Ottawa, Ontario on Oct 19th.......can't FREAKIN' wait.....it will be their first indoor show of the winter tour.....that usually means LOTS of fuckups and missed cues = BEST band EVAH to watch screw things up because they pull it back together SOOOO well......plus he usually calls ALOT of "audibles" so you never know which of the 400 songs they got ready that you'll hear.......and THE BEST THING about them is they ALWAYS look like they are havin' a BLAST!

THANKS for startin' the countdown for me Marty.......another SCORE!!!

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrBOP

What a stretch Bleecker Street was in the 70's from 6th Avenue to La Guardia Place. You had Kenny's, of course, across the street was The Village Gate / Top Of The Gate / Bottom Of The Gate (where I got to see The Original SNL cast performing in a musical called "Let My People Come". Other notable venues on that block were Back Fence, The Bitter End, The Red Lion and some places whose names I can't remember. I'm happy I got to experience that era. Now they should rename it "Bleaker" Street. SIP AHOY

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterUncle Waltie

A little pre-Bloomberg New York nostalgia for you, now that you're planning your own Escape from New York, Marty... http://youtu.be/UQsvYV6Ro5I

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

The Elephant should have been Pink .

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJHwang

I live in the town of Belford NJ, right next to Red Bank, which is Bruce Springsteen's home, and also Bonjovi's abode. Hell, there's enough rockers here maybe we should get a band together, what you say, kids?

Good luck on your counting down days. Smile and say "Ah, it's over! Now for the real life!" Best of luck, amigo ;)

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMykola Mick Dementiuk


Sad to hear that you're leaving NY. I suppose that is par for the course the way the city is headed. I hope that there will be a big farewell bash...

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrandall

@DrBOP: Wow, would've loved to have seen that Springsteen show you saw back in the day, thanks for sharing the memories! Enjoy the show on the 19th, I'll be back in Peoria on that day! Sip Ahoy!

@Uncle Wlaltie: "Now they should rename it "Bleaker" Street." Ha ha ha! Good one, Uncle Waltie and sadly too true! SIP AHOY!

@Jaws: Ha ha ha! Great clip, I don't think my escape will be that exciting, but I'll try!

@JHwang: You're right! It'll be pink next time for sure! Cheers!

@Mykola Mick Dementiuk: I'd love to see that band, thanks for the good wishes, Amigo!

@randalll: Don't be sad, I had 19 great years here and I'm excited about a new chapter back in Peoria. There's not going to be a farewell bash, I'm just meeting with friends and saying, "See ya later," as I will be returning here often. Thanks for chiming in!

October 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

As an afterthought...I would just LOVE to see a scene where Bloomberg tries to tell Snake Plissken he can't have a 16 ounce Mountain Dew after a hard day of rescuing the President of the United States...

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

Lessons learned:

1. Never believe anything the bartender says
2. Never believe anything Goggla says

Haha, thanks for coming out for one last toast to Kenny's! I still think Bruce was the one in the blond wig and sunglasses...

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGoggla

Never made it to Kenny's - so don't blame me! Art

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArt

@Jaws: I second that emotion!

@Goggla: I blame the bartender, not you! It was still a fun night!

@Art: Okay, you're off the hook this time!

October 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Another classic place and post. I was only in Kenny's once - in '85 or '86. I was living upstate and in NYC for work. At night, we would have dinner in Chinatown (mondo cheap at Yun Luck on Doyers) and save the rest of our per diem for"beverages". We were wandering around the Village after dinner when I noticed that the performer at Kenny's had the same last name as mine. Since it's pretty unusual, I thought we should go in and see if this was some long lost relation with talent. Talented yes but not a relative. We bought him some drinks, had a lot a fun and promised ourselves we would be back. Never did and now, never will.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave - Everywhere

@Dave - Everywhere: Thanks, glad you liked it. And thanks for sharing your story! Glad you were able to experience Kenny's back in the day!

October 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Four Jacks and a Jill, appearing live based on thier big #23 NY hit:


October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen K. in NJ

@Ken K. in NJ: Love that survey, too cool! Thanks for the link!

October 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

The Shaggs

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternight goat

@night goat: Exacltyodo, Quasimodo! (To quote John Prine, of course!)

October 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Shit shit shit. I always meant to hang out in there but never did. Loved the post! Funny stuff. I wonder if Peoria will be as much fun....?
My hubby Gman is looking forward to meeting you!

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatrink

@Katrink: Sorry you never made it there, gone for good now. I'll do my best to make Peoria as fun. Looking forward to meeting you and the Gman as well!

October 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

These 4 Jacks and a Jill? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0WvXpyufT8 That was my favorite song in 6th grade.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Hunt

Great post Daddio.
Just proves you never know who (or what) will show up on these monumental evenings
Well done.
With all of these historic locales closing, maybe it just another sign to bid the Big Apple adieu.
You experienced a lot ove the time you spent there and it's time to begin your next chapter.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

@Mike Hunt: Love that clip! Thanks for the linkage!

@"Boris:" Thanks. Daddio! Looking forward to turning the page to that chapter! I'll see you there!

October 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

You, rock. That is all.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

@meleah: Thanks Meleah! On occasion I roll as well!

October 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Wow, what a show! I wish I could've made the trek to see it (or any show) at this place. Yet another New York institution that eluded me...or vicey versey. Either way, I'm sorry I missed it. Hope you're having a great last hurrah in the big apple with your many friends. Of all the greats that have left the city, I think I'll miss you most of all. Although, I'm going to force you to return every time I visit, so nevermind. HA HA HA! TO: Giant Floating Heads!

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

@Biff: In between packing, I'm having lots of fun wandering around and saying goodbye to this city. One thing I'll really miss is hanging out with you in my apartment, drinking beer, eating cheese and crackers and wondering what sort of tragic mishap may happen in the bathroom (you had to be there foliks!) And yes, we will time vacations here together, until then...To Giant Floating Pudding Heads!

October 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

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