Just Opened in Williamsburg: Passenger Bar (The Grateful Dead Are Officially Cool Again)

Passenger (c/o Thrillist)

229 Roebling St, nr S 3rd St; Williamsburg


When Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead and The Band traveled across Canada by train in 1970 in the wake of Woodstock, the spontaneous collaborations and rollicking party atmosphere inspired what became the 2003 documentary “Festival Express.”

It also became the inspiration for two music-industry stalwarts, who are about to mark the grand opening of their Williamsburg watering hole, Passenger Bar, on Wednesday Jan. 9, with a roster of well-known performers set to take the stage.

The railroad-themed bar, located at 229 Roebling St. at South Third Street, is intended to reimagine the traveling jam session, hosting musicians from around the city as well as around the world to drink together, play together and perhaps form new creative collaborations, according to the team behind the bar.

“When I saw [“Festival Express”] years ago, it just always stuck in my head,” said music-industry veteran Melissa Aubert, who manages musicians like Andy Rourke of The Smiths, and opened the bar with partner Jay Weilminster, a drummer who has toured with bands like The Kills and bartended on the Lower East Side for a decade. […]

The railroad-themed venue, formerly a dance club, is packed with subtle details inside its two-story space. The upstairs level overlooking the main room is decorated with a sleeper-car theme, with a high shelf along the wall like old luggage racks.

The bathroom toilet paper rolls rest on train nail spikes, beneath old, weathered postcards on the bathroom walls. The liquor shelves behind the bar are shaped like a train tunnel, and railroad lanterns are scattered around the space.

The reclaimed-wood bar is hugged by a 1,100-pound train rail, which serves as a footrest to heighten the feel of drinking at an old railroad station or saloon, the creators explained.
“The whole design concept has that railroad feel, but it’s very hidden — like you don’t notice that you have your foot on a train rail until someone points it out or you look down,” said Aubert, noting the bar is filled with that sort of “hidden, little detail.”

The grand opening on Wednesday will include an open bar from 8 to 9 p.m., with a set by banjo player Morgan O’Kane at 10 p.m. and a DJ set by actor/comedian David Cross and Jaleel Bunton of TV on the Radio at 11 p.m. As part of its mission, the bar plans to hold a series of live performances funded by Cross and Les Savy Fav bass player Syd Butler. The sessions will be recorded and released as “The Passenger” tapes, giving people who missed hearing the performances in person an opportunity to hear them.

Here’s the film that inspired the concept, “Festival Express.”

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Shugo Tokumaru – “Katachi”

Coming Soon: NYCurated


FREEwilliamsburg and My Social List are  partnering on a North Brooklyn cultural e-mail newsletter, NYCurated. This collaborative effort will provide you with a weekly guide (yes, no annoying daily e-mails) to the best shows, the tastiest food, and the most awe-inspiring art in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick.

And we’re looking for YOUR help! Our little North Brooklyn enclave is brimming with sophisticated, creative individuals who not only attend the sorts of events we plan on covering, but make them happen. We are specifically looking for folks that are good at examining art, food and culture in the heart of North Brooklyn.  Your content will appear in both NYCurated and on FREEwilliamsburg. If you’re interested in contributing, please e-mail a writing sample to nycurated@gmail.com. We’d love to hear your feedback on the best new restaurant in Greenpoint, a recent gallery opening in Bushwick or the latest trend coming out of Williamsburg.

The Most Blogged About Show This Week

Class Actress

I think the Mayans were trying to bait us all into thinking the world was going to end a few weeks ago so we’d all panic and kill each other in some sort of vile, nuclear bloodbath, so that they may rise from their subterranean enclave and reinhabit the seemingly perfect world we’re enjoying in 2013. It’s a glorious world, with an active David Bowie, naked waitresses serving up artisanal pies at Roberta’s and a new Silent Barn and Market Hotel (soon enough?)

It’s a world where Class Actress and Au Revoir Simone’s Erika Spring roam free, or at least play for free with DJ sets from Neon Indian, Chairlift and Lemonade at 285 Kent on Thursday nights.

It’s a magical world where a Montreal-based producer who works with Grimes called Majical Cloudz emerges from obscurity to play alongside of darkwave acts with chilling visuals like The Soft Moon down at Mercury Lounge on 58 degree January nights like tonight.

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New Low Track “Just Make it Stop” – Produced By Jeff Tweedy

Thier new record is out on Sub Pop March 19.

New Bowie Single! “Where Are We Now?”


David Bowie is to release his first album in nearly a decade. The Next Day, his 30th studio recording, is out in March (8 in Australia, 11 in the rest of the world bar the U.S., where it’s out on March 12), and is preceded by a single that you can hear right now! Check out the album’s tracklist, and watch the video for “Where Are We Now?” below. (It’s available to purchase on iTunes now too.) Bowie turns 66 years old today: Happy ruddy Birthday indeed.
The album was produced by Tony Visconti and written by Bowie in New York, according to his label, Columbia. The video for “Where Are We Now?” was directed by Tony Oursler, and reflects on Bowie’s time spent in Berlin in the mid-late 1970s. His last LP, Reality, was released in 2003.
A spokesman for Columbia said: “Throwing shadows and avoiding the industry treadmill is very David Bowie despite his extraordinary track record that includes album sales in excess of 130m, not to mention his massive contributions in the area of art, fashion, style, sexual exploration, and social commentary.”
The Guardian reports that there are no plans for live dates (or interviews, for that matter).

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Two New Songs From Yo La Tengo’s Upcoming Record, Fade

“Ohm” and “Before We Run”:

Yo La Tengo’s forthcoming LP Fade is out on Matador Jan. 15.

The Most Blogged About Shows This Week

Sufjan Stevens

This column is somewhat awkward to write today because I’m not quite sure how much “week” there is in “The Most Blogged About Shows This Week,” what with the apocalypse tentatively scheduled for sometime on Friday night.  I’ve made the editorial decision to shun the Mayan overlords and side with the venues, bands and promoters who have elected to book shows after the mystically-prescribed “end of the world” and talk about shows that have been booked for Saturday and Sunday night in addition to those being held before the world ends in the sort of fury I’d imagine was only previously reserved for Michael Bay masturbation sessions.

The MOST BLOGGED ABOUT SHOW this week somewhat arrogantly scoffs at the Mayans, choosing to celebrate a Christmas that may never come with an angelic sing-a-long lead by none other than Sufjan Stevens on Friday Night at Bowery Ballroom.  The prolific singer-songwriter recently dropped a crazy Christmas box set which consists of three hours of Christmas music spread across five discs, temporary tattoos, posters, stickers, an 80+ page booklet, ornaments, a coloring book and probably a copy of Home Alone on VHS; a self-indulgent yet decadent package to find bow-wrapped beneath a Douglas Fir on the morning of Christ’s Birthday Observed.

Apocalypse Night actually has a host of bloggable shows worthy of your final hours on the planet. Guardian Alien headlines the “Official World’s End” party at Shea Stadium with a host of experimental acts to lull you into a hypnotic and unknowing trance as the walls begin to collapse around you.  Fucked Up and Parquet Courts play the Warsaw, worthy accompaniment for a final bender.  Prince Rama and DicPic (Pictureplane and DJ Dog Dick) play 285 Kent, Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles headline Glasslands and the Brooklyn Night Bazaar continues with JD Samson and MEN.  If the world is ending, Brooklyn will toast to it.

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