By Andrea Ramirez-Maciolek–Rock At New New Jersey
Click on the link above to hear the audio interview
If you were heavily into punk rock, alternative, ska, or new wave music back in the 80’s or 90’s in New Jersey or even New York City or Philadelphia for that matter, you’ve probably ventured off to watch the next biggest band without even knowing it at the time in one of NJ’s most infamous local music venues City Gardens in Trenton, NJ.
I was in high school in the late 80’s through early 90’s when my friends would lie to their parents about staying over their friend’s house when they were actually sneaking out to watch a band play at City Gardens. Those were the good old days when my friends had all the fun while I was still trying to figure out how to lie to my parents. I missed out on seeing unknown bands such as Nirvana, and Green Day just to name a few of the 4,000 bands to play City Gardens.
It’s almost sacrilege that CBGB gets all the mainstream music hype when in fact, City Gardens was just on par with its discovery and promotion of future music legends. But, like all things with Trenton, it makes while the world takes and with very little recognition. The genius behind the City Gardens movement at the time was music promoter extraordinaire Randy Ellis also very lovingly known as Randy Now. Randy had the gift of finding and booking future world renowned acts. He was the golden child of Trenton, a King Midas making it work in a city that just can’t seem to get it together.
I met Randy twenty years ago not knowing at the time who he was when my husband introduced me to him at a local event. My husband’s band the Dipsomaniacs was one of the lucky bands to perform at City Gardens in the early 90’s. For as big as the music world can be, especially for Randy who booked so many popular artists, it amazes me how grounded and dedicated he still is in the local music scene.
In this strange new world of pandemic pandemonium the music industry along with it’s artists, venues, and beloved brick and mortar music stores are in danger of extinction. While I was going through my Facebook feed I noticed a post from Randy about how to help save his record store and performance venue from the financial hardships that so many nonessential businesses are facing during this COVID-19 crisis. It is stories like these that should be brought to our attention during a time when our music community needs it the most.
I had the honor of interviewing Randy a few days ago and he is as legendary as the bands he booked. His prolific sense of music put Trenton, New Jersey as a must to stop for some of the most influential bands in the world. Check out Rock at Night’s interview with Randy “Now” Ellis below. While you’re at it, take time Save The Cave by supporting Randy Now’s Man Cave by purchasing a copy of Riot on the Dance Floor or sending donations. More info below!
Get your signed DVD copy of RIOT ON THE DANCE FLOOR : THE STORY OF RANDY NOW AND CITY GARDENS from director Steve Tozzi here.
Help donate to “Save The Cave” by checking out Randy Now’s Facebook HERE
Rock At Night’s theme song is “Get On Down If You Feel Up To It” by Billy “Bass” Alford
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