Hello, beloved readers. Thank you for joining me here as we close out 2018 not with a bang or a whimper, but with stoic resolve and nurtured hope. I can’t help but think of how many times a friend tried to light a cigarette through cupped hands against a chill breeze on the streets outside a bar the other night. Hopefully our resolve to survive what ails America presently is not as fickle or fragile as the flame from a wind-battered lighter. We are going to really need Lady Liberty’s torch to warm us, even with Democrats regaining momentum and Ruth Bader Ginsburg proving to be tougher than The Incredible Hulk.
I can presently hear distant train sounds as I type these words, cutting above the melodic and somber tones of U.K. black metal act Fen’s lush album Winter drifting from the Spotify app on my phone and even managing to penetrate the fog of my post-holiday shopping shell-shocked mind. Seriously, some of you folks out there really need to learn how to drive, before people start thinking Kingston is actually in New Jersey.
The year 2018 brought us everything from horrific images of children imprisoned in American camps to an upsurge of climate change denial, even as tsunamis sweep away entire bandstands. May 2019 bring more substantial indictments and restore our shaken faith in any semblance of democracy and facts, no matter how red in the face gaslighter Alex Jones gets about his freedom of speech after he helped harass the families of Sandy Hook victims.
On the pop front we also got arguably the best song to feature Miley Cyrus in years, Mark Ronson’s “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart.” That is my choice for best mainstream single of 2018, a melancholic fusion of old-timey country influences and soulful pop, blissfully lacking all the petty puppeteering and bully stan subculture that both surrounds and hampers so many other artists at present. I was also thrilled by my favorite album of the year, post-punker’s Soft Kill’s very Cure-adjacent bittersweet masterpiece Savior. It served as a calm, temporary escape, like cool fresh rain on hot thirsty asphalt.
Beloved grandiose musical cult leader and appreciated local transplant Amanda Palmer also got me super excited for 2019 when she dropped her recent breathtaking single “Drowning in the Sound” from pending new record There Will Be No Intermission. It’s going to be Palmer’s first proper studio record in six years and is going to blow away a lot of the competition in the “earnest declarations of selfhood” department. The material seems like it will find Palmer having weathered much but emerging stronger. She remains a capable guide and adept wielder of story as the pursuit of personal and group catharsis channeled through musical glory.
“I’ve never been nervous about releasing a record before, but this one is different,” Palmer opined in a statement upon the single’s release. “The rise of global fascism alongside the spreading fire of #MeToo has forged a louder megaphone for all women, and we’re all seeing that radical truth is infectious. I feel more urgency than ever to share the naked truth of my experiences. The kind of stories that I’m sharing on this record — abortion, miscarriage, cancer, grief, the darker sides of parenthood — have been therapeutic and frightening to write. But every time I play them for my friends and fans, the nodding heads of empathy have lit a fire under my ass to record and release them.”
That sounds like just what the doctor ordered, frankly. I am going to leave 2018 with a focus on other newly sprouting seeds as well. Cory Plump joins us this week, co-owner of brilliant new avant garde rock-friendly bar and venue Tubby’s. Occupying the formerly quite static Broadway Joe’s, Tubby’s offers charm, warmth, a great menu and much friendlier vibes. Here’s to new ventures and friends.
Kingston After Dark: How did this all come together? You told me the place was purchased in April or that was when renovations began? I love the new energy in the room. It feels like it wants to be hung out in, a great room for conversation or unwinding. Also, I love that you named it after King Tubby, the dub legend. Can you tell our readers that story? A local teacher named Tubby thought you might be related?
Cory Plump: Katy McElroy and I were living in Mexico City last year when our good friend Morgan [Coy] approached us about this project. Morgan and I had worked together in Austin, Texas on various projects mostly based around music and we thought it sounded like fun. We came up to Kingston to scope it out and loved it. As far as the name, yes … I’m a big fan of Jamaican music. It started as a bit of a wordplay joke. Kingston, dub, reggae, King Tubby, etc. but the name just stuck. We wanted the name to feel neighborhood-y and welcoming. After we got here we learned about the landscape artist named Joseph Tubby, we drove by Tubby Street on the way to one of our favorite breakfast spots, Blondie’s, and via Instagram became aware of a few folks in town including a high school teacher with the last name.
KAD: You mentioned it was important to you to have vegetarian options and that even the meat is locally sourced. Could you elaborate? It is always a lovely surprise when veggie options go beyond French fries.
CP: I’ve been a vegetarian for twenty years but I also like bar food. Our concept is fairly straightforward. Made-from-scratch bar food with a plethora of interesting sauces influenced by Texas and Central and South America. The beef we serve is raised on Morgan’s land 20 minutes from the bar, so I feel proud to serve it.
KAD: You’ve already had some unique and refreshing acts coming through and bolstering Kingston’s already exciting music scene. What did you want to bring to the proceedings in the area? Having come here from Austin probably lent itself to being used to live music as part of the package, huh?
Yes, Morgan and myself still run a record label called Monofonus Press, so music is indeed part of the package. Our goal is to provide a home for touring bands who you may not have heard of. It’s a small and intimate room for music. I can’t express how helpful all of the other venues in Kingston have been. It’s a welcome change of pace to the cut-throat style prevalent in Austin.