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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Final push to save CBGB rock club
CBGB's founder Hilly Kristal and musician Steven Van Zandt
Founder Kristal (left) first intended to host country music at the venue
A last minute rally to try and save the legendary New York punk club CBGB is being held on Wednesday.

Blondie are due to take part in a final benefit gig in Manhattan's Washington Square Park to try to save the venue.

The Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie were among bands who found fame after playing at the venue in the 1980s.

But the lease on the venue is due to expire at midnight after a dispute with landlord Bowery Residents Committee over rent rises.

We don't know what is going to happen. C'est la vie
Hilly Kristal, CBGB founder

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has also waded into the dispute, with an offer of mediation.

He described the famed venue of the 70s and 80s punk and New Wave scene as "a great New York City institution."

Bloomberg added that if city officials failed in bringing the two sides to the negotiating table successfully, they would try to find an alternative venue for the club.

"It's part of our culture," he said.

"They bring a lot of business here. I don't think they belong anyplace else other than New York City."

Major stars

CBGB was founded in December 1973 by Hilly Kristal.

Kristal told the BBC News website that he hoped Mr Bloomberg would keep to his word and help them.

"We are doing whatever we can to stay here which includes encouraging people who are in a position to do something about it," he said.

"The mayor said the other day that he wants to keep us here, but we don't know what is going to happen. C'est la vie.

"I just hope the he can back-up what he said. I pray that he will."

Blondie is performing to try and save CBGB's from closure

Before offering the club a new lease, the Bowery Residents Committee wanted to increase the monthly rental cost, which is about $19,000 (10,700), and unpaid back rent from the past three years.

However, a judge recently ruled that the club did not owe the money because it was not properly billed.

Kristal added: "As far as I know they will have to take us to court to make us leave. We are going to fight it."

The CBGB Forever concert-cum-rally was organised by Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

In addition to Blondie, a handful of speakers and musicians were expected to make appearances, including Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads.

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