SOUND SEEKERS: Mercury Lounge — “live long + prosper”

BY FATEEMA SAYANI

Trevor Walker by Alex Vlad

Photo: Alex Vlad

A number of changes are planned for the tri-level building at 56 Byward Market that houses The Collection (retired), Overkill, and The Mercury Lounge.

In August, a soda machine gasket came undone on the mezzanine of the Mercury Lounge. With the pressure of a hose, water came down on all levels leading to damage of the floors, drywall and electrical. Insurance covered most of it, but it meant the bar had to close for eight weeks.

During the down time, owner John Criswick and staff planned for some major upgrades. Here’s what to expect in the coming months.

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WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Nov. 27 to 30

BY MATT HARRISON

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Test 1 (v.2), Sabrina Chamberland, 2014, inkjet prints on archival paper of digital photographs, layered in photoshop 88.9cm x 106.7cm

I've Been Waiting for You

I’ve Been Waiting for You, Roy Whiddon, 2014, photograph (digital pigment print) 30″ x 24″

All shapes and sizes FREE
Recognizing the significance the human form plays in the art-making process — whether it be the artist, their works, and the models used — the non-profit group, Figureworks, is hosting an impressive, juried art event that celebrates the human form at Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts.

The event is currently ongoing and continues until this Sunday, Nov. 30 at Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts. Times for viewing are Thursday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For a taste of what you’ll see, check out some of the works online.
Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts, 310 St. Patrick St.

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WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Nov. 20 to 23

BY MATT HARRISON

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A film still from Finnish film, Road North, showing this week at the 29th Annual European Film Festival

European Film Fest
Officially, the 29th Annual European Film Festival began last week. It slipped my mind, and if it slipped my mind, then perhaps it may have also slipped others’ — which is a tragedy, given the quality of the films on offer this month. And so, mea culpa. To atone, here’s what caught my eye in the festival’s second week: One Mile Away, a documentary by British filmmaker, Penny Woolcock, which chronicles the gang rivalry between Birmingham’s ‘the Johnson Crew’ and the ‘Burger Bar Boys’, and the extraordinary steps that two opposing gang members took to bring about reconciliation — it’s on Thursday, Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. How about a Finnish road movie? Tie pohjoiseen (Road North), by Mika Kaurisamaki, is about a father, reuniting with his son 35 years later, and the two heading north in a stolen car — Friday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. If you’re currently watching or planning on watching the TV series The Americans, you might also like Jack Strong, a true tale about a Polish double agent during the Cold War era who exhaustingly vies between the Soviets and the C.I.A. Directed by Poland’s Wladyslaw Paskiowski, it’s on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

New to the festival this year is the ability to purchase tickets simply by clicking here in advance and then pick them up at the door. For more info, visit here.
The festival runs until Sunday, Nov. 30
The E.U. Film Festival is at the Library & Archives Canada building, 395 Wellington St.

Eft’d up is right
Ever imagined what a comedian might do with your real-life story? Find out during The Experimental Farm Theatre’s improv comedy event at Pressed Cafe on Thursday, Nov. 20. The formula is: audience’s true stories + comedian’s confessions + improv = hilarity. Or profound awkwardness. Or both. Featuring improv groups Urban Woodsmen and Birds of Prey, along with a host of others, the event gets underway at 7:30 p.m. Costs $5. More particulars on who, exactly, will be there, visit here.
Pressed is at 750 Gladstone Av.

Bourbon Bananza
Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey — I know all you lumbersexuals know what I’m talking about. Bourbon. Derived primarily from corn, the American whiskey, often aged in charred oak casks, now competes with top scotch brands for our imbibing dollars. And why not. It’s dee-licious. Especially if you like the taste of whiskey, but aren’t wowed by kinds that taste like it’s been sieved through moss. And cooks love it, because it has so much body and adds a degree of richness to food. To this end, some of Ottawa’s restos are participating in Bourbon Week (Friday, Nov. 21 to Thurs., Nov. 27). The week kicks off with an event at Two Six {Ate} on Friday, Nov. 21, where old school bourbon cocktails will get a makeover. On Saturday, Nov. 22 Union 613 is hosting Beyond the Bourbon, where samples of rare bourbons will be paired with tasty treats — there’s two times for this event: either at 3 p.m. or 8 p.m. Tickets are $32.
More events on Monday and throughout the remaining week — visit here for details.
Two Six {Ate} is at 268 Preston St.; Union 613 is at 315 Somerset St. W.

