The Thursday night all ages punk show was in full effect here in Atlanta and once again it was like a flashback to my teens. Getting things started was local Atlanta family band Spooky Partridge who were so much fun to watch. Consisting of Katy Graves (Bass, Vocals, Mom), Shawn Christian (Vocals, Guitar, Dad) and 9 year old son Nick Christian on drums, they delivered a short, sweet and fun set consisting of songs about everything from Star Wars, cars and stating the fact that “Robots Don’t Poop!” The performance was so much fun and watching that 9 year old kid play the hell out of those drums was a sight to see. That kid is better than most seasoned drummers I’ve ever seen. Following them was another local group called “The El Caminos” who reminded me of the classic CBGB’s style rock and punk of bands like The Stooges delivering a no frills, energetic set. This is a band that is obviously at home on a stage and they play with confidence while delivering great, classic sounding punk rock n’ roll. They really did a great job warming up the crowd and trust me, it was a tough crowd.
After calling it a day back in 1996, The Ramones all parted ways to do various projects and founding members Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone have since passed away solidifying their status as rock and roll legends. The band may be gone but the songs live forever connecting to yet another generation. A generation who will sadly never get to see a Ramones show but would witness the closest thing to a Ramones show that they would ever get to see.
CJ and his band which featured legendary Ramones collaborator Daniel Rey (sporting a shirt that said “Hey Ho Let’s Go!) on guitar took the stage with and stepping up to the mic addressed the audience: “We’re gonna have fun tonight Atlanta! BLITZKRIEG BOP! 1-2-3-4!” and the place went nuts. In classic Ramones fashion, without stopping CJ and company kicked into “Judy Is A Punk” but it was “Beat On The Brat” that whipped everyone into a frantic mosh pit complete with fist pumping chorus sing a long. This audience was about ⅓ the size that I’m used to seeing but the energy and excitement expressed by these people was 3x their size. It was really beautiful thing to see so many smiles and so many people young and old high fiving, hugging and singing along.
The show was made up of classic Ramones songs ranging from the popular (Judy Is A Punk, Cretin Hop, Beat On The Brat) to the obsucre (My Back Pages, Endless Vacation, Poison Heart). In true Ramones fashion, the show was closed out by “Pinhead” which had every changing “GABBA GABBA HEY! GABBA GABBA HEY!” As CJ and band left the stage, the crowd began chanting the legendary “HEY HO, LET’S GO!” encore chant. CJ took the stage laughing and said, “You guys said the magic words!” After talking about his album that will be coming out sometime towards the end of the year, the band played a new song that CJ wrote for his fallen brothers called “3 Angels On My Shoulder” which was a really fun yet touching song that is as good as any classic Ramones song I’ve ever heard. “Do You Wanna Dance” literally had people dancing all over the place with each other in old school sock hop fashion and for the finale, the Lemmy Kilmister penned “R.A.M.O.N.E.S” brought the house down with a huge roar. Bidding us all a good night, CJ and company left the stage.
It was so amazing to see 3-4 generations of Ramones fans in one room reliving the good old days and in some cases getting their first opportunity at seeing the closest to a Ramones show that they will ever see. You know how sometimes you can just feel that magic at a show where you feel moved and connected with the performance? This was one of those and for an hour and 15 minutes, there was not a care in the world for me or anyone else in that room. That’s when you know you’re seeing a special show and trust me, this was a special night. To restate a lyric from the late, great Joey Ramone: “All is very well, C.J. is here!”
pics by the wonderful Brook Hewitt