35 Years of Churchill's Fest: "A Celebration of the Old, the New, and the Future"

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The year was 1979. The Clash kicked off its first American tour, AC/DC released Highway to Hell, and Churchill's Pub opened its doors for the first time.

While the Clash called it quits and the AC/DC dudes have long passed their glory days, Little Haiti's live music gem, in spite of recent changes in ownership, is still thriving.

"The only thing that's really changed is we're more structured," insists Nayra Serrano, Churchill's current booking manager and the woman behind Idle Hands Productions.

"It's cleaner now, but that feeling of that diamond-in-the-rough place, that welcoming vibe, it's still there."

See also: Churchill's Pub: An Oral History

In honor of the pub's birthday, Serrano and the rest of the crew at 5501 NE Second Avenue will be throwing the 35 Years of Churchill's Fest, a four-day, three-stage, 60-band bash going down this Friday through Labor Day.

"It's a celebration of the old, the new, and the future," Nayra says.

Details are still being finalized, but as far as music is concerned, you can expect to hear almost every genre that's been played at Churchill's throughout the last few decades.

"Each band will be playing 20-minute sets. We're gonna have a lot of old bands, new bands, a mixture of punk, hardcore, metal, garage, rock 'n' roll, noise, everything's that an integral part of our venue."

See also: Idle Hands Productions: "Never Wanted to Grow Up, and That Turned Into a Business"

Music aside, the fest is also an opportunity for Serrano and the new owners to show the community that even though a few positive and necessary changes are being made at Churchill's, like new bathrooms and a renovated back patio, its whole, anything-goes 'tude remains intact.

"I think people were scared of that changing, even myself," she admits. "Dave personally hired me, and I know the history and foundation of this place. I wanna make sure we don't strip it away.

"[The sale] had such a negative connotation. We're doing this free event to show that us, the people, locals, bartenders, everybody's putting their heart and soul into this."

Sure, the "new" Churchill's may have gotten a minor face lift, but with Serrano's musical philosophy ("the weirder the better, the louder the better"), the tuneage will remain, well, weird and loud.

"There's no other place like Churchill's, dude," she says. "We don't ostracize genres. Come and play. That's how it's always been. It's an open door policy and we wanna keep it that way.

"There's so much more that can be done to make the community stronger. Miami has an amazing music scene, it's always been, and we want to advance it."

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35 Years of Churchill's. Friday, August 29, through Monday, September 1. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. No cover. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com.

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