« Midnight At The Empire State Building, Part II | Main | Obscura Antiques and Oddities, Academy Records and El Quijote. A Sunday Trifecta! »
Tuesday
Mar272012

Hi-Fi Bar Featuring EL-DJ Jukebox

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!

The Hi-Fi Bar
169 Avenue A (@11th St.)
212-420-8392


Further Reading: EV Grieve, Village Voice and Hostels.com.

I love rock and roll,
put another dime in the jukebox, baby.

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!


Reader Comments (33)

WOO WOO

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

cool jacket on shawn and that disney clip is amazing!! i had no idea disney made films like that! i can't believe that jukebox! only in new york as they say! great post today!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D

All I need to know about this place is:

Daily Happy Hour till 8pm -- 2 for 1 Beer, Wine & Well Drinks

!!!!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

A guy I used to know named Kevin used to sing "Der Furher's Face" at work. He got funnier looks then the Monkees walking down the street.

If that Jukebox had the option to play Centipede it would be perfect. (It already had a trackball.)

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

Long live EL-DJ!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEV Grieve

@Melanie: And woo hoo to you!

@Bobby D: Thanks, that clip amazed me too! Thanks to Shawn for sending it in!

@GENE: It's a must stop for the BBC!

@csp: Funny about your co-worker! Maybe Mike will start to work on your Centipede option!

@EV Grieve: Viva EL-DJ!

March 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

What a great bar. Agree with Gene, this is like everything I love right there. The dark bar, the great jukebox, the album covers behind the bar, just perfect. Joan Jett, I love that woman!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

Shawn's bomber jacket is an absolute classic! Now, I'm looking for a comprehensive DVD collectiion of WWII Disney and Warner Bros. WWII vintage propaganda cartoons for my permanent collection. A veritable who's who of cartoon characters from that era all took a shot at Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini and alot of them were absolutely hilarious. I want a collection before they all disappear forever!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

I love Shawn's jacket.. WOW.
you have no idea how bad i want to play with that jukebox...
and then steal Shawns sandwich..

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

Very warm thanks to Marty for the invitation and especially Mike Stuto for sitting with us, the free beer, and story after story of the NY music scene in the mid 90's. Just really fascinating stuff!

Marty, thanks again for doing what you do!

P.S. I hope readers are not sick of seeing me! I just can't get enough of Trippin' With Marty!
P.P.S. Nazi punks fuck off!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShawn Chittle

@Al: I thought of you when I walked into Hi-Fi, it's definitely an "Al" bar!

@Jaws: I agree with you on Shawn's jacket, it's really cool! I'll start searching online and see what I can find for you!

@Gidget: You would love that jukebox, maybe you could come here and do a "Secret Weapon" Woody Radio Show from it!

@Shawn: Thanks to you and Mike for hanging out last night. It's nights like this that make doing this blog so much fun! And thanks for sending in the links and information about your jacket! Cool stuff, my friend!

March 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Marty i see a road trip in the making!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

Yeeeeaaahhhh........Shawn Chittle is OUT of the tuxedo......and into one of THE coolest jackets evah!
And I think you had some BIG fun with that jukebox Marty. C'mon, how much coinage did you go thru keepin' that baby pumpin"? And (if I had the tech chops on current system I'd) link to Dave Edmund's/Rockpile's "A-1 On The Jukebox, Nowhere On The Charts". Keep on chooglin'!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrBOP

Marty, I thought HIFi was a new yuppie bar, good thing you cleared it up for me. Very cool jukebox & amazing selections.
I saw a lot of great bands at the former Brownies. I miss that place. I remember being there in the late 90's for the Mark Bolan birthday party with Tony Visconti & May Pang, 2 very cool people.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanny the freelancer

@Gidget: Sounds good! Hit the road, Jack!

@DrBop: I spent five bucks for ten tunes, good deal for sure! "A-1 on the Jukebox" is one of my favorite Dave Edmunds songs, one I haven't thought about for a long time! I'll put that tune up the next time I have a jukebox night!

