Friday, March 28, 2008

going gaga again

a huge thanks to everyone who came out to ROCK N' ROLL PIZZA PARTY last night. unfortunately SICK FITS weren't able to play due to illness. i hope it isn't typhoid. they are going to reschedule and play the ROCK N' ROLL PIZZA PARTY in the next couple of months so don't despair. SEDATIVES had a lot of fun playing and we appreciate everyone who came out to see us. if anyone is interested we have some shirts for sale and our 7" should be out in a week or so if everything goes well. the rest of the night was as tons of fun as usual. hanging out with your friends, listening to music and eating pizza is never a bad combination.

last night was also the launch of the second issue of GOING GAGA zine. ian made 20 copies and they're all gone so he's going to have to staple and photocopy some more. you'll probably be able to find copies at BIRDMAN or END HITS soon enough. this zine rules and is a much thicker issue than last time. it includes an interview with HOLY COBRAS and with the MILLION DOLLAR MARXISTS and a run-down of what went down when ian attended GONER FEST in MEMPHIS this fall. there's a bunch of record reviews and a list of records that he has for sale/trade. ian's excitement about music is very apparent when reading through this zine and it's definitely infectious. send him an email to secure yourself a copy. ian_manhire at

keep the good times going tonight at SKA, SOUL & ROCK N' ROLL at BRIXTON'S and/or with THE ROOKERS and a bunch of other bands at CAFE DEKCUF. scroll down a little for more info on both of these events.

this is way in advance but i'm very pleased to announce two shows that are coming up in may.

the first being BBQ a.k.a MARK SULTAN on SATURDAY MAY 10th. the show is going to be at BABYLON with THE FELINES and one more band that is yet to be announced but will definitely rule. there will be dj's spinning records all night and we'll party all night after the show is done. should be an amazing time.

the second is two days later which means MONDAY MAY 12th. i know it's a monday night and the last thing you want to do after a weekend is go to a show but check this... a) it's FREE! b) THE WHITE WIRES are playing c) THE NYMPHETS are playing. THE NYMPHETS are a great band from montreal/brooklyn who play catchy, poppy punk rock. they even do a cover of BORSTAL BREAKOUT on their cd. this show is at THE MANX on elgin street so it'll be a nice change of scenery too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

airhead youth

as i was walking home last night listening to REAGAN YOUTH, the song "degenerated" came on and i made a realization. "holy shit! this is the song that the band in AIRHEADS plays at the end of the movie!!!"

i'm sure this is old news but here you go:


you should basically listen to CHUO 89.1 all day since there's so many good radio shows on today. GERM ATTAK is playing live at 12 pm!

Monday, March 24, 2008


here is a list of some of the things going on in OTTAWA this week.

- this show is more in the indie rock realm of things but THE LITTLE BEES are totally in the QUEERS/BEACH BOYS vein with some early WEEZER thrown in there.

-SICK FITS haven't played in a really long time and who knows when the next time you'll be able to see them will be? plus ROCK N' ROLL PIZZA PARTY is always a good time.

- THE ROOKERS and UNION MADE are in the street punk/hardcore kind of vein. i've never heard THE UNCOOPERATIVES but they feature members of GRAVE CONCERN an 80's hardcore band from ottawa and you never know what will happen when THE BOTCHED SUICIDES play.

FRIDAY MARCH 28TH - SKA, SOUL & ROCK N' ROLL at BRIXTON'S (210 sparks). 10 pm/19+/free. FB
- DJ'S SCOTT and WHITEY play amazing music. a lot of northern soul stuff that you've never heard before but it's amazing. they throw in some 60/70's punk rock, garage, dub, etc. it only happens one on the last friday of every month so you really don't want to miss it.

- DAVE and SHAWN are celebrating their store's second anniversary. this shindig is going on from 11a​m-6​pm wit​h cak​e, pri​zes​ and​ 15%​ all​ reg​ula​ril​y pri​ced​ ite​ms.​

SATURDAY MARCH 29TH - DRUNKEN MASTER REVUE presents "BLACK BELT JONES" as part of SATURDAY NIGHT SINEMA at CLUB SAW (67 nicholas). 11 pm/5 dollars.
- SATURDAY NIGHT SINEMA is is a monthly event that happens on the last saturday of every month. cult movies usually from the 60's/70's are shown usually accompanied by trailers for ridiculous movies from the period. this edition features the kung-fu/blaxploitation movie BLACK BELT JONES. you can watch the trailer HERE. i'm pretty sure they serve booze at these things too if that's an extra motivator for you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

havoc wreakers

(photo by evan)

ROCK AND ROLL PIZZA PARTY on thursday night was the craziest RRPP yet. most people didn't have to work on friday so the place was packed with people. it was a perfect setting for THE HAVOCS who are a 3 piece from sudbury which features the brothers HOULE of the monumental power pop band STATUES. they played for almost an hour playing a lot of covers and throwing in a few originals in there which stand up well to the all the covers they do. a short list of bands that they covered: THE WHO, THE CLASH, UNDERTONES, BUZZCOCKS, THE ANIMALS, THE JAM, THE REPLACEMENTS, etc. etc. after their set a pitcher was passed around to pay the boys for having come all the way down to play a free show. people gave generously which was greatly appreciated. the rest of the night was absolutely bananas with the dance floor being packed for most of the night which made it really fun. anyone who had an amazing time should definitely come out early this thursday to see SICK FITS and SEDATIVES and hang out afterwards for music and pizza.

