I always figured that on one of my too infrequent trips to New York I would catch a concert at Tonic. I’ve salivated over the club’s concert calendar for years, from the early days when it featured month-long programs curated by John Zorn and Misha Mengelberg to more recent times, when guitarist and music critic Alan Licht handled the booking. Tonic seemed to carry on the eclectic ideas of the original Knitting Factory without ever succumbing to hubris or arrogance. I had the pleasure of spending some time with the couple that owned the club, Melissa Caruso-Scott and her husband, John Scott, while in Amsterdam a few years ago and they were modest, curious, and friendly—not characteristics you’d expect from New York club owners.
It was inevitable that Tonic would shut down eventually. Keeping an emphasis on musical integrity and depth doesn’t pay the bills, and after nine years the club has been priced out of its Lower East Side neighborhood, where luxury condos have sprouted like mushrooms. Tonic closes its doors for good next Friday, April 13. Again, my mouth is watering at this weekend’s line-up, as a who’s who of the city’s creative music scene is stopping in to pay their respects.
In other news, information about this year’s Music Without Borders series at Millennium Park is starting to emerge: among the performers are Carlinhos Brown, Seun Kuti–Fela’s other bandleading son–Toumani Diabate, and Vieux Farka Toure, son of Ali Farka.