When I was a middle schooler in my coming of age era in the mid 70’s rock and roll was a big deal. Lucky for me just a bike ride away was a place called Record Haven. It was directly across the street from what would be my Rock and Roll High School (McArthur) and just when I entered those teenage years this fantastic character named Robert Mascaro took over managing the store. He was the first mover and shaker to get punk rock heard in South Florida and was instrumental in working with and bringing in material to the store of such bands as The Cichlids, Charlie Pickett and the Eggs, the Eat, Z-Cars… I got to hear all these bands names and actually meet the members when they came in the store to hang out with Robert. He bought me Rock and Roll Animal by Lou Reed for Christmas when I turned 15 and told me that while listening on headphones to Sonic Reducer by the Dead Boys you would see Jimi Hendrix. Part of this was a smoke and mirrors game to get me to listen to “new” music but some of it was the best advice a kid could get in a record store.
After a while Robert drifted from the store and my connection to all of this faded. It would not reappear until I heard about a place named Flynn’s Ocean 71 and a thing called Shelter Productions. Come to find out a guy named Richard Shelter was the culprit and he was the wiry looking punk with the fallout shelter tattoo on his arm at the door. My first experience there was for the infamous sock ringing show by Black Flag on Halloween 1984.
It is time for me to back up though and explain where Richard started and where “Miami Punk Rock High” rang the bell because I was tardy for class. Richard wandered upon a disjointed scene in the early 80’s. It had a dividing line of Dade and Broward bands that needed a culprit to sew things together. Richard first worked his way into a place in Coconut Grove named 27 Birds. Providing a good sound system for the bands established on credit and promised to pay for it with the success of these shows. He purposely put Dade and Broward bands on the same shows to draw from both of their crowds since both had a decent fan base and what else did disenfranchised youth in South Florida have to do. For most of 1982 the club had solid nights with big turnouts and bands were paid. Even a young Rob Elba (Holy Terrors/Shark Valley Sisters) in his high school band the X-Conz performed there.
Things eventually soured at 27 Birds and Richard continued on to a venue in Hialeah named the Blitz which was another Big Daddy’s bar willing to let this “punk rock” thing happen. It was drawing hundreds of bodies and they were selling booze. A bar never turns that down. The magic shined through and the word was getting out. Richard booked the Gun Club there and one night Joey Ramone showed up and sang Needles and Pins with the Spinouts. John Flynn found out about this place one day and checked it out and saw a packed house and offered Richard a venue for shows at his place named Flynn’s Ocean 71 on Miami Beach.
Arriving at Flynn’s was amazing. Miami Beach in 1983 was far from the polished post Miami Vice fancied up shopping mall. It was cool and rugged around the edges. Flynn’s was sort of CBGB downstairs and the Chelsea Hotel upstairs. It even had a pool area out back and was fucking on the beach. The bar itself was amazing. The stage connected to the bar, it had the first kind of pit area I had ever seen and not only was the bar padded but the back walls were too. Legendary shows by the Minutemen, Black Flag, Dream Syndicate and more were here and local legends the likes of Gay Cowboys in Bondage, the Chant, Crank, Morbid Opera… cut their teeth here. Whatever wild stories you here about this place, they are all true.
By i985 bigger things were in the works. An infamous Husker Du show at Fireman’s Hall in Fort Lauderdale happened and the Cameo Theater became the site for the senior year of Miami Punk Rock High. Richard was in a band named the Preachers by then and they even had an appearance on Public Television that I will never forget. They did a cover of “I Want To Be Black” from Lou Reed’s Street Hassle that is forever etched in my mind. The Cameo shows became bigger and better. The first I witnessed was a Lords of the New Church show but there were so many more like the Butthole Surfers, fIREHOSE/Sonic Youth and even a reunion show by the Dead Boys!
Well eventually things drift apart and history becomes blurred. Are you wondering why I am toying with all this nostalgia? Well for one weekend only for maybe the last time, many of these folks are getting together to celebrate this grand time in Miami Punk Rock High history. Some have passed, some are far away, and some still play. Richard had decided about a year ago to try an archive the history, and maybe book or a screenplay and felt a reunion show may bring in enough money to make this a realization. This was the time where DIY established it’s roots and without a documentation it could all be forgotten. Now you have your chance to support, get back together, go over old stories or just learn about where it all came from. A weekend of shows April 1st and April 2nd at Churchill’s are available for you to attend and a storytellers night at the Kreepy Tiki on March 31st is already sold out. You can contribute on line at the gofundme page and there are many cool things you can acquire including t-shirts, stickers, old concert tickets and entrance to the shows. Okay… One,Two, Three,Four!
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