There is an ancient proverb that famously says the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Which is about as complicated as debuting a new band that is not necessarily a new band at a farewell show for a club that is not necessarily going away.
The Crawler thinks scene stalwart Henning Ohlenbusch may be in uncharted territory here.
“I know,” Ohlenbusch says, laughing. “We spend 13 years effectively branding School for the Dead, then in a bold, anti-marketing move, simply change the name to Gentle Hen.”
To further add to the musical moniker maneuvering, the Hen will make its sort-of debut at The Elevens’ sort-of farewell party May 21. The popular Northampton nightclub and its sister venue, Tully O’Reilly’s, were recently purchased by a local couple who, according to one report, plan on putting more of an emphasis on food.
“I have no insight beyond that, but do know that the name is changing… and that it will never be The Elevens as we knew it after that,” he continues.
While his knowledge of the venue’s future is admittedly murky, his perspective on its storied past is in many ways unparalleled. His School for the Dead moved over to the building from the Baystate. A later endeavor, The Fawns (also on the farewell bill), cut its proverbial teeth there as well.
In between, Ohlenbusch served as resident sound guy, open mic host and most notably, uber-fan of local music as well.
“I remember trying to see the Ware River Club there once, and it was so crowded that we couldn’t even get in the door,” he recalls. “The Drunk Stuntmen used to play three-set, enormous rock shows. I met the Bourgeois Heroes there. They came in from out of town and I did sound for them. Since then I’ve done a zillion projects with Jason Bourgeois and we are still at it.”
In addition to his Hen and Fawns, Ohlenbusch has tapped the Valley veterans of Spouse—who are reuniting especially for the occasion—to round out the swan song bill.
“Farewells are always sad,” he says, “but, I must confess, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to play The Elevens again or see Spouse. This Wednesday, I get to do both.”
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m.
In other notable Noho news, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Art Garfunkel has signed on for an “intimate evening of songs, anecdotes, prose and an audience Q&A” at the Academy of Music (academyofmusictheatre.com) June 19. Tix are $65 and $55, depending on your proximity to said intimacy.
Meanwhile, longtime Garfunkel partner Paul Simon made his first public appearance (May 7 at New York University) since his very public disorderly conduct arrest with wife Edie Brickell in Connecticut on April 26.
“After my fee of a million is deducted, that’s $100,000,” the 72-year-old singer/songwriter was quoted joking to those in attendance of the $1.1 million raised for scholarships that evening.
Simon’s next scheduled performance is an Aug. 2 engagement the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Last but not least—and speaking of legends and institutions of higher learning—Jimmy Page received an honorary degree and an earful of skillfully arranged Zep classics at the Berklee College of Music commencement ceremonies the weekend of May 9 and 10.
“I’ve got something here that could reasonably be called a speech,” he noted to the nearly 4,000 in attendance for the graduation at Boston’s Agganis Arena. “After the experience of listening to the concert last night, this speech is rendered useless. So here I am; I’m a sort of busking musician trying to busk my speech.”
Others awarded honorary music doctorates at the ceremony included R&B notable Valerie Simpson and jazz heavyweights Geri Allen and Thara Memory.•
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