While the film CBGB is shooting here in Savannah, the first ever CBGB Festival will be held at venues in New York City. The festival runs from July 5th through 8th.

It’s more than just about music too — there’s also a film series and a music industry conference, plus even a “spirits fest” with “artisan” liquors. (I love Bulleit, but I don’t know if I’d pin the word “artisan” to it.)

The CBGB Festival will feature both new and established bands. Among the familiar names are Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, Fishbone, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, The Dirty Pearls, The War on Drugs, and Wyclef Jean.


But they’re just part of the 300-band line-up, which sprawls across 30 venues (sounds awfully ambitious for a first-year, huh?) with passes costing only $79. As I write this, the schedule for individual venues is largely unsettled.

The venues are concentrated in the southern portion of Manhattan as one would expect, but there are a few in Brooklyn too. Not knowing NYC geography any better than I do, I can’t say if the venues are in the kind of proximity that would make hopping from one to the other easy.

On Saturday, July 7th, there’s a large free concert at Summerstage in Central Park.

Krist Novoselic of Nirvana will be the keynote speaker for the music conference.

The lineup for the CBGB Festival film series looks great, with all the following included: Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests (why not do this with Dean and Britta?), Exit Through the Gift Shop, Kurt Cobain: About a Son, New York Doll, Patti Smith: Dream of Life, Punk’s Not Dead, The Dead Boys: Live at CBGB 1977, and The Devil and Daniel Johnston.

While there’s a huge amount of information on the festival website, I find it a little hard to navigate, and literally had to stumble upon this incomplete master schedule.

The website does include History of CBGB, as written by the late Hilly Kristal (being portrayed by Alan Rickman in the film being shot in Savannah). Here’s how Kristal’s history starts:

The questions most asked of me is, “What does CBGB stand for?” I reply, “It stands for the kind of music I intended to have, but not the kind of music that we became famous for: COUNTRY BLUEGRASS BLUES.” The next question is always, “but what does OMFUG stand for?” and I say, “That’s more of what we do, it means OTHER MUSIC FOR UPLIFTING GOURMANDIZERS.” And what is a gourmandizer? It’s a voracious eater of, in this case, MUSIC.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked those questions.

A lot of people believe that OMFUG stands for something dirty, but the truth is, I felt that CBGB sounded so pat that I wanted something to go with it that sounded a little uncouth, or crude.

The obvious follow up question is often, “is this your favorite kind of music?”

No!!! I’ve always liked all kinds but half the radio stations all over the U.S. were playing country music, cool juke boxes were playing blues and bluegrass as well as folk and country. Also, a lot of my artist/writer friends were always going off to some fiddlers convention (bluegrass concert) or blues and folk festivals. So I thought it would be a whole lot of fun to have my own club with all this kind of music playing there. Unfortunately – or perhaps FORTUNATELY – things didn’t work out quite the way I’d expected.

Click here for a list of all my posts dealing with CBGB, including the cast and some various posts about the thorny issue of “authenticity”.