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.


paul said...

Awesome article! This is also worth checking out:

Ottawa Punk/HC fanzine from 82-84.

pierre richardson said...

Great article!

Out In The Street said...

Thanks to Tom for writing that! very cool.

I saw this group through an older friends Facebook groups,
Some photos from One Step Beyond here,

tmorrow said...

One Ottawa punk landmark still stands tall: Tom Stewart.

Hilário Godinho said...

Hilário Godinho

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Enviar dinheiro para a Anti Pide/D.G.S.E..
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If it can not impose peace, can convince by example. -----

I ask for Political asylum -----

Donations for the Resistance Portuguese Military and Civil Anti Pide/D.G.S.E..
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Tracy said...

This is a very interesting article - good to have a history of this scene. One thing I would add is the significant contributions of CKCU's No Future Now - it was such a key way for Ottawa kids to learn about punk music, and showcase new punk music.

Tracy said...

Also, CAFE EFAC was probably the last real underground location for punk bands in Ottawa.

Anonymous said...

The very next post I made on Ottawa Explosion was about NCFC.

Feel free to email me any info about CAFE EFAC. I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Wally said...

Amazing article - my brother and I saw many of the same shows you mention and that was my friends camera that the Stranglers jumped off the stage to rip out the pictures. It's true that Roch Parisien from CKCU and Iain Walker of Shake played key roles in creating the early Ottawa scene.

YAZ said...

WOW... What memories... That was my camera, and yes that was I that had those memories torn from my Camera. The details are close enough to what actually happened that unforgettable night. Wally was right, I did forget to turn off my flash, and Lead Singer of the Stranglers did fly off the stage, and did come looking for me, but I hid my camera, and moved locations quickly. He was not happy, resumed his position on stage, but continued to search for me... Unfortunately, one of his security guards from the side of the stage was summoned by him to my exact location after I tried to get a close up shot. That is when my camera wa s taken and the film destroyed... Oh what memories I could share if I had the time and desire... YAZ

~Connie R said...

What a walk down memory lane. Well done. I too, often pass old haunts on the Ottawa streets and smile at all the old memories I enjoyed at some of the venues, and regret any of the ones I was not around for or too young to be hanging in bars to catch. Fortunately I caught many of the acts and frequented many of the venues you mention. It always makes me smile when I see today's youth wearing band tshirts and in my head I can say "I remember seeing that band at a small underground club in the 80s". I still maintain "I was in the right place with the right people at the right time" And I'm forever grateful for it! Cheers Tom.

DJ Rentboy said...

Great article. It brings back some memories. The one and only time I went to Banana Obskouri .. saw Conditon and Deja Voodoo. Brilliant show.

Anonymous said...

Great Article.
It would be great to have a site where people could post a list of all the gigs that ever happened in Ottawa. I saw 999 at the Riverside Hotel (Paradise Club?) in 1980 or 1981 or ???. I believe they also played the Chaud. One or two summers someone put on midnight shows at the Rideau Theatre - I saw Gang of Four there - 1981? Who knows?

Anonymous said...

I think I was the guy at the Ramones show that kept his shirt on...As I recall there was a kid pogoing about in what looked like pajamas. I played in a band around that time, once at Hoopers. Thanks for the supplied memories. I was wondering what happened.

Anonymous said...

dont forget at the rotters club lots of insane performences by the red squares and ragnarok, rotton kidz

missing Ottawa said...

Thanks for this story, i worked for a short time at my beloved zaphods 2 , I loved the space for it inherant energy - did not know that the space was previously the jungle room and that the ramones played there - explains alot ! Ottawa should be proud of its punk and live music history, Many talented artists played and came out of that town!

Anonymous said...

Resin Scraper, Buck, Inflatable Jesus Love Dolls, Tokin' Minority, Black Triangle, Leather Ass Butfucks, Lumpen Proletariat, all early 90's before grunge came on.
The arts court gigs helped form a hardcore scene that had no help at all from CKCU and had kids at teh shows every weekend. That was one hell of a scene.
Some of the guys from those bands went on to make music, others just faded away.
One of the guitar players from Tokin' Minority has a record deal making dub and reggae, the resin resin scraper guys ran Birdman sound, it just goes on and on. The scene was rich and big and well beyond the history of this article.

Anonymous said...

Awesome article. Being an outsider (from Quebec City) I always wanted to know about the history of the underground/punk in Ottawa.