Joy — Where?
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart? Where? Actually, down on Wellington Street to be exact, and it’s not me who’s got it (sadly — I blame winter), rather the Ottawa Valley Crafts & Collectibles Guild. They’re holding Joy, a juried (as in, not everyone who owns a glue gun gets in) craft market at the Library & Archives on Saturday, Nov. 22 and Sunday, Nov. 23. The market features 85 vendors. It’s slogan: “a unique melange of traditional, steampunk and geek — all served up with a cup of good cheer!” i.e. tea and other seasonal beverages. Oh and carollers. For a full list of vendors, visit the bottom of the page, here. Doors open at 9 a.m. and close at 4 p.m.
This year, the event is generating money for the Ottawa Senators Foundation, a charity that supports social recreation and education programs for kids. More on this foundation, visit here.
Joy will be at the Library & Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington St.

“I now regret it completely…”
Once one of the harshest critics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), what environmentalist Mark Lynas now “regrets” is “having spent several years ripping up GM crops.” In 2013, Lynas reversed his stance and declared: “I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonizing an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.” And yet, if you recall, GMO was — and still is to many — a dirty word that helped kick off the organic movement we see today in full swing. So are GMOs good or bad?
Confused? I am. Well, to muddy the waters further (though I doubt that’s the organizers of this event’s intent) St. Paul University is hosting Ottawa’s inaugural GMO Free event, featuring keynote speakers, panel discussions, Q&As with local experts — all on the side of freeing ourselves from GMO products. Lots of time for questions — like, why is one of the anti-GMO movement’s founders (Lynas) suddenly doing a 180?!?
The event is on Saturday, Nov. 22, and begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. More info, visit here.
St. Paul University is at 223 Main St.

 

 

 

 

 

SCIENCE & TECH: Nature in the North

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine, as part of a series of stories about Ottawa’s connections to the Far North.

BY KATE JAIMET

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Researcher in the field on a 2008 plant expedition in the North

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Cassiope tetragona, collected by Sir William Parry in 1822

In the vast and silent herbarium at the Canadian Museum of Nature, botanist Paul Sokoloff gently opens a folder containing a pressed plant specimen. The small twig of white mountain heather (Cassiope tetragona) doesn’t look spectacular, but the date beside it reads 1822, and the name of the collector, written in fine cursive, is a famous one: Sir William Parry, the British explorer who led four voyages in the early 19th century seeking the elusive Northwest Passage.

Today, nearly 200 years later, museum scientists continue making pilgrimages to the Arctic to collect samples, dredging strange crustaceans from the ocean floor, unearthing bones of prehistoric animals, and studying the amazing plants that survive months of darkness and extreme cold to emerge and flower in the short Arctic summer.

This unbroken tradition makes the museum Canada’s most important research institution for understanding nature in the North. In light of this, the museum will open a permanent Arctic gallery in 2017 to showcase its research and knowledge, as well as some of the thousands of specimens in its extensive Arctic collection.

“The Arctic is an important part of Canada, it’s a huge part of Canada, and it’s a part of Canada that most Canadians will never visit,” says Mark Graham, vice-president of research and collections. “We have this huge wealth of information about the Arctic, and one of our great functions as a museum is to share it with the public.”

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Researchers looking at displays of plant specimens

When early British explorers like Parry ventured into the Arctic, they collected samples of plants and animals and sent them home to large research institutions in London. But after the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) was established in 1842, its scientists began to build Canada’s own natural history collection, gathering flora and fauna from the field and engaging in canny trades to repatriate specimens from Great Britain.

“The collection we have here tells about biology for sure, but it also tells about how Canada has grown as a nation,” says Kamal Khidas, curator of vertebrates.

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Researcher Marisa Gilbert studies Puijila darwini fossil

Later, the museum became the repository for the collection of the GSC, and museum scientists have been adding to it ever since. Their recent discoveries include an astounding fossil of an extinct mammal partway between an otter and a seal. Unearthed in 2007, Puijila darwini proved to be a missing link in the evolution of seals. Today the museum is cataloging its collection of plants growing in the North American Arctic and the fish swimming in the Arctic Ocean.

The new gallery will give visitors a taste of the Far North in all its surprising variety and beauty.

“Lots of us think about the Arctic as a snow-covered, barren place, and it’s really so beautiful, with so many flowers blooming all at once in the summer,” says botany curator Jennifer Doubt. “Just the fact that there are these beautiful Arctic gardens in Canada is something that I’d like people to know.”

