Concerts

Jim Camacho Talks Little Haiti Rock City, The Mouse King, and Touring With Linda Perhacs

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Tell us about your personal history with Rob.

I met Rob at a wedding, before the Goods even existed, before the Holy Terrors (Elba's well-known post-punk band, which once featured current Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino) even existed. It was a random meeting -- we were seated at the same table. I have this belief that in life you are surrounded by the people you are supposed to be around, and I would say that would be the case with Rob because my brother (Goods' keyboardist John Camacho) and I met him before any of the musical shenanigans we ever got in to. It's really funny how that worked out. I don't even remember whose wedding or where that was -- maybe Rob would remember better. I think there are some pictures from that night.

Something else that is going at the Swamp the night you are all playing is a special screening of the trailer for Franco Parente's Little Haiti Rock City documentary. What is your favorite memory of Churchill's?

I've got so many favorite memories, but Churchill's is a special place for me. I just recently did my interview for the LHRC documentary, so I don't know whether it will be in the trailer, but I spoke about a few of my favorite moments during it. I would say one of my favorites is the Goods' first show, back in 1989.

Isn't everyone's first show at Churchill's?

Yeah! (Laughs) Brian (Warner AKA Marylin Manson) and Scott (Putestky AKA Daisy Berkowitz), when they were first starting out, I remember hanging out with them there at Churchill's and them asking us if they could open for the Goods. So they did for their first show at Churchill's.

So Marilyn Manson's first show was opening for the Goods at Churchill's?

Yeah.

That's rock 'n' roll history right there!

Yes, but it was a horrible experience for them. They had a very tough night. But everything they wanted to do was already there -- the raw power of what they had was already there. They didn't have a drummer yet, and it was very raw, but I've always had a respect for them. Both Brian and Scott are very nice and smart guys, very talented people. Also, doing Fools' Paradise [Camacho's first musical, which also starred Elba] for the first time there was very memorable. I remember Dave [Daniels, former owner of Churchill's] being very happy that night. I think the Goods had the record for the most amount of people [for a performance], but then we broke it with Fools' Paradise. Actually, we're going to be celebrating the tenth anniversary of FP coming up.

How do you feel about being a part of the upcoming LHRC doc?

I'm happy that he [Parente] is the one doing it. I feel like he really gets the scene. The team making it understands what it's about; they have a good perspective on what it is. They have the right cast of characters being a part of it, from Iron and Wine and Iggy Pop to the Holy Terrors, Charlie Pickett, the Jacuzzi Boys -- they have the right perspective on Churchill's. There is no one better to be doing that. These guys have an investment, a rock and roll soul and ties, experience, blood, sweat, and tears. They grew up in the scene, enjoying it and were a part of it. I feel like it's an honor to be a part of that and think it will be an accurate tombstone (laughs) if nothing else, or an accurate time capsule. I couldn't think of a better person than he; it's all heart. He will take it to the finish line in the right way, I'm sure of that.

What's it like working someone as accomplished as MacNeal?

I love Noel, his enthusiasm and his energy and his commitment to the blank page. He believes that anything is possible -- he has all these things and he wants to move real fast on them and it's really an inspiration to work with him. I'm really happy that we've collaborated on what will be our fourth show together, our fifth production, but our fourth show. We've worked on three shows at the Bronx Zoo, three different shows over the last three years and each one gets better. Our relationship with the Zoo is great, the audience is really enjoying it and we've been adding more and more shows each year, and it's been a real success. James Wojtal, Jr. has also been a part of the team there, everyone from the puppet builders to the performers has been great. It's been a great honor to be a part of that whole show.

So, Noel conceived Mouse King but you are the musical muscle behind the production?

You could say it that way. Mouse King was something that he'd been kicking around for some time while I was living in New York. We met through a mutual friend and his wife, at dinner, suggested we work together. When I heard the idea of Mouse King, I thought it was such a wonderful concept -- I nudged him on it. Actually nudged him a few times until we met a coffee shop and brainstormed an outline of where the songs would be and how to take it from a page to a stage. So we did that and now we have it and we're putting it on for a second year in a row. Last year, our first two shows sold out, which was really like a dream come true.

What's new about Mouse King this year?

I'm pumped up about this one -- we added another show to satisfy the demand and we have some exciting surprises. It's has a bigger production value, it's become more of a story, there's more music and there are more puppets. There's going be just a little bit more all-around than last year. It's going to be a special production and fun for the whole family. There's always a chance if we sell out all three shows that we add a fourth.

See also: Jim Camacho Does It for the Kids in Nutcracker Musical Backstory The Mouse King

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Michael Mut
Contact: Michael Mut