Our dirt bikes bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they're better than yours.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Leaving the Station for Good

This won't be news to anyone reading from Edmonton, but for any ex-Edmontonians reading from abroad, I got this in my inbox a few days ago, as I'm still on the Sidetrack Cafe media mail-out list.

Sidetrack Cafe Closes After 26 Years

Due to numerous circumstances, the difficult decision to close the Sidetrack Café was made yesterday February 15, 2007, on its 26th birthday.

We would like to thank all those that have supported the Sidetrack Café in the last 26 years.

The Sidetrack Café was made a special and important venue with the help of amazing performers and a great community that supported the concept of the Sidetrack Café. We would especially like to thank all of our local performers as it has always been your venue first and foremost.

The Sidetrack Café was also blessed with wonderful and committed staff members that brought the Sidetrack Café experience to life on a daily basis.

The Sidetrack Café would like everyone to focus on the positive experiences we all had at this fantastic venue rather than the circumstances that led to its closure.

Thank you for 26 remarkable years!

The Sidetrack Café

It's a shame that the bar/restaurant (it was never really a café) couldn't survive the move from its original location. I hadn't been to its new downtown spot but I'd heard from a lot of folks that it had gone downhill. I seem to recall that the last time I’d been there, a few years ago, the food wasn’t so good. Back in the day, though, it was a great place to sit on the patio on a warm day, get a few pitchers of beer and one of their famous giant plates of nachos. I recall a particularly fun SEE magazine staff party there, and among the best gigs I attended at the Sidetrack, there were Tegan and Sarah, Old Reliable, The Hi-Phoniqs, Holly McNarland and a particularly fantastic Weakerthans show with multiple encores. Plus, it was pretty fun to sit in the actual rail car. I can’t say it was a regular hangout by any means – I was more of a Bronx/Rebar type – but it’s still a bummer to see an Edmonton cultural institution lost to the downtown condo belt.

Anyone else got any memories (fond or otherwise) to share about the Sidetrack?


Blogger Alana said...

You listed all of my favourite Sidetrack memories, Dave! Man. those nachos were good.

8:38 AM

Blogger Superdude said...

I think I saw Fred Eaglesmith there. When I hung out with a girl who was into music for a while in the '90s, I was there a lot. Otherwise, not much. But Fred was awesome.
I noticed this Christmas that I couldn't remember where the Sidetrack Cafe was. There didn't seem to be that big field/parking lot with the dumpy little shack and passenger car any more. I was sad. I hate condos, although they are an important alternative to urban sprawl. Too bad they're made of particle board and duct tape.

9:05 AM

Blogger Dave said...

"Too bad they're made of particle board and duct tape."

And the bones of leper babies. That's why they're not very sturdy.

3:30 PM

Blogger Chris! said...

It's sad, but I can't say I'm surprised. They opened the new venue after I left, so I never got to check it out — but I had lived downtown long enough to know that 104th street and 103rd ave was a terrible location. Zero foot traffic (not that there's much anywhere in Edmonton other than Whyte) and far enough off the bus routes that no one really even knew where it was. Seedys had died a slow death just a block north a year before; I have no idea why the Sidetrack folks thought they would persevere. Maybe they figured people would follow the name. Obviously, they didn't.

Lots of fond memories of shows there: Old Reliable, Whitey Houston, The Dudes, Nomeansno, Corby, Novillero... the list goes on. But I think the worst thing about this is the fact that Edmonton just lost YET ANOTHER live venue. Seriously, is there anything left other than the Starlite Room now?

6:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only went to the Sidetrack once - not my thing - but I did hear from someone who tried out the new location that it sucked. Apparently the room was an 'L' shape, with the band at the far end...leaving half the place around the corner and far away from the action.

The owners are now suing the developers, and vice versa.

Too bad. Lots of people really liked it. Me, my only memory of the place is watching John Salmos eat an entire plate of picked-over chicken wing bones...after we has all ate the meat of them...just for kicks.

Lori A.

12:31 AM

Blogger mike w said...

Also, fucking Pisani's OT winner.

Oh well.

We're getting old.

1:00 AM

Blogger gary b said...

i actually worked there (kitchen), back in the 90's. i met Messier, enjoyed the Rheostatics and Bob Wiseman, in particular, saw the 'in-crowd' snortin' coke off the toilets, and best of all, made a ham sandwich for Bo Diddley.

2:23 AM

Blogger young d said...

First bar I ever visited underage.
Can-Con bluesman Paul James was playing. 1988 or 89?

I thought with the extended period of time the Track had from announcing it would close to finding a new location that the transition would be more smooth.

It didn't work out, though.

Some good people got burned in the process as well. Too bad.

8:25 PM


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