Purple-mountain-saxifrage-Somerset-Island-2014-(Paul-Sokoloff)

Purple Mountain Saxifrage, Somerset Island

WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Nov. 13 to 16

BY MATT HARRISON
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FAKERS GONNA FAKE
I guess you could blame it on the rain… or these two fakes: Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, aka Milli Vanilli, who really brought lip synching into the foray when it was discovered that they weren’t the ones singing on their 1989 record, Girl You Know It’s True. To say the least, the masses were aghast. Like Milli & Vanilli, lip syncing appeals to those of us without talented vocal chords. And on that note (pun) Babylon is hosting a lip synching battle to raise money for lung cancer. Contestants will have 2 minutes to wow audiences with their ability to fake it. Afterwards, a panel of judges — including China Doll — will hand down their verdict. Trophies, tunes by DJ Gerdzilla, and costumes will be part of this spectacle. Lipsync Battle for Life happens on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.
Babylon is at 317 Bank St.

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ARTFUL BLOGGER: Tales of roadkill, N.Y. portraits & bejewelled insects

PAUL GESSELL

Marc Nerbonne, 'Meeting about us', 40 x40, mixed media on Dibond, 2014

Marc Nerbonne, ‘Meeting about us’, 40 x40, mixed media on Dibond, 2014

The table is perhaps the most important piece of furniture in the house. This is where members of the family sit to discuss important events, mark celebratory events, and have stressful arguments.

With that in mind, check out the new mixed media works by Gatineau artist Marc Nerbonne on view Nov. 6-19 at Galerie St. Laurent + Hill in the Byward Market. The tables pictured in some of the works should be interpreted as having been the scene of familial debates and confrontations. Atop the tables are the symbols of those confrontations – still-life arrangements formed from photographic snippets of animal body parts Nerbonne harvests from actual roadkill.

Does that sound gruesome?

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WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Nov. 6 to 9

BY MATT HARRISON

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Leslie Hossack, The Wall, Niederkirchner Strasse (detail). Her work is part of the 25 / Berlin exhibition at the Diefenbunker opening this Thursday, Nov. 6.


The Wall Came Tumbling Down

The events of this past’s summer/fall in Ukraine brought to mind a time when there was a definitive east-west divide — symbolized nowhere better than by the Berlin Wall. This iconic barrier came down on Nov. 9, 1989 — 25 years ago. And in remembrance of it and what it symbolized in the context of the Cold War era, the Diefenbunker — a Cold War relic itself — will be hosting 25/Berlin, a trifecta of exhibitions in partnership with the German Embassy: Dictatorship and Democracy in the Age of Extremes: Spotlights on the History of Europe in the Twentieth Century, which features 190 rare photographs, newspaper clippings, and political cartoons from European archives; German Canadian Graffiti Jam: The Bunker Reunion, which — along with Ottawa’s House of Paint— will host a “transatlantic graffiti jam” between Canadian and German graffiti artists; and The Wall, Niederkirchner Strasse, which features an art installation by Ottawa’s Leslie Hossack that simulates a walk along the Berlin Wall today. The exhibitions open on Thursday, Nov. 6 at the bunker; the graffiti jam takes place on Feb. 15, 2015. Admission included with museum entrance fee. More info, visit here.
Diefenbunker is at 3929 Carp Rd., Carp

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School of Photographic Art Open House (FREE!)
If you know not to try and eat a Kodak Brownie; if you know that a Rolloeiflex 120 isn’t an expensive watch; if you don’t get confused between a  Hasselblad and a Hasselhoff, then perhaps the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa’s Open House is for you.

david-hasselhoff-as-michael-knight-in-knightrider-thumbs-upIn celebration of their 10th anniversary, the school’s open house on Friday Nov. 7 from 3 to 9 p.m. allows visitors to see recent works, to be photographed themselves and purchase a print ($5), and to take part in a Robyn McCallum raffle for this print.
SPAO is at 168 Dalhousie St.

Fairly-Traded Xmas Baking Tips
Halloween just ended, and while there’s still Remembrance Day, American Thanksgiving, and Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day ahead, I’ve already seen ads featuring Santa Claus! Personally, I think it’s far too soon to think about Christmas, but I realize that fighting it is pointless. And so, here’s a shout-out to the Foodie Festival on Friday (Nov. 7), at the Ottawa Mennonite Church, where you can begin your Christmas baking by learning — for FREE! — how to create the perfect swirl atop a gingerbread house, plus other assorted baking techniques. This cooking demonstration, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., is part of Ottawa’s 2014 Fair Trade Festival Sale, a fair trade event happening on Fridays and Saturdays during all of November. Visit here for the full schedule and times.
The Ottawa Mennonite Church is at 1830 Kilborn Ave.

