The wooden, beer-soaked floor bounced like a trampoline upstairs at Bull Feeney’s under the weight of over a hundred dancers Thursday night while Hello Newman belted hits from the 90s one last time. The popular, and unapologetic cover band has packed sweaty bodies into the historic building at the corner of Fore and Exchange Streets every Thursday night for nearly five years running. They’re ending their weekly show but they’re not breaking up, band members say.
“It really comes down to scheduling,” said guitarist and singer Jim Roberts as the band set up for the show. “We have a brand new drummer, Andre Mercier, and he’s been filling in all summer and he’s a teacher and has to go back to school next week.”
Turns out, getting up early for class on a Friday isn’t easy when you’ve been drumming hits by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Green Day, Blink 182 and Harvey Danger into the wee hours of the morning in the Old Port.
Roberts insisted the band was not about to stop rocking altogether.
“We’ll probably just pick up a lot more Friday nights,” he said. “We’ll still be playing in town and all around, all around New England.”
While many purveyors of original music struggle to draw a crowd in Portland, Hello Newman — which got its name from an episode of Seinfeld — was a success from the start. They were offered the weekly gig by Doug Fuss, owner of Bull Feeney’s, at their first gig.
Roberts said the formula is simple: play songs people know and can sing along with. Surprisingly, he said, they found Nirvana bores people but a ska version of “Brown Eyed Girl” — which is a cover of a cover — is a hit.
“It is one ridiculous party every week,” said bassist and singer Alexander Tuck.
A bit of vague number crunching points to Hello Newman’s impressive reach in its four-and-a-half years of residency at the bar.
They averaged 50 shows a year and 150 people at each show. That makes their total attendance in the range of 34,000 people. That’s only counting their Thursday shows, not their numerous other shows at other venues
Roberts and Tuck urged fans to watch their Facebook page to find out where the band will be performing in the future. They didn’t rule out special shows at Bull Feeney’s, either.
“If Doug wants to have us,” said Roberts.