Rock N Roll has lived, breathed, evolved and injected itself into NewYork City - transforming itself, the city, the people and the very culture of America and the world along the way. Please allow us to show you the when, the how, the why, and the who.
A walk through Manhattan's East Village is a walk through Rock N Roll history. Boston can have their Freedom Trail and Philly can keep their Liberty Bell, nowhere has more history, culture and tradition than New York City and nowhere rocks nearly as hard. Since famed radio DJ Alan Freed coined the term Rock N Roll, New York has been its ground zero.
Sure, you could go to Cleveland and walk through a museum, or surf Wikipedia until you're blind….OR you could immerse yourself in the very streets and sights where ordinary men and women became immortal rock gods and the proverbial "shit went down." We're talking about a walking tour of the great Rock N Roll haunts of NYC, a one-of-a-kind pilgrimage through the East Village and Lower East Side. This is where rock transformed from music to religion.
The Rocks Off Walking Tours will show you ALL OF IT and then some. See where , the Fillmore East, CBGB, Max's Kansas City, The Palladium, The Ritz / Webster Hall, Irving Plaza, Tompkins Square Park, where the Strokes got their start and tons more! Be prepared to walk the streets that LEGENDS have walked, piss in urinals that Lou Reed pissed in, see where your hosts performed concerts, booked concerts, worked security and got into fistfights. See where everyone who was anyone partied, played, created, and inspired the whole wide world.
Who better to lead you on your journey through rock history than the dudes who eat, drink and occasionally vomit Rock N Roll, the guys who kneel at the altar of rock, devil horns raised. Our tour guides have spent a collective 500 years in the business and the neighborhood and are sick and tired of keeping all of their knowledge and passion to themselves. Let us enlighten you! You too can taste sweet, delicious Rock and Roll history.
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THE PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE of ROCK N ROLL in NEW YORK CITY:
This is a walking tour of the highest order. We're not here to give you a pedestrian pedestrian guide to the city. We want you to feel like you’ve lived, drank, eaten, and shat New York City Rock, and frankly, we'd be flattered if afterwards, you decided not to wipe.
This tour will give you a wicked glimpse into how the edgy East Coast scene took its first breaths in tiny clubs before exploding to the forefront of culture. Your guide Jake has spent the last 17 years working those very clubs, since arriving as a 20 year old from Lowell, Massachusetts, with nothing but $200 earned selling bootleg classic rock tapes in the parking lot of a Rolling Stones concert. Who the fuck else is better equipped to lead you through the story of NYC's sonic bedlam -- how shows get booked, and how they go off, from the planning stages to when the lights go down and the curtains come up -- than a guy who:
• earned his first free-entry-getting "golden ticket" to a top-notch club by getting into a fistfight.
• collected cash at a seminal rock mecca's door while wearing a Mexican wrestling mask and handing out jolly ranchers.
• rose through the ranks to become the talent buyer at legendary rock meccas Wetlands, The Knitting Factory, and CBGB.
• founded NYC's sweetest independent concert promotion company, Rocks Off, the juggernaut behind the ballsiest live-music series in the universe, Rocks Off
• Concert Cruises -- now in its 11th year of convincing everyone from Bad Brains, to M.I.A., to Hank Williams III to rock their asses off on a boat, in the middle of a goddamn river.
• founded TRAGEDY: A Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees when he was 33 years old and hadn't played in a band since High School. Then shepherded the group into one of the city's top local acts, and onto the national and international touring circuit (let's just say Great Britain now knows the answer to "How Deep is Your Love").
• In other words, this tour isn't led by some opportunist who read a couple of books, or by some washout who doesn't give a damn anymore about the very sites he's showing you. This is a guy ready to give you FIRST HAND ACCOUNTS of what he's done, and more importantly CONTINUES to do on a daily basis.
• If you want to know how how the rock n roll business works, and oftentimes doesn't work -- complete with hilariously offensive, almost unbelievable tales -- this is your man. Yes, folks, NYC Rock and Roll ain’t dead yet. Join us on "The Evolution of Rock N Roll in New York City Through The Eyes of a Living, Breathing, and Working Concert Promoter, Rock God and Hell Raiser", and you'll learn just how alive it is.
Hosted by Jake Szufnarowski
THE HISTORY OF ART, CRIME, DRUGS and PUNK ROCK ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE:
What was it about the Lower East Side that attracted so much talent and crime in the last 40 years? Since my early days of punk back in the summer of 1977 I’ve been exposed to some of the best music and the worst crime. Everything from Max’s Kansas City to the Alphabet City Butcher Daniel Rakowitz who lived right above me and killed his girlfriend, chopped her up and fed her to the homeless in Tompkins Square Park. I was also in that park when the riot of 1989 kicked off and I played one of the last shows at CBGB’s.
Most people walking around on the Lower East Side today with its trendy boutiques and coffee shops have no idea of its history, the great music and violence that has always co-existed side by side down here. I’ll take you to the punk clubs, gang hangouts and drug spots where some of the craziest things went down. It’s a first hand account from someone who was immersed in the danger having myself grown up on the streets of NYC since the age of 14. I guarantee you it will be a true punk rock & crime history lesson from someone who was there way back then and is still here.