What the Rich Read
Want to find out what Ottawa’s rich are reading? Check out the Rockcliffe Park Book Sale on Friday Nov. 7, Saturday Nov. 8, and Sunday Nov. 9 inside Queen Juliana Hall at the Rockcliffe Park School. This is the park’s 53rd annual sale, so they know what they’re doing. Expect thousands of books, CDs, DVDs, games, crafts, records, etc. Dress up as your favourite comic book character — not sure if this is intended just for kids or includes adults as well. Admission is free.  There will also be a café. More info here.
Rockcliffe Park Public School is at 350 Buena Vista Rd.

Get Your Pottery On
“He’s stuck, that’s what it is. He’s in between worlds. You know it happens sometimes that the spirit gets yanked out so fast that the essence still feels it has work to do here” — Ode Mae Brown, Ghost (1990)
Feelin’ frisky? Maybe this kind of frisky:

Get all Swayze at this weekend’s 260 Fingers pottery exhibition show/sale at the Glebe Community Centre on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Nov. 7 to 9). Admission is free, the pottery is not. Twenty-six (that’s 260 fingers) renowned artists from across Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec are participating. It starts on Friday at 6 p.m.; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. More info and the list of artists, visit here. http://www.260fingers.ca/
Glebe Community Centre is at 690 Lyon St.

 

 

 

THE GIVER: Donate your eyeballs, fulfill a wish list, and switch up your accessories

The Giver is written by Ottawa Mag’s Dee Campbell, who knows that people prefer to volunteer in ways that speak to their interests. Dee has volunteered for the Terry Fox Run since she was a little girl and is a Brownie Leader of 15 years. Do you have a volun-gig needing filled? Email dcampbell@stjosephmedia.com.

 

 

Organ DonationWho Wants My Eyeballs?

Recently I watched my very first episode (and only – ugh!) of The Walking Dead.  I did so from another room because I was afraid to sit near the TV. True story. But, it did make me think about The Giver: More than 85% of Ontarians are in favour of organ and tissue donation but fewer than 25% have registered their consent to donate. What?! Let me make this easy for the 75% of you who are game but forget to register. Click here. Enter your health card number and DOB. Done in < 2 mins.

 

Wishing Well

This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Well, a day program on Elgin Street for women (and women with children). Many of the women served live with poverty, homelessness and risk of homelessness, as well as physical and mental health challenges.  The Well provides a safe environment, supportive services, food, and social/recreational programs. Here are TWO ways to give:

1. Drop off bus tickets, stamps, clothing, stationary, food, etc.  Read the wish list.

2. On Saturday, Nov 15, celebrate the anniversary with a BYOB family-style dinner, silent auction and entertainment. Kick the giving up a notch when you buy a ticket for a woman of The Well. Buy tix here.

 

Jewellery & Food is Good for the Kids

Eva von Jagow shows a sample of jewellery one can buy at her fundraiser

Eva von Jagow shows a sample of jewellery one can buy at her fundraiser

Thousand of gently used handbags and jewellery will be on sale at All That Glam on Saturday, November 29. Launched by first-year university student, Eva von Jagow, 100% of the profits go to fund the Breakfast Club of Canada in Nunavut. Eva was motivated to hold this fundraising event when she discovered that in the Far North, a jar of peanut butter and a head of cabbage cost almost $20. Wowza. The $10,000 raised at last year’s inaugural event has funded a school breakfast program for 250 students in Coral Harbor for 2 years…but the kids still need breakfast!

Time: 8:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.
Location: Richcraft Community Centre in Kanata

Can’t attend but want to donate items? Check her Facebook page for drop-off sites across the city (until Nov 15).

 

Bikes Taking Up Space in the Garage?

Bring in bicycles that you’re no longer using, and Cycle Salvation and RightBike will refurbish the bikes and put them to good use. The program helps people find employment when they’re facing physical and mental health barriers. Cycle Salvation trains and employs people as bike mechanics, while keeping used bikes out of the landfill.

Saturday, November 8 from 10:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m. in the parking lot at 1520 Caldwell Ave.

ARTFUL BLOGGER: Fabrizio returns as midwest Comet

BY PAUL GESSELL

Fabrizio 9

Poster for Fabrizio’s Comet, an adaptation of Mark Frutkin’s award-winning novel into an opera by James McKeel

Ottawa author Mark Frutkin returned home from vacation two years ago this past August to be confronted by a surprising email. A professor of music and lyric theatre, James McKeel, from a liberal arts school, St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, was asking Frutkin’s permission to turn his 2006 fable-like novel Fabrizio’s Return into an opera.

Fabrizio’s Return won the Trillium Award, as the best fiction book in Ontario the year it was published. The story is a magical tale of a remarkable violin, religion, alchemy, forbidden love, and a troupe of commedia dell’arte actors in 17th and 18th century Italy. And now Fabrizio has returned in a most unexpected way after Frutkin consented to McKeel’s request.

