Lakeside Lounge sign

If you're in the New York area, and if you need thumping, rocking roots, blues, rockabilly, country, boogie-woogie, R&B, soul and proto-punk music, then you already know about the Lakeside Lounge. And you have probably spent hours marveling over its encyclopedic jukebox. (What in the world was that greasy, soulful track you just heard?) And if you like to hear live, American-sounding bands kick it for one set per night, no cover charge, then you've already been to the Lakeside.

For 16 years, this little club on Avenue B has delivered the goods in an uncompromising fashion. Eric "Roscoe" Ambel and Jim "The Hound" Marshall had a vision for a true, rocking venue where the real, vital rock could still throb. And that's just how it went down.

I was there for the opening night, an acoustic set by Cheri Knight, and then the main set from Missouri's Bottle Rockets. In the early years of that club, Mojo Nixon played at the Lakeside, also a Sonics tribute band called Hooked on Sonics, Mike Ferrio and Tandy, Laura Cantrell, Beat Rodeo, the Lyres, the Fleshtones, George Gilmore's all-star variety show, Simon and the Bar Sinisters -- those are just a few. One memorable night, the great Memphis-based pianist and record producer Jim Dickinson rocked a packed house at the Lakeside, and I'm honored to say that he used my Wurlitzer electric piano for the gig.

After the live set, the real education came via the jukebox. Amos Millburn's rollicking piano, Ike Turner's nasty guitar, ditto Mickey Baker, some sick, obscure doo-wop and greasy blues, some out-of-the way Sun Records artists who never got to be superstars, some far-out, space-age psychobilly from Hasil Adkins, girl groups singing in in early-'60s urban harmony, some early Rolling Stones that you never heard in your life. For a while, the two main bands on the box were the Kinks and the Stooges.

By and by, I played some sets at the Lakeside, first sitting in with Philadelphia's Go to Blazes, then with singer/songwriter Joe Flood, then a gig or two with Roscoe's various groups, then with the band I was in at the time, Martin's Folly. And when I started performing with my own group, the Jim Duffy Combo, the Lakeside was our home base. Last Friday night, Jesse Bates and Los Dudes rocked the house, with Roscoe sitting in on guitar.

The Lakeside will be closing its doors on Monday, April 30.  The neighborhood has changed, the fancy eating emporiums are moving in, the luxury housing is taking over, the rents have spiked. Iggy no longer lives at the Christadora. The live-music venues have been closing, one by one, and it's almost inconceivable that a new one could open in the East Village under these circumstances. When the Lakeside is gone, it will not be replaced.

So you have a week. Do yourself a favor and stop into the Lakeside for a cocktail or a beer, soak up the atmosphere and dig that deep-throated jukebox and hear whatever kicking band is playing its final set there.

Thank you, thank you, to Roscoe and the Hound for providing 16 years of cool, rocking music at a low-pressure venue that was always easy to enjoy.

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