WASHINGTON – Many underground movements toil with no publicity and eventually fizzle.
Filmmakers in New Haven, Conn. made a documentary about the late 1970s, early 1980s punk scene called “It Happened But Nobody Noticed.”
“New Haven was always considered ‘little New York,'” says film director and writer Jerry Lombardo.
“Plays would come into New Haven, and if it could play in New Haven, it could play on Broadway. The same thing spilled over with punk music.”
New Haven, home to Yale University, sprouted an underground music scene, featuring punk and new wave bands at hole-in-the-wall clubs like Ron’s Place.
Washington-area musicians did notice, and many D.C. bands ventured 300 miles up Interstate 95 for gigs.
“We played Ron’s House of Punk in 1980 — a very small room,” recalls David Arnson, bassist of Insect Surfers, a popular early D.C. area new wave band that still plays in California. “The show went really well.”
Slickee Boys drummer Dan Palenski has recollections of shows in Connecticut.
“We definitely played in Middletown at Wesleyan College — an incredible show at a giant sorority house,” he says.
Fliers online indicate that Black Market Baby, a D.C. punk and rock band, played at Brothers Three, in nearby West Haven.
But singer Boyd Farrell has no recollection of playing that show.
“If you say so,” he says. “We were drinking pretty hard in those days.”
For several years, Kingface played clubs in Connecticut as a stopping point between New York and Boston, according to bassist Andy Rapoport.
Connecticut-based bands at the time included pop bands like Hot Bodies, eclectic duo The Furors and scene leaders Saucers.
“The Poodle Boys were like everyone’s favorites,” Lombardo says, who refers to himself in film credits as J.L. Sonic. “Jamie Methwreck was a real captivating character on stage. He could take you where [Dead Boys)] Stiv Bators could without the obnoxious part.”
In 1980, a New Haven television station, WTNH, featured Poodle Boys in a report. Approximately at the same time, LIFE Magazine posted a picture and brief article about the band.
“That brought high hopes to all the musicians and bands here in New Haven that one of our own was going to break national,” says Lombardo. “That never happened.”
Editor’s note: In the Poodle Boy news report, a much younger and much thinner Neal Augenstein was in the audience. Look for the afro and blue short-sleeved shirt at 0:06 and 2:04 in the video.
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