The Charleston celebrates Two Years

4 Apr

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~ Y.I.A. @ the Chuck’s Grand Opening, 2008 | Angel Perry ~

Two years may not seem like a long time, but for many all ages venues it’s a lifetime. Bremerton’s Charleston Music Venue turns two this month w/ a slate of special birthday shows.

It all kicked off last night (April 2 — Barbie’s Barfday Bash/The Assasinators CD Release Show), goes on tonight (April 3) with the Chuck’s official birthday bash featuring Boise, Id. bands N.F.F.U., Pull Out Quick, Adamant Allies and A New Agenda w/ a re-birthed Project 9, and continues next week as the bodacious Hell’s Belles celebrate their 10th anniversary, April 10 at the Chuck.

See more on those shows and more scattered throughout this month’s Smokestack — out now in print and in the digital archive.

For more on the Chuck — and the Callow Avenue venue’s inspiring story of ambition and unity in the face of authority — see this month’s feature, a gonzo retrospective on Bremerton’s 21st century all ages music scene through the eyes of Angel Perry…

My Experience Growing Up in the

Bremerton All Ages Music Scene

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~ Words and Photos By Angel Perry ~

Where to begin when there is no beginning. . . Well, I was born and raised in Bremerton and started going to local shows when I was about 13/14 years old. Over these last 9 years, I’ve done what I can to support and be an active member in our local scene. I’ve seen a lot of things change in the way we run our scene and a lot of venues rise and fall — leaving musicians no where local to play and the kids no place of their own for shows. Let’s start with my beloved Robbins Nest which occupied a small building on the East Side off of Perry Ave . . .

The man who owned that coffee shop/hang out/show place, Doug Bowen, was generous to bands and the local kids, having two of his own. He used to let me and a number of other kids into shows for free in exchange for some help cleaning up or behind the counter during an event.

He would open his garage door during the week days and let all of us with no where to go after school play video games, boardgames, music or pool. He had couches for us to hang out on and snacks for us to eat. Many bands (including local punk favorites Y.I.A., pictured a few times) got their first gig at this place and a chance to get their music heard outside of the occasional random house party.

The shows were always around $5 for between 4 to 6 bands. The turn out on a good weekend night might be around 50-100 sweaty, shoulder-to-shoulder people. The Robbins Nest, although short lived, was an amazing first dose of the music scene for me and to this day inspires me in how I’m involved.

After the Robbins Nest closed it’s doors for good, there seemed to be a bit of a drought in places to see shows.

There was, and still is, The Roxy Theatre down on 4th St. The place had the right idea as far as having a place for kids to go see shows but was too much about pushing the Christian agenda. By this I mean preaching in between bands and trying to instill the fear of God in kids through redemption prayers. Maybe the perfect place for some, but not for me. There shows too were around $5 for 4-6 bands.

Moving right along to Coffee Oasis. This place, although run for many years by a pastor, never pushed their religion on the people who came through its doors. I’ve seen all kinds of bands on that cozy stage and hung out in the parking lot out back many, many times. During the Burwell tunnel construction, Coffee O’ sat quietly for many months, but now with the tunnel done, the place is alive and making noise again, putting on one or more shows a month.

But during the time Coffee Oasis was closed we were yet again left out in the cold, so to speak. Underground house shows kept the all ages music scene going, but unity was almost unheard of.

Psycho Bettys

Psycho Bettys was a coffee shop and all ages venue. When I think of the Psycho Bettys days, I think fun. Good, wild, loud ass fun! Thats when we started to get a little taste of bands from all over the country since the Natashas days.

Against Me played and packed the tiny two roomed coffee shop.

Almost every other show there got a pretty good turnout, showing that the youth of Bremerton wanted a venue.
Packed with the band on the floor head to head with the roaring circle pit full of dozens of pissed off kids, feeling every note and hanging on to every word.

Shows were $5 for 4-6 bands, until Psycho Betty’s closed it’s doors.

West Side Burrito Connection

Then came my all time favorite place to see shows — The Westside Burritto Connection. Used to be right next door to the Drift Inn on 1st St. downtown. This is when unity in the scene started to really spark up. This building was tiny. I’m talking about a 10-by-25-foot space with a burrito bar and about six booth tables. When you went to a show here, you couldn’t help but be right in all the chaos.

I remember shows where there were people packed all the way to the coffee can covered ceiling and out the front door into the street. They gave most any band a chance to play, $5 for 5 bands for the patrons and the best, biggest burritos for cheap. They also hung and sold local “alternative” art. The WBC closing was a devastating blow to a lot of us in the scene, but we would prevail.

Rush's

The next place to open was Rush’s Coffeeshop on Callow Ave.

