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One … two … 10,000 Maniacs take the stage
by Krystal Bick
May 06, 2009 | 1330 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo -
Courtesy photo -
As any fan that has followed the early ’90s band 10,000 Maniacs knows, the group has seen a lot through the years. Chart-topping singles, playing at the Inaugural Ball for President Bill Clinton and, of course, an ever-fluctuating member lineup that has boasted the likes of Natalie Merchant, all have garnered the alternative rock band an iconic spot in music history.

And, as audiences will find out Saturday night at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, they’re still going.

Started back in 1981 and named after a low-budget horror movie “Two Thousand Maniacs!” the original New York group's sound was anything but maniacal. Members included lead vocalist Natalie Merchant, guitarists John Lombardo and Robert Buck, keyboardist Dennis Drew, bassist Steve Gustafson and drummer Tim Edborg, and they played primarily cover songs with mellow tempos and soft rock rhythms.

Eventually, original material came about and their first EP album, “Human Conflict Number Five,” was released in 1982, landing the then-expanding group more gigs in and around the East Coast.

It wasn’t until a few records later in 1984 that the group would sign with Elektra Records, leading to the eventual recording of their 1985 album “The Wishing Chair.” Despite somewhat dismal sales, the record label did bring attention to the up-and-coming group.

“In My Tribe” was released soon after in 1987 and featured singles like “Like the Weather,” which reached No. 37 on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks charts, and “What’s the Matter Here?” which reached No. 9 on Billboard’s Hot Modern Rock Tracks charts.

Overall, the album had overarching staying power in the charts, bringing Rolling Stone magazine reviewer J.D. Considine to call it “an astonishingly accessible record” with a sound that is “full and diffuse.”

Their next album, “Blind Man’s Zoo” (1989), hit No. 13 on Billboard charts, eventually going gold and increasing the group’s fan following, as Merchant’s expressively sweet yet powerful voice really shined on hits like “Trouble Me” and “Eat for Two.”

But soon after “Our Time in Eden,” which was released in 1992 to critical acclaim and the memorable hit “These are the Days,” the shifting began. Merchant announced the launch of her solo career in 1993, leaving the band in a strange state of limbo.

Most notable before Merchant’s untimely departure, is the group’s live recording on the television show “MTV Unplugged,” where she delivered an unforgettable rendition of the Patti Smith Group and Bruce Springsteen’s “Because the Night." The track would later reach No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, marking the first time 10,000 Maniacs would break the top 40.

Remaining members invited Mary Ramsey to take up lead vocals, preparing for another album, “Love Among the Ruins” (1997), which peaked at No. 25 on U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100 charts.

And while the lineup has sporadically changed throughout the years since then, including Buck’s premature death at 41, 10,000 Maniacs still receives critics’ praise today and continuous radio play.

The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Celebrity Showroom. Tickets are $32 and can be purchased at John Ascuaga’s Nugget or online at

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