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Casa del Popolo turns 15!


Here’s a special post in honour of the 15th anniversary of one of Archive Montreal’s favourite places in the local arts and music scene, Casa del Popolo.

This important venue had existed under a different name, Artishow, and different owners, from late 1998 until the summer of 2000. Archive Montreal had just begun its activities in the fall of 1998, and so one of the first collections of contemporary material for the archive were concert flyers and posters from Artishow and Casa del Popolo, as well as copies of the many local publications and zines that were sold at both these venues.

When Artishow started up, the neighborhood was very different. Next door to the Victorian triplexes in which Casa del Popolo is located was a vast empty parking lot used for the Italian – Asian fusion restaurant that was located there in the late 1990s, Ital-Asia. That restaurant seemed somewhat suspicious, in that it was almost always empty, save for the occasional event when a parade of limousines would suddenly fill its parking lot.

There was only one real bar operating on that block at the time, a mainly hip-hop bar at the corner of St-Joseph where the Couche-Tard now is. Afrika Bambattaa was one of several big-name DJs to host DJ nights at that location.

A bit further north at the southwest corner of Villeneuve on St-Laurent was the long-running microbrasserie and concert venue Le Sergent Recruteur. Rachelle-Béry was still just a tiny corner shop next door to Recruteur. The building they are now in was only built after a huge fire in 2002 gutted several Victorian triplexes north of the corner of Villeneuve – a fire so huge that Casa del Popolo had to be evacuated because of the smoke.

When Mauro Pezzante and Kiva Stimac took the location over in the summer of 2000, the music and arts scene in Mile End was relieved. There had been a real feeling of a need for this sort of venue in Mile End, but the Artishow team had not managed to procure proper liquor or occupancy permits, and so it felt like the venue may be lost. Word was spread that someone needed to save this valuable space, and we could not have hoped for more suitable and organized new owners than Mauro and Kiva.

Within two years, they had managed to take over the concert hall across the street, naming it Sala Rossa, and for a couple more years they operated a third venue, El Salon, further south on St-Laurent near Marie-Anne.

Here is a sampling of event posters and flyers from the first few years of Casa del Popolo / Artishow / Sala Rossa. Congratulations to Team Popolo for surviving and thriving for fifteen years!

Montreal Shows 1965 – 1975: Art Pop 2015, Exhibit Gallery  
 A visit to the Musée du Rock and Roll du Québec !

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