The fifth in a series of short videos exploring some of Fredericton’s former all-ages venues. This episode looks at Gallery Connexion, a tiny hole-in-the-wall that was primarily an art gallery but occasionally doubled as a home for weirdos and oddball music makers/lovers.
Connexion ARC has the distinction of being Fredericton’s only artist-run-centre and as such, plays an important role in supporting a wide range of artists across several disciplines. While music has never been a primary focus for the Centre, it has played host to a number of important musical events over the years. Over the past decade, Connexion ARC provided a much needed all-ages stage through its (then) home on the ground floor of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. They organized the first Fredericton Drone Day events, welcomed touring musicians from as far away as New York City (Bing & Ruth), and played host to several all-ages shows with a who’s who of Fredericton fringe rock bands. Though some of the Centre’s membership (and its neighbours) at the time believed the organization wasn’t mandated or equipped to be hosting music events with the regularity we saw happening six or seven years ago, Connexion ARC’s brief stint as a music venue did in fact echo back to the Centre’s early years when it regularly transformed its gallery space into a makeshift music hall where the city’s weirdo and oddballs could gather to enjoy music that had no place in bars or on theatre stages.
Shortly after its founding in 1984, Connexion ARC made its home in a tiny rental space behind the Justice Building in downtown Fredericton. Behind the bright green door just off the parking lot where the Garrison Skatepark now resides, Gallery Connexion as it was called back then, included a series of artist studios and a gallery/performance space that regularly hosted traveling art exhibitions and all-ages shows.
In March of 1992, Gallery Connection hosted the Connexion Festival of Bands, a month-long series of Wednesday night shows that included, among a host of Fredericton punk and art rock bands at the time, a performance by emerging Moncton indie rockers, Eric’s Trip.
As a kid in high school at the time who had no driver’s license and lived out in the backwoods of Geary, getting to Fredericton on a Wednesday night was damn near impossible. I missed the first night which featured my personal favourite Fredericton band of all time, The Exploding Meet. I also missed the second and third nights which included performances by locals Ricky Lizard, Angelicate, 3 People and Kotton Krown, four bands I know by name only. But I did catch the fourth night somehow, a three band, all Moncton lineup featuring Bad Luck #13, Earth A.D., and Eric’s Trip.
What do I remember from that show? Not much. I do remember standing outside between bands watching Bad Luck’s charismatic frontman Mike Melanson hold court with an audience of fellow outsiders I longed to someday call my friends. I remember a bunch of us from Oromocto High School being super-stoked to see a band named after our favourite Misfits album. I remember they played a cover of We Are 138 and blew our fiend-club-wannabe minds.
And I also remember Eric’s Trip. It was the first of several times I got to see them play. I didn’t own any of their music and was only familiar with a few songs I heard played on CHSR FM. But there was a buzz around the band back then and their coming to town to headline a month long festival of Wednesday night shows was kind of a big deal.
I think it was the flood of 2008 that put an end to this space, although they had stopped doing shows well before that. Probably a decade or more. The whole gallery space was ruined by high waters and for the next few years, Gallery Connexion was homeless before re-emerging as Connexion ARC in the old Chestnut Building and later settling into the Charlotte Street Arts Centre.