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Vitucci's still has that familiar low-light vibe.
Vitucci's still has that familiar low-light vibe.

Vitucci's 75th birthday brings back fond memories

Vitucci's celebrates 75 years of life this year and that news has me walking down memory lane.

Back in the day when there was Sweet Doomed Angel on Farwell, Century Hall hadn't yet burned and Beans and Barley shared an Old West-style building with a record store, Vitucci's, 1832 E. North Ave., was not a place for us kids.

As far as we could tell, cool people didn't hang out there and Angelo Vitucci was legendary for tearing band posters off the light post out front. Sorry to say that only led bands to try and wind him up by posting the flyers higher and higher up the pole. I remember watching one guy climb up on the roof of a truck to post one probably 18-20 feet up or higher.

After Vitucci passed away, Myron Vitucci took over and began booking bands in the back room. The earliest shows were organized by New Community, a consortium of hard-working local bands coordinated by Jim Warchol and a few others.

I can remember playing gigs there with my band The Blowtorch and also sitting in on drums with reggae outfit Mood Groove -- fronted by bassist and singer Dan Fernandez who now fronts Kings Go Forth. At the end of the night all the bands would get together and we'd jam on something like "Exodus" or "(What's So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."

I also remember seeing loads of shows there by friends' bands like the Squares, The Edge, Women's Liberace, Exploded View, Umbrella Man, Depo Provera and others.

Soon, Vitucci's was the place to be, even when bands weren't playing and by the time I moved to the East Side from Walker's Point in 1990, I was at Vitucci's for at least a little while most nights of the week socializing, plugging the jukebox and playing the games there.

Not long after, a new generation took over Vitucci's and made it their own. I haven't been there much in the past 20 years, but I'll always remember it as a key part of the indie music scene in late ‘80s Milwaukee.

If you want to celebrate with Vitucci's, there's a party celebrating 75 years on Saturday, July 25, from 2 p.m. until bar time. Alas, none of the New Community bands will play. But I sure wish they'd get Jim Warchol and Beth Schaefer to work the door, like in the old days.

Talkbacks

flygurl | Jan. 5, 2010 at 4:48 p.m. (report)

35394 I was so excited to see the article on Frank Vitucci. I had just been reminiscing and he came to mind.
It was a fun job, working at the bar, even though I made nothing in tips and almost got carpal tunnel from tapping beers all night!

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Gizzle | July 21, 2009 at 12:03 p.m. (report)

Now that they've been open for 75 years could they perhaps upgrade the bathrooms or at least clean them? They are horrible.

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EyeCre8 | July 17, 2009 at 8:42 a.m. (report)

My husband and I met there during one of their block parties and we hung out together that day/night for 23 hours. We also stopped there on our wedding day to have our first dance as husband & wife. We've been married for 12 years and Vitucci's will always hold a special place in our heart.

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admiral | July 17, 2009 at 7:10 a.m. (report)

35628 I miss Angelo and Doris! I'll be there to help celebrate another 75.

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Rum_Punch | July 16, 2009 at 2:58 p.m. (report)

Shouldn't that caption read "Low-life vibe"?

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