Kingston After Dark: The Strange Ones

Bella’s Bartok, companion band to Richard’s Strauss. (Photo Provided)

Welcome to another addition of Kingston After Dark. Hopefully by now you have managed to digest, and perhaps even excrete, at least some of whatever form of Thanksgiving gluttony in which you indulged, and have gotten back on track as productive little worker bees in society.

December is officially upon us and I hope it finds you warm and well. The end of a decade looms and we have been through quite a lot together in the past 10 years as a species. Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have sucked our collective souls and wallets dry, let’s get back to the most important part of this time of year … listening to “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” by The Ramones as often as possible.

Issue 1259 of Rolling Stone magazine published in April 2016 had an incredible article on the Queens punk legends called “The Curse of the Ramones” by Mikal Gilmore, about the band’s legacy and struggles. It is one of the best articles on the group I have ever read, underscoring how odd it was that a band with songs about male prostitutes and sniffing glue considered themselves a teeny-bopper band at one point. Still, Dee Dee Ramone knew that, at least initially, “punk rock comes from angry kids who feel like being creative.”


Nowadays there are so many sub-genres within punk that some of it isn’t really that angry and even embraces the “punk” rebellion of being sensitive and vulnerable in a society that often favors expressions of machismo and emotional compartmentalization instead. With bands like War on Women and Control Top (the latter made arguably the best punk/new wave influenced record of the year with Covert Contracts) keeping punk forward-thinking and relevant, hopefully the wool is even being pulled from Johnny Ramone’s oddly Republican ghost’s eyes as to how life-changing this art can stay for society.

Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7 you can catch the future rockers of the Rock Academy out of Woodstock doing two nights of classic Ramones cuts. It feels weird to me still to call anything punk “classic” as that farty term usually calls to mind dinosaur rock. I guess as time passes we all find weird ways to unite eventually as signifiers and cultural shoelaces get tangled and tied together. I still remember the first time I heard Stone Temple Pilots on WPDH and thought, “OMG, what the hell is happening?”

Anyway, I am glad people still care about these songs and that young folks who will hopefully write their own anthems are still learning about the importance and power of these sing-a-long wonders of perfect pop and raging rock perfection. The Rock Academy nights both start at 7 p.m. and are obviously semi-kid friendly.

Hungarian rhapsody

Bella’s Bartok will bring their jam, indie and punk weird mish mash of vagabond rock styles that should not work well together at all to Colony in Woodstock on Saturday, Dec. 7 with Kyle & The Pity Party opening. Both kinetic and fresh live bands pout their hearts and souls into their stage shows, and you’d be wise to get your dancing and rock out shoes on for this night of pure energy if you attend. Bella’s Bartok combine a theatrical troupe sensibility with a range of influences that include System of a Down, Frank Zappa and Oingo Boingo paired with over-the-top folk fervor and seriously great brass parts. The show starts at 8 p.m. and Colony is located at 22 Rock City Road in Woodstock. One of the best venues around hosting two bands that never let fans down is a combination that can’t be beat for late year fun in 2019 on the local circuit. Each of these groups is capable of delving into introspective musical calms with almost childlike wonder or exploding in infectious crescendos and tumultuous bursts of unprecedented energy. Tickets are $10 advance and $15 day of show.

Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars, give me those Star Wars, don’t let them end

While we have been talking about underclass anthems and whatnot for much of this column, I think we can all agree that pretty much everyone is excited for The Rise of Skywalker and the final battle in the Skywalker saga as brought to us by our Disney First Order overlords. I am binging the back seasons of the quite excellent Star Wars Rebels on Disney Plus and am pleased as punch to see Grand Admiral Thrawn of The Imperial Navy (originally from Timothy Zahn’s now non-canon novel Heir to the Empire) make an appearance in the actually pretty vital to a wider scope of the saga’s plot points cartoons. The Mandalorian is also adding more depth to a galaxy far, far away that tv-wise has long been in the shadow of Star Trek‘s bulky (if wonderful) multi-season varied titles. Hopefully these will cement a wider popular understanding of the full, brilliant scope of Star Wars as a universe, even as the main event movie of December is sure to capture the attention of just about everyone, including casual fans of the Force.

While I count down the days, may you all remember to continue to nurture and kindle the spark of rebellion inside of you that leads to our need to create and many of the finest moments of human art. Or as Iggy Azalea recently rapped, remember to make sure you “got green like Luigi.” Seriously though, may the excitement of being alive even in difficult times stay fresh in our minds so as to not let us feel hammered flat by troubles. May all of our odd little quirks be celebrated and our differences, when navigable, serve as a reminder of our variety and the range of experiences that form this tapestry and breathing stage we all inhabit together.