Venue, We Miss you
A salute to missing Capital Region Venues. By You.
Bogie's is a disco. And you can now eat off the floor of the bathroom of the former QE2 (almost). We asked which long-gone Albany-area music venues you miss the most, and why. Here's what you had to say. Thanks to everyone who responded. If you haven't responded pick one venue and give up the goods to firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace.
I miss the QE2. Simple. I'm not going to wax poetic. I'm just going to tell you why.
My first encounter with the QE2 was when I was in high school in Lake George, NY. My friend, Dr. Pretentious, had heard of this place that had a club night that played really cool music. The music we liked -- Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Sex Pistols, Fear. Music we didn't get to hear in Lake George. So we piled into a car and drove to the "big" city. And it was everything I expected. I remember one time Ministry's Stigmata had just started playing as we were walking in. To my chagrin, no one was moshing and I remarked as such. The bouncer simply stated "Make them mosh!" So we did. That was a great night. It was like having a CBGB's within a reasonable driving distance. We managed to make a few more trips before we all split up to go to college. When I went to college in Canton, NY to pursue my career and fortune in Vertebrate Paleontology, my trips to the QE2 became much more infrequent and I only managed to get there 3 or 4 times over 4 years when I came to visit Dr. Pretentious, et al. at SUNY Albany.
Flash forward a few years. I've completed college and my education in Geology for Vertebrate Paleontology has lead me to the exciting career of pizza delivery and, eventually, hardware retail hell. [more]
VARIOUS [posted: 7.01.2003]
I too fondly remember the Chateau Lounge and J.B. Scott's from my new wave youth and would love to relate some of my many happy memories of those places, but there are other venues that have not been mentioned yet.
The Aerodrome in Schenectady for instance, which in its short existence hosted the Jeff Beck Group featuring a young Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, Janis Joplin with her Full Tilt Boogie Band and an up and coming little combo by the name of Led Zeppelin back in the late '60s.
Or Allen's in Scotia where I saw unbelievably wild club shows featuring the New York Dolls (or what was left of them), Cheap Trick and Todd Rundgren's Utopia.
But the place I really wanted to mention is the Hullabaloo in deepest, darkest Rensselaer. This place had The Police, not once, but twice on their way up. They also presented The Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, The Boomtown Rats, Pere Ubu, The Dictators, The Dead Boys, King Crimson, Dire Straights, The Roches, Kasim Sultan and a ton of other great acts from the late 70s and early 80s. They didn't catch on to the fact that new wavers wanted to dance, so they would put tables right up to the stage and sell tickets for each table, like the Van Dyck does now. When I saw The Police on their second visit I had a table right under Sting!
QE2 [posted: 4.01.2003]
I miss QEII more than I ever thought possible. I miss the music. I miss the scene. I miss my friends. I miss my candle-lit home away from home.
To be part of QEII was to live a dual life. Very often I'd be somewhere getting coffee, or stuck in some inane conversation at work when the topic of "that freak club downtown" would come up. Sometimes the stories would be so out of whack with what it was really like to be there, dance there, go to shows there, that I had a hard time initially knowing that the club of discussion was my one and only, my beloved Q.
Caffé Dolce [posted: 3.03.2003]
I doubt that anyone thought that they were taking the stage at The Apollo or started playing and suddenly mistook their surroundings for, say, The Fillmore, but Caffé Dolce in Schenectady played host to some of the best singer-songwriters from the Capital District and beyond. Now that I work in a corporate cubicle hell, I appreciate my time behind the counter and in front of the tempestuous espresso machine because at least then I was able to hear great (and, yes, sometimes horribly self-indulgent) live music "at the office."
I was an employee for a year? a year-and-a-half? in the early 90s (it's all very hazy now) and enjoyed open mic night after open mic night while I made a buck or two (literally). I hid a bottle or two of cheap white wine in with the flavored syrups for the coffee and unscrewed these spirits or pulled the cheap cork out with my teeth after dimming the lights for the first performer of these (typically) long Tuesday nights. Wearing a name tag that read, "I Hate You All" (handmade and left as a tip by a pink-haired regular) I watched and listened as Paddy Kilrain broke in her old acoustic guitar like a new baseball glove and always joined the collective plea from the audience for Roseanne Raneri to sing another song when she graced us with her presence and thrilled us with her gorgeous voice.
