Widely regarded the birthplace of the NYC punk rock scene, CBGB & OMFUG has served as the launch pad for the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, Patti Smith and countless others over its nearly 32 years.
Recently, the legendary East Village nightclub was issued an eviction notice by its landlord, the Bowery Residents’ Committee. CBGB is in the midst of several months of benefit shows to excite public support and, hopefully, gain a legal decision that allows the club to remain in its original location at 315 Bowery Street.
The list of artists stepping up to assist the intimate 260-capacity room is quite impressive, including many old-school acts like the Misfits, Dead Boys, Circle Jerks, and The Exploited mixed in with newer talent like Ted Leo, Thursday, Chevelle, and numerous others. As expected, all benefit shows so far have been completely sold out with lines of hopeful patrons stretching down the block well into the night.
Over the years, CBGB has been a loyal Soundcraft user, starting with its purchase of a 16-channel Series 1S mixer in the mid-’70s when club owner Hilly Kristal decided to build a proper stage at the back of the room and put up the venue’s first real PA system. Since that time, a Series 2 and subsequent K3 have been the desks responsible for bringing original music to the masses seven days a week–usually with eight bands a night, each performing half-hour sets.
In recent months, the venue’s sound engineering team noticed that the never-ending stream of performances was starting to take its toll on the K3, which went in more than ten years ago for the club’s 20th anniversary bash. With so many high-profile acts on the books for the coming benefit shows, sound engineer Josh Wertheimer contacted Soundcraft to see if the manufacturer would be willing to assist CBGB by lending the club a desk, to which Soundcraft responded by immediately arranging a loan for a newly-launched 32-channel MH2.
"This MH2 is awesome; we’re so happy that Soundcraft is letting us use it," says CBGB sound engineer Jamie Gorman, who has been with the club for 14 years. "Their willingness to help us out really shows how symbiotic our industries can be; we’ve been supporting Soundcraft for many years by buying and using their products, and now, in turn, they’re generously supporting us. It’s really wonderful.
"Of course, the MH2 has been a real hit with all of the touring engineers. When they come in and see this beautiful brand new board equipped with VCAs, tons of aux sends, dedicated effects returns, and fully sweepable EQs, they’re pretty damn happy. And this desk sounds so good. Everyone’s smiling; it’s really changed the mood in here."
According to Tom Der, Soundcraft’s national sales manager, "CBGB holds the same status in my heart as the Cavern Club does for Beatles fans. It is a defining institution and the start of a movement whose impact is still felt and heard today. Not to mention that they’ve been turning to Soundcraft consoles for nearly as many years as we’ve been making them, so we were more than happy to assist them in their fight to maintain their historic landmark residence."
If all goes well, Gorman is hopeful that CBGB’s management will opt to purchase the MH2 rather than return it. He adds, "We’ve recently bought a high-end backline as well as significantly upgraded our recording facility, so, being hopeful that we’ll still be here once the dust settles from our legal disputes, I and the rest of the engineers would really like to see the MH2 stay. After all, it would be really hard to give this desk up now that we’ve all fallen in love with it."