Skip to main content
Report this ad

See also:

Demolition String Band's Elena and Boo on a roll with the Stones

Lucky that Demolition String Band principals Elena Skye and Boo Reiners decided to cover the Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup.”

Boo and Keith
Courtesy of Boo Reiners

Not only did a Bandcamp/physical CD single of the song lead to Skye’s booking of Brooklyn’s new Beast of Bourbon, it proved the centerpiece of a chance meeting between Reiners and his guitar hero—and “Loving Cup” co-writer Keith Richards.

“It was recorded at Eric “Roscoe” Ambel’s studio Cowboy Technical Services in Brooklyn,” says Skye. “We’ve been working a lot as a duo, and had wanted to have a duo recording of us when Nate Schweber of the New Heathens asked us to do some harmonies, mandolin, guitar and banjo overdubs on a recording he was working on with Eric--and as payment we could have the rest of the day to record something ourselves. Perfect!”

Skye and Reiners had already worked up “Loving Cup” to play at Schweber’s wedding.

“Nate is a huge Stones fan, and had recorded a video for YouTube of us playing it in our van while driving around on tour which Eric really liked. So it was fitting that we record it,” continues Skye. “We chose ‘Sailor Girl,’ a song I wrote for my daughter Rosamund when she went to work for Lindblad on one of their eco-tourism boats, as the other song. At first we were going to save the tracks for a new album we’re working on at Scott Anthony’s studio Storybook Sound out in New Jersey, but Eric suggested we put it out as a Bandcamp single, which we did, and we did a short run of physical CDs as well.”

Ambel, meanwhile, had been brought in to design the stage, sound system, back line and lights at the Beast of Bourbon, a barbecue joint whose name evokes the Stones’ hit “Beast of Burden.” It opened last September in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and began putting on live music in late January.

“He invited me to be the booker!” says Skye. “I'm trying to book a mix of the great musicians I know and love and younger Brooklyn-based Americana-ish bands that I'm learning about. It’s been a fascinating process.”

The venue, she adds, is “beautiful-looking with a fantastic sound system, but in kind of a crummy part of Brooklyn--although, as it goes, I imagine within a few years that area could be as popping as Dumbo and Williamsburg. Seems the musicians and artists go into those areas to take advantage of the lower rents and bigger spaces, and after them come the people with money and expensive tastes. Not sure that's always a good thing, but that's the way I've seen it go, over and over and over again.”

And then there’s “the whole Boo and Keith story,” says Skye.

To wit, it was the fateful night of January 25th.

“I walked into my Saturday night gig with Swingadelic at Swing 46 near Times Square,” testifies Reiners, Swingadelic being the jump blues/swing/jazz band that he also performs and records with.

“I was riding into Midtown from Hoboken with bandleader/bassist Dave Post and drummer Paul Pizzuti. We get a text from the club's owner, John: ‘Keith Richards is in the bar!’--and we're like, ‘Holy S--t! We gotta get there before he leaves!’”

Ten minutes later, “we're walking into Swing 46, through the bar in the front and towards the back where the dining and dancing is,” continues Reiners. “At a table at the edge of the dance floor in the middle of the room is Keith and his wife Patti having a night out with family and friends—approximately 30 people, among the other patrons, some who knew they were in the presence of rock royalty, some blissfully unaware. I had to walk by his table with my amp and guitar on my way to the stage. We exchanged knowing grins and he reached his hand out for a shake. I then spoke to him, ‘It sure is great to see you here!’"

Reiners proceeded to set up his Fender Deluxe reverb amp and leaned it against his '52-style Telecaster—“the same guitar Keith uses, that he named Macawber.”

“We exchanged grins again," relates Reiners. "Soon we started our first set and during the first song he looked at us all with two thumbs up, and continued every other song--listening and giving us the thumbs up! We finished the set and of course went to meet him. He was really pleased with what he heard and was especially complimentary to me, and seemed to be having fun as I was obviously geeking out at being in his presence! We chatted and made some small talk, talked about my guitar--and I gave him the new Demolition String Band duo CD single with ‘Loving Cup’ on the B-side and he seemed touched by that. He wanted my phone number so I wrote it on the CD cover!”

Before Reiners and the rest of Swingadelic finished their break and returned to the bandstand, he invited Richards to “commandeer my guitar for a tune or two.” He “politely declined,” says Reiners, and in his best Richards impression, quotes him: "Oh, you've got this, mate, and besides, it's me night off!"

The band commenced its second set.

“He stayed almost to the end before putting on his Ray-Bans and jacket, and giving us a wave, he started making his way toward the exit. He could not have been more authentic, more gracious, more pleased--just an unbelievable combination of blinding aura and salt-of-the-earth accessibility. A completely unexpected thrill that left me and my bandmates stunned and dazed."

Still stunned and dazed, Reiner concludes: "To have his ear for a few hours on a Saturday night dance floor, and then get his stamp of approval, is not a gift or stroke of luck I could have ever imagined, or ever expected. And then to feel a sort of bonding for some fleeting moments with this guy I've been listening to since I was a wee lad is, well....”

Reiners leaves his final thought unfinished.

But Skye is there to pick up the slack.

“To have recorded ‘Loving Cup’ and have Eric invite me to book Beast of Bourbon, and then the whole Boo and Keith story—it just seemed like we had to do a Rolling Stones night!” she says.

And so Beast of Bourbon presents, tomorrow night (Mar. 7), Exile on Myrtle Avenue—A Tribute to the Rolling Stones, hosted by Boo Reiners and Elena Skye, and starring, among others, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel and Mary Lee Kortes.

Beast of Bourbon, of course, is located at 710 Myrtle Ave.

Subscribe to my pages and follow me on Twitter @JimBessman!

Report this ad