Lemmons Oral History - The Lost Interviews

Categories: Local History

Escalade at Lemmons.

Denny Dyer (Black For a Second, Winchester, former Lemmons cook): I have numerous favorite shows. I loved every show the Humanoids ever played there. I remember The Helium Tapes brought in like 150 people one night, which was just bonkers. Tok always put on amazing shows. Anything Jeff Hess or Matt Harnish did on stage was great. The Haddonfields, Breakmouth Annie and Cuban Missiles never disappointed. Vanilla Beans have some of the funniest onstage banter I've ever heard.

The Stay Retarded Weekend show was maybe the coolest thing I'd ever seen there. There was crowd-surfing, high-kick contests, chop slaps, like 30 bands in two days and just a ton of fun. We had to move all the tables downstairs for that one. I'm sure I'm forgetting some of my favorites, but my brain is fried after trying to drink the last of Lemmons' alcohol in the last four days....

In the end I think it was time for the bar to close. We just couldn't provide customers, bands, or the staff with what they wanted. Everyone was just burnt out and worn down. Over the years we put on some great shows and had some great times, and those were the highlights. When over 100 people come in for a show, get the food and drinks they want in a timely manner, and everyone can raise a glass to a room full of strangers and friends alike, you did everything right. We just didn't do it right often enough. I made some great friends and shared some great memories that I'll take to the grave. I think that makes it worth it.

Robert Severson (Googolplexia, Pancake Productions): I don't remember how I first heard of it. In the beginning, of course, it was "Lemmons Basement Bar," and even to this day I frequently am tempted to continue into the words "Basement Bar" after saying "Lemmons" even though it's been what, eleven years since the basement was even open?

If my pocket calendar is to be believed (and it probably is), I basically spent upwards of one-hundred percent of my nights at Frederick's Music Lounge, the Hi-Pointe, the Way Out Club, the (downtown) Creepy Crawl or Lemmons (Basement Bar) -- only one of which is still around now! So to me, at first, it was kind of the hot new spot for live rock'n'roll in town just as I was becoming a person that was into going to hot new spots (or any spots, period) to see live rock'n'roll in town.

Jessica and Jeff Robtoy's wedding reception where Joe Wetteroth's Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band played was pretty memorable, as was (speaking of Robtoy) the Glass Teeth show where he was swinging the mic around by the cable and it went straight into the green bulb in the light fixture - pow! Kicking off - and really even just attending -- Stay Retarded Weekend in January 2013 was a definite highlight. Hanging out with Mario (Butt, Sex Robots, Spirit of Danger) on his 21st birthday a dozen years ago after I played some goofy on-campus show at college earlier in the night was also cool.

It was great to be introduced to performing at Lemmons by way of local compilation releases -- and years later to release some of my own compilations there. In late March 2012, I had done an Elvis impersonation set at a private party earlier in the day, and I just left the costume on and did mostly Elvis covers for the Googz set I did at Lemmons later in the night, which was pretty swell!

Bobbi Jo Leykam (former Lemmons bartender): [Lemmons] was also popular for being the home of Carnaby Street, which was the predecessor to London Calling. That was back when the bar was still carpeted and it gave the feeling of having a dance party in your living room, which 22-year-olds find irresistible.

In 2008, my good friend Paul Quiroga asked me if I could DJ on Tuesdays, which were difficult nights to attract business. The very first night, I couldn't get the sound system to work with my equipment, so I was simply sitting at the bar when the guy working in the kitchen walked out and Paul asked if I just wanted to work there.

The interesting part about that period of time was that in addition to working together, Paul, Denny Dyer, Todd Dorsey and I also all lived in the same house. It was like Lemmons 2, and it also often served as a crash pad for touring bands. When Brian started booking bands, weekend nights became a lot more profitable, but some some of my favorite times were still Tuesday nights when business was slow so we had to improvise entertainment by doing all kinds of semi-dangerous things, like dropping eggs in the deep fryer, seeing what CDs would do in the microwave, trying to cut fruit in the parking lot with a samurai sword, bottling up dry ice to see how long it took to explode.

The Improv Trick began doing a weekly show on Tuesday nights that brought a steady crowd and ran until well after I left that got actual, legitimate laughs so that put an end to that.

One of my happiest memories was the Memorial for Jamie Foehner. Although it was held under melancholy circumstances, it was a time when our staff and patrons and community all worked together harmoniously to do something good for a good man.

Having a bad night? Find yourself out with a no good crowd? I could always have someone drop me off at Lemmons where there was sure to be someone who cared enough to make sure I got home safely. No one seems to give enough of a crap to make plans with you for your birthday? Show up at Lemmons. You'll probably find a crowd there who are very interested in making sure you have great night. I've been in all of these situations, and I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering what could possibly replace it.

Do you have your own Lemmons memory to share? Let everyone hear it in the comments!

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