Brian McLane

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THE TRIUMPH OF SYLVAIN SYLVAIN

March 17th, 2011 · 2 Comments · music

Some years back in late 2004 maybe early 2005, my ex-wife Nico and I were at CUBA Restaurant on 8th Avenue in Chelsea. Before too long we’d gotten into a discussion at the bar with a woman who worked at City Center in some Managerial Capacity. She was sitting with a guy with a leather cap tilted to the side. He was pleasant and we made small talk. Before too long our new friend was eager to introduce her friend “Sylvain.”

We had been enjoying our conversation with him but no light bulbs went off. We talked about how he wondered if he still had a warrant out for an unpaid traffic violation and how every time he went through the tunnel it gave him the creeps. And other stuff like how he drove a cab at one point which I’d done in Arizona and we shared some funny anecdotes. He was totally humble, we talked about the music of the day. And while I must have railed on how bad it was he was steadily complimentary and pleasant. I was playing with Bad Hotel at the time and was talking about our gigs at Don Hills.

Eventually Syl’s friend said – “Well you know who this is right?”

“Yeah… Sylvain.”

“Add another Sylvain” she said.

“Sylvain Sylvain….” It started rolling around in my head. “You mean?”

“Of the New York Dolls?” she said.

“It was one of those OMG moments.

“Sylvain Sylvain.”

Immediately I started with the “What was it like?” questions. But Sylvain never really got into the past rather, he was focused on the future and was talking about a New York Dolls reunion. We spent an hour or two buying him drinks, I’d gotten the idea he didn’t have much cash and it seemed like his friend was looking out for him. And when we said goodbyes it was like we’d been friends for a long time and would be seeing them soon.

Not exactly. I’d been happy to hear about the Dolls reunion a year or two later and smiled, remembering how we shared a couple of hours together but not really talking too much about music, or the past. I’d missed their reunion as Nico and I had split up and things had gotten difficult in a lot of ways.

So imagine my surprise when Bad Hotel Alumni Dave Penn (who now runs the uber-scrutinized Hit Songs Deconstructed Newsletter followed by many of the top Record Industry Executives) wrote me an email saying “You want to see the New York Dolls at the Bowery Ballroom next Wednesday?”

Two word answer. “HELL YEAH!”

Believe it or not I’d never been to the Bowery Ballroom and I was surprised because it looked like a mini Ritz (3rd Avenue and 11th Street – it’s no longer there – and I don’t want to hear that Webster Hall crap). The Ritz died when Chris Williamson said Fuck It. Opening band was good (Make Out – fronted by David Johansen’s step daughter), but when the Dolls took the stage it was stuffed full. I could see Bob Gruen on the upper right balcony and Sylvain’s friend from our meeting at CUBA on the upper left.

Excellent show. It was their first in 6 months before starting an international tour but I’ll take the raw magic versus the polished version any day.

But this to me was a little bit more. I was just happy for a guy, who’d seen a lot, done a lot, lived a lot, came back to tell about it, then start kicking ass all over again.

The Triumph Of Sylvain Sylvain

Click to watch The Triumph Of Sylvain Sylvain

The New York Dolls are Sylvain Sylvain, David Johansen, Earl Slick, Jason Hill and Brian Delaney. I’m sure Johnny and Arthur are watching. If you want to see all 8 clips from the shop go to my my YouTube Page

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Freddie Katz

    ” I’m sure Johnny and Arthur are watching.”

    and let’s not forget Jerry!

  • admin

    You would have been a great choice to play on that stage too. Earl Slick was good – but you would have been great!

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