Embraced by a laid-back atmosphere, before the house lights went out, it seemed like old friends were visiting, swapping stories and waiting for their chances to perform at the sold-out 10,000 Maniacs 40th anniversary concert at the Reg Lenna Center Saturday.
Bassist and co-founder of the band, Steve Gustafson considers himself lucky to be part of a band that has not only toured the world, but stayed true to Jamestown.
“It’s been 40 incredible years” Gustavson said. “One of the reasons we still go there is because the band members are true friends and we all still love each other. The same goes for our talented team. We’re friends, even family, my son and Dennis’ son both work for us and we all enjoy each other’s company.
Gustafson is quick to say that the town of Jamestown is a big part of the band’s success. And the band played a short video called Jamestown My Home Town before they started playing. The video is proof that the band is paying homage to its roots.
Gustafson said he was adding up all the places the band has played in Chautauqua County over the past 40 years and the last count was 55, bars, venues and events.
“From Mother’s Bar (September 5, 1981) to (the) Bergman Park Labor Day Festival, to Chautauqua Amphitheater and The Reg. It’s quite incredible. Gustavson said.
The concert was delayed for a year, but according to the band’s brochure available at the show, 2021 marked the 40th anniversary of the creation of 10,000 Maniacs. Founded in Jamestown in 1981, the band has gone through some personnel changes and is still anchored by four of the six original members: Gustafson, keyboardist Dennis Drew, guitarist John Lombardo and drummer Jerry Augustyniak. Founding vocalist, Natalie Merchant left the band in 1993 to pursue a solo career and was replaced by backup vocalist, Mary Ramsey, who proved to be a natural fit for the band vocally and added another dimension to the band with his prowess on the violin. and viola, said the brochure. Guitarist and founding member Robert Buck died in 2000 and was replaced by Jeff Erickson, Buck’s close friend and member of the Zeta Cauliflower jam band.
The touring schedule isn’t as hectic as it once was, Gustafson noted.
“We don’t tour like we did in the beginning. These six-month tours are in the rearview mirror,” adds the bassist. “For the most part we only play long weekends these days and then it’s home for our families. I think that’s contributed to our longevity. I like to say that of all my travels, my favorite is the return trip.
Gustafson said the band was thrilled to play at Reg.
“Theatre has a special place in our hearts. It played a big role in my life.” Gustavson said.
Prior to being known as the Reg Lenna Center for The Arts, it was previously known as The Palace Theatre. He recalled watching movies there as a child, being on the center’s board of directors, writing and recording songs there, shooting the first MTV video of the band on that stage and having them (the center) as the owner when he and Drew owned Stage Left Restaurant. , which was located next door.
“We’ve worked on songs for pretty much every album on this stage,” says Drew in the pamphlet. “We shot our first MTV video there in 1985. We recorded demos there for Our Time in Eden in 1992.”
During its 40 years, the group has released 14 albums, the pamphlet notes. The critically acclaimed landmark album, In My Tribe, was included in Rolling Stone Magazine “100 Best Albums of the 80s.” In 1993, the band performed on MTV’s Unplugged. The recording of this show has sold over four million copies. The group has had eight Billboard Hot 100 singles and made numerous television appearances, including Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show. The band has also performed in 45 of the 50 United States and 19 countries, including a USO tour of the Middle East in 1999, the pamphlet says.
Opening the band was Rusted Root vocalist and guitarist Michael Glabicki. The band are no strangers to Jamestown, performing at Joyce’s Keg Room in the early to mid-1990s.
Glabicki said he dropped out of college to pursue songwriting full-time and start a band. He added that 10,000 Maniacs has always inspired him. And on a fun note, he remembered Joyce’s Keg Room and remembered eating the pink eggs that were in a clear jar behind the counter.
“I almost had to cancel the show” he said.
Gustafson added that he and the rest of the band would like to thank the people of Jamestown and The Post-Journal for their constant support over the years. “We couldn’t have done it with you”, he said.
He and the band would also like to thank Shults Auto Group, Jamestown Local Development Corp. and Downtown Jamestown Revitalization Initiative for supporting the concert.
“We definitely plan to give back to our community,” Gustavson said.