SEDATIVES are also playing on friday april 4th at CAFE DEKCUF with THE CREEPS and their good friends from montreal SEXHEAD. it is THE CREEPS "lakeside cabin" cd release show. 10 pm/19+/5 dollars. FB

since that show doesn't start till 10 that gives you ample time to go to LA PETITE MORT gallery to see HAYDEN MENZIES' art show opening. HAYDEN has played in many ottawa bands such as THREE PENNY OPERA, THE GREY, LAST COMMUNION and his current band METZ. it starts at 7 pm and goes till 10 pm. if you can't make it on friday, his work will be up for the entire month of april. FB

if you feel like going deaf and aren't claustrophobic, CURSED are playing at END HITS as well. they added a second show since the first one sold out so get your tickets quick for the later show or else you'll be out of luck. guaranteed insanity.

the next night a.k.a. april 5th - you can catch DEMON'S CLAWS, TEENANGER and THE SUPPOSITORIES at A & A SPEED SHOP (279 flora). it is one of my favorite places to see bands in this city. most shows there are absolutely amazing and this will surely be no exception. doors at 8/all ages/5 dollars. FB

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the action

THE ACTION was ottawa's first punk band. They existed from the late 1977 to 1981. here is a comprehensive history of the band.

In April of 1977, brothers John and Paul Fenton formed a band in Ottawa, Ontario. After pulling in a drummer, the clueless
trio started a straight ahead rock group, doing atrocities by the likes of Bad Company and Status Quo! They decided to audition singers for the yet unnamed group and gave Paul's friend Ted a try. He failed the first audition miserably, but was persistent and asked for a second shot. "He told me later that he went up to his parents' cottage and screamed his head off for two days," says Paul. He got the job! At this point the Fentons still also had their kid brother Michael on bass, but he had to quit when school started back up in the fall. They found a new bass player in Rick McDonough
and became THE ACTION!

John had them rehearsing five days a week, it was always 10 - 5 and members had fines docked from their pay for not showing up on time! Paul recounts, "Ted was still in the hole after our first payday, from a week or gigging at the notorious Green Door club." A friend of Paul's, who worked at a local record store, gave him a tape of this new punk rock music from England. The band listened to it and was very impressed with the fresh and energetic sound.

"We still kept quite a bit of our roots intact, though, The Action were heavily influenced by the Stones," says Paul. In a 1977 interview, Ted Axe had this to say about the British Punk influence: "Our repertoire consists of almost all British songs 'cause the Brit punk is the best's got kick, it's got balls, it's real street-bred music, which is what rock'n'roll music is all about..."

"Our first few gigs and TV appearances were really fun 'cause people didn't have a clue what punk was all about. We were definitely the first punk band in Ottawa..." The line-up, now with appropriate 'punk' names, consisted of Ted Axe (lead vocals), Rick McDonough (bass), Paul and John - now sporting the surnames Phantom (guitars) and Shot Spot McDonald (drums). After making a demo tape in the early fall, the band took a trip to Montreal where they signed with a management firm called New Wave Productions. The company was friendly with Montreco, a new label run by mid-sixties singing star Tony Roman. "He had a plan to exploit this new punk sensation to all the Zellers and K-Mart retail stores" says Paul. When Rick McDonough suddenly decided to leave, they got Michael Fenton back in the band. He was still only 17 years old at the time. "The session was crazy! Tony invited all the Montreal media to it. We performed 'live' on stage in Tempo Studios," says Paul. The EP was released with a die-cut black and white sleeve with the words 'punk rock' emblazoned on it! "Actually there was a short run of records with a photo that slipped into the sleeve. We had them taken off the market when we saw how hideous the picture looked." The twelve-inch had four songs: three originals plus cover of "Waiting For The Man." There was the short and punchy "TV's On The Blink", a song that Axe wrote the lyrics for after his own broke! Another one was and ode to city living called "Downtown Boy", with moronic lyrics like: "You're an uptown girl and I'm a downtown boy and we look good together, all of the time." The insane "Do The Strangle" finishes off the record and features some wild dual lead guitar work reminiscent of the MC5.

The Action caused a stir in early December when they played at a local high school. The principal, D.W. McGahen, filed a complaint with the Ottawa-Hull district American Federation of Musicians that the band's conduct on stage was unsuitable. He cited their obscene gestures which included Ted's faux vomiting act and their "unacceptable" stage dress. He was later quoted as saying that the performance "was an embarrassment to the school." Shortly after the record was released, the band opened up for The Stranglers when they played Ottawa on their first North American tour. They also gigged a lot in Montreal, even headlining one big show at the Windsor Hotel with many others on the New Wave Management roster.

