×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Steven Van Zandt, Kinks’ Dave Davies Pay Tribute to Smithereens’ Pat Dinizio

Musicians gathered at New Jersey's Count Basie Theatre for “Time and Time Again: A Celebration of Pat DiNizio.”

When The Smithereens first came together as a band, the quartet were musically bonded by a mutual admiration of British invasion acts, from The Beatles to The Who and The Kinks.

In December, the New Jersey rock band mourned the loss of frontman Pat DiNizio, who died on Dec. 12, just as they were announcing a winter tour, which included a stop with Patty Smyth and Scandal at The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. Rather than cancel the Jan. 13 show, the musicians decided that the show must indeed go on, and it was fitting that one of DiNizio’s musical heroes — Dave Davies of The Kinks — was on hand to say goodbye in a moving tribute: “Time and Time Again: A Celebration of Pat DiNizio.”

Davies took to the microphone to say a few words on what he called a “poignant and sad” occasion, before dedicating his own song, “Strangers” to the late singer.

“I don’t want to get too emotional, but I thought Pat had one of the most unique rock voices,” he said. “We are here to celebrate a great singer and a great band, The Smithereens.”

The evening—which kicked off with a set by Scandal that included their own “The Warrior” and cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” in DiNizio’s honor—was presented by E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt as part of the Sirius XM Channel’s Underground Garage channel at the Basie.

After Scandal’s set,  DiNizio was honored by several recorded video tributes—including Pete Yorn who sang a snippet of “Strangers When We Meet” and producer Don Dixon, who said “Pat was complicated” and praised his “instinctive musicality..that can’t be taught.” Other recorded tributes from Suzanne Vega, Graham Parker (who said the band was “a breath of fresh air”), Mark Hudson, Southside Johnny, and Willie Nile all elicited warm responses from the crowd, many of who watched the show from a special open floor configuration in the venue just for the performance.

For the remainder of the show, The Smithereens — guitarist Jim Babjak, drummer Dennis Diken, and bass player Mike Mesaros — were joined by a rotating roster of vocalists, including Van Zandt, former Bongos front man Richard Barone, Gin Blossoms front man Robin Wilson, ZouZou Mansour, The Grip Weeds, Kenny Howes, John Jorgenson, Marshall Crenshaw, Freedy Johnston, Ted Leo, Graham Maby, Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan, Servero Jornacion, The Fleshtones’ Peter Zaremba and Keith Streng, and strong turns from every member of The Smithereens.

Vocal highlights of the evening included Wilson in several appearances, among them: “Blues Before and After,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” “Green Thoughts” and “Blood and Roses,” Ted Leo, completely embracing the moment and sounding so close to DiNizio on “Miles from Nowhere” it induced goosebumps, Barone — who drummer Diken thanked for giving The Smithereens a break opening for his band, The Bongos, before delivering a beautiful version of “Cut Flowers,” Bebe Buell bringing a punk rock ethos (and surprise hug and kiss to Babjak on stage) in a spirited “Top of the Pops, Johnston’s sullen interpretation of “Cigarette” and gorgeous turn on “In a Lonely Place,” The Grip Weeds psychedelic melded harmonies for “Now and Then,” Kaye and Shanahan (of The Patti Smith group) bringing rock star cool on “She’s Got A Way,” and Babjak—who is a proud member of the White Castle hall of fame—bringing down the house with “White Castle Blues” after passing out the tasty treat to the crowd. Van Zandt turned the volume up to 11 on two songs (“Sorry” and the show closer “A Girl Like You”).

Nods to DiNizio’s influences were touched on as well, with Crenshaw beautifully delivering Buddy Holly’s “Well… All Right” before “Strangers When We Meet,” and John Jorgenson (joined by The Grip Weeds’ Rick Reil, Kurt Reil and Kristin Pinell) appropriately chose George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” for the occasion.

Most touching was the words of DiNizio’s band mates, particularly Mesaros, who said “the songs will never die.”

“There will never be another one like him,” added Diken. “Pat was one of a kind.”

Seated in the audience was Bruce McDonald, former music director of Boston’s WFNX and Eatontown, New Jersey’s WHTG-FM, who had a long history with the band and traveled a great distance just for the show.

“Tonight was literally a flood of Smithereens memories,” he said. “’In a Lonely Place’ slayed me, and ‘Blood and Roses’ recalled our hang at Pat’s first New York City pad off of Avenue A in which Pat showed me the acoustic  bass on which he wrote that famous bass line. Mike’s poignant line intro of “Pat gave me the greatest gift” gave me chills, as did the respect their peers displayed for my friends-everybody stayed for the shows entirety and rocked out to the tunes backstage.”

Proceeds from the evening — including a donation of $10,000 from White Castle — will benefit the establishment of the Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship Fund.

More Music

  • Beck

    Album Review: Beck's 'Hyperspace'

    Veering dangerously close to the atom heart of the mainstream does something to an artist of adventure. It can make a superman weak in its presence, like Kryptonite (it took years and Tin Machine for Bowie to recover from “Let’s Dance”), or build a stronger artist by moving ever more consistently into success’s center square, [...]

  • The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bono

    U2 Tops Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran as Highest-Grossing Touring Artist of the Decade

    U2 topped the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift as the top-grossing touring artist of the 2010s, according to data from Pollstar. U2 grossed more than a billion dollars — $1,038,104,132, to be exact — although that number is likely to grow, as the group is currently on its “Joshua Tree 2019” tour in Australia, New [...]

  • Def Jam Logo

    Layoffs Hit Def Jam Records

    Def Jam Records laid off several employees this week, including executive VP of brand strategy and content Noah Callahan-Bever and OJ Lima, senior VP in that department, a source close to the situation has confirmed to Variety. A total of seven employees let go, a number that includes regional promotion staffers not based in New [...]

  • Marriage Story

    Randy Newman on Hitting the Romantic Notes of 'Marriage Story' (Exclusive Featurette)

    Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” opens with a seven-minute montage. “I wanted a big, warm romantic score for the movie,” Baumbach says, of the music for his film about a couple whose marriage starts to unravel and their struggle through divorce. “The picture begins with a seven-minute montage. It introduces themes that are such used throughout [...]

  • Tom Waits Come on Up to

    Album Review: 'Come On Up to the House: Women Sing Waits'

    The truest testament to a song’s power is how it plays with others. Songs written by the performer are more likely to land in the singer’s stylistic and vocal wheelhouse; take away that crutch to witness the song’s true strength and character. So while Tom Waits’ genius has been beyond dispute for at least a [...]

  • The Story of Erroll Garner, the First

    The True Story of Erroll Garner, the First Artist to Sue a Major Label and Win

    It’s not at all unusual for artists to engage in creative or financial differences with their record labels, but only a few end up in court. Last year, Kanye West sued his label, Universal, and publisher, EMI, claiming that his deals amounted to “servitude” (the EMI suit was settled in September), echoing Prince’s famous battle [...]

  • Peter Gray

    Columbia Records Names Peter Gray Executive VP/ Head of Promotion

    Peter Gray, who stepped down as Warner Bros. Records’ executive VP/GM and head of radio promotion last year, is joining Columbia Records as the label’s EVP and head of promotion, sources tell Variety. He fills the role vacated by Lee Leipsner, who left the company in March. Gray’s appointment is the latest in a series [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content