Magnetic Field’s grand finale produces irresistible pull

By Meredith Deliso

After five years of bands rocking out on its stage, Brooklyn Heights standout Magnetic Field will be closing its doors on Atlantic Avenue, but not without a week-long blowout. From March 24 to 31, venue favorites such as Brooklyn-based five-piece rock and roll band The A-Bones, garage band The Fleshtones, legendary for their live shows, and French rock and roll band Les Sans Culottes, as well as some surprise special guests, will take to the stage for one last time as Brooklynites say goodbye to the rocking venue. While a closing business may suggest that it was priced out of its neighborhood, Magnetic Field tells a different story. The co-owners, Lee Greenfeld and William Crane, have simply decided to pursue other ventures in Brooklyn. After a much-needed vacation and final arrangements for the week-long blowout, Greenfeld will continue to manage bands such as The Black Hollies and book shows through his Dead Flowers Productions. “When the bar does end it will definitely enable me to have more time on my hands and not splitting my time between Dead Flowers,” said Greenfeld. “There were days where I worked 18 hours in the day. I’m looking forward to the future of the bands that I’m working it.” Crane, on his part, will work on his game show empire as his Dick Swizzle alter-ego, as well as continuing to do managerial work at Park Slope venue Union Hall. He’s also looking forward to spending more time with his four-year-old son. “For four years, I’ve been tired all the time,” said Crane. “I’m looking forward to getting my energy back and taking time off from the game show and building an even bigger empire. I’m looking at other places in the neighborhood. I want to get the same vibe. I love the vibe of my place. Plus I got free reign. I need a place that says, ‘Hey Dick, go wild.’ I’m not sure if people are ready for that.” Vibe was important to Crane when he decided to open a bar in Brooklyn. The Clinton Hill resident (via the West Coast) did a series of odd jobs, including web development and designing for mobile devices, before opening Magnetic Field at 97 Atlantic Avenue. A musician himself, he wanted MF to be different from the places he was accustomed to playing at. “I played at many venues that treated people like s***, especially in New York,” said Crane, with more than half of the door going to the bar and loading equipment right before playing as examples of unfriendly behavior towards bands. “I decided to take it into my own hands to support a scene. Together, [Lee and I] created a nice place where people are treated right.” He was also able to entertain through his alter-ego Dick Swizzle and his live variety talk show – a drinking man's Alex Trebek-esque character that leads contestants in rounds of Jeopardy and Match Game. Greenfeld, a Brooklyn native raised on Congress Street and currently living in Brooklyn Heights, had always been a huge music fan, working at music magazine Sound Views and working with record labels before coming on board at Magnetic Field about six months in. “As a life long resident [of Brooklyn], I felt there was a dearth of venues before Southpaw opened,” said Greenfeld. “I tried to bring a little culture to music.” Some of Greenfeld’s favorite memories of Magnetic Field involve the non-music offerings the venue provided. A reading series the bar held brought in Steve Buscemi reading from William Burrough’s Queer one time, George Pelecanos read with songwriter Steve Wynn while his band The Miracle 3 played music in the background, and two times the venue hosted Amy Hempel, “one of the greatest living short story writers,” gushed Greenfeld. Hosting benefits also is something both owners are particularly proud of, with fundraisers for Q of Question Mark and the Mysterians after he lost everything in a house fire, as well as a Katrina benefit. “Whenever we’ve helped out and offered our place to help people out…it makes you feel like you’re actually doing something than just serving drinks,” said Crane. Of course, there was also the music. Bands that have graced Magnetic Field’s stage over the past five years include Mary Weiss from the Shangi-La’s, as well as The Fleshtones, who’s four performances included their 30th anniversary show a couple years ago. Each year, the venue also had a presence in the Atlantic Antic festival, booking five to seven bands in their Rock & Soul Show, which each year was “the hardest day I’ve worked in my life but always worth it,” said Greenfeld. Since announcing their closing in February, Greenfeld and Crane have received a huge outpouring from Brooklynites, with hundreds of emails flooding their in boxes expressing their woe at the loss of the venue. “It was really fulfilling to get all these emails,” said Greenfeld. “It’s almost overwhelming,” said Crane. “People started calling and thanking us. I’ve gotten a bazillion emails from regulars.” While there are no plans for the space yet, the co-owners hope the same atmosphere continues at 97 Atlantic Avenue. “I hope somebody picks it up and takes our lead and continues to treat bands well,” said Crane. “There’s a trend in Brooklyn – treat bands right or else they’re going to play in Manhattan.” For a complete schedule of bands playing at Magnetic Fields during its closing week blow-out, from March 24 to March 31, go to www.magneticbrooklyn.com. For more information, call 718-834-0069.

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