Nineteen-seventy-nine began with their recording of a follow-up. The session yielded four songs: "Seafood Mama" (about one of their roadies catching crabs), "Let You Down" (about their unhappiness with Montreco), the high-speed "Press Pig" (about the press) and a slow, Doors-ish tune called "Zona Rosa." The songs were never released. Montreco did manage to issue a sampler LP - Permanent New Wave, but the label went out of business shortly afterwards. By summertime, the band had been offered a supporting slot on tour with the Ramones. "This could have been the big break for the Action," says Paul, "as far as our feelings toward our management went. We broke ties with them after this but unfortunately New Wave Management didn't do their homework on the necessary visas and we were turned away from about three border crossings attempting to get into the U.S. and finally we had to cancel our tour. That was the last straw." They never recorded for another record company or in a real studio again. They did, however, perform for a live CKCU-FM radio broadcast from the Rotters Club in Ottawa.

Paul: "It was run by an Englishman named Stuart Smith. It was a pretty neat place and anything went! It was downstairs from a Lebanese restaurant. Before the shows, they would show cult movies with a film projector. Waitresses would actually serve booze in the bathrooms and smoking pot was done openly at the tables. A lot of cool bands from New York and Toronto would gig at the Rotters Club. We were the house band and we used the club as a rehearsal pit during the day. Our 'pay' was food in the restaurant upstairs, and beer and recording sessions at Stuart Smith's 'studio'." Later on in the year, Andre Action took over on drums. They kept playing and rehearsing at the Rotters Club and Smith eventually became their manager, booking them on a tour of southern Ontario. "We opened for Teenage Head at Larry's Hideaway in Toronto and played some clubs in the London area," says Paul, "really, though, the tour was depressing. Lousy accommodation, top put it mildly, and the audiences were apathetic. A little while after this, we put the Action to rest, for the time being, anyway."

In the early fall of 1979, Michel and Paul relocated to New Windsor, MD in hopes of trying the music scene there. By November, they'd decided to move back to Ottawa and reform the Action. After their dismal tour, John left the group and music altogether. They became a quartet, with Paul handling all the guitar duties. In 1980, they hit Montreal again, did
some rough demos and started playing at the newly re-opened Rotters, which was now under new management.

A live tape culled from a show at the '80's Club that January has them performing none of their early material save for "TV's On The Blink", concentrating on newer tunes like "Klepto", "Rich Kid", and "Jealousy" (which was written about John's decision to leave the group). '81 marked their final year. They added another guitar player, Freddy G, to fill out the sound. Ted Axe, who by this point had become very influenced by David Bowie, was taking them into a more artsy direction. "At a few gigs he would be on LSD and would be acting quite eccentric! Really though, the band's direction and his direction were going different ways. We were heading in a rock'n'roll direction, and he was going towards
more art-rock," says Paul. "The final 'divorce' came on the way to our last gig, when I fired him in the car on the way to the gig."
the above was taken from THE ACTION'S website. click the link to see a bunch of pictures.

here are two of the songs from their 12" on MONTRECO records.

the Action - TV's on the Blink

the Action - Do the Strangle

thanks to Mark Nolan for the link to the mp3's.

also check out IAMBLURB since i'm treading on ground they've already covered.

Monday, March 17, 2008

the bureaucrats

here's a history of late 7o's ottawa punk band THE BUREAUCRATS.

Vocals: Gary (Gaz) Sidwell

Rhythm Guitar & Vocals: Mitch Sidwell
Lead Guitar & & Vocals: Joe Frey
Bass: Grant Bucosky
Drums: Wayne Johnson

Ottawa’s Bureaucrats were formed in the summer of 1978. During that time, there was very little happening on the Canadian music scene. Bands that wrote and performed their own material couldn’t get gigs in local clubs. Club owners systematically selected “cover” bands to fulfill their club’s musical needs. Record companies didn’t believe original Canadian bands had anything to offer. In fact, they’d rarely venture outside New York to check out new talent.

Eventually, Toronto was seen as a stepping stone to NYC. But even that didn’t occur until well into the 1980’s. But Ottawa…? With apologies to residents in the Nation’s Capital, the city is still seen as a bit of a cultural joke.

But the Bureaucrats helped change things in the Canadian capital’s club scene. Their growing appeal ultimately led to almost all clubs opening their doors to the band — and eventually, to the just then emerging “new music scene”.

Over the course of those early years, The Bureaucrats had been busy writing and recording original songs. In total, the band had written about 20-30 of them. Unfortunately, only half of those songs got recorded.

However, they did release a number of singles in 1979, along with a 12″ EP in 1980. The singles veered from snotty, fuzz driven punk rock, to slightly more polished power pop, to neo-reggae (however you might define it). Their 12″ EP expands on the power pop sound.

In 1999, Drummer Wayne Johnston and Rhythm Guitarist Mitch Sidwell released a compilation CD titled “roi” (sic) . That’s pronounced “Roy” as in Rogers, not “Rwa” as in Patrick or a French king. It stands for “Return On Investment”.

Interesting Sidenote 1: The Brothers Sidwell (Gaz & Mitch) hailed from Leicester, UK (hence the accent). Their family emigrated to Canada during the so-called British “Nanny Boom” in Ottawa.

Interesting Sidenote 2: Everyone in the Sidwell family (including sister and parents) all have entirely different accents.

What are they doing now?

Well, Joe is a Chef. Mitch is a Draftsman (or “Draughtsman” for you Brits) . Grant works as a General Contractor, and Gaz is a Printer.

