They’re just a memory now, but Madison’s long-gone rock clubs of yesterday still have a hold on music fans who were there in their heyday. That show by your favorite band before they were famous, that night at the bar when you met that amazing person, that Grateful Dead bootleg listening party — all just memories, and perhaps a few old ticket stubs in a drawer, now.
But Bygone Brand, which has had a lot of success creating T-shirts emblazoned with vanished Madison logos like Rennebohm Department Stores or Red Dot Potato Chips, is reviving those musical memories. The Rockford, Ill. company, again partnering with the Lost Madison Facebook group, will release new T-shirts featuring the logos of Headliners and O’Cayz Corral.
The shirts ($20 for sizes S-XL, $22 for 2XL and 3XL) will only be available in Madison on Saturday as part of special Record Store Day promotions at Strictly Discs and Mad City Music Exchange. The O’Cayz shirts will be on sale at Strictly Discs, 1900 Monroe St., while the Headliners shirts will be on sale at Mad City, 600 Williamson St.
Bygone Brand owner Keith Watson said he had originally planned to do a Record Store Day promotion in Rockford, selling a limited-edition shirt for defunct record store Appletree Records. He thought it would be a good idea to see if Madison would go for a similar idea, and contacted Lost Madison creator Chris Wadsworth for ideas.
“Everything we do with Madison is with the Lost Madison Facebook group,” Watson said. “They’re kind of our go-to. I’m very familiar with Madison, but for the nostalgia, you really need somebody who grew up there to have that passion and ambition.”
Wadsworth said his Facebook group did an informal poll of their favorite Madison places from the past, and both O’Cayz and Headliners were near the top of the list.
“So many great musical acts played at Headliners and O'Cayz, including many that went on to become huge names in the music industry,” Wadsworth said. “People love knowing they saw them early on and up close, before fame and fortune took over.”
For the uninitiated, Headliners was a club on University Avenue that played host to many memorable shows in the '80s, including before-they-were-huge shows by U2 and the Police. The club later changed to Bullwinkle's in the '90s, and the dance club Segredo now occupies that space.
O’Cayz Corral is a piece of Madison rock history, a tiny club at 504 E. Wilson St. that was a must-stop for punk and grunge bands in the '80s and '90s. The club burned down on New Year’s Day 2001; all that remains is an empty lot next to the Come Back In. Cathy Dethmers, who had owned the club (but not the building), opened the High Noon Saloon in 2004.
Dethmers said that Bygone Brand had contacted her a while ago about selling shirts emblazoned with the winking cowboy logo of her old club.
"I felt weird about it at first, but I guess ultimately decided that if people have interest in selling/ buying/ wearing them, it's because they have positive memories about the venue, and that's a good thing," Dethmers said.
Watson thinks the shirts will be big sellers at Record Store Day — Strictly Discs has already upped its order — and that the shirts will be available online at bygonebrand.com at a future date.
If the response is good, Watson said Bygone Brand may do another Record Store Day promotion with other vanished Madison music spots next year. Anyone up for a Club de Wash shirt?