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Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Survived 9:30 and Lived to Tell About It

For those of you who wonder where the heck the writer of this blog came from- I'd have to say it all started with a bizarre little haunt down on F Street called the 9:30 Club. I grew up wandering Georgetown listening to street musicians and going to concerts in little places like the Pour House Pub or big ones like Constitution Hall and the Capital Centre, but the 9:30 Club was … well, different. It drew a certain kind of a person- crazy, creative, passionate people. Current co-owner Seth Hurwitz called it "the Island of Misfit Toys."

I couldn't agree more.

 And I couldn't make these people up. They are my friends.

I was in college when Dody DiSanto and John Bowers turned a decrepit building into an art venue. My first show sometime in the early '80s was Kurtis Blow although I had no idea just where we were headed or what we were going to see the night a bunch of my Maryland housemates and I decamped for F Street in a Ford Falcon station wagon. It was such a cool place that I was surprised they let me in.

Thanks to my friend and music muse, Peter Alsberg, dc space and the 9:30 Club became the places we wanted to be, and that in turn led to meeting a lot of local artists and musicians- many of whom worked in bars. (Imagine that.) Some of you might remember Mark Hall with his black cap, black jeans (black pretty much everything) serving drinks and video dee-jaying behind the bar during happy hour Wednesday through Friday.

Music videos were the rage, and Mark's taste ran from Dear God by XTC to Run-DMC's Walk This Way with Aerosmith. At the end of his shift,  Mark would chase customers away with strategically quiet classical music while the doormen extracted cover charges from patrons wishing to stay for the show.  Quite a few bands like Troublefunk, Tru-fax, Insect Surfers and Beatnik Flies are still playing- giving me fodder to write about.

A lot of art and music erupted from that tiny hole in the wall, but no film or book has yet to fully capture this "place and time."  While we are waiting for that project to happen, "Salad Days"  (showing again tomorrow at AFI) gives a nod to that community, as does the recently re-released book Banned in DC. A must for any DC punk rock lover.