The first in a series of short videos exploring some of Fredericton’s former all-ages venues. This episode looks at St. Charbel’s Hall.
Five years ago I posted the article Gone But Not Forgotten: Ten Famous Fredericton All-Ages Venues From Years Past. It was a bit of a nostalgic piece for me. After seeing the Elk’s Club on Brunswick Street get demolished and replaced with a luxury apartment building, I started thinking about all the shows I had attended there and the important role that space played in shaping the musical destinies of many a young Fredericton musician as captured in this Much Music feature from God knows when.
Seeing the Elk’s Club fade away got me thinking about several other buildings that served as temporary homes for music events during a time when there were literally hundreds of kids under the age of 19 hungry for live music. It was a crazy time. A time when promoters would sometimes have to bend the truth in order to rent a space for bands to play. When I was booking shows, I sometimes referred to what I was intending to do as being a “teen dance”, which in my defense, wasn’t too far from the truth. There would be teens. There would be dancing. I always neglected to mention the often intimidating figures who would be on stage, the potential for spilled beer in backstage areas, the inevitable boot scuffs on the walls and ceiling, the huge between band gatherings in the parking lot, and the hours it would take to return the place to its former appearance following what was more often than not, an incredibly satisfying and memorable evening.
After the article went up, my friend and filmmaker Tim Rayne messaged me asking if I would be interested in doing a video tour of the locations mentioned in the article. As some readers may remember, Tim and his team filmed hundreds of hours of performances and interviews with bands and musicians for The Capital Project, a massive documentary series focused on music and the countless ways it builds and supports a community. Of course, I said yes. And one afternoon Tim, his creative partner Arthur Thomson, sound engineer Bruce LeGrow and camera operator Jesse Anthony showed up at my place. The five of us hopped in Arthur’s van and we drove around town for hours shooting our own magical mystery tour.
We shot this stuff in the summer of 2019. And for a long line of reasons (mostly involving available time) it has sat on a hard drive ever since. Sometime back in early February of this year Tim messaged me again saying he’d been working on an edit of our adventure. He sent me a link to what essentially amounted to a full length feature film of me driving around, blabbing about bands, and venues, and memories from a bygone era. The cut was nearly two hours in length. We chatted about it and decided it would work best cut up into a series of short episodes. So here we are.
What this series is, besides a look back at some local music history, is two friends having a conversation. You can hear Tim asking questions at times. And sometimes he actually makes it into the frame. To label this whole endeavor as being casual would be an understatement. We were just having fun. All five of us. Shooting the breeze. Driving around on a beautiful summer’s day.
A note on the editing:
Due to the laid back way we did this, there will be moments in each of these chapters when I can be heard referencing an earlier conversation or topic. Bear with me. I’ll do my best to clarify anything in whatever I write to go along with each episode. For instance, in this first episode I mention two things that I feel require an explanation. At one point I mention St. Charbel’s Hall being where I did my first and last shows. What I meant to say was that my first show here was also my last show here. I was involved in dozens more after St. Charbel’s Hall ended its run. I got into booking shows after approaching local promoters Al Muir and John Whalen and asking if they could teach me the ropes. The three of us end up booking a lot of shows together. Near the end it was just John and I, I think. Anyway….the bucket of water story.
The show in question – my first as a co-promoter – was with a Calgary band called Chixdiggit, who years later would take my home stereo as a form of payment after a poorly attended performance left little money in the pot (but that’s another story). After the show was over and everyone left, Al, John and I cleaned the place to perfection. When the caretaker showed up to collect the keys and inspect the place, he made several unfair accusations and told us he would not be returning our deposit. One of us (I’ll leave that to your imagination) ended up getting very frustrated with the whole situation and kicked a bucket of dirty mop water down the stairs. There may have even been a “fuck you” or two thrown in for good measure. We left seconds later and obviously never booked there again. Shooting this video with Tim was the first time I sat on those steps in over twenty years.
At the risk of this whole thing dissolving into an episode of “Back in my day….” I’ll leave it here. Thanks for watching. And if you have any memories from any of the venues mentioned in this series, I’d love to hear them.
Music in this feature was performed by Deep Fryer and Neighbourhood Watch.