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Graham Parker and the Rumour play free surprise show in Alphabet City

Photo Credit: by GEOFF KESSELL
Photo Credit: by GEOFF KESSELL

IN TUNE : While Nick Lowe was playing a sold-out City Winery near the Holland Tunnel, Graham Parker and members of The Rumour were on the other side of the island, performing a free show in a tiny bar under the name of one of Lowe’s first bands, the Kippington Lodge Social Club.


All that was missing from the ultimate pub-rock trifecta in Manhattan was Elvis Costello.

“This is a tour that lasts one gig,” Parker told a packed house at the Lakeside Lounge in Alphabet City on Thursday night.

To his left: Mr. Martin Belmont on the flying Fender (wearing a shirt comprised of Elvis Presley headshots); to his right: Bob Andrews on electric piano; and behind him, Steve Goulding on drums. Jeremy Chatsky replaced Andrew Bodnar on bass.

One attendee called it “a beautiful one-hour set of pub rock… Just can’t tell you how good this felt.”

Using the name of the 1970s band created by Brinsley Schwartz, the group played a half-dozen tunes without Parker.

“Then GP came out for an instrumental,” one fan said, “and stayed for the rest of the show, singing some and playing on all, including kazoo and “OHMs” on Lowe’s ‘(I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass.’ “

The closer: “Kansas City” (same as way-back-when). Parker and the crew also did, among others, “White Honey,” “Lady Doctor,” and “Fool’s Gold” from their earliest recordings together.

Lowe produced GP & the Rumour’s first and third albums, “Howlin’ Wind,” and “Stick to Me,” which established Parker and his band in the pub rock scene. It wasn’t until “Squeezing Out Sparks,” in 1978, that he achieved fame as a New Wave darling.

That was followed by a quartet of albums not up to Parker’s standards — until he unleashed the flawless “The Mona Lisa’s Sister,” in 1998, followed in succession by a series of intense, folkish gems, as well as a seemingly nonstop flood of do-it-yourself live albums recorded directly from the mixing board (including the two-part “Art Vandelay Tapes”).

Parker opened for Lowe earlier this week at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Westchester, but they didn’t perform together. They’re sharing a bill at a sold-out this Saturday in Mount Tabor.

Belmont and company have long been a unit of their own, first with Brinsley Schwartz, who played rhythm guitar with the Rumour, then with Bontemps Roulez, and, later, with the band named for Schwartz, which evolved from Kippington and included Lowe.

They produced three albums of their own, including “Max,” which Lowe, the producer, thought was a clever pun on Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours.” They also backed Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Carlene Carter and Garland Jeffreys, among others.

Never having achieved the fame he deserved, Parker nonetheless has enjoyed a D.I.Y. career out of his longtime home near Woodstock. When he isn’t playing solo, he’s recording with the talented Figgs — having released five live CDs, a studio album and a live DVD with them — or playing out with the band (a half-dozen tours since 1996), which has amassed its own impressive body of work the past two decades.

Members of the Rumour continued on after the 1981 breakup. Goulding played with the Mekons, and Belmont has done session work with Lowe and Costello.

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