Glinda the Good Witch was right: there is no place like home. 

Especially when “home” is defined loosely as the places where you are made to feel welcome. 

The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street in New York City) is just such a place.  I know all about it  — from the warm hello I got from Victor, who knows all there is to know about English gardens to the friendliness of Jim and Grace Balantic, to the hot jazz that the EarRegulars played that night.

The EarRegulars began as a conversation among four jazz friends: Jon-Erik Kellso and Matt Munisteri, co-founders; John Allred and Jon Burr, charter members.  (One of the musicians that night essayed the appropriate joke: “Three Jo(h)ns — no waiting!”)  And Harvey Tibbs and Dan Block, faithful and true, came to join the festivities.  Here’s some of what I basked in that night:

Jon-Erik pointed out that August 29, as well as being Charlie Parker’s birthday, was also the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  He has a special fondness for New Orleans, and called a number of tunes that had connections to that city. 

Here’s a song that leaps into your lap and says YES — ‘DEED I DO:

JUMPIN’ AT THE WOODSIDE where, if you look closely, you’ll see Jon-Erik playing air trombone (to fit in with the general sliding going on) and hear John Allred sing a few high-pitched countermelodies — everyone having a wonderful time:

MANDY, MAKE UP YOUR MIND began with the verse — played as a duet for trumpet and guitar — before the jamming on the more well-known chorus began:

NEW ORLEANS, written by Hoagy Carmichael, sung by Louis and Jimmy Rushing, among others, got a beautifully pensive treatment:

THAT DA DA STRAIN went back to the New Orleans Rhythm Kings — recorded first in the very early Twenties and still a very lively piece of jazz history:

And the way that everyone wrapped up the evening was a collective improvisatory musing on the question that continues to be central to philosophical and ontological inquiries, HOW COME YOU DO ME LIKE YOU DO DO DO (I Ain’t Done Nothing To You)?  It’s such a deep issue that the EarRegulars took a long time to consider the issue and its implications:

And the final bit of goodness:

3 responses to “GOOD OLD NEW YORK: THE EAR INN, August 29, 2010

  1. For a real history of the music scene in the original ear inn (you know why it’s called the Ear Inn, for instance?), go on The Daily Growler and type in “One Spring Morning Off Spring Street” or “Ear Inn”–“One Spring Morning Off Spring Street” is a 35 chapter (post) extended history of Lester Bangs and his being introduced to the Ear Inn happenings by some of the more colorful Ear Inn patrons who frequented the Ear on a home-like basis from the time it opened in 1977 until most of us who lived in that neighborhood were priced out of it and the Ear was taken over by Jerry and Don and became a different place with a whole different directional attitude–In the early days of the ear, musicians like Perry Robinson, Jerome Cooper, Phil Glass, Laurie Anderson, Rhys Chatham, Ned Sublette, the Fabulous Swilltones, Cameron Brown, the Rattlers, etc., gained some of their fame performing in the old Ear Inn back dining room that at that time was on the verge of collapsing down into the Hudson River that used to run down Washington Street and the Ear Inn’s basement was affected by the tides.

  2. peterconnie.muller

    the ear in. thesr guys are fanstic. i cant wait to hear each one you send me. keep them coming.

  3. Very interesting Ear history lesson, thanks, Mr. Wolf!
    I just read some of the stuff on the Daily Growler.
    The food at the Ear is actually not at all artsy-fartsy or expensive, and has not been since I started going there in the early or mid nineties.
    I’m sure it was different back in the day, especially the crowd that you might see there, but there are still some good things happening there.
    all the best,
    Jon (bandleader and trumpeter in the EarRegulars)

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