Power pair: Guitar legends team up for new tour

Brooklyn Daily
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It’s a marriage of pop and punk!

A pair of guitarists with deep roots in the New York City music scene have finally joined forces for a joint solo tour. Power pop artist Tommy Keene and pioneering punk player Ivan Julian will both play at Williamsburg’s Union Pool on April 19, each doing solo sets and then teaming up for a few tunes, and Keene is excited at the prospect of playing with his old friend.

“I think it will be really interesting,” said Keene. “We both like a lot of the same music. He’s a little more into the bluesy, jazzy, punk side and I’m a more melodic guy. But it works!”

The two met in the 1970s at legendary punk venue Max’s Kansas City and immediately hit it off. Julian was playing guitar with Richard Hell and the Voidoids, while Keene was in the band Razz. When both acts broke up, the two almost teamed up, but a last-minute tour commitment kept Keene from joining the Outsets.

“I almost joined, but I didn’t, because I got an offer to go on tour with Suzanne Fellini,” Keene recalled with a chuckle. “The money was too good to resist.”

Julian would go on to work with the Clash, Shriekback, Matthew Sweet and the Fleshtones, while Keene became a cult figure in the power pop and New Wave scene, releasing more than a dozen critically acclaimed solo albums over the next 30 years.

All the while, Keene and Julian stayed in touch. Last October, not long after Julian won a long battle with cancer, an impromptu conversation led the two to finally team up.

“Ivan asked me, ‘What are you doing next?,’ ” said Keene. “I told him I was going to Japan for some live dates, and then I would be doing a solo tour. He said, ‘Can I jump on that?’ ”

Catch Tommy Keene and Ivan Julian at Union Pool (484 Union Ave. at Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg, April 19 at 8 pm. $12.

Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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