This is part of a series about Hoboken that will run twice a month in the Current and the Hoboken Reporter. It will feature long-established businesses that add to the charm of our fair city.
Resting on the corner of 11th and Washington, Maxwell’s has become synonymous with rock club. Ask any upcoming group or seasoned musician which well-known clubs they’ve played at, and chances are that Maxwell’s is on the list.
Owners Todd Abramson and Dave Post, who bought the establishment in August of ’98, have kept that dream alive for new bands that hope for a little of the success of their predecessors.
Long before he owned Maxwell’s, Abramson began booking bands for the club in May of 1986, when it was owned by the Fallon family.
Abramson is a modest man who genuinely loves music, yet shies away from taking credit for the A-list bands that have passed through the doors.
According to Abramson, he was a big fan of music as a kid and became somewhat obsessed with it, although he never figured it would be a career path for himself.
His method for picking bands was simple: he picks what he likes.
“I was always looking for bands that I liked,” said Abramson. “Whether they were important or not, if I thought they were good, I brought them here.”
The list of talented performers is long and includes well-known: Nirvana, REM, Oasis, White Stripes, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo and more.
Bruce Springsteen and the Feelies filmed a video in the rock club.
According to Abramson, not every band is a good fit for the back room.
“From inception to now, most of the bands have been guitar-driven groups,” said Abramson.
Abramson is known in the business as having a knack for picking talent, yet attributes his success to having the right connections.
“Not to deflect the praise,” said Abramson, “but sometimes it was just knowing the right people.”
According to Post, everyone has their own favorite story about famous bands.
“My favorite was when Beck played,” said Post. “They did a surprise show and left through the basement door.”
According to Post, a couple times a year there will be an appearance by a music legend at the club.
“Often it will be as a special guest,” said Post. “They will be coming to see a band and get up and do a song.”
The all-female rock band Antigone Rising was discovered at Maxwell’s by Jason Flom.
The band recently returned to the back room where their own history was made.
According to Abramson, people often return to see a favorite musician.
“A lot of people have been coming to see shows here for three decades or more,” said Abramson.
A neighborhood place
Yet Maxwell’s is more than just a live music venue. Both Abramson and Post have strived to keep the character of the place, while adapting to changes in town.
According to Abramson, part of that is allure is the consistent staff.
“People come here and they know that they will be treated well,” said Abramson.
On any given night, locals come in for dinner in the cozy front room along with people from out of town who stop in to see a band in the back room.
“We get a young crowd that comes here to see a certain band,” said Post, “and the old-time Hoboken.”
Since taking over, they have had local artists display artwork on the walls. Each show runs for a month.
“It’s good for regulars and employees to see something new on the walls,” said Post.
“You don’t want to be static,” said Abramson. “You change things here and there.”
But while there have been some cosmetic changes, what won’t change is their commitment to original bands and locals alike.
“I’d like us to stay vital for the local community and the music,” said Abramson.