The Smithereens are still going strong after 35 years


It’s a family affair for the Smithereens,especially whenmembers of the rockin’ Davies family are concerned. Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken was the man behind the skins when Ray Davies of the Kinks joined brother Dave Davies on stage for the first time in nearly 20 years in London last month.

Diken is also a member of Dave Davies’ post-Kinks solo band.

“We were told in rehearsals that there was a chance Ray might show, but nothing seem definitive,” says Diken, who will play with the Smithereens Friday, Jan. 29, at World Cafe Live in Philly. “[Dave Davies band member] Jonathan Lea then came back to the drum kit and said Ray is here and I was thinking ‘Hey, this is very cool, I hope he comes out’ and in fact he did. In the audience, it was a sea of open mouth applause and we played ‘You Really Got Me.’

“The Internet went on fire after that.”

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The Smithereens are still setting a few fires themselves. The upcoming World Cafe Live show will feature the band performing its 1986 breakthrough, “Especially for You,” in its entirety. The album, whose hits include “Blood and Roses,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep” and “In a Lonely Place” featuring Suzanne Vega, put the Jersey guys with the penchant for moody Brit Invasion rock on the map.

“We were very happy with the songs Pat [DiNizio, lead singer] was writing and we thought it was going to be a good, solid album, but at that time, the climate of pop music being what it was in 1986, we thought we would do well if it sold 19,000 copies. Fortunately, it did a lot better,” Diken says.

The Smithereens were the cool antidote for hair metal in the ’80s. In the ’10s, the guys have a full touring schedule and are working on a new album.

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But off stage, a family member needs a little help. Betty Babjak, the wife of Smithereens guitarist Jim Babjak, is suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer and fans of Babjak have set up a siteto help defray the cost of treatment.

“I call them my angels, I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have all these angels that feel like I’ve touched them enough to help me when we’re at a bump in our lives,” says Babjak of his fans. “I don’t know how to describe it, I’m overwhelmed. I’ll never be the same after this. Our fans have become more like family through the years.”

If you go:

The Smithereens performing “Especially for You” and more
Friday, Jan. 29, 8 p.m.
WorldCafe Live
3025 Walnut St.
$24 to $30,215-222-1400

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