The Greenwich Odeum will be rocking and rolling Saturday, December 10 when The Smithereens pull into town. The band, which had its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s will feature fellow traveler Marshall Crenshaw on guitar and vocals, as well as original members Jim Babjak, Mike Mesaros, and Dennis Diken who we interviewed last week.
We’ve got two pairs of tickets to give away to the show… if interested, e-mail Ken Abrams at firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, December 8 at Noon. Winners will be notified by e-mail Thursday evening.
Longtime fans may recall that The Smithereens formed in New Jersey in 1980, featuring a power-pop sound with strong, catchy melodies, eloquent lyrics, and walls of layered guitar, bass, and drums. The upbeat sound on songs like “Only a Memory” and “A Girl Like You” made them FM radio favorites back in the day. After the death of founding member Pat DiNizio in 2017, Marshall Crenshaw began touring with the band. Over a forty-year career, they’ve never strayed far from their New Jersey roots sound.
They’ve been busy lately according to Diken. “We’ve been doing a lot of gigs lately since the world got back to some sense of living again. We also released two records, the Lost album which is a collection of recordings we did when we were between labels in 1993, that were sitting around for years in our archives. The 12 songs that comprise that album were among the unreleased tracks we felt stood up well as an entire album. We just needed to sequence them, master it, and put a cover on it. We’ve been doing some songs in our show from the album. People have been digging it which is very heartening.”
“We also reissued our Christmas album which we did in ’07; it’s nice to have that back in circulation. To our fans it’s all new material, to us, it’s like wow, we’ve been hanging on to this for a long time, it’s nice to finally get it out there. It’s what they call a win-win,” laughed Diken.
Looking back, Diken recalls numerous highlights as a member of the band, but a few stand out.
“On our first tour in the fall of 1986, there was a show on MTV called ‘The Cutting Edge,’ hosted by Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones. I think I speak for all members of the band in saying that particular clip really captured the personality of The Smithereens, better than any TV show, or other appearance in the media. On that first tour, we were in a van for 15 or 16 months with just a trailer. I still think of that as my favorite tour because things were really happening and we were discovering that our career really had legs, not just one single, but two or three singles were happening. We toured the nation a couple of times and then went to Europe.”
Diken shared another fond memory. “In August 1988, we were doing a summer tour opening for Squeeze, and one of the gigs brought us here to New Jersey to what was then called the Brendan Byrne Arena. Even though we were opening for Squeeze it was really a homecoming gig for us. Many of our friends and members of our family were there. It felt like it was really our show at this giant arena.”
“To this day, the fact that we have an audience and our fans are so loyal that they keep coming out to shows to see us is the only reason we keep doing this,” said Diken. “It’s always been so heartening that our music meant something to people, that it helped through their day and their lives. A lot of these folks that come to see us were there when we were playing colleges, they’re coming back to see us now.”
Diken is looking forward to recording new music with the band in 2023 and mentioned Denny’s Den, a weekly streaming radio show he hosts on WFMU. “You can get on the archives 24-7, it’s on the Rock and Soul stream.” Listen to the show online here.
Meanwhile, grab a ticket to the show when the band returns to the Odeum Saturday at 8PM. Click here for tickets to the show.