Do Savannnah

Punk legends Richie Ramone, Dwarves headed to The Jinx

  • Richie Ramone
  • The Dwarves

Punk legends Richie Ramone, Dwarves headed to The Jinx

28 Jun 2017



The Jinx is bringing more legendary punk bands to Savannah, continuing a bit of a motif set this year.

Following shows by Agent Orange and The Queers earlier this year, Savannah’s venerated rock ’n’ roll club will host Richie Ramone and The Dwarves for their first-ever show in Savannah.

Richie Ramone, born Richard Reinhardt, was the third drummer to play with the Ramones. In 1983, Marky Ramone left the group and Reinhardt came on board for four years, leaving in 1987. During his tenure with the legendary punk band, Reinhardt played a pivotal role in their revolutionary history.

Frontman Joey Ramone was quoted as saying, “Richie saved the band as far as I am concerned. He’s the greatest thing to happen to the Ramones. He put the spirit back in the band.”

Reinhardt’s contribution to the Ramones, while short-lived, was important. Coming on after the band drifted to a more pop sound, he played in more than 500 live shows, and recorded three full studio albums, “Too Tough to Die,” “Animal Boy” and “Halfway to Sanity” — the first was the only Ramones album to be certified gold.

Reinhardt added a rougher edge the band had drifted away from in the years leading up to his joining. He wrote the hit song, “Somebody Put Something In My Drink,” and was the only drummer to sing lead vocals for the band.

“I realize, yeah, this was an extremely influential band and changed the sound of music when it was glitter disco happening,” Reinhardt told Do Savannah. “It’s very, very interesting. I remember seeing them in 1975 when they first came around. I was like, wow, this is it. I was playing in a lot of funk and horn bands. I was doing all kinds of things. Then I saw them. They were extremely influential. I wear that badge proudly.”

Reinhardt has continued on a different musical path since his time with the Ramones. He helped compose a symphonic piece, “Suite for Drums and Orchestra,” with themes based on the award-winning musical “West Side Story.” In the 2010s, he started up a solo project. He’s produced two studio albums, 2013’s “Entitled” and 2016’s “Cellophane,” under his own name, with a backing band of extraordinary pedigree.

“I do stuff off my two albums and a bunch of Ramones songs,” Reinhardt said of his live shows these days. “A lot of people may not know the records and they expect to hear some Ramones songs and we give them. I do more of the [Ramones’] harder stuff, because it works with my style.

“I am not a really pop-y singer. It works out well. We changed a few songs in rehearsal the last two weeks. We got a few new looks at some songs. I am excited to try the new set.”

Dwarves frontman Blag Dahlia, born Paul Cafaro, was in high school in Chicago in 1980, near the beginning of hardcore punk. He decided to start a band after seeing several live punk shows. Over the years, the Dwarves have evolved through stints of a more hardcore sound, into moments of garage rock, pop punk and eclectic punk, but always with shocking lyrics and wild stage shows.

“It was just a lucky time to be around underground music,” Cafaro said. “I saw every great punk band when they came to Chicago. It just inspired you to want to do something like that. It’s such a fun scene. There was so much action to it. There wasn’t anything else that you wanted to do.

“Sometimes, it’s kind of a stupid form of music to listen to, but it always feels great. You can feel it right in your solar plexus. It’s loud, and it’s right there and it kicks you along.”

Cafaro and the Dwarves have made a name for themselves behind outrageous lyrics — many too vulgar for this family-friendly magazine — and outlandish stunts. They’ve rightfully heard the title of scum punk. Onstage antics have included self-mutilation, sex, drug use and injury to spectators. Sometimes their antics have gotten them into trouble, but they’ve always found a way to rebound.

In the early 1990s, they faked guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed’s death. After a press release announcing his death by stabbing, they attached a tribute to him on their 1993 album “Sugarfix,” which was released on the legendary independent label Sub Pop. When the label found out, they were booted.

But for Cafaro and his group of misfits, they see it all differently. They’ve always pushed to make great records above all else, and have fun doing what they love.

“Most bands censor themselves,” Cafaro said. “From the beginning, we just let it all hang out. It appears that you’re trying to be shocking, when really you’re just talking about what everyone else is thinking.

“It’s the only way for me,” Cafaro continued. “It’s not just interesting enough for me to make the same ol’ straightforward punk record. I couldn’t do it any other way. Then when you get out there and play live, it’s got to come straight from the gut. Those are the two elements that you have to fuse and bring together. You’re trying to make an interesting record that the whole thing is based on. Then you try to deliver it live in a way that screams this is not a concert to be mellow at. This is a show to have a wild time at.”

Following the drop from Sub Pop, in 1997 the band released one of their more popular albums, “Dwarves Are Young and Good Looking.” The album, which features fan-favorite “Everybody’s Girl,” showcased a more pop-punk, garage sound. For their tour this year, they are celebrating 20 years of the record by filling the setlist with tracks from the album.

After 30-plus years, The Dwarves and Richie Ramone are in no way done. The Dwarves are set to release a new album on the independent label Burger Records next February, preceded by an EP this October. Ramone is set to release a new album next year as well.

Although The Dwarves shared a guitarist with Ramone and played a few shows with the legend, this will be their first tour together.

“I can’t figure out why we do it, but we do it,” Cafaro said. “We’ve buried a lot of other bands. We’ve watched a lot of other people just kind of fall off and we just keep laughing and doing it.”


What: The Dwarves and Richie Ramone

When: 9 p.m. July 6

Where: The Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.

Cost: $15 in advance, $18 at the door