Friday, March 20, 2015

Tremont celebrates 20 years Saturday; I open my scrapbook

Most of the current and former staff who showed up for the Tremont family reunion in Oct. 2013 with all three owners Penny Craver, Dave Ogden, and John Hayes (About 8 people didn't fit in the shot. And that's my little boy's head in the front).
Tremont Music Hall celebrates its 20th anniversary Saturday with a show that takes a nostalgic look back at local music while acknowledging the heavier direction the rock club has taken in recent years.
Antiseen, who predates the club by over a decade but has a long history there, will headline. Co-founders Joe Young, who passed away in 2014, and Jeff Clayton both worked there at times, held antiversary concerts there, and Young's memorial service was held there last May.
Other acts include Radio $alesmen, Animal Bag, Kudzu Ganja, It Could Be Nothing, Cronic Disorder, Deadlock, October, and Bloody Mary. The Fill Ins fill the resident youngster spot on the lineup, while many of the other bands are no longer active although many of Tremont's early patrons will remember them. Some are reuniting simply to honor their old rocking grounds.

Laura Baca of the Eyeliners.
The hard rock, punk, and metal lineup reflects the kind of music that Tremont is known for, but while hardcore, punk, metal, industrial, and screamo became its calling card the venue started out as practically the only large all ages club in town. So while Tremont hosted Ministry, Christian Death, Earth Crisis, Bloodlet, Social Distortion, L7, Fugazi, Rob Zombie, Green Day, Clutch, Fall Out Boy, the Deftones, Incubus, and My Chemical Romance, it also boasted Stereolab, Blur, Paula Cole, Jewel, Maroon 5, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Iggy Pop. the Psychedelic Furs, the Roots, Ween, Blues Traveler, Matchbox 20, Son Volt, Gregg Allman, Train, Mighty Bosstones, Drive-By Truckers, and Cypress Hill.
Jason Navarro and Royce Nunley of the Suicide Machines

Pretty much anyone that had a hit on WEND 106.5 The End in the mid `90s made a stop at Tremont.

This was before venues like Neighborhood Theatre and the Visulite or Amos' moved to SouthEnd and expanded. My own college live music experience was tied to Tremont. I discovered the Suicide Machines there; watched 7 Year Bitch with about 10 people in the big room; saw Ani Difranco for the first time; soldiered through Placebo's opening set for Stabbing Westward through a cold medicine haze; held coats while punk kids danced to "Ice Ice Baby;" and danced like a complete fool myself to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Rancid (mostly so my friend wouldn't look so lonely).

Musicians like Valient Himself and Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazzara, who grew up in High Point, wax nostalgic about the shows they saw their in their youth long before headlining there.

The notable live shows I experienced there aren't limited to those early years though. I left Valient Thorr in June 2013 grinning from ear to ear, took my son to see Iamdynamite there twice that year (that's him with the band below) and watched Foxy Shazam 8 months pregnant from the bleachers in the back of the Casbah. I found a few shots I took at shows in the `90s as well as some early ticket stubs. It's amazing what $10 would get you back then.

This January I caught Wednesday 13, who played the club frequently with his old band Frankenstein Drag Queens. And Antiseen's December comeback show with new guitarist Russ Ward was one of the warmest receptions I've ever witnessed.

It's passed through the hands of three owners, Penny Craver, Dave Ogden and now metal lover John Hayes who is calendar busy. What's remained besides a family-like staff, is the owner's passion for music which is reflected in a staff who are often members of local bands or somehow tied to the local music scene.

Tremont hasn't only played host to national acts, it nurtured local talent. The first show I saw there was my boss' band Laburnum (I started at the Cotswold Record Exchange the month before). I practically got lost dragging two of my friends from Queens beyond the walls of Dilworth.

So many local acts called Tremont home-base at one time. Sugarsmack, Lou Ford, Jolene (who went on to tour with Hootie & the Blowfish), Muscadine, Come On Thunderchild, My So-Called Band, Alternative Champs, Babyshaker, HRVRD, Scapegoat, Campbell (members of Flagship), Sugar Glyder, Junior Astronomers and numerous others honed their act there - some while as young as their early teens. Many moved on to other venues in town or broke up, but Tremont played a part in supporting new acts and still does whether its up and coming hip-hop or the latest hardcore or metal act.

You'll also still find that odd singer-songwriter or pop bill on the calendar along with the juggalo shows, because really, who's to say what Tremont is other than withstanding? It may be like Cher and cockroaches, still standing (much like its predecessor the Milestone) long after we're all gone or just too old to go to shows.

Admission to Saturday's anniversary show is $10 to $15 and music starts at 5:30 p.m.

My son watching the Aggrolites soundcheck on Mother's Day 2012.

 (All photos: Courtney Devores)