And Wayne? Oh, he’s now Chief of Operations for International Trade at Statistics Canada — a government agency. So yes: he is a bureaucrat.


check out the original post as well as some mp3's by clicking here.

download the FEEL THE PAIN/GROWN UP AGE 7" courtesy of KILLED BY DEATH.

look at a bunch of their show posters.

here's an interview with MITCH SIDWELL from the BIRDMAN SOUND website. it was conducted in 2001 in anticipation of the reunion show they had at the DOMINION TAVERN on july 12th, 2001.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

punk covers show II

this show was absolutely amazing. i was way more into the second of the two covers shows mostly because of the fact that was much more familiar with the bands that were being covered.

the first band up was RAMONES as done by members of IT'S ASSHOLE TIME!. they were a last minute addition and only played a few songs. i was kind of bummed out that they didn't play more. it really wouldn't have been too hard to learn basically every song of the first lp.

the SHITLICKERS/ANTI-CIMEX band from last week played again this week.

JOHNNY THUNDERS and the HEARTBREAKERS as done by NAPALM HEARTS was next and they did a really good job.

i was transported back to being a fifteen year old kid by CRITICAL CONVICTIONS/FLEEBA's rendition of DESCENDENTS. they played an amazing set including CLEAN SHEETS, SILLY GIRL and COOLIDGE. i sang along to every single word and stole the mike to sing "i'm not a loser" because i just had too. i'm really not a loser. seriously. the guitar player/singer was playing all the leads and singing at the same time and i was really impressed.

THE BOYS played next. the band was comprised of members of SICK FITS and MILLION DOLLAR MARXISTS. they were really great and kids were super into it.

here's a video of them playing FIRST TIME.

the night was ended off perfectly by BLACK FLAG. THE DIRTY NUNS did their homework on this one which was obvious since they played more than a dozen songs. kids were obviously flipping out during their set.

check out more pictures here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

end of march show listing.

here's a bunch of shows that are going down in march. this is by no way a complete listing since there are plenty of other things going on so try to keep you ear to the ground and find out what's going on in your city.

MARCH 14TH : PUNK ROCK COVER SHOW featuring : THE BOYS (members of SICK FITS, MILLION DOLLAR MARXISTS), BLACK FLAG (DIRTY NUNS), DESCENDENTS (members of FLEEBA, CRITICAL CONVICTIONS, etc.), JOHNNY THUNDERS (NAPALM HEARTS), AMEBIX (members of BOMBED OUT, GERM ATTACK, etc.) and a RAMONES band has been added to replace the NEGATIVE APPROACH cover band who had to cancel. THE BAYOU. 8pm/4 dollars. FB









Thursday, March 13, 2008

more history...

continuing with the theme of ottawa punk history here's a link to NO CAUSE FOR CONCERN? which was a zine that churned out 9 issues from april 1982 to june 1984. almost all of the content of every issue has been transcribed for your reading pleasure. i wish all of it had been transcribed or that the scans of the pages were bigger because i personally would enjoy reading all of it.

it's interesting to read through it and realize that in some ways punk rock hasn't changed too much. people try really hard to get stuff going and eventually get burnt out and can't do it anymore... venues get vandalized and subsequently don't do shows anymore...bands have to desperately search for a new place to play.... petty scene politics get in the way of things....

it takes a while to get through it all but it's definitely an interesting read.

if you don't really feel like reading and you'd rather look at pictures. you can check these out. it's a bunch of pictures of ottawa punk kids hanging out, going to shows, playing in bands, going on road trips from '81 to '83.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ottawa punk history 101

here's an article written by TOM STEWART for an ottawa magazine whose readership probably really doesn't care about this article so i'm posting it here so that some people who are interested can read it.

(How the punk revolution came to Ottawa)

Punk rock is ubiquitous.

Call it what you want (“alternative music” being the most common term), the genre of music and lifestyle once despised by the mainstream population and relegated to the extreme margins of society has now become thoroughly embedded and even embraced by popular culture. Piercings and tattoos adorn everyone from television hosts to civil servants. Pink and blue hair dye is available in any mall. Our own Rideau Centre has a store catering specifically to Goth culture. You can see original, live music seven nights a week.

In 2008, Punk rock is everywhere. But it wasn’t always this way…

Before the ‘alternative music revolution’ of the early 1990’s, atrocious dance pop (Alan Parsons Project, anyone?) and ‘hair metal’ a la Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister and Poison ruled the airwaves. Original live music was hard to find. By and large, the majority of venues offering live bands dedicated themselves exclusively to ‘top 40’ cover bands or ‘tribute’ acts. Roxanne’s in Hull concentrated primarily on metal and hard rock acts, while bars such as Hooper’s (on Bank street, in what is now the location of Babylon Night Club), The Strand (bizarrely located in the Lincoln Fields Shopping Plaza), The Black Swan on Rideau Street (later called Arnold’s), The British Hotel (Aylmer), The Chaudiere Club (Hull), and Bogie’s (in the Butler Motel, Vanier) were the places to go to see live music. Unfortunately, the bands rarely played original material. In the early 1980’s, your options for live music in Ottawa – and the rest of North America - was overwhelmingly middle-of-the-road radio hits. The fledgling Ottawa subculture devoted to punk rock was well off the radar. So how did the ‘alternative music revolution’ come to Ottawa? Where did it happen? Who were the people involved? How did it develop?

