VIDEO: Hello Newman says goodbye

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.

The floor bounces under the weight of more than a hundred dancers upstairs at Bull Feeney's in Portland on Thursday night as 90s cover band Hello Newman's plays its last weekly gig at the bar. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

The floor bounces under the weight of more than a hundred dancers upstairs at Bull Feeney’s in Portland on Thursday night as 90s cover band Hello Newman’s plays its last weekly gig at the bar. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

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.”

Bassist and singer Alexander Tuck plays with 90s cover band Hello Newman at Bull Feeney's on Thursday night in Portland. The band isn't breaking up but is ending its long-running, weekly show at the bar. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Bassist and singer Alexander Tuck plays with 90s cover band Hello Newman at Bull Feeney’s on Thursday night in Portland. The band isn’t breaking up but is ending its long-running, weekly show at the bar. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

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.

Jim Roberts of 90s cover band Hello Newman belts a song at the group's last weekly show at Bull Feeney's in Portland on Thursday night. The band isn't breaking up, but is ending its four-and-a-half year run at the bar. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Jim Roberts of 90s cover band Hello Newman belts a song at the group’s last weekly show at Bull Feeney’s in Portland on Thursday night. The band isn’t breaking up, but is ending its four-and-a-half year run at the bar. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

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.

 

Hello Newman's horn section (from left) Clayton Colburn, Carl Brunsdon and Jamie Mason play "Mambo No. 5" at Bull Feeney's in Portland on Thursday night. The band is halting their popular weekly gig at the bar after more than four years. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Hello Newman’s horn section (from left) Clayton Colburn, Carl Brunsdon and Jamie Mason play “Mambo No. 5″ at Bull Feeney’s in Portland on Thursday night. The band is halting their popular weekly gig at the bar after more than four years. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Lead guitar player and founder of 90s cover band Hello Newman, Derek Johnson, plays onstage at Bull Feeney's in Portland Thursday night. The band is ending its weekly shows at the bar after more than four years. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Lead guitar player and founder of 90s cover band Hello Newman, Derek Johnson, plays onstage at Bull Feeney’s in Portland Thursday night. The band is ending its weekly shows at the bar after more than four years. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

The floor bounces under the weight of more than a hundred dancers upstairs at Bull Feeney's in Portland on Thursday night as 90s cover band Hello Newman's plays its last weekly gig at the bar. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

The floor bounces under the weight of more than a hundred dancers upstairs at Bull Feeney’s in Portland on Thursday night as 90s cover band Hello Newman’s plays its last weekly gig at the bar. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Davian Akers hammers the keys with 90s cover band Hello Newman on Thursday night at Bull Feeney's in Portland. The band isn't breaking up, but is ending its four-and-a-half year run at the bar.Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Davian Akers hammers the keys with 90s cover band Hello Newman on Thursday night at Bull Feeney’s in Portland. The band isn’t breaking up, but is ending its four-and-a-half year run at the bar.Troy R. Bennett | BDN




Troy R. Bennett

About Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.