Mohawk Place was home for members of the Buffalo music community for more than 20 years. The club has been a central hub, gathering point and coveted gig for musicians throughout that time period. As the club prepares to close its doors following concerts on Friday and Saturday, members of that music community share their memories of the “musicians’ clubhouse.”
Chris Trapper, solo artist, formerly of the Push Stars
“Mohawk Place is one of the only venues that I think I played at every phase of my career, which speaks to the versatility of the room. When I was 19-years-old, I had an acoustic duo with Buffalo songwriter Michael Arden, and Mohawk Place was one of the few clubs we could actually get booked into. Later on, when my band the Push Stars signed a record deal with Capitol, we played a co-bill there with Scott Carpenter. I remember Scott was upset about $ after the show, and blamed us for getting overpaid because we were ‘major label.’
“And then I played there a few years ago as a solo artist, and my impression was that the club was getting better over the years. To me, any venue that stays open more than 5 years had figured out the delicate balance between art and commerce, and it is not easy. I’ve seen many venues shut down over the years,with their idealism shot down into the reality that euro-dance club and college frat bars pay the bills without having to deal with drunken bass players, arrogant singers, stoned sound men, etc. ... but it is those magic moments when the band is grooving, the sound is blaring, and the beer is flowing that stay woven in our souls, that we never really forget.”
Joe McCarthy, McCarthyizm
“My best memories of the Mohawk: playing there after Thursday in the Square, especially on the sidewalk out front, with a crowd spilling out into the street, moon over head, couple 12 packs of cold PBRs being passed among the band mates to beat the heat. Man, a night like that’d be nice right now, eh? And I’ll just miss the glorious grit of the place. One of my favorite shows there: Justin Townes Earle on a cold, snowy Monday, the night after the Super Bowl a couple years ago. His guitar playing and energy really impressed me, well beyond expectations. Also miss Pete at the front door, always there with a handshake, a smile and a kind word. RIP Mohawk.”
Alan Farmelo, producer/musician/engineer
“The Mohawk did that wonderful thing of transcending being just a bar or just a venue – it became a community center for all kinds of musicians and fans. And it was so diverse. I remember waiting for a huge Harley biker blues-rock scene to clear out and then all of us artsy indie-rockers would show up and do it all over again with our own version of rock-n-roll, only to be replaced by some goths doing their thing. You can’t overstate the significance that place held for thousands of people.”
Lonny Lewis, music fan
“I’ve seen lots of good acts there, but what stands out to me, is that as many were bands that my kids turned me on to as ones I knew. The place stayed very current.”
Jeff Schaller, musician (Grand National, Last Days Of Radio, Blue Bullet Skater, Here Come The Comets, Mohawk Street Saints)
“Oh man, what a place, what great memories and generally fantastic times. I played there so many times with so many original bands. I really don’t know if there would have been such a great music scene over the last dozen or so years in this town without Mohawk Place. It was simply the place to play if you played cool original music, period. I think the real magic of that place surprisingly was the old tiny stage that lasted until the remodel. It was so small and so cramped and you had to run your own sound but man did it sound cool. It was just this really rich, warm energy that never really translated to the big stage despite having more room and a way better PA system.
“You’d get your gear setup in the old kitchen surrounded by tons of dishes, ‘cause Marty (Boratin) had made the touring bands a big ‘ol meal. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was cool, and it was all original. You’d play pool in the backroom (which became the bathrooms) and just stare at all the killer fliers of bands that had come through town. It was grimey and awesome.
“The amount of friendships we made back then with other bands from all over the east coast. No club aside from maybe the Continental would ever consider the amount of touring bands Marty brought in. 1998-2005, those were the years. And of course playing old 60’s Brit rock out on the sidewalk every summer was such a blast, playing for tips and you didn’t even care. Tons of crazy oddball characters just loving the chance to be drunk outside in the warm summer Thursdays having a blast. I don’t think you’ll ever see a band jamming on the sidewalk downtown in the summer anywhere ever again. Only at the ‘Hawk.”
– Jeff Miers