After rocking around New York and the world for close to four decades, Eric Ambel still has his mojo. Back when the East Village’s alphabet streets were still defined by the adage, “A you’re alright, B is bad, C you’re crazy, and D you’re dead,” Ambel invested in a bar on B and called it the Lakeside Lounge. Known for an uncompromisingly eclectic jukebox and cheap cans of PBR before that became a bro thing, the Lakeside featured one live band per night and never charged a cover.
On his most recent album, Lakeside, Ambel pays tribute to a time when cool people could afford to live in Manhattan without trust funds and the East Village was where it was dark and the music was good. The album was produced by Jimbo Mathus from Squirrel Nut Zippers and features heaps of the unpretentious, so-loose-it’s-tight rock that Ambel has specialized in since he started out as the guitarist for Joan Jett’s Blackhearts.
When I spoke with him by phone recently, Ambel, who is known as Roscoe to his many friends and collaborators, displayed the same charmingly unpredictable mix of irony and sincerity I remembered from his weekly phone calls to Lakeside co-owner Jim Marshall’s radio show on WFMU in the late 1980s. I was delighted to learn that Marshall, who goes by the Hound when he’s DJing, is back on the air at littlewaterradio.org with his trademark blend of irreverence and obscure 45s. Ambel will be bringing Tom Heyman and his band with him to the Lobero on Saturday, June 24. Expect a swinging, soulful set from them that ought to clean your ears of any residual solstice matter.