There’s some great jukeboxes in bars around town and I thought I’d start featuring some of them here on TWM. I had to start at what some say is the ultimate jukebox in New York City and maybe in the entire country at The Hi-Fi Bar. They have a jukebox there that was custom made for the bar called, EL-DJ. The jukebox is the brainchild of Mike Stuto who is the owner of The Hi-Fi Bar. This monster box of tunes has nearly 50,000 songs to choose from and they were all handpicked by Stuto himself. And this gentleman knows plenty about music. Before it was The Hi-Fi Bar, Stuto owned and managed the legendary Brownies live music club in this space. Stuto booked such legendary acts as My Morning Jacket, Death Cab For Cutie, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Supergrass, Elliott Smith and Son Volt among others. In 2002, he tired of the grind of running a live music club and re-christened the space, The Hi-Fi Bar, home of EL-DJ. Let’s go take a look and put another dime in the jukebox, baby.
And we're off, it's about a fifteen minute walk to The HI-Fi Bar from my place.
And, ba-boom! Here we are. You know one thing I love about The Hi-Fi Bar?
It's about ten seconds away from Tompkins Square Bagels! I haven't had dinner yet, so let's go and get a sandwich to soak up some of the suds I'll be drinking later.
I ordered the specialty sandwich, The Chittle. What's amazing about ordering this sandwich in here is...
Sometimes the man who the sandwich is named after shows up while you're eating it! Ladies and gentlemen, Shawn Chittle! Check out Shawn's jacket, it's a genuine A-2 bomber jacket from World War II, given to Shawn from a veteran he had met.
The back is painted with illustrations from an anti-Nazi Donald Duck film produced by the Disney Studios. I had never heard of this and Shawn sent in a link to it, check it out: Der Furher's Face. Donald Duck meets Hitler...hmmm, wasn't that the pitch line they used for Hogan's Heroes?
And here's Shawn with the sandwich that's named after him.
Chittle bites Chittle! Someone get the New York Post on the line!
Okay, back to the Hi-Fi Bar, let's head in and find the EL-DJ monster jukebox!
It's a nice dark bar in here. Here's the bar up front.
We got some beers and settled in to this marble topped table in the middle of the bar.
Owner Mike Stuto joined us for a beer at the table. He and Shawn immediately got into a discussion of music and DJing and I snuck off to check out EL-DJ.
And here it is, hovering in the darknes, the one and only, legendary EL-DJ!
After I spent about five minutes punching the screen, Mike came over and told me you have to use the trackball to navigate the machine. He told me everyone makes the same mistake on their virgin visit to EL-DJ.
The trackball is located on the lower right of the jukebox, it's kind of like operating a mouse on a computer.
Once you get a feel for the trackball, you choose an artist from the left-hand side of EL-DJ.
Then the artist pos up on the upper left of the screen. Unlike most jukeboxes, EL-DJ has full length albums of songs in its inventory. They're all from Mike's personal collection and he told me there's nearly 4,000 albums to choose from and they're constantly adding new ones. There's four Electric Prunes albums to choose from. I didn't even know they recorded four albums!
Once you choose the song, this pops up to make sure you haven't chosen the wrong one. I hit, "yes," and chose some more.
Another cool feature of the jukebox is it tells you the next four songs coming up. As you can see from this short list, there's quite a diverse selection of music to choose from on EL-DJ. I don't think I've ever seen a jukebox like this and don't ever expect to again. Okay, let's go check out the bar.
It's gotten busier and Mike's back behind the bar, pouring beer for thirsty patrons.
There's lit up bottles beneath a row of Bob Dylan album covers.
There's also album covers on the walls at Hi-Fi. Here's one by the Mekons, I got a kick out of this, because Sally Timms, who's a member of the Mekons was one of the first people I met when I moved here. There's a documentary of the band that's being worked on that I'm anxious to see!
Here's a Lucinda Williams album that I've never seen.
And here's one of my favorite albums of all time, the first release of The Flying Burrito Brothers. A great album!
There's a large back room in the bar.
Red vinyl booths line the brick wall on the left.
There's a Spiderman pinball machine for those of you who play the silver ball.
And a red pool table is the centerpiece of the back room.
And a glance out the front windows at Avenue A, and it's time to call it a night. Thanks to Shawn and Mike for joining me on this trip and we'll see you all tomorrow!
Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!
Bonus Cardboard Box Man Sighting From Goggla!
Goggla spotted this Cardboard Box Man lurking on Avenue B! Aaaahhh! Be careful out there everybody!