Gilbert Lachance

Anonymous said...

Re. the Ramones show at the Jungle Club...I was there too, I still have the poster from that show in my kitchen. Regarding the kid in the pajamas, that might have been me, aged 16. I had a blue flannel shirt with big buttons that I wore that night. It was already ripped, and it was so hot that night it ripped more and was soaked. I was so close to the stage that Joey Ramone kept staring right at me for extended periods, it was a bit creepy actually. When I got home I hung it in the shower to dry. The next day it was gone, just an empty hanger. My mom hated it and must have thrown it out. It was my favourite shirt. Bought it at one of the army surplus places that used to be in the market. That Ramones show was one of highlights of my life and I think about it everyday.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! I could not remember the name of 5 Arlington! My band (the Meat Sisters, from St. Louis, MO) played there in 1994 with the Problem Children, and then stayed there that night. Yannick from UoU booked the show and let me tape some of his records afterwards. Great show, great people, great time!

Melanie said...

Great article and nice to see a bunch of bands mentioned that I booked in Ottawa at the time (DOA, Toxic Reasons, MDC to name a few). YCP was an off shoot of a club my room mates and I booked in the basement of our house called "No Pigs". We also put out a comp. record called Blender Mix with a similar group out of Quebec City. The band I sang in "Last Prayer" is on that record and I still listen to it now and then. It was a good launch pad for many bands and for me personally as I still book/doing publicity for punk bands ...33 years later !

koolie said...

mind boggled! This is very cool, thanks for giving us some of our long, strange, trips back

Chris Wren said...

Wow! The history of my misspent youth in one awesome comprehensive article! Thanks so much for posting this!

Olivier D said...

Here's a Bertha Does Moosejaw gig from 1996 live at the pit on rideau :


Anonymous said...

I remember a funny incident at Banana Obskouri one night at their second floor balcony. A guy was climbing up the balcony post to avoid the cover charge when someone yelled out… look it’s Indiana Jones …then the guy promptly replied as he climbed over the rail… and you recognized me with out my American Express… and everyone laugh. Lots of creative people a very artistic time.

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Mark Mewton said...

Nice article.I was there.The potatoe farm.(eccles street- Honest Injun,Skull Giver,) Cooper street punk house, I lived at the Plymouth street Youth Action For Peace house, and then I lived on Lisgar at Cafe Efac.Efac was beyond description and absolutely amazing. It was like a pirate ship,a house just off bank street, the backyard had numerous huge trees with an big outdoor bar where beer was illegally sold to anyone old enough with the courage to make it through a sea of misfits and punks, through the house into the backyard and up to the bar(efac wasn't just punk, it was alternative subculture).Nobody was in charge, the original tennents were long gone,5 or 6 of us lived there, the land lord would show up for rent,and we would pay him with beer money.When I caught on to this fact, I kinda just moved in, I asked no one, and no one complained, there was no authority for a complaint to come from!I sold vegi food out of the kitchen.It was an art gallery/cafe by day, live entertainment booze can by night.The entire house, floors walls, ceilings and all furniture were painted art.In the last days before the bust, we flew a skull and bones pirate flag from the roof.This was kinda the last days of a strong punk, and, hippy scene in Ottawa.The times they were a changin'I really miss that portion of my life, Donny, Dave,Sam(Samantha) Subteranean Dave,to name a few, I wonder whatever became of them. Peace all, Mark Mewton, out.

caroline said...

Memories I had forgotten, thank you! I was in the band Boomshanka, we played our first show 1987 at the Downstairs Club, the Town Cryers graciously gave us the chance. Amazingly (to me) there was a review, in the now-defunct Ottawa Sunday Herald, and it started with "Boomshanka had to be seen to be believed", I think because we had to bail halfway through our second (of two) songs, Pretty Vacant. We went on to bigger and better, playing Zaphod's, Barrymores, Porter Hall, Ottawa U, the Sandy Hill Community Centre (!), and more I don't remember. Broke up in 1991. Sorry to go on at length, but the whole music community then was ah-mazing, there were so many awesome Ottawa bands that we loved to see their shows, sometimes play with - really too numerous to mention. And of course, must shout out to CHUO and, esp, CKCU, plus many many folks mentioned in the article. Really sweet time, thank you Ottawa :)

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Anonymous said...

I miss my friend Jordy Kiefl!

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