|A veteran rocker remembers
Stache's and Little Brothers
By Jim Hutter
|©Copyright 2009 Out Of The Blue.
All rights reserved.
The morning of April 28, 2007 will always stay with me. I
strolled out of bed feeling very upbeat after a successful gig at
Bernie’s Distillery the night before. As I sipped a cup of
coffee, I leafed through the morning paper. Suddenly, my
mood shifted from quiet jubilation to a dull ache of sorrow as I
read the news. Legendary Columbus nightclub Little Brother’s
may be closing for good! How can this be happening?
Apparently, the landlord has raised the rent to a level that club
owner Dan Dougan can no longer afford to pay. Unless a
more reasonable agreement is reached, Columbus will lose one
of its greatest live music venues forever.
Virtually any fan of post-punk and roots music in Central Ohio
will tell you just how important Little Brother's—and its
forerunner Stache’s—really are. They were the birthing
grounds for many legendary Columbus bands, including Great
Plains, Greenhorn, and Gaunt. They were also the places to
catch future superstars like R.E.M. and Nirvana when they
were truly nobodies. There is a lot of musical history in these
establishments, and it is tragic that we should lose them over
the dreaded filthy lucre.
Learning of the impending demise of Little Brother's is truly
heartbreaking. Ever since the mid eighties, when I became old
enough to enter bars, predecessor club Stache's had been my
favorite choice for catching quality local original music or
wonderful indie label and cult bands. I strongly preferred the
more intimate sizes of both clubs and found their live music
experiences far more enjoyable and real than, say, The
Newport or the poorly-designed Lifestyle Communities
My very first visit to the north campus Stache's was to see
The Fleshtones in November of 1985. Even though my initial
impression was that of a decrepit dive bar, I immediately felt at
home. Watching the concert with a relatively small crowd of
devotees, the jubilation made me feel a kindred bond with total
strangers. Over the next few years, many of those strangers
would become personal friends with whom I would share a
passionate love for real and unpretentious rock 'n' roll. Also,
The Fleshtones would play a vital role in my relationship with
Stache’s and Little Brother’s.
When I entered the local music business in 1987, Stache's was
one of my favorite venues to play. It was truly the top tier of
local music where true enthusiasts went to listen and enjoy.
Sadly, I never had the good fortune of being in a band who
appealed to the Stache's loyal, so I consoled myself by
participating in the occasional package show, charity benefit,
or opening for national acts, including The Fleshtones. I am
certainly much richer for the experience.
In February of 1992, Dan Dougan gave me the opportunity to
meet The Fleshtones. I was a freelance music journalist
covering the concert for "The Columbus Edge." After the
show, with notebook and tape recorder in hand, I asked Dan if
I could go backstage to interview the band. He very
graciously said "yes," and led me to the basement storage
room where Peter Zaremba, Keith Streng, and Bill Milhizer
were relaxing on liquor crates and beer kegs. The band more
than welcomed the press attention, and we talked for about 30
minutes over Black Russians, resulting in the article, "The Ups
and Downs of a Cult Band." We repeated the scene the
following October, where a stylishly black-clad Zaremba
welcomed me by name. Again, we conversed for nearly 45
minutes, resulting in a quasi interview piece, "Peter Zaremba
In His Own Words."
Finally, in December of 1995, Stache's helped make a personal
dream come true. Dan Dougan booked my old band, The
Epicureans, to open for The Fleshtones! Relishing the
moment, we promoted the show with flyers billing it as "The
Battle of the Garage Bands." In reality, it was anything but a
battle. The headliners were wonderful hosts who made my
skeptical band mates feel right at home. By the end of the
night, my fellow Epicureans were won over by The
Fleshtones' phenomenally high energy live show.
Stache's would close approximately eighteen months later
when its building was condemned as unsafe. The final show I
saw there in May of 1997 was, of course, The Fleshtones!
Within weeks, Dan Dougan had reopened a couple of miles
south and christened his new club Little Brother’s. A decade
later, this Short North establishment remains my meeting
ground for The Fleshtones, and all four members still
remember me by name and are always willing to take the time
to have a friendly word or two. All of this thanks to the
kindness of Dan Dougan.
More recently, I have continued my support of Little Brother's
by attending the occasional show or participating in their rock
‘n’ roll garage sales. Unfortunately, I have not been able to
visit as often as I did some 15 years ago. Daytime employment
responsibilities and important family relationships make it
virtually impossible to stay until closing time on weeknights,
even when seeing my favorite bands. I am sure I am not alone
in this respect.
It will be a very sad day for our city when the end finally
comes for Little Brother's. My respect and admiration for Dan
Dougan and his live music venues is unparalleled, and I will
miss the legendary Little Brother's very dearly if and when it
closes. *originally published in Out Of The Blue Sept., 2007
|The former Staches and Little Brothers
(current new business there called Liquid)
1100 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43201