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CBGB Back From the Dead, Sorta

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Many, many years ago, when I was sixteen (aught five for the curious) a few friends and I headed into the big city for one of the “Save CBGB” benefit shows. The punk rockness of the moment was only slightly undercut by the fact that tickets were $40 each and the last train out of the city got us home by 1AM.

Of course, as most people probably know, CBGB was not saved. Since 2006, the venue has lived on only in memories and t-shirts available all over the Internet

That is, until now. According to the New York Times, a group of investors have bought the rights to the former Bowery institution, and plan to have a music festival this summer. Eventually, they intend to reopen the club in a new location, not as a museum but as an active venue.

The festival begins July 5 and will run for four days. It will include over 300 different acts and take place in clubs all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, including Webster Hall and Central Park Summer Stage.

Organizers claim that while they cannot recreate the club in its heyday, they are hoping to bring back “the wide-open artistic aesthetic associated with CBGB.” Lisa Burgman, who sold the CBGB estate, told the Times that it was this goal that persuaded her to sell.

The new owners have yet to find a suitable space for a new club. That said, it should look authentic when they do, as much of the old CBGB is in currently in storage in Brooklyn.

Some connected with the former CBGB have expressed worries over whether the new owners share founder Hilly Kristal’s integrity. Perhaps more important is whether or not an institution like CBGB -- or New York’s punk scene -- can really be recreated in today’s city, with its sky-high rents and family friendly image.

Then again, I’m going to wait and see before passing judgment.  Tickets for at least one event -- at Bowery Electric, a venue pretty dissimilar from CBGB -- are available on Ticketmaster (LYV).
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