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New York Punk, Out of Retirement

Friday night on the Lower East Side, and Janis Shaw was being carded. It was autumn, so darkness was arriving sooner and sooner each night. This rock show started early, 7 p.m., and the sun had already set.

In the shadows, Janis can look like a teenager, the same teenager who frequented clubs like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City back in their 1970s heyday. She’s petite, dressed in a black leather jacket, her hair spiked and dyed platinum. But she’s no kid.

This was her 60th birthday, and she and her gray-haired friends had been stopped by the Arlene’s Grocery bouncer — a guy at least three decades younger — who was demanding to see ID. Janis wasn’t even carrying a purse, so she could dance unencumbered. That is, if she could get past the door.

Her friend Anne Husick was carrying her bass guitar, since she was playing that Friday. “But no ID,” said Ms. Husick, who also works as a booker at the nearby SideWalk Cafe. “I have some gray hair I can show you.” The manager — who looked so young he might have trouble growing a beard — came out to tell them he would make an exception, but in the future, they’d need to bring ID.

They headed to the bar, where they met up with Janis’s husband, Kevin Shaw, the bassist for another band playing that night, the Hipp Pipps.

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“We used to get in at Max’s when we were 15, no problem,” said Mr. Shaw, who is tall and lanky and obviously not 15 anymore. He has wrinkles, white hair, arthritis, scoliosis and the hearing loss of a 63-year-old who has experienced some hard living. He and Janis met in their early 20s at Max’s when she was playing in the Crayolas and he was in the BMTs, both bands part of the 1970s downtown New York scene.