"I snuck into Churchill's at 17. It was 1991 and I went to go see a band called Young Turk that had just gotten signed to Geffen Records and was about to go on tour. They were from Hialeah. I remember being scared out of my mind from the car to the front door," recalls Franco Parente, a local filmmaker documenting the rich 34 year history of Churchill's Pub in the film Little Haiti Rock City.
"I knew to avoid that neighborhood and I couldn't believe that they were doing a show there. I had the time of my life and came back the following week," says Parente, concluding the story of his first visit to the iconic pub.
Parente, along with producer Angel Markoulis, have been interviewing the colorful characters that have frequented the dive bar over the past four decades. Not just the customers and musicians, but also former and present staff, plus none other than Dave Daniels, who recently sold the spot he'd owned since September 1, 1979.
See also: Churchill's Pub: An Oral History
The filmmakers have almost 50 percent of the documentary on film and are raising funds to finish production and complete post-production through a Kickstarter campaign and a "Kickstarter Rally" this Saturday at the landmark live music venue.
The "Kickstarter Rally" will feature live bands and a screening of the film's trailer. Expect inspired sets from Charlie Pickett, humbert, The Pawnshop Drunks, Shark Dust Sisters (featuring members of Load, Quit, and The Holy Terrors), Tremends, and international noise king Rat Bastard.
Parente and Markoulis have quit their jobs in order to focus solely on Little Haiti Rock City. The filmmakers have also turned down paying freelance gigs and even moved in with a friend to save money. If the Kickstarter campaign and the Kickstarter Rally work, all these sacrifices will be forgotten like one too many Churchill's hangovers.
To show your support for local film and to honor a special era in Miami history, show up to the Kickstarter Rally tomorrow. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the $10 admission price goes towards helping with the production and post-production costs of the documentary. There will be iPads available to make additional contributions to the filmmakers' Kickstarter campaign.
"As a Miami filmmaker I've always wanted to tell this story and the announcement of the sale made it clear that now was the time," says Parente. "Throughout the initial research and interviews it became clear that there is a lot more to this story than I ever thought there would be. There is an international appeal that contrasts what Miami is usually known for and I think it's more important now than ever."
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Markoulis agrees that Churchill's should not be lost to time, but preserved for its rich history and welcoming attitude. "Laid-back and easygoing and there was no pretense or attitude like a lot of places in Miami," says the producer, recalling how at home she felt when she discovered the bar.
"Churchill's really is very rare as a music venue," Markoulis adds. "It has survived against all odds in the most unlikely neighborhood, and has fostered a community that has grown to reach far beyond South Florida. Dave Daniels created a haven where freedom of expression and music reigned without boundaries or judgement."
Follow Ily on Twitter @realily.