Fatal mystique: Jack Monahan (pictured at left with the original lineup of Fatal Rage) makes a long-awaited revisit to his early 80s hardcore roots, during a month that sees the bearded oracle celebrate his sixtieth in some semblance of style.
He’s been called “stubborn” and “dogmatic” by the most diplomatic among us. Canonized and condemned in equal measure by the thousands of musicians and bands who’ve dealt with him over the years. For more than a generation now, he’s been the first visible, most instantly recognizable face of The Brighton Bar — the bearded sentry Heimdall guarding the mystical bridge to Asgard; the cryptkeeper/caretaker maintaining order in the midst of mayhem; the dour ferryman who takes your coin and dispenses his ‘X,’ sometimes not without a brief sermonette on how you haven’t been “supporting the scene” through frequent enough visits.
While it’s not the stuff of a successful career as a WalMart greeter, the presence of Jack Monahan at the door of the Home of Original Music has been the one real constant through several different chapters of the Brighton Bar memoir; this despite never having had a financial stake in the former package-goods pitstop turned heir apparent to CBGB.
Fateful frontguy to some half a dozen seminal indie outfits; a postpunk poet who established the Upper Wet Side’s longest running spoken word series; a “band bookie” of nationwide repute (and a man whose Tolkienesque look was bitch-stole wholesale by fast-fading record guru Rick Rubin), Jacko has been there, done that, and returned to do it time and again regardless of fad or fashion — a larger than life figure who, as he told the Asbury Park Press in 2008, has parceled out that life “20 years booking, 35 years playing, 40 years underground.”
In an era that’s necessitated a slight shifting of the CoJack Productions focus beyond the Brighton, Monahan remains defiantly “underground” where many of his contemporaries struggle simply to stay topside of the topsoil. And, in a month that sees Jacko celebrate his landmark 60th birthday with a public party at The Saint in Asbury, the patron saint of all that’s passionately indie has saved the biggest surprise for this coming weekend — the long awaited, 30 years in the making reunion of Fatal Rage.