I’ve been fortunate. I was born in the right place and at the right time to be able to watch the Ottawa punk scene emerge. As I travel around Ottawa, I often pass spots where “historic” (to me anyway) punk shows happened. There are so many local landmarks where highly influential bands played and yet people pass these spots every day without knowing their significance and the crucial part they played in bringing alternative culture to the nation’s capital.

My personal introduction to live, underground music actually occurred underground… thanks to England’s the Stranglers at the salons of the civic centre in Lansdowne Park. It was the spring of 1981 and the band was on their ‘Men in Black’ tour. In the audience I saw for the first time real, live punk rockers complete with leather, studs, mohawks and Doc Marten boots. The opening act was Montreal’s ‘Men without Hats’ whose synth/dance pop left me cold. But the Stranglers – although not exactly young lions even then – grabbed me right away. No cameras were allowed in, and I was awestruck when lead singer Hugh Cornell dove headfirst into the crowd and fought his way toward someone taking illicit photos. He got a hold of the camera, ripped out the film, and was back on stage before the band missed a note. I left very impressed. I’d heard that American punk sensations ‘The Plasmatics’ had played the same room a few months earlier and I was fascinated. Apparently, the show started with a screen covering the stage with a film projected of the band destroying police cars and cutting televisions in half with chainsaws. When the screen rose up… there they were, with half-naked lead singer Wendy O. Williams belting it out and the rest of the Plasmatics blasting away behind her. Now THAT’s entertainment, I thought to myself!

Although it was before my time, I’d also heard tales about gigs at Ottawa’s first real punk bar – The Rotter’s Club. ‘The Rotter’s’ was a room below an all-night restaurant at Bank and Frank Street called ‘Tomorrow’s’ where many early punk shows had been staged. During one infamous Teenage Head show lead singer Frankie Venom jumped up on the bar and ‘dropped trou’ – pretty eye opening stuff for a staid government town in 1978. The Rotter’s club also served as home to ‘the Action’, one of Ottawa’s best known punk groups before they packed up and headed to Toronto. Tomorrow’s restaurant is now the “Book Bazaar”, but if you look on the south side of the building you’ll find the door that led many Ottawans to their first glimpse of the underground scene.

Intrigued by stories that surrounded the music scene, I was determined to search out more punk gigs… and eventually I found them.

The Wave Club / Paradise Room
The Wave Club was a venue in the Riverside Hotel on River road in Vanier. In December of 1982, Washington D.C. hardcore legends the Bad Brains were slated to play and I was stoked. The Wave Club was a dingy room on the second floor of the hotel, and the “band room” was a small space behind the tiny stage, semi-concealed by a tattered curtain. We could clearly observe the band conducting their pre-show ‘rituals’. Much like my experience seeing the Stranglers, the show began with a terrible arty/synth pop band called Gash. I sat through their torturous opening set trying to ignore the annoying lead singer in his make up and leather pants. Wasn’t this what I was trying to get away from? At long last, the Bad Brains came on and blew me away with their set of half hardcore and half reggae. Although the set was very short and the band was clearly high and not into it, it was an unforgettable show.

Like many underground gigs in the early 80’s, The Wave Club was not really a regular venue for bands. Generally, promoters would book a band, find a room, and put on the show. This was the case for many of the early concerts at the time: The Fyfe and Drum at the Beacon Arms Hotel (affectionately called the “Pipe and Drugs at the Broken Arms Hotel” by local punks) saw shows by Pere Ubu, Gang of Four, and Bauhaus; The Paradise Club (another room in the Riverside Hotel) had Teenage Head; M.D.C played at the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club; D.O.A. played at Ottawa U’s Café Alternatif; D.R.I played at the Dom Polski Community Centre. On May 24th, 1981, England’s The Jam – originally booked to play at Barrymore’s – was moved at the last moment to the auditorium at Ottawa Technical High School. The following day was lead singer Paul Weller’s birthday and he got in a celebratory mood by smashing his guitar a la Pete Townshend.

This same strategy of booking subculture bands into non-standard venues was employed in Ottawa throughout the 1980’s. Punk shows that simply couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be presented in ‘legit’ venues ended up being relegated to other spaces. Local punk co-op Youth Culture Promotions (Y.C.P.) promoted many all-ages shows at the Somerset and Glebe Community Centres. Local bands organized concerts at Carleton’s Porter Hall and the Saw Gallery on Nicholas Street. Often, the only place that an alternative or punk band could play was an ‘alternative’ venue – an art gallery, a community centre, or a house party. Before the ‘alternative music revolution’ brought on by grunge, promoting original music was extremely difficult. The media was uncooperative, the clubs were unreceptive, commercial airplay was non-existent, and the general public was highly suspicious. The subculture remained underground… but for those stubborn enough to persist, headway was slowly being made.

The Jungle Club
If I stand beside the Rogers video store on the corner of Bank and Gilmour and listen carefully, I swear I can sometimes hear the echoes of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’. On the hottest day of the summer in 1983, The Ramones played the smallest venue of their entire Subterranean Jungle tour. The Jungle Club was on the second floor above a country and western bar called the Gilmour Tavern. Open for a brief time as ‘The 80’s Club’, the room really hit its peak as ‘The Jungle’ in 1983-1984. The club hosted a slew of punk and hardcore bands including England’s the Anti-Nowhere League, California’s Channel One, and Canadian legends The Viletones.