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Making the magic: co-collaborators James McKeel (left) and Mark Frutkin (right).

“Of course I agreed,” says Frutkin. “He (McKeel) worked on it for over two years, including through his sabbatical year. I was officially co-librettist but the work is really his. He would send me music clips (electronic facsimiles) and portions of the libretto as he finished them and I would comment and suggest. So he adapted the novel, scripted it, and wrote all the music for orchestra and voice, and directed. A real Renaissance man!”

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A performance of Fabrizio’s Comet by students at St. Olaf College. The play is an operetta based on the book Fabrizio’s Return by Ottawa author Mark Frutkin. Photo: St. Olaf College

The result was Fabrizio’s Comet, an operetta, performed Oct. 16-18 at St. Olaf College. Now Fabrizio is about to hit the road. Fourteen cast members, along with their costumes, masks, props, set pieces and pianist will perform excerpts at some schools in the Northfield area, including Sibley Elementary Nov. 6 and Prairie Creek Nov. 13.

But that is not the end of Fabrizio. McKeel has even bigger plans than school performances.

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One of the student actors performing in Fabrizio’s Comet at St. Olaf College. The play is an operetta based on the book Fabrizio’s Return by Ottawa author Mark Frutkin. Photo: St. Olaf College

“This one feels special and I’d like to work with Mark to improve it and promote it to other colleges and professional companies,” says McKeel. “Seeing it done with our limited resources gave me a taste for the possibilities with a bigger budget for set, costumes, lighting, effects etc.”

McKeel is no amateur. A baritone, he has sung more than 70 roles with opera companies and festivals in the U.S. and England. Performances range from The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro, to La Boheme and Carmen. His list of artistic collaborators include Philip Glass and David Hockney. An avid composer, McKeel has written more than 60 operas, operettas, musicals, choral works, arts songs and song cycles, which have received commissions, grants, and premieres from such organizations as the Kennedy Center and Minnesota Opera.

Frutkin and his wife, Faith Seltzer, attended all three performances of the operetta in Northfield.

“The music is absolutely first-rate, the acting was pretty good for student actors, the singing was generally excellent,” says Frutkin. “A live orchestra makes for a fabulous sound. Access to the streaming is up now on the St Olaf home page.”

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A student actress performing in Fabrizio’s Comet at St. Olaf College. The play is an operetta based on the book Fabrizio’s Return by Ottawa author Mark Frutkin. Photo: St. Olaf College

The tunes are “extremely catching and lovely,” says Frutkin. “They’re still running through my head.”

Frutkin was astounded that McKeel had even learned of the novel Fabrizio’s Return because the book was not published in the United States. McKeel can’t remember how he came to buy the book.

“It was either online or at a local bookstore,” McKeel said in an interview. “And I just happened to read the synopsis, and the characters, plot, and commedia troupe screamed for some sort of musical treatment. Mark is such a poetic and sensitive and engaging writer that tunes and lyrics kept springing to mind as I read the book. I then took a chance and emailed Mark about the possibility of setting his novel and he said that he loved music and opera and was enthused to have it set to music. Off we went!”

 

SOUND SEEKERS: Rotter’s Club Nee’wollah Revival

BY FATEEMA SAYANI

Winston Smith

Winston Smith. “Soma Holiday” appears on the Rotters Club 35th anniversary CD, released on Nee’wollah (Halloween) at Zaphod’s.

Three-and-a-half decades ago, Ottawa punk sounded like this — that’s the Reverbnation link to a 1979 compilation album called Rot ’n’ Role, which features such bands of the era as the Bureaucrats, Vendetta, and Winston Smith.

Originally pressed on vinyl on a limited run of 500 copies, Rot ‘n’ Role has been remastered with six new tunes and is being reissued as a limited edition CD on Friday at Nee’wollah, a celebration of the ‘70s-era Rotters Club. Nee’wollah (that’s Halloween backwards) was an annual theme night at the club, which stood at the corner of Bank and Frank Streets from 1977-1980, and later moved down the street beside Barrymore’s, where it became — under the same ownership — The Eighties Club.

The anniversary party happens on Friday, Oct. 31 at Zaphod’s with a host of players from the era. Ted Axe of The Action brings his band Sister Hyde to stage, and comedian Mike MacDonald — a former Rotters Club playbill regular — will MC the event. Blackshirt Highwaymen — featuring Rotters Club co-founder Carl Schultz — and Arson are also on the bill. Tickets are $35 and include a swag bag.

At the show, expect an audio tour of the punk scene of the era along with a collection of archival footage and photos from the day, some of which appear here, below.

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