New Jersey Stage logo
New Jersey Stage Menu


Makin Waves' Record of the Week: The Wooden Soldiers' 30th anniversary of 'Hippies, Punks and Rubber Men'


By Bob Makin

originally published: 09/25/2017

Makin Waves' Record of the Week: The Wooden Soldiers' 30th anniversary of 'Hippies, Punks and Rubber Men'

 

Makin Waves' Record of the Week: The Wooden Soldiers' 30th anniversary of 'Hippies, Punks and Rubber Men'

 

 

The Wooden Soldiers’ 1987 debut EP, “Hippies, Punks and Rubber Men,” inspired me to return to writing about the local music scene in 1988 shortly before I was given this column by Jay Lustig at East Coast Rocker. In celebration of the record’s 30th anniversary, here is a recollection of its impact. 



 
Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info



 

The first independent record I ever heard by a New Brunswick band was The Wooden Soldiers’ “Hippies, Punks, and Rubber Men.” It was 1987, and I was living with friends in a frat house at Rutgers, while working in an office there. It was cheaper than renting an apartment and buying my own beer.

A couple of my friends were fans of The Wooden Soldiers, a phenomenal alt-roots band that predated that term by a few years with a lyrical, ragged jangle that stuffed Bob Dylan & the Band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Velvet Underground into an blender. The edgy but poetic results delivered something akin to R.E.M. and The Feelies, two influential indie bands that played New Brunswick, as well as Hoboken, in the early ’80s. My friends took me to see The Wooden Soldiers at the Court Tavern I believe in October 1986. They played with another great New Brunswick band, Spiral Jetty, and they eventually would become label mates on North Jersey-based Absolute A Go Go Records, which gained notoriety a few years later for signing Phish. 

About a year after my first Wooden Soldiers concert, a friend got a copy of their seven-song debut EP, released on vinyl before CD became the go-to medium. I remember being so impressed with every song on “Hippies, Punks and Rubber Men,” especially “Henry David Thoreau,” a “Big Yellow Taxi”-like satire about the loss of freedom and nature. I was psyched that a local band I really liked had put out exceptional vinyl with an artistic album cover. And I was even more psyched that when I saw them again and bought my own copy, the Court Tavern was so packed that it took five minutes to get from the stage to the bathroom 50 feet away. 

The Wooden Soldiers had two strong singer-songwriters-guitarists as co-front men, Paul Rieder, the band’s Dylan, and Greg Di Gesu, their Lou Reed. It was the strength of Rieder’s “Henry David Thoreau” that made me want to write about music again, along with “Commercial Avenue,” a funky, Latin-tinged nod to the street that would become part of New Brunswick lore as breeding ground for the basement and house show scene. A couple of months after I bought “Hippies, Punks and Rubber Men,” I was doing that zombie walk through Port Authority en route from the Commercial Avenue apartment I now was renting to a dreaded public relations job on Madison Avenue when I stumbled upon East Coast Rocker at a newsstand. The rest, as they say, is history.

It’s been 30 years since The Wooden Soldiers released “Hippie, Punks, and Rubber Men.” The anniversary is Oct. 10 and to celebrate, the band will be getting back together in April as part of a show in New Brunswick that also will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Makin Waves, which first featured them in 1988. They will be coming in from Upstate New York, North Carolina and Atlanta to play this show with drummer Matt Guzda and both original bassist Paul Marangelo and his replacement, Claude Coleman Jr., who went on to play with Ween and form Amandla.  

Here’s to Wooden Soldiers and all the other great New Brunswick bands that packed the Court Tavern, as well as the Melody Bar and the Roxy, from 1986 to 1994. May today’s many fantastic but cliquey Hub City bands and its misguided, apathetic authorities respect and preserve that fragile history by unifying into the kind of cohesive scene it was then and by fostering more viable venues in which that talent can presented. 







 
Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info



Artwork by Bruce Carl Meyers, Michael Wendell, Colleen Frendak, Paul Rieder, Greg Di Gesu, Paul Marangelo, Matt Guzda, Toby Bruce Hanson

 

Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor and still a contributor to The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988 as East Coast Rocker. Contact him at makinwaves64@yahoo.com. Like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn

Makin Waves' Record of the Week: The Wooden Soldiers' 30th anniversary of 'Hippies, Punks and Rubber Men'



FEATURED EVENTS

ART | COMEDY | DANCE | MUSIC | THEATRE | COMMUNITY


Marc Broussard – Carencro 20th Anniversary Tour

Monday, March 04, 2024 @ 7:30pm
The Vogel
99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
category: music

Click here for full description


The Life & Music of George Michael

Tuesday, March 05, 2024 @ 8:00pm
Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC)
30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, NJ 07631
category: music

Click here for full description


HYPERCUBE

Tuesday, March 05, 2024 @ 7:30pm
William Paterson University - Shea Recital Hall 101
300 Pompton Rd, Wayne, NJ 07470
category: music

Click here for full description


Click here for more events

Listings are available for $10 and included with our banner ad packages.

Click here for more info.







 

LATEST NEWS


TCNJ's Center for the Arts presents Las Cafeteras

(TRENTON, NJ) -- The College of New Jersey's Center for the Arts presents Las Cafeteras on Wednesday, March 6 at 8:00pm in the Kendall Main Stage Theater. The LA Times describes Las Cafeteras as "uniquely Angeleno mishmash of punk, hip-hop, beat music, cumbia and rock... live, they/re magnetic."


The Princeton Folk Music Society presents Ruth Wyand




Skyline Theatre Company presents Reflections: Ireland In Song and Story




Music in the Somerset Hills presents a concert at the Community of St. John Baptist


Click here for more event previews







New Jersey Stage

© 2024 by Wine Time Media, LLC
PO Box 811, Belmar, NJ 07719
info@newjerseystage.com

Nobody covers the Arts
throughout the Garden State
like New Jersey Stage!


Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms. If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and on our RSS feed


Art | Comedy | Dance | Film | Music | Theatre | Ad Rates | About Us | Pitch a Story | Links | Radio Shows | Privacy Policy