Dear Capital Complex – A Love Letter

Category: community 519

The original Capital Bar turns twenty this week! Longtime patron Kate Butler shares a few respectful words to help mark the occasion. 

Sylvie in performance at The Capital somewhere around 2006. Photo by Kate.

Dear Capital Complex,

In the summer of 2003 I stepped onto your patio for the first time and I essentially never left. My first memories of you are sitting on the stairs near the stage on a balmy September day during Harvest Jazz and Blues watching an afternoon performance from Hot Toddy with my Harvest guide, Kyle Cunjak. I immediately fell in love with a place that would become my second home, where so many memories were made to late nights and great music.

Remember that summer night in July in the early 2000’s when the patio was PACKED?! I could barely find room to stand in an area packed end to end with familiar faces. I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say Fat Jebus and All of Green were playing or some combination of those musicians in one of the many bands they have been in over the years. The Capital was the place to be that night, that summer, and so many summers to follow.

This was before we all had cell phones and the internet hadn’t really infiltrated our lives yet. We called each other on landlines and left messages of where we were going to be that night by way of answering machines. I knew if I showed up at The Capital pretty much anytime, I would see someone I knew and my friends would all eventually end up there. For my group of friends and the 50 of us who hung out together in various overlapping circles, it was a no-brainer for most, if not all of our weekend plans. It always seemed to be that whether we were in school or working shitty jobs, we still managed to make our way to The Capital for whatever was going on, the bulk of it being live music.

Bands from across Canada and beyond (um hi, even Iceland!) always stopped at The Capital on their Maritime tours. Tours seemed to happen more then than they do now and bands from away quickly became part of our local music landscape (Sylvie, Wintersleep, Sleepless Nights, Snailhouse, etc), and even intertwined with local bands to make new bands. It all happened with the help and support of The Capital and our welcoming Maritime spirit.

Although The Capital Bar itself was my home (and still is), most of us quickly became regulars of the entire Complex. I can remember sitting in the booths at The Phoenix watching whatever skateboard or snowboard movie the guys were watching on Sunday afternoons, or hanging out and playing foosball in what was then called The Taproom and soaking up every band and live show we could in The Capital. It was our second home, a place of solace, great times, and above all, a place to hangout with our friends. It was like having our own version of Cheers I guess you could say.

Over the past 20 years The Capital Complex has become so much more than a place to see live music; Comedy, drag shows, pet fashion shows, trivia, open mic, bingo, fundraisers, art shows, music festivals, book launches and everything in between.

Not only am I writing this sweet love letter to you, The Capital, but it extends to Wes and to Zach and the entire Capital staff, past and present. You’ve opened your doors to so many who found their way under your wings (including me). Along with your welcoming spirit, your friendship, your advice, your hard truths (delivered by Ferg of course) have left a lasting impression on me and I know countless others.

Much love and here’s to 20 more years!

Kate Butler

Related: The Capital Complex celebrate 20 years during Harvest 2018 

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