The Paramount Theatre
Friday night, December 10th. Night fell fast as I threaded my way through East Village streets to Webster Hall to catch The Bogmen.
I didn’t know of The Bogmen but quickly discovered that Billy Campion, Bill Ryan, Brendan Ryan, Mark Wike, P.J. O'Connor, and Clive Tucker founded the band in Huntington, Long Island, back in the early 90s. One of the biggest underground bands in New York, Arista Records signed them in ‘95. Their first record – Life Begins At 40 Million – was produced by Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison. Since then, they’ve gone on to release four more albums.
The Bogmen have been kicking out the jams for thirty years now, but their mad mix of pop, soul, and reggae, punk, and post-punk is as fresh as ever. They proved it the other night at Webster Hall in Manhattan. Newcomers to the group discovered what The Bogmen’s long-time fan base has known for years – they put on a damn fine show.
I walked into a hall crushed with legions of faithful fans drawn by the group's dynamic live act. Their sound is like no other – an offbeat, polyrhythmic rock groove and a night filled with catchy hooks and earworms that last through the weekend. Bill Campion’s vocals on a song like “Raga” are reminiscent of U2 – and his loopy-loosey, puckish dancing is joyful and charming.
The word exuberant immediately came to mind – as a vibrant flow of projections underscored the entire evening. In a roomful of pink, orange, purple, red, floating zebras and hearts, an animated iron horse, there are so-so many songs to love here. “When the Goddess Goes”, “Treasure Isle,” and on and on. The night was pure lightness, pure brightness, with pops of brass and color. Live brass carried the blend of notes to the back walls, resounding around the audience’s heads as we danced and swayed to the positive vibes.
As the act wound down, they played one of their biggest hits, "Suddenly", a pop masterpiece. Have a listen, and it’ll convince you why The Bogmen are epic.
While The Bogmen’s tunes may sound cheerful, there’s devilish storytelling, social commentary, poetic lyrics, and super-smart commentary about what burns true. And what it means to be human today.
They’ve just finished recording their first album in over a decade, it will release in 2023. We heard a taste – nay, a smorgasbord – at Webster Hall. And lemme tell you, folks . . . you’ll want this in your ears.
As the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, New York City’s 'The Bogmen' will be performing a show at Webster Hall on September 11th to honor lives lost and families affected by September 11th, 2001. The Bogmen’s community was hit hard on 9/11. Their fan base consisted of many people that worked in the towers as well as firemen and police who bravely died in the line of duty. The band was directly affected by the loss of keyboard player Brendan Ryan's wife Kristy, who worked in the World Trade Center. Being that the Bogmen was a hub for many people affected by 9/11, the band decided to play two special shows at Irving Plaza in December, 2001. The goal was to help ease the pain if only for a brief moment, and to commune with the souls who were lost. Those two performances raised over $200,000 for people in need, mainly children in Kristy’s honor. The event also became the subject of a feature length documentary called “We Will Go To Them Tonight’ released in 2006. Now, 20 years later, The Bogmen are doing it again, this time raising money for the Fealgood Foundation, a foundation created for first responders of Sept. 11th.
This time around the band will also be releasing their first new music in over ten years. In 2020, core members Billy Campion, Billy Ryan and Brendan Ryan found themselves under the dark clouds of Covid and with the sudden tragic death of close friend Greg Kline, the three childhood friends began making music again as a form of therapy. The rest of the band Clive Tucker, Mark Wike and P.J. O’Connor later joined the others at Carriage House Studio in Stamford, CT and started recording the first full length record in 20 years. With 3 new songs just released to Bandcamp, the band is excited to premiere a new music video for ‘Summer of Soul’ directed by close friend and longtime collaborator Chris Cassidy. The band tells Look at mt records! that the video “gives the sense that we are all perpetual teenagers, no matter what age. Like the character Huck Finn, always looking at life with a sense of adventure and wonder, yet frightening at the same time. The perpetual cycles of life’s hills and valleys.”
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