CBGB The Movie: Thanks For Remembering Hilly
The Laughing Dogs song, "Get Outa My Way" is in the CBGB soundtrack.
I just saw the CBGB movie on the big screen. I knew Hilly pretty well and liked the man. I played at 'CBs' with my band The Laughing Dogs from 1975 to 1979 which is the time period of this film. I remember we auditioned on a Tuesday night in 1975 and played to just Hilly and a few others who were in the club that night. The pool table was still in the back near the stage and a few of the guys from the band Television were playing pool. During our audition, one of them (I think it was Fred Smith - the bassist) went over to Hilly and made some positive comments about us. Hilly had us performing there the following week with The Shirts. We also 'double billed' with Talking Heads, Blondie, Mink Deville, The Miamis, Stuart's Hammer, and many other talented groups. We even opened for ourselves as The Fabulous Kojacks!
CBGB, from my point of view, is the story of how so many talented musicians and songwriters finally got a place to play their own stuff and let loose for an audience of passionate and excited fans who wanted to see and hear something new. And what a great place to hang out - it definitely was the scene! Hilly provided the stage that ultimately became a showcase for record companies to see and sign groups. Bands met other bands and hung with each other in that little dressing room. Hilly gave new music a place to live and thrive, the almost dying art of songwriting and originality was saved and everyone came from everywhere to see what was going on.
If it wasn't for CBGB (and Hilly), I'm pretty sure that every one of the same labels that signed these bands would have turned almost all of them away. My band and our songs were turned down for years by label after label. After we started playing at CBGB, almost every record company wanted us and we ended up signing a contract with Columbia.
There were so many bands that played CBGB that it would be impossible for the film to include everyone's favorites. It's understandable that viewers may be expecting to see many of the bands that appeared on Atlantic's "Live at CBGB's - The Home of Underground Rock" double album as well as many many others that are not even mentioned.
It's hard to review this movie other than to say you either liked it or you didn't. I'll say that it was pretty good. The film comes with a great soundtrack and lots of laughs too. Although some diehard punks might disagree, I think the humor is a plus and keeps the film from taking itself too seriously. The theatre audience seemed to agree.
I was there at CBGB, and I found the sets and characters mostly true to life. After all this is a movie and not the real thing. However, I understand that punks are not supposed to like anything, so how could they give the movie a good review and still be punks?
I think it should have been called "Hilly" instead of "CBGB". I would have liked it to be more about the music than dog poop, the filthy bathrooms, etc. - but that was also accurate CBGB history. In any case, I'm glad that a movie was made about one of the friendliest club owners I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Also, that younger people who've never even heard of CBGB might now search out some of the music that came out of the place, and maybe start a garage band of their own. I would've said "punk band of their own" but we never called ourselves punks.
Personally, I want to thank my old friend Hilly, who I'd hang out with by the front door many a night talking about music, record deals and idiotic band names. Thanks Hilly - you let us do what we wanted to do and made it possible for people to hear our music.
Jimmi Accardi (The Laughing Dogs)
Click on the photo to watch excerpts from Jimmi Accardi's Q&A at the CBGB opening, Crest Theater in Sacramento.