The Ramones show that night at the Jungle Club was brilliant. The night was so humid and the club was so packed that at one point I looked around the sweat soaked room and realized that I was the only male – besides the four Ramones in their leather jackets – still wearing a shirt! People in the crowd were passing out from heat stroke and here were four guys in leather under bright lights, dodging bottles and stage divers like the seasoned pros they were… and barely breaking a sweat! Too tough to die, indeed. My ears rang for days.

The Roxy
Paul Symes is the owner of the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield. Over the last decade, Paul has built up the Black Sheep to become a ‘must play’ stop on Canadian tours. But Symes has a background that many Ottawans aren’t aware of…

Paul Symes had the courage and foresight to book hardcore bands Black Flag and Saccharine Trust into the Roxy – a basement room at 292-B Elgin Street with a low ceiling and (thankfully) even lower lighting. For many in the national capital’s music scene, things would never be the same. Sure we’d seen punk bands before, but this was the real thing – California hardcore at it’s most ferocious. Henry Rollins sang half the set holding a hapless local in a headlock, his maniacal gaze daring the audience to approach the stage and risk the same fate.

During the years 1980 – 1983, Symes booked an amazing array of acts into the Roxy. The Violent Femmes first foray out of the midwest saw them held over for a second night due to overwhelming demand. Deja Voodoo (who went on to create Montreal’s OG records and have a huge influence on the Canadian DIY scene) had their debut Ottawa shows as the opening act. The list of bands that Symes presented at the Roxy is impressive: Mark Smith and the Fall, Chron Gen, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Flipper, the Lounge Lizards, and Mission of Burma, just to name a few. The Roxy also hosted a series of benefit concerts for CKCU-FM called ‘Fridgidaire’ that were instrumental in developing the local music scene.

The Roxy is now known as the Bytown Tavern. If those walls could talk…

Obskouri / Club Zinc
Another important venue in the growth of the fledgling Ottawa punk scene was Banana Obskouri on the second floor of a decrepit building at 95 Laval Street in Hull. During its brief heyday in 1984 – 1985 I saw shows by a number of international bands (Youth Brigade, San Fransisco’s Toxic Reasons) and local groups (Porcelaine Forehead, Honest Injun). The club was small, dark and intimate – somewhat similar to Café Dekuf on Rideau Street – an ideal spot for a scene to germinate. The club was booked by long time CKCU personality Nadine Gelineau. Gelineau was very open minded about booking and was responsible for presenting a wide mix of original music - from punk and hardcore, to garage and pop. A few years later Gelineau was involved in presenting underground acts at Club Zinc in Hull (later called Club Manhattan). Both The Nils and The Doughboys played their debut Ottawa shows at Club Zinc. After working for a number of years at CKCU, Nadine moved on to college radio in Montreal and eventually to a position with the BMG record label. She then moved to New York where she worked for TVT Records and then joined Gavin McInnis (of Ottawa band Anal Chinook) and Shane Smith (of Ottawa band L.A.B.F.) at Vice magazine where she ran their marketing company. Nadine is currently running her own marketing company The Muse Box in New York.

The Underground Club / Zaphod’s on Rideau
Like many of the clubs that were presenting live original music in the ‘80’s, the Underground had a short- but spectacular – lifespan. Open for only 8 months in 1984, the Underground helped stimulate the growing local music scene and inspired both the bands and the owner to stretch for bigger things. Like the Downstairs Club, the Underground helped foster an ‘alternative pop’ scene in Ottawa with local bands such as the Randy Peters, Screaming Bamboo, and Gonks Go Beat. When the six-month (!) lease was up and after two months of extensions, the bar was closed.
Fortunately, inspired by his experience with the Underground, owner Eugene Haslam was able to lease a larger room on the main level of the same building .This became the original location for the Zaphod Beeblebrox nightclub and Haslam set about booking cutting-edge bands that otherwise would have passed Ottawa by. For two years (1989 - 1990) we witness an amazing line up of local and touring acts including Firehose, the Lyres, and my personal favourite, ex-Dead Boy guitarist Cheetah Chrome (with Shotgun Rationale). Eventually, the lease ran out and the building (on the corner of Rideau and Friel Steeets) was demolished to make way for a Bell Canada switching station.

Happily, Hasalm reopened Zaphod’s in May of 1992 at its current location (27 York St.) in the Byward market. With bands like Eric’s Trip, Monster Magnet, Jonathan Richman, U.I.C., The Fleshtones, Greg Ginn and Fishbone, he has continued to present an incredible line up of talent and challenge the status quo.

One Step Beyond
One of the most important venues in the 80’s Ottawa underground music scene opened its doors in September of 1986. One Step Beyond, located on the south side of Rideau street near Dalhousie, was a non-licensed venue that held all-ages dances Friday and Saturday nights (Admission: $3.50, half price between 8:00 and 8:30!). Within a few months the club began booking a mix of pop, mod, garage and punk bands. Club owner (and CKCU DJ) Jeff Cohen’s booking policy was wide open: from punk bands like No Means NO, the Circle Jerks, Rollins Band, the Dead Milkmen, and SNFU and dissonant electronic bands like Ministry and the Swans, to garage acts like the Gruesomes and the Chesterfield Kings. “One Step” provided a venue for local bands to develop as well: Grave Concern, Neanderthal Sponge, and the Trapt were part of the scene during the club’s two-year reign. In hindsight, it’s a miracle the club survived as long as it did, considering it was trying to pay the rent from the sale of soft drinks and fruit juice.

