The second in a series of short videos exploring some of Fredericton’s former all-ages venues. This episode looks at the former I.O.O.F Hall on the corner of Carleton and Brunswick Streets.
For this week’s Magical Memorable Venue Tour, we go back to what was once called The Independent Order of Odd Hall on the corner of Carleton and Brunswick Streets. Over the past few decades it has changed ownership several times, has carried a number of different names (including The Meeting Place), and has even been immortalized in song by The Hypochondriacs’s Josh Bravener.
In this video, I share what few stories I can remember. Back when I was doing all-ages shows a few lifetimes ago, this was one of the best venues we ever had the pleasure of hosting performances in. There was tons of room, the caretakers were great to work with, the location was ideal, and there were no neighbours to worry about disturbing. One of the things I liked best about The I.O.O.F Hall was the fact that there was no stage. The bands played on the floor and the audience could gather around them, sitting next to amps, guitars and occasionally having to move legs out of the way so as not to trip any of the performers layin’ it down. It was a great spot.
I feel like I should explain a bit more about the video Tim [Rayne] edited for this post. Like I mentioned at the first of this series, a bunch of us just drove around town, stopping here and there so I could share what memories I could muster on the spot about these buildings and the wonderful events that took place inside them. Tim really wanted to capture this whole thing as just two friends cruising around talking about local history. And I think he really captured that. Especially here. As you’ll see if you watch the video, after I’m done sharing a couple of stories we move on but the cameras keep rolling and you get to hear us talking about a musician named Phil Clark. At first, I thought about asking Tim to cut that section out because I didn’t think it fit and was a little embarrassed to hear myself going off on how much of an influence Phil was on me and the rest of the scene back then. But after I sat with it for a bit, I decided to leave it because really, we don’t celebrate our own nearly enough.
These days, any praise we share is delivered in the form of reposts and heart emojis on social media. It’s all pretty impersonal. Back when I was a kid in my twenties, I was in awe of Phil Clark. He had a confidence I had never encountered up to that point. I got into the punk and all-ages scene because I needed a group to belong to. I needed something to call my own. I needed to find a community I could contribute to. I learned a lot from Phil. He was doing all the things I wanted to do and then some. He was making zines, playing in bands, releasing his own music, putting on shows, and distributing records. Every scene needs a “doer” and back then, Phil was that guy.
A last thought, which I touched on briefly in this video, has to do with the sense of community that surrounded all the shows we did at The I.O.O.F Hall. There was a real sense of ownership shared among the promoters and the audiences at the time. It felt like we had all finally recognized we were part of something special. This was evident to me in the post-show support we always received. Once the last band of the night finished and the lights went back on, people lined up to help mop, sweep and reset the room. There was no shortage of volunteers willing to help. I feel like we always left the hall better than when we arrived. Booking shows can be thankless work. But I never felt that way after shows at The Odd Fellow’s Hall.