By now you're thinking something along the lines of, "What the hell is this guy talking about? This ain't no Bogies, this ain't no Q." True, too true. And my response to you is this: Where else in Schenectady could you see the aforementioned musicians and the likes of Michael Eck and the Staziaks for free (or for at least half of what you would pay for a crap movie at Crossgates) and get a decent (if not halfway decent) cup of coffee?
Nowhere is where.
If I had it, I'd spend a small fortune to have someone like Jeff Hulett sit in the near silence of my boring-ass office and debut new material all day long. I would pay even more to have Jason Martin stroll into a departmental meeting with a Speak 'N Spell and a bag of marshmallows and give a day-long seminar on the evolution of vending machine food products. I miss those snowy, drunken nights of hit-or-miss music more than I ever thought I would and often wish that bX7-21 would step into my subway car on the way home from work and bitch-slap us out of our fluorescent commuter boredom with some agro art rock.
A wise man wearing pale, glossy lipstick and dressed like a bad Stevie Nicks knockoff once told me, "You don't know what you've got until it's gone." That man was Tom Keifer, lead singer of the glam rock outfit Cinderella, and it has taken me almost a decade to understand the profound truth buried in this elegantly simple statement.
Michael Van Allen, San Francisco
J.B. Scott's [posted: 11.23.2002]
I just stumbled across your Blog down here in Austin. I grew up in Albany, and I miss JB Scott's. It was a bland atmosphereless shithole of a venue, with mostly short or weirdly angled sightlines and only an average PA, but the bands that Vinnie Birbiglia booked were outstanding. He had a silent partner (he owned Private Benjamin's) who seemed pretty straight, and another who seemed to be high most of the time, but Vinnie brought in the bands. It was cheap too--most shows were less than $15. JB's high times coincided with the high point of WQBK-FM (Q-104), back when my friend Dore Stein, along with Lin Brehmer, Ellen McKinnon, Harvey Kojan, Walt Pelton, Peggy Apple & Program Director John Cooper played radio that was NOT programmed and truly progressive. They BROKE bands on radio, and took risks. U2 came back three times in a year thanks to them, and then came back and played a free gig at SUNY's MayFest in '83. I saw them all.
I managed to talk my dad into opening a Big Dom's Subs kiosk in the back of the club, and convinced him that I was the guy to work it. So I had a great seat for almost every show, including U2 in March, May and November 1981. One week that U2 played with Mission of Burma (and the entire band and crew signed my LP) I saw Teardrop Explodes and James Cotton and Romeo Void. Talk about diverse. The Jam were the loudest band I had ever heard in a club. Roy Buchanan got better the drunker he got. John Fahey jumped offstage in mid-song to take a leak, then hopped back up with a new Heineken in his hand and picked up where he left off in the middle of a bottle slide solo. Lionel Hampton, Blotto, R.E.M., The Units (later Fear of Strangers), Pat Benatar, David Bromberg, Thin Lizzy, REO Speedwagon, Rory Gallagher, Count Basie, Mick Ronson, Buddy Rich, Squeeze. And The Go-Go's too. The place booked 'em all.
People couldn't get out of there fast enough once the show ended, so it was not like Bogie's where you wanted to hang out before or after the show. Once the lights went on you saw that they must have spent about $50 on décor--it was an old S&H Green Stamp trading store and looked like it always had--they just threw black paint on the walls and hung up a few Bud mirrors.
We didn't sell many subs either (sorry Dad). But I had a fucking blast.
QE2 [posted: 9.20.2002]
[read the complete submission, it's hilarious]
You know, I see a number of my buds were compelled to toss in their proverbial and sundry two cents worth of anecdotal praise here, and I must admit, my liver started twitching upon reading the whimsical rantings of Sir Albert "Flatten you with my Explorer, goddammit" Von Schaf. But I would tend to list the poo-stained halls of QE2 at the top of my list as most missed. I mean, c'mon. Charlene would book ANYONE. She wasn't scared. The Mentors (one of the most frightening events of my life was watching the late El Duce hoist a log-splitter into the air and wobble with that big, dead belly toward the crowd)? Alice Donut? The Genitorturers? The Mighty Mighty Bosstones? King Missile? The Figgs? Alan Ginsberg? C'mon, man. Marilyn Manson. Anne Waldman. Holy Cow. The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Dronez. Babes in Toyland, who made Courtney Love's Hole look like a hymen repair kit. I can still see poor Spike at the control knobs, irate and underpaid.