One Step Beyond owner Jeff Cohen has since gone on to help reopen Toronto’s famous El Mocambo Club and create the promotion company ATG Concerts. He is currently the owner of two of Toronto’s most famous live venues – the legendary Horseshoe Tavern and Lee’s Palace. In the meantime, the building that once housed One Step Beyond (and where the Rollins Band cranked out a blistering version of “Next Time”) is now a tattoo parlour.

Barrymore’s Music Hall
Perhaps you’ve noticed a pattern emerging…. Throughout the 80’s it seemed like two or three years was about the maximum lifespan for Ottawa venues catering to the alternative crowd. Barrymore’s was the one exception. The booking policy seemed to fluctuate constantly: mostly blues one month, cover bands and tribute acts the next, maybe some washed up 60’s stars the month following. They even attempted to be a strip bar at one point. Often, months would go by without a single show of interest to the alt-rock affectionado. But at least the place stayed open, and when the good shows came they were really something to look forward to. In 1982, I saw ex-Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook with the Professionals (sorry… they were terrible, but hey, still kind of cool to see!). The Angelic Upstarts, Iggy Pop and Simple Minds also played that year. In 1983 punk rock super group Lords of the New Church graced the stage. Local legend has it that lead singer Stiv Bators made good use of the old theatre’s high ceiling by spitting straight upwards, doing a back flip and then catching it in his mouth… what a showman! In 1984 there was the Damned, the Forgotten Rebels and Motorhead; 1985 saw R.E.M. and Love & Rockets, 1986 had the Red Hot Chili Peppers, T.S.O.L. and D.O.A; in 1987 the Fuzztones and the Damned…. Barrymore’s is still alive and well and continues to present live music.

After the Revolution

With the onset of grunge in 1991, and the sudden popularity of ‘alternative culture,’ venues featuring original live music exploded across Ottawa. Punk shows were held at Oliver’s and Rooster’s at Carleton University, the Upstairs Club, Lucky Ron’s/The Hi Fi, Spodie Odie’s, Two Steps Above, the Cave, and the Liquid Monkey. The Pit (a tiny room located below jock-bar “On Tap” at Rideau and Dalhousie) presented local and touring punk acts including Blink 182. But without a doubt, the most influential venue for the Ottawa hardcore scene was the punk cooperative at 5 Arlington Street. From 1993 to early 1996, the collective promoted shows by Dischord bands Jawbox and Hoover, as well as the Archers of Loaf, Sparkmarker and many others. 5 Arlington was also ground zero for the local punk scene spawning Union of Uranus, Shotmaker and Okara. Bookings were done by Shawn Scallen, yet another CKCU veteran, whose contribution in dragging alternative music out of the 80’s underground and exposing it to a wider audience can’t be understated. Over the last twenty years he’s promoted hundreds of shows, released music on his Spectra Sonic Sound label, and now owns Endhits, a music store at 407 Dalhousie Street. 5 Arlington is now the location of Sounds Unlikely run by Tony Day – yes, another long-time CKCU-ite – and Ian Cooke, a former volunteer at CHUO (Ottawa U. radio).

Like cities all over North America, alternative culture came to Ottawa in fits and starts – a small music scene that developed organically under the radar of the popular media and out of sight of the majority of the population. Punk came to Ottawa by way of kids forming ‘weird’ bands, publishing fanzines, and slowly invading college radio. But the real thin edge of the punk rock wedge was the alternative gigs promoted in “hole-in-the-wall-bars” and non-standard venues. Starting in the late 1970’s, the music, fashion, and lifestyle of the punk rock subculture went from being ignored, mocked and even abhorred, to becoming completely entrenched in popular culture. It happened in St. Louis, Halifax, Denver, Saskatoon and Milwaukee… and it happened in Ottawa.

TOM STEWART (center) is one of the owners of SPACEMAN MUSIC which is the phoenix that rose out of the ashes of SONGBIRD MUSIC. this phoenix came in the form of conjoined twins that were separated which explains the existence of DAVE'S DRUM SHOP which is located right next door to SPACEMAN. both of these stores are the places to go to buy musical equipment or get your gear repaired. they are both owned and operated by musicians who are in active bands around the city. i'd rather go to a store like that instead of a music store where the only time the employees play music is when they're shredding out a solo while you're standing there like an idiot trying to get service.

TOM also played in many great ottawa bands such as FLUID WAFFLE and FURNACEFACE. the WIKIPEDIA entry on FURNACEFACE provides us with this gem: "During a live performance in 1997 Tom walked into a wall of flames, after receiving 1st degree burns the show was halted but the musician made a full recovery with no scarring." wow.

