QUESTION: reference for histories of music on the Lower East Side

question / pregunta: 

I'm researching the countercultural implications of the LES music scene between 1960-1990. Resources for the area's political and cultural history are fairly abundant, but I have not been able to find anything specifically about music... I have found a lot of useful information by sifting through the Village Voice and the East Village Eye archives, but I was wondering if there are any journals dedicated to music from this time period?


Here are a few scholarly articles found using Ebsco (available at many libraries), which address the subject or something like it - if you get them, you may want to check out the sources the articles cite for further ideas.

(I hope to have some further ideas soon - this is a subject of interest to me.)

Title: The Bush Tetras, "Too Many Creeps," and New York City.
Authors: O'Meara, Caroline Polk
Source: American Music; Summer2007, Vol. 25 Issue 2, p193-215, 23p, 2 maps, 1 bw

This article discusses the song "Too Many Creeps" by the Bush Tetras and how it captured the sound and feel of New York's Lower East Side during the 1970s and early 1980s. The song is just over four minutes on record and remains close to E for its entirety. An overview on how the song was made is presented. The author also provided an overview of the Lower Manhattan neighborhoods. The band is made up of Pat Place, Dee Pop, Laura Kennedy and Cynthia Sley. The biographies of the four members bear remarkable similarity to other participants in New York's late 1970s and early 1980s Downtown music culture.

Title:'This is Germany! It's 1933!' Appropriations and Constructions of 'Fascism' in New York Punk/Hardcore in the 1980s.
Authors: Ward, James J.1
Source:Journal of Popular Culture; Winter96, Vol. 30 Issue 3, p155-184, 30p, 6 bw

This article focuses on the re-infusion political meaning into fascism by a number of New York City punk and hardcore bands and their fans in the 1980s. Repoliticized, fascism could serve as an instrument for radical social analysis and for political/ideological mobilization. Flaunting Nazi symbols and quoting Nazi references had already been a favored mode for some pre-punk/early punk bands. Considerable critical opinion has been rendered on the meaning in the popularity of Nazi symbolism in English and U.S. punk. Either punk stood for the inversion of values, by extolling that which was still most taboo; or punk stood for the negation of all values. The anarchy punks sought to create, the anti-authority, and the preference for spontaneous--as opposed to organized--violence put them on the political left, not the right. Hardcore emerged in he early 1980s mainly in reaction to the commercialization of punk. If punk was harsh, loud and occasionally violent, hardcore went several steps further. Bands and fans together projected an alienated, encapsulated attitude and maximized the threat implicit in hardcore performances to guarantee the purity and solidarity of the experience. Semantically, the association with pornography is hardly accidental. In presentation and performance, hardcore music and hardcore films aspire identical ends which is going all the way.

Title: Scholarly monographs on rock music: a bibliographic essay.
Authors: Berger, Monica1
Source: Collection Building; 2008, Vol. 27 Issue 1, p4-13, 10p

This essay covers the widest range of monographs on the topic, providing insight into not only the key scholars but also the diversity of approaches to the topic. The historical approach to the literature gives the reader a sense of how the academic discourse on rock has evolved. This essay is of interest to librarians, scholars of rock music, and others concerned with how American scholarship in the humanities and the social sciences has grown since the advent of cultural studies.

Authors: Mele, Christopher1
Source: Urban Affairs Review; Sep96, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p3-22, 20p

Globalization of the production, distribution, and consumption of culture has affected the identity of locale or neighborhood. In many instances, local cultural forms, such as music and art, are appropriated for international consumer markets. The author analyzes the effect of global appropriation on urban form. The emerging global cultural economy creates new opportunities for place entrepreneurs to redevelop poor neighborhoods and challenges the traditional means of local resistance for residents and community groups.

Answer posted by:
jim miller

If you are close to New York Public Library, or a large academic library, it is well worth searching Project Muse, which gets 23 results in All Fields w/Text for "lower east side" AND music* AND countercultur*. JSTOR gets 32 hits for music* AND "lower east side" but many seem not to be full text in JSTOR itself. Many large libraries link to full text in other databases and e-journals that they subscribe to however, so it is still well worth trying that search in JSTOR even if you only want to find online journals.

In RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, the search: "lower east side" gets 16 hits. Note that RILM is not a full text database; compare the Academic Search Premier full text search: TX music* n25 "lower east side" which gets 382 hits for music, musical, musicians, etc within 25 words of the phrase "lower east side". Even limiting to "scholarly/peer reviewed" journals, that search gets 32 hits.

See the list of NYPL databases that can be searched on site, and ones available by remote access using a NYPL card.

Jim Miller

And if you haven't done so already, remember to try the Zine Library at ABC No Rio, 156 Rivington St on the Lower East Side. One of the zine librarians there can help you find publications covering music of the period.