By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 16, 2009 at 8:02 AM

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.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.