Chateau Lounge [posted: 7.05.2002]
I'd also have to chime in on the Chateau, the first "DIY" spot in Smallbany, of which we must give due credit to Jimmy Furlong of A.D.'s for opening up. The stage was built over the stairwell to the basement, which served as the dressing room, and when Jim Carroll came onstage, he just popped up through a trapdoor directly onto the stage. Probably could have used some smoke/strobe effects to go along with this myterious appearance, but hey, we were on a budget. Personally, many other memorable nights here, too numerous to mention. And thanks to the other writers who remembered two of my former bands, Morons and Lumpen Proles. Still have the tapes.
Bill "Max Media" Rella
Actually I miss 288 as well (10,000 Maniacs were the house band for a bit and the Rain Parade played there and so did my band (to the usual 10 or 20 people). The Chateau however is where I first saw REM (though I came for the opening band). Then there was Flipper, the Circle Jerks, The final Morons show, The Gun Club and Agit Pop, and since I just saw them in New York, Mission of Burma in the Winter of 1983. Also late lamented local bands like The Crude, Lumpen Proles, and Grim Surprise. O' and the wonderfully nice people from Millions of Dead Cops. Curtains across the doors of the Loo(s). A.D.(s) and Fear of Strangers in their stride. Early 15 minute sets by Capitle!!! Inexpensive cocktails. Very inexpensive. Buzzcocks songs on the jukebox. Analog. It was "of a time." The site of the club (corner of Hudson/South Pearl) now sits under the Pepsi Arena. And that's the story of, that's the glory of late capitalism.
I guess the place I miss most is Bogie's. I heard the legends about U2 at JB Scott's and Led Zeppelin at some bowling alley but the only place I ever went was Bogie's. By the time I was old enough to go into the QE2 they had stopped booking anybody I wanted to see. I'll always regret missing Living Colour at the QE2 but what can you do. Bogie's was a dump but it was big enough to hold a crowd and if you didn't like the band you could always shoot pool and watch them on the TV. I saw some great shows there like Mike Watt and Perfect Thyroid (about a hundred times) but the best show ever was when Material Issue invaded for a night of perfect power pop. I still listen to Material Issue practically everyday and when I do I think of Jim Ellison playing on that little stage with the low ceilings trying to make everyone's head explode. What else was good about Bogie's...well, it had a cool mural and I could usually find a parking space, plus you had Sal's pizza next door. But the best thing about Bogie's was simply the fact that it was there and it booked live bands who played original music. So often we don't miss our water til the well runs dry. Man, am I thirsty.
Singer/guitarist in the Timewasters
Mother Earth's Café
There are definitely a lot of missed venues in the area, but Mother Earth's definitely tops the list. I've yet to see a venue support the local music scene so openly as done by owner Richard Genest. If a local band wanted to play a show, all they had to do was ask. A truly wonderful resource for a start-up band. All the shows were free, only subject to Richard passing around a collection jar for donations- which would go straight to the performers. And beyond that, it offered good food in a smoke and alcohol-free environment. I can't even guess how many times I've left a venue with bloodshot eyes and coughing from the second-hand smoke. Mother Earth's was one of the few places that I'd just go down and visit on a random night to get some food and check out a band for free. It is genuinely missed.
I have fond memories for The Chateau Lounge, formerly on the corner of South Pearl St and the Dunn Memorial downtown exit ramp. The property was owned by the owner of Jonathan's pizzeria. My brother worked there, and suggested that he book some of the new bands that were around. Of course, the fella booked the cheapest bands , which was of course, punk groups. The first band I saw there was the Morons, they were a scream. It was a dive, but the sound of the room wasn't bad, so eventually most of the best bands at the time played there. I saw Blotto, The Units, the Rockin' Dakotas, and other cool bands there, the first wave of the Albany sound. Like most great Albany landmarks, it was demolished and is now the VIP parking lot for the Pepsi Arena.
