The Mercury office is in no man's land as far as dining options go. For as many great mom 'n' pop markets, delis, and restaurants as this city has, we're stuck amid soda bottling warehouses, the KATU building, and a lot of houses. Thank god, then, for Club 21 with its stiff drinks, loveable servers, and great food. A longtime Mercury favorite, the Club is also popular with Portland music-makers—a bunch of which contributed songs to the Punk Group-curated Club 21, Fuck Yeah CD compilation. I talked to Punk Group member Brian Applegate who helped wrangle bands like Diamond Tuck and the Privates, Pure Country Gold, and thebrotheregg to write songs about the Club. Fuck yeah. indeed.
MERCURY: How did this whole thing come about?
BRIAN APPLEGATE: The Punk Group has used Club 21 as our "office" for the past few years and it has become an incubator (of sorts) for ideas and often times inspiration for songs. Knowing this, and knowing that there are others who do the same thing, we decided it would be fun if we could harness this creativity and see how many people/bands we could get together to write a song about their experiences at Club 21 (or any kind of song that mentioned or had something to do with Club 21). Once this was established, it had a snowball effect and we then realized we were going to have enough material for a proper compilation. When we received 21 songs for inclusion, the rest of the pieces fell into place and it was time to put it out.
Why do bands love Club 21?
Probably because it resembles a Swiss hut or a ski chalet complete with wood-paneled walls, a fireplace, and great bartenders. The fact that it used to be a church around the turn of the century, then a nightclub called "The Shadows" in the '30s to '50s before becoming Club 21 in the '60s, puts it in a weird perspective along with an unusual history may be part of the reason.
Do you remember the first time you went to Club 21? What did you order?
The first time I went to Club 21 was between bands at EJ's probably around 1997. Blackjack was playing in front of the fireplace on a wood-tiled dancefloor [now carpeted over] and the place had more people in attendance than EJ's, which was across the street at the time. I don't remember if I ordered anything that night as I'm sure it was impossible to get a drink with all the people there.
What's your poison?
In the course of a night, two Millers and a shot of Crown Royal.
The Club 21 listening party will be Sat Nov 11 at B-Side Tavern (632 E Burnside)