Sweetwater runs dry, Mabuhay Gardens to re-open Sept 7th
Marin’s storied Sweetwater venue in Mill Valley closes down on August 31st with a farewell night featuring music from Noe street denizen and longtime local rocker Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express. The venue, in biz for some 30 years was an intimate spot where musical luminaries like Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Scott, Jerry Garcia, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and countless local musicians captivated audiences in the cozy confines off Throckmorton St. Given a 30 day notice by the landlord last month, It’s a double death knell to Mill Valley & Marin’s once world renowned music scene this fall as Village Music, a longtime fixture in the community closes as well.
Where some go down, another Phoenix rises…
Rumor has it that legendary SF punk venue The Mabuhay Gardens in North Beach is scheduled to host a grand re-opening party on Sept 7th. The venue, most recently The Velvet Lounge, was a former Filipino supper club that started hosting punk shows and art damaged music catering to the nearby SF Art Institute crowd circa 1976. It’s reputation built up as a sort of west coast CBGB’s in the late 70’s, while hosting acts like The Ramones, Devo, The Avengers, Tuxedomoon, Mutants, The Nuns and Nico. Later until the late 80’s under late booker Dirk Dirksen’s guidance it hosted numerous hardcore & indie rock bills including acts like Flipper, Metallica, Green on Red, Black Flag, Mojo Nixon, Dag Nasty, Sea Hags, Soul Asylum and many more.
read on for more Mabuhay history and some details on the re-opening night affair after the jump…
In 1976, Filipino restaurateur Ness Aquino opened up his sleepy struggling venue to a bill featuring The Ramones & The Dils. Soon a bunch of art damaged kids who were anything but hippies started hanging out nightly. For the next decade the Mabuhay Gardens aka Fab Mab, was booked by Dirk Dirksen and became the defacto center of the city’s punk scene. Hosting local bands like The Mutants, Avengers, Nuns, Crime, Chrome, Offs, Dead Kennedys, Flipper, Pink Section, Lewd, Toiling Midgets, Inflatable Boy Clams and many more the venue gained an international reputation similar to NYC’s CBGB’s. Touring groups that passed through included acts like The Damned, Blondie, Suicide, TSOL, Husker Du , Toxic Reasons, DOA , and tons of others.
Upstairs a larger space was called The On Broadway Theater and handled the bands as punk begat hardcore and groups drew larger crowds in from the suburbs. Dirksen grew less interested in the knuckleheaded Hardcore scene by the mid 80’s, and Paul Rat started presenting the events. The Mab venue ceased presenting bands by mid 1987.
The lower portion of the venue operated until recently under the name Velvet Lounge.
443 Broadway St
San Francisco, CA 94133
The upstairs space is now known as Broadway Studios, and has occasionally presented bands since the glory days ended. I helped promote a Sublime show their in 1994 with the late Wes Robinson, and saw Convoy there in 1998. It’s also been used as a comedy venue for cable telecasts and last weekend a Sublime tribute act played the house.
Playing the reopening night downstairs at the reinvigorated Mab on Sept 7th will be the Radishes, a new LA/SF axis band featuring indie rock vets like Scrote of the Billy Nayer Show and leader Paul Stinson . No word on whether they’ll be joined by recent recording collaborators Rey Washem of Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard, and Paul Barker of Ministry.