Every music fan has at some point in their evolution heard something about the 27 Club. The “club” is made up of a running list of famous musicians that died at the much-too-young age of 27.
The club has its founding members, like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison; those not as well known through the mainstream, Spanish singer Cecilia, Minutemen vocalist and guitarist D. Boon, or rapper Freaky Tah from the Lost Boyz; and the relatively more recent recruits, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. Bless all their souls.
- PHOTO BY DYLAN HONEA-BAUMANN
- LAST CALL: Longtime downtown music venue SLO Brew held its last show at the Garden Street location on Dec. 19.
Like all types of music, the myth gets different reviews from different people—some say it’s dumb, cliché, and just something for people to latch onto and talk about when they’re smoking a bowl and trying to sound heady. Others might give it credence and use it as a simple reminder to honor the musicians that have come and gone, and to leave the speculations and specific details for the birds.
SLO Brew—or more officially, SLO Brewing Company—was established in 1988. On Dec. 19, 2015, 27 years later, the SLO Brew that San Luis Obispo has come to know and love, had its last live concert.
First, let us be real clear for a minute—SLO Brew itself is not dead; it’s merely moving around the corner to a new location on Higuera Street, which is currently under construction and will be a restaurant, brewery, and music venue. (They’re also opening an additional location out by the airport.)
But the layout will change, the location will change, and the business approach might follow, and so what all that will mean for the longtime downtown music venue is as of now anything but clear.
At first, the business was planning on expanding, increasing both its capacity and the size of the stage, and everyone got really excited. Then, those ambitions turned a corner and slammed right into the brick wall of the real world that is municipal permitting and tough business decisions. Things got downsized. Then, people got concerned. New Times has covered that already, so for now, this isn’t about that.
Now it’s just about saying “goodbye” and “see you later” to the SLO Brew that we’ve all known—the one with the red velvet curtains lining the stage, the awkward divider between the bar area and the dance floor, and the big square post that was always blocking someone’s view.
For the many, many music fans whose musical experiences lined up with the lifespan of SLO Brew’s Garden Street space, we’ll miss you. We caught each other in orbit, and saw so many shining stars along the way.
- PHOTO BY DYLAN HONEA-BAUMANN
- THAT’S IT : At the last show at SLO Brew’s Garden Street location, a poster for the Dec. 19 Made in SLO Xmas Show stands as the lone remaining announcement among frames that used to advertise upcoming performances.
Many of us are among a generation that went there for punk shows as teenagers, or flocked to a Friday night locals’ showcase, and as we grew up we saw underground hip-hop favorites, or longtime singer-songwriters.
Along the way the venue has drawn in music fans both young and old, bringing a little bit of something for everyone, or at least as much as they could. Music promoters Eddy Numbskull of Numbskull Productions and Todd Newman of Good Medicine Presents (also a former owner) landed some pretty awesome acts over the years.
Here’s an all-too-incomplete list, as a quick tribute, just to jog your memories of the good times had.
Punk and ska groups like Suicidal Tendencies, Tiger Army, and Nick 13’s solo project, X, Pennywise, Aggrolites, Nekromantix, Mad Caddies, and Yellowcard stormed the stage.
There were contemporary favorites like Pinback, Sean Lennon, The English Beat, The Young Dubliners, The Reverend Horton Heat, The Mars Volta, The White Buffalo, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, Two Gallants, and El Ten Eleven.
There were the old-school music men like The Dude Himself, Jeff Bridges and the Abiders, Robert Earle Keene, Paul Thorne, Jackie Greene, Los Lobos, and David Lindley.
Or the Mardi Gras shows, back in the days when the SLO Establishment actually let people party once and a while, featuring Trombone Shorty, Dr. John, and others.
There’s a long list of hip-hop acts to grace the stage: Lil’ Kim, Redman, Tech N9ne, The Coup, Dead Prez, Jedi Mind Tricks, Immortal Technique, Atmosphere, Gift of Gab, Homeboy Sandman, Redman, the Ghostface Killah himself, Warren G—and the D. O. double G himself—Snoop Dogg.
Minnesota-based rapper Brother Ali started his 2013 Mourning in America Tour at SLO Brew, because, he told the audience, it reminded him of home more than any other place on the road. The Colorado-based rap group Flobots once told the crowd it was their favorite stage in the country. Del the Funky Homosapien once kicked off a tour with a CD release party there for his new album Funkman. (Who knows exactly why the Oakland-based rapper chose SLO … did he really love SLO Brew? Or was he trying to make up for that one time that he showed up to a show hours late and totally hammered?)
And last, but certainly not least, a surprise show from Neil Young in April, announced just hours before he took the stage.
This list is endless. And let’s hope that the new SLO Brew, or the new establishments slated to open outside of downtown, will become a magnet for both top-notch performers and the fans that adore them.
- PHOTO BY DYLAN HONEA-BAUMANN
- CROWDED : Fans listened to the locally based band Night Riots and said goodbye to SLO Brew during a sold-out show on Dec. 19, which was the last performance at the Garden Street location.
So on Dec. 19, fans of the venue, and fans of the San Luis Obispo-based headliner Night Riots rocked a sold-out show to say farewell.
The band’s lead singer Travis Hawley and his bandmates began playing together some 15 years ago while they were in middle school in Templeton. They are part of a generation that grew up with SLO Brew.
“I couldn’t think of a place more important to be right now than to be here doing this,” Hawley said. “I know for a fact that if this place wasn’t here, we wouldn’t be where we are now in our lives.”
We know where you’ve been, SLO Brew, but we don’t know where you’re going.
So, for now, goodbye old friend.
Contact Staff Writer Jono Kinkade at email@example.com.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay