Summer of Punk Reads!

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Summer of Punk Reads!

History in the Making with the DC Punk Archive

After the closure of the Martin Luther King Jr. Library for renovation earlier this year, we wondered how to continue the joy and community built around the DC Punk Archive Basement shows hosted there since October 2014 to promote the DC Punk Archive collection. Why not start with our newest DC Public Library building?

We took it to the roof in summer 2017 for a series of concerts on the rooftop patio at the Woodridge Neighborhood Library, which opened its new doors in fall 2016. In June and July, 250+ people came to hear music from the Elliott Levin Quartet, Weed Tree, Sir E.U. and Rob Stokes, and Cigarette on two gorgeous nights overlooking Langdon Park. We're doing it one more time to close out the summer on August 9, with special guests Dove Lady + Friends and EAR. Just like the basement shows before them, the shows are always free and all ages are welcome.

The shows also have us going through many of the awesome books on punk rock history right here in DC that are waiting on our library shelves, a history and legacy we're continuing to build with the Archive and programs like these at our neighborhood libraries. Pick one up in your neighborhood, or check one out at the August 9 show; we'll have plenty of books to browse and you can learn more about the DC Punk Archive collection. We'll see you on the roof!


1. Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. from Bad Brains, by Howie Abrams and James Lathos
Bad Brains was one of the most visible and influential bands to come out of the 1980s DC punk scene, led by H.R., their energetic and unpredictable frontman. Published alongside the release of a documentary feature of the same name about H.R., Abrams and Lathos chronicle the rise of Bad Brains and the many struggles of its frontman through interviews with those who were there to experience it with him, and H.R. himself, who continues making music out of Philadephia today.

2. Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution, by Sara Marcus
The DC Punk Archive has numerous riot grrrl zines in its collection, the 1990s movement centered out of DC and the Pacific Northwest which featured bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile and encouraged more female participation both on and off the stage.

3. Punk Love, by Susie J Horgan
When Susie J took her first college photography class in 1980 and starting photographing friends like Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins, just teenagers starting bands and hanging out in Georgetown themselves, she had no idea she was documenting "the birth of a pivotal moment in music culture." Her shots of bands like Minor Threat, S.O.A., Youth Brigade, Red C, and Government Issue on and off stage are collected for the first time in Punk Love. This true love letter to her friendships and community of that time, her photographs highlight not just the musicians, but the pivotal venues they played at too: d.c. space, the Wilson Center, and the old 9:30 Club.

4. Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes from the DC Punk Underground (79-85), compiled by Cynthia Connolly, Leslie Clague, and Sharon Cheslow
Originally published in 1988, Banned in DC is one of the first books published on punk in the United States, collecting hundreds of photos, flyers, and stories from this essential period for DC punk. Cynthia Connolly, who moved to DC in 1981, is perhaps also most known for creating the iconic cover image on Minor Threat's album Out of Step. 

5. Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene, compiled by Scott Crawford
Crawford, who made the documentary Salad Days about punk's glory days in DC from 1980-90, published this companion piece with nearly 200 photographs for another visual telling of DC punk history. Interviews with individual bands are interspersed among rare shots from photographers like Jim Saah, Bert Quieroz, and more from Cynthia Connolly.

6. Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital, by Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins
Fun fact: Mark Andersen donated all of the research materials for Dance of Days to the DC Punk Archive, as well as organizational material for Positive Force DC, the activist organization he has led since the 1980s. Andersen includes a fun "After Lives" appendix in this 400+ history of punk and activism in DC, a "where are they now" for key figures along the way, many of whom are still performing in other capacities (at least, as of 2009 when this edition was updated).