@Danny the Freelancer: Not even close to a yuppie bar! You'd love the jukebox and the amazing selections! Very cool that you were at a Marc Bolan party with Tony Visconti and May Pang! I just watched May Pang in a Harry Nilsson documentary.

March 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

What an AWESOME place! I love all things jukeboxes!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

Its only music...only jukebox music.....cool post... you were like a kid in a candy store...Shawns jacket reminds me of my dad.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertehennessey@yahoo.com

A great post today Daddio!
GREAT Bomber Jacket.
I did know about ' Der Furher's Face', as I remember my Dad telling me about it many years ago.
Amazing Jukebox too.
All in all, it looked like a great day/night out.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

Go Donald Duck!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gdM9Xitof8&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMTLMPcyprg&feature=related
Popeye and Bugs Bunny also fought the Axis powers in WW II. Check out these totally non PC (ok, there're racist) WW II cartoons.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymQoktCc-NM&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuMs5Trf9DU&feature=related

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDuncester

@Meleah: Then you'd love the Hi-Fi bar and EL-DJ!

@tehennessey: Nice to hear that Shawn's jacket brought back a good memory! Forgot about that Kinks song!

@"Boris:" Another great night at both Tompkins Square Bagels and the Hi-Fi Bar!

@Duncester: Thanks for the links, going to watch them later when I'm having a few beers!

March 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Your friend Shawn has the coolest bomber jacket I have ever seen. It is surreal to see a man eating a sandwich named for him, almost Dali-like.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveW

@DaveW: Tell me about it! I was sitting there watching Shawn eat himself, very surreal indeed. Hello Dali!

March 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Amazing there are that many songs on the EL-DJ, but to be honest that's too many choices for me. The pressure would really be on to pick good ones! I'd always feel if I had searched just a little longer I might have found better ones to play. Too stressful!

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpike

@Spike: The trick is to have a drink or six before you approach EL-DJ and the stress just melts away!

March 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Der Fuehers Face was a huge hit for Spike Jones and his Band during the war years. I couldnt listen to the sound here at work so I don't know if this was Spike or not but I'll check it out at home where I can crank it up.

Shaun's flight jacket is too cool. When I was a kid (in the mid '60's) there were still a lot of originals floating around and I was always envious that my father was in the infantry and didn't one that I could mooch. Just keep it safe.

Marty - another home run. I have some relatives coming to town for Easter and we're going to do some holiday bar-hopping with the Hi Fi high on the list of places to stop.

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave - Everywhere

Wow, that jukebox is COOLIO! Yet another place to add to my list. I love pinball. I would play it every day if I could. I do not understand the xbox.

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

@Dave - Everywhere: The Fuhrer link goes to a Donald Duck cartoon. I'll have to look for the Spike Jones version online, I bet it's great! Glad you're going to the Hi-Fi! Stop by Tompkins Square Bagels for a treat before you go!

@Biff: You'd love this place. How long is that list of yours now?

March 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

My list is now up to 359.4 million entries. One place for every real dollar I shall win from Mega Millions on Friday!

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

@Biff: Ha ha ha! Cool, if you don't hit it, hopefully I will!

March 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

a great post. i haven't been in there since brownie's closed, and i live around the corner about 90 seconds' walk away. for some reason i didn't think it was the same owner, and thought it catered to the young, obnoxious crowd like most other places around here. i want that jukebox bad. they have early zombies on that thing?

thanks, marty!

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdark1p

@dark1p: Thanks! I wish I could've made it to Brownie's. I would be willing to bet that they have early Zombies on there, probably have some of their albums. If you find out, please let us know! I love the song, "She's Not There."

March 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Wow what a very cool bar and an ultra-cool jukebox!

"There's four Electric Prunes albums to choose from. I didn't even know they recorded four albums!" LOL I have never ever even heard of that band! Wow! I guess I learn something new every day.

Great job Marty! I like that bar very much. You knoe the Double Down Saloon in Vegas has a killer jukebox as does the Crown and Anchor in Las Vegas.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiki Bar Susie

@Tiki Bar Susie: Check out the Electric Prunes, a great garage band from the sixties!

March 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>