TOM currently plays bass in MANPOWER who are playing at babylon on march 15th with the MIGHTY EAGLE BAND and THE POLYMORPHINES. 9pm/7 dollars. (photo by andrew carver)

also on the 15th is the IDES OF MARCH GARAGE PARTY which is happening even further down bank street at IRENE'S PUB. the performers are MISSISSIPPI GROVER, SHANKER + ROMPS and THE FELINES. 9pm.

before we get ahead of ourselves, let's not forget the second of two punk rock cover shows is happening on friday the 14th even further down bank street at THE BAYOU. bands will be covering THE BOYS, DESCENDENTS, BLACK FLAG, JOHNNY THUNDERS AND THE HEARTBREAKERS, AMEBIX and apparently a RAMONES cover band has been added. all ages/8pm/4 dollars.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

messenger always brings bad news

friday night was the first of the two punk covers show at the bayou.

THE WHITE WIRES started the show with their set of WIPERS covers. i'm pretty sure most people there weren't familiar with the wipers but they did an amazing job nevertheless and people seemed to enjoy it.

here's a video of them playing MESSENGER.

ADVERTS as done by SEDATIVES was next. we only played four songs but it was a lot of fun.

S.O.A. had to cancel due to someone breaking their knee earlier the week which was unfortunate. the night had been pretty tame up until that point but once THE SHITLICKERS got on things really exploded. i'm not sure what members of what bands were playing and i had never heard of THE SHITLICKERS before but the kids there clearly had since they were flipping out something fierce. i had noticed that there was a bit of a line-up change at one point but i didn't realize that they were doing a different band. i've been informed that they played 4 SHITLICKERS songs and then changed the line-up a bit and did 5 ANTI-CIMEX songs.

DISCHARGE as done by members of GERM ATTAK, TRIOXIN 245 and BASTARDATOR was next and the insanity continued. they sounded amazing and were really entertaining to watch.

i left early like a total poser so i missed G.B.H. but i'm sure it was great.

check out more pictures here.

don't forget that this friday is part two of the covers shows. it's at THE BAYOU. it's FOUR DOLLARS and it's ALL AGES. it'll be great. BLACK FLAG, DESCENDENTS, THE BOYS, AMEBIX and JOHNNY THUNDERS AND THE HEARTBREAKERS.

Friday, March 7, 2008

i wanna go down to the basement!

last night was thursday night which of course means ROCK N' ROLL PIZZA PARTY!!! this thursday was especially special since it was the first time we had bands play since we've moved to the BYTOWN TAVERN about a month ago. people showed up early to check out the bands which is encouraging.

those that were able to get there early enough got to witness SAVAGE CRIMES make their debut. they ripped through a handful of songs including a TAMRONS cover and a SWEET JANES cover. is it still a cover if they used to be in the band? i'm not sure about that but i'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of these boys in the future.

THE VISITORS came on next. it was the cd release show for their self-released "lost on the globe" cd. i had been looking forward to seeing them for a while now and they did not disappoint. they played almost every song from their record except for a few including "cruisin'" which i would have liked to hear because that song is awesome. it didn't really matter in the end because every song they played is awesome so i did not walk away disappointed.

they ended their set with two RAMONES covers "i don't wanna go down to the basement" and "rockaway beach" and their theme song "V-I-S-I-T-O-R-S GO!"

they were gracious enough to hook me up with a copy of the cd which means i can listen to all of their songs whenever i want. all 11 songs are ripping upbeat pop punk tunes and every song takes you on a trip somewhere in the world. in 27 minutes you get to go to vietnam, mexico, australia, spain, sweden and even the north pole! you have to be careful because you can easily get lost. i would definitely recommend picking up a copy of their record if you love upbeat catchy punk in the vein of THE QUEERS/SCREECHING WEASEL/every RAMONES-influenced band. i'm not sure if they've dropped off copies at any record stores or anything so your best bet is probably contacting them through the wonder that is the internet and you can work something out.

here's a video of them playing NORTH POLE.

i will hopefully be posting higher quality videos that i took of SAVAGE CRIMES and THE VISITORS in the coming week if everything works out. this will have to do for now. more pictures here.

the rest of the night was a blast. B-RAD made his triumphant return behind the decks. people ate pizza, hung out and had an awesome time! if you're a true ROCK N' ROLL PIZZA PARTY-er you can bring in a blank t-shirt and we can make you your very own stylish shirt. be careful because pizza sauce really shows up on a white shirt. (see picture below)

don't forget that tonight is the first of two punk rock cover shows going on at the bayou. tonight is your chance to see WIPERS, S.O.A., DISCHARGE, ADVERTS and GBH. it's only 4 dollars and it's all ages. next friday you can see THE BOYS, BLACK FLAG, DESCENDENTS, JOHNNY THUNDERS and NEGATIVE APPROACH.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

all my friends were vampires....

this just a reminder to all of you that THE VISITORS (pictured above in the land of the rams) and SAVAGE CRIMES are playing a FREE show on thursday night at the BYTOWN TAVERN. it is a momentous occasion for a myriad of reasons two of them being that it's:
a) THE VISITORS cd release show!
b) SAVAGE CRIMES first show ever!

so make sure you show up early or else you'll be feeling pretty stupid that you missed out on it especially since it's free and it's followed by the usual ROCK N' ROLL PIZZA PARTY shenanigans which means great music, free pizza, cheap drinks and good times.

last week was a great time with HOT LOVE dj's ken (center) and daisy (not pictured) spinning great jams. don't forget that the girl's washroom even has a hair straightener that you can use for a measly 2 dollars which is incidentally how much i paid for these records. what a deal!!!