We will drop by the famous CBGB’s location where The Ramones and so many other legendary punk bands started. We’ll walk by Great Gildersleeves where the Hells Angels regularly ran people over on their motorcycles. Stroll down memory lane at Saint Marks Place passing Trash and Vaudeville (punk store), the Electric Circus where the likes of Bad Brains, Crass, and so many others jammed. All the while telling you my anecdotes and funny stories of the crazy shit I’ve seen go down. Then Tompkins Sq Park, giving first hand knowledge of the area's events. We’ll even hit MANITOBAS for Bob Gruen's famous Punk Rock photo exhibit before we go by the Ritz (now Webster Hall) and Irving Plaza where so many great bands like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, Motorhead (first US gig), The Damned, Buzzcocks played and where the late punk-rocker John Belushi slam danced his nights away. Finally our last stop on the tour will be Max's Kansas City where we end in Union Sq Park discussing the area and what is what it was like. Drugs, hookers, violence, the Palladium where The Clash's London Calling album cover was shot and many great bands played. Ever heard of Julien's Pool Hall? The porno theaters where I’d sleep in the dead of winter for 50 cents a night and the Gramercy Park Boxing Gym (now PC Richard’s) where my old man and many World Champions boxed. The bottom line is, whether you’re a seasoned New Yorker or someone visiting the city on vacation, this tour is not to be missed. I can guarantee that it will be a memorable experience.
Hosted by John Joseph
THE ORIGINS OF THE UNDERWORLD OF LOWER NEW YORK
Strolling the streets of the East Village and the Lower East Side, it’s easy to pass by a piece of History and not even realize it. Come discover how the addresses of many current and former bars, clubs, eateries, apartment buildings, shops, and even churches were the sites of some the most brutal crimes and home to some of the most notorious gangsters and criminals in American history. Learn about the actual individuals and events that inspired the characters and storylines in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, BBC America’s Copper, The Great Gatsby, Once Upon A Time In America, The Gangs Of New York and more.
Learn how immigration, class struggles, politics, and the assimilation of yesteryear inspired criminal activity of turn of the century New York City, and molded what we know as modern day New York.
Some of the featured Sites visited on the tour are:
• The former grounds of MCGURK’S SUICIDE HALL
• Jean Basquiat’s home
• The Tammany Hall Building
• Lucky Luciano’s Palm Casino
• The Blue Bird Café - Monk Eastman’s murder site
• The whole Foods of Union Square, which was housed in the same location where one of the most notorious gangsters the world over was killed in 1920.
Plus, many more locations. Individuals/gangsters of note mentioned on the tour include Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Tim Sullivan, Monk Eastman, Paul Kelly, Big Jack Zelig, Doris Rachnis, and many, many more.
Hosted by SETH "THE GOON" ABRAMS
Concert Promoter. Band manager. Record Label Chief. Impresario. Founder of the Rocks Off Concert Cruise Series -now in it's 11th glorious years of promoting floating rock n roll concerts in New York Harbor. And currently the frontman for the international touring rock n roll juggernaut TRAGEDY: A Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees. Since 1994 Jake has lived, breathed and shaped Rock n Roll in New York City. He has booked the legendary rock n roll meccas Wetlands, The Knitting Factory and CBGB. His label Which? Records released records by Daniel Johnston, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Shining Path (featuring Dr Know and Darryl Jennifer of the Bad Brains), H2O, The Meatmen, Murphy's Law, the Dickies, and many more. He booked the farewell festival at Wetlands (which featured Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, blah blah blah) After booking countless nights as a promoter at CBGB, Jake was tapped to book the last 100 shows at the famed rock n roll institution. Jake even sang backing vocals with Joey Ramone on the Furious George song "Gilligan" This guy is so rock n roll that when you call him on the phone the voice you hear is none other than the King of the Surf Guitar DICK DALE telling you "You reached Jake Szufnarowski's phone. He's my buddy - he's the best agent there is in town, you fuck with him I will find your ass and I will wack you!" So, um, yeah, we think he's pretty qualified to show you around.
Author. Ex-con. Ex-drug addict. Musician. Street hustler. Triathlete. 30 Year Vegetarian / Vegan. Lifelong New Yorker and the frontman of the legendary Cro-Mags. Icon of Hardcore / Punk Rock music which was born in the burnt-out buildings where he squatted on the lower east side of Manhattan. John formed the Cro Mags in 1984. Before, during, and after his time in the Cro-Mags, Joseph served as an occasional roadie and spiritual diving rod for the Bad Brains on several tours. Since the Cro Mags breakup John kept himself busy with music - criss-crossing the globe with Modes of Ignorance, Bloodclot, Fearless Vampire Killers, and most recently the reformed Cro Mags. He’s currently writing a screenplay for a movie based on his experiences, but guess what? You can catch the stories told first–hand before they hit the big screen.
Seth "The Goon" Abrams
Writer, producer, actor, and native New Yorker Seth "The Goon" Abrams has an affinity for and in-depth knowledge of New York City history, specifically the turn of the century underground. As a historian, Seth has served as historical consultant on Baz Luhrman's/Warner Bros. film remake of The Great Gatsby and on the BBC America show Copper. Inside A Change, a film that Seth co-produced and acted in, was winner of the 2009 HBO Latino Film festival. As an actor, Seth has appeared in a multitude of indie films, music videos, video games, and TV shows. He has been leading various walking tours in Gotham since 2010, and he currently works in research and communication at the National Yiddish Theatre company Folksbiene, a century old theatre company and the oldest Yiddish Theatre in the world.