Unlike the WBC this place was huge. The lady who owned the building, Dana Rush, opened up as a bookstore/coffee shop and agreed to host shows. Mostly punk, rock, hardcore, metal and indie. Although the place was packed a couple hundred kids deep 4 or more times a month, 5 bux a head, their doors closed, mostly due to finance issues.

But the shows here were intense with the big stage, tall ceilings and giant attractively violent circle pit in between you and the band — that is if you weren’t skankin’ your ass off in the pit. Then, just like almost all of the others before it, Rush’s closed it’s doors for good, leaving us you know where.

It took a while for a new venue to open, and it took no time at all to shut it down.

The Gallery

The Gallery run by the Mullins/Porter family located on 4th street in downtown Bremerton, this place was a pretty good sized warehouse room with a hand built stage and a loading ramp. The front of the shop was a separate room that sold art and coffee.

This was going to be our new home, permanent stomping grounds. One show. Thats it. And the city found a reason to close The Gallery’s doors.

We had had enough!

The AFU Hall

Everywhere a venue would open it would struggle, fight, then get closed down. This constant and extreme injustice sparked the Artists for Freedom and Unity (The AFU Hall, 318 N. Callow Ave.) We are a small group of artists/musicians/supporters who promote and protect the arts.

I took up the position of secretary for this non-profit union the second meeting ever and haven’t left its side since. I remember we all payed for the first 2 months rent out of our pockets. Then, we set our goals and got to work, hosting shows and providing a cheap place to sell and display local “alternative” art for people of all ages and from all walks of life.

We’ve been through a lot as a union, gaining countless new members and loosing two of our founding members in the last 2 and a half years.

We celebrated our 3 year anniversary on March 13, 2010 and need continuous help and support to keep this going. The AFU sparked the revolution happening on Callow Ave. now and I’ll be damned if were gonna let this place go anytime soon and without one hell of a fight.

The Chuck

The Charleston (333 Callow Ave.) is mine and Andy’s baby that the community and scene has helped raise. Andy (More, Charleston co-owner, Y.I.A/Generartion Decline) and I were sitting outside the AFU running our Sunday afternoon staring at the Chuck, formally G-Style Knights, which had been closed for years, playing the what if game.

What if Bremerton had a venue like that? What if the bands and the kids in the scene had a permanent place to call home? What if we could change the way of the big time “music biz” and brought it back to for the people by the people?

What if?

What if we just call the realtor and take a look?

It’s been two years now and holding stronger than ever thanks to the local support. We’ve had bands from all over the world, all different types of music, about 4 days a week and we’ll always try to keep it cheap. Our capacity is 400, which allows us to host higher caliber bands. We will always be all ages/ bar with I.D.

It’s all about respect, equality and unity here and on Callow in general.

You get what you give here, we all try to look out for each other. At the Chuck, everyone is welcome and we give almost every band, no matter how small or young, a chance.

There’s not much for kids under 21 years old to do in Bremerton, especially if you’re broke most of the time. Well our doors are always open, when were open, for kids to come hang out, see bands, watch movies, create art, play arcade games, etc.

And for those over 21 who want to enjoy some booze while watching a live band, there’s a bar for you where you can still see the stage.

The next generation coming up is joining the Bremerton music scene at an amazing, personally historic time. I can only hope that whatever happens to these venues that we have now, they’ve inspired or educated somebody enough to keep this shit going.

This scene is bigger than one person or place.

It’s been here before me and it’ll be here long after me. I live for the experience of it all. When I see over 200 kids skanking and dancing around to The Diablatones feat: Lynvall Golding of The Specials playing ‘Enjoy Yourself’ while there’s almost a foot of snow outside and their having the time of their lives, it makes the struggle all worth it.

Everytime I hear how stoked somebody is on our street and what we’ve made of it and how we, little old B*town inspires them to take action in their own town, I smile. Cheers to the B*town music scene, not only who i’ve mentioned but all of you that contribute. Let’s go make some noise!

[ Angel Perry is a member of local bands Red, White & Die and Generation Decline, co-owner of the Chuck and secretary of the Artists for Freedom and Unity in Bremerton. ]

THE CHARLESTON celebrates it’s Two Year Anniversary tonight (April 30 w/ Boise, Id. bands N.F.F.U., Pull Out Quick, Adamant Allies and A New Agenda w/ a re-birthed Project 9 @ The Chuck, 333 Callow Ave. in Bremerton. All Ages, Bar w/ ID, $5 cover.

On April 10, they celebrate Hell’s Belles 10th Anniversary. All Ages, bar w/ ID, tickets are $10 for that one.

More on both shows @ myspace.com/thecharlestonmusicvenue.

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One Response to “The Charleston celebrates Two Years”

  1. Jared Wayne April 4, 2010 at 5:47 am #

    Thank you everyone in the AFU for changing the face of callow for the better. I miss you guys already and I barely got to know any of you but it was great fun for the few shows I did get to see.

    jared

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