Half Moon Cafe
I really miss the Half Moon Cafe. It was sort of my first introduction to Albany counter culture. There was always something brewing with the employees. They seemed to have their own surreal idea of service. And I saw great acts there, The Siren Sisters (the predecessor to Motherjudge and the Urban Holiness Society), a pre- Austin Ed Hammel, General Eclectic featuring Deb Cavannaugh. I remember drinking wine from a teapot on the patio and feeling like I had finally found some like minded souls. When it reemerged as Mother Earth's it just wasn't the same. I guess it was a time and a place. Oh well, wish you were there.
There are many to choose from, and if you ask me tomorrow you'll probably get a different answer, but today the answer is The Loft. If for no other reason, than for this night [link]. A powerhouse evening of singer-songwriters, a packed room, and you could hear a pin-drop during every performance. Host Michael Eck that night said: "If you don't support venues like this, you don't deserve them." Hmmm.
The Bronze Bell
my all-time "best of" rooms was the bronze bell. it was out in Johnstown, next to Fulton Montgomery community college. and that was a long time ago! back in the day when money didn't take priority for most of us. it was no more than a oversized pole barn. bad acoustics! long drive! Gestapo everywhere!! but I saw some of the best bands of that era right there in cow country, Rail, Mr. Ed, excaliber, its been so long I cant remember most! every once in a while they would scrape together the change to get national acts in. that's why I loved it so much. in Albany I can understand the attraction but way out their? the one show that stands out in my mind was the blackhearts. when Joan was the new girl in the group! man talk about a performer! I fell in love that night. even though her rise was short she had my attention. and still does! I never liked her material just the way she moved the crowd. I've had many experiences over the years but none stand out in my mind like the ones I had there! the night it burned down was a black day in history. arson and insurance fraud were suspected? all the insurance money in the world could not replace those memories. or bring back those day's. money and the greed it causes run our lives now. I'm just so happy I had the fortunate opportunity to grow up before all those hippies moved to the Florida keys. so how's that? you like?
i have the most fond memories of the qe2, man what a shit hole, but also what a great great place to see a show.
ian a.ka. jigga titus
I'll tell you, I miss Bogie's more than anyplace else. Back in the days, it was the best bar in town to just be a regular person-type musician at. Remember the 5 dollar Thursday night Beer blasts?I could never relate to the QE2 because I always felt like the proverbial turd in the punchbowl there, lacking as i was in heroin addiction,pancake makeup, leather pants and general ennui, although, to be fair, I did see a lot of good bands at the Q. Bogie's though, was a saloon in the tradition of my father's generation-long, dark, smoky, loud, green stucco walls raddled with staples, stickers and flyers, the thud of kick drums, the sound of drunken laughter. The great backstage room with its heroic spectrum of inane, obscene, and hysterically catty graffiti between local bands and the ratty couch i used to love to fall out on while waiting to play. I played nearly 100 gigs at Bogie's, and I remember Howard and Chris behind the bar, and Chris Graf behind the board and the thyroidial freakitude of the security staff. I remember watching the Lawn Sausages play Louie Louie for at least two hours one night, and i remember threatening the life of Mighty Mighty Bosstones singer Dickie Barrett in the bathroom when our two bands shared the stage. I remember getting to meet Darryl of my idols The Bad Brains and wishing death upon The Flaming Lips for not striking their drum kit. i remember the night that tracy bonham bought me a couple beers and we talked about guitar strings and violins for a half hour. I remember jamming with The Dugans in there one day when the place was closed, playing Minutemen songs with Howe and Walt Wallen and Skippy Piper. I'm not gonna even get into all the insane shit I did with Jimmy and Murphy's Law there, but that old craziness seems so clear, now that I have been posed a question which gives me a reason to rehash it. I remember a lot of my twenties through those puke-stained rose colored glasses, as my pal Bill ketzer likes to say, and Bogie's was the place where a lot of the really great shit, both uplifting and calamitous, happened to me. I try to turn my head the other way now when i drive by Ontario and Madison, so I can forget, for a moment, that my favorite bar is now a disco, where the dreaded white hatted yo-yo boys and their emptyheaded chicks hang out, testing new date-rape drugs.
jackass deluxe, mendicant poet, dentist phobic
I miss fuckin Bogie's because I got pepper sprayed there when I was in 9th grade. SWEET.