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A Brief History Of Boston Punk Rock In 18 Vintage Photos

Sam Black Church at the Channel in 1991. (Dave Tree)
Sam Black Church at the Channel in 1991. (Dave Tree)
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“Punk rock, to me, it meant that you could express yourself without limitations of skill or money or connections. You could express yourself by your will and your talent,” Dave Tree says. “When I see these photos, it’s the same drive and that same will just to do it.”

He’s talking about the exhibition “This Is Boston Not LAme” showcasing “four generations of Boston punk rock” in photos by Gail Rush, Tara Feely, Nicole Tammaro and himself at his screenprinting studio/gallery, SweeTree Ink, 281a Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, through Saturday, April 26, when there’s a closing party from 7 to 11 p.m. Otherwise hours are by appointment.

The title is, of course, a reference to the landmark 1982 Boston punk compilation album “This Is Boston, Not L.A.”—that doubled as a rallying cry for Boston (music) to find its own damn voice.

Rush photographed bands like SSD and DYS at Boston venues like the Rat, the Channel in Fort Point and Spit on Lansdowne Street in the 1980s. “Both bands are straight-edge bands from Boston when it first came out,” Tree says. “Those are the bands that brought it from D.C. to Boston.”

Feely documented performances by Scissorfight, Sam Black Church, Dropkick Murphys (“the original lineup”) and Tree (which Dave Tree, the name he performs under, was part of) at the Rat, the Middle East in Cambridge and pro-marijuana-legalization Freedom Rallies on Boston Common in the 1990s.

Tammaro photographed bands like For the Worst and Razors in the Night at the Middle East, Abbey Lounge in Somerville, O’Brien’s Pub in Boston, T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge and below the radar basement shows since 2000.

All together it’s a sort of time capsule of an era. “It’s a photo history of bands that used to be,” Tree says, “but it’s also places that used to be.”

Drop Kick Murphys perform at Middle East in Cambridge in 1995. (Tara Feely)
Drop Kick Murphys perform at Middle East in Cambridge in 1995. (Tara Feely)
Sam Black Church at Bunratty's in 1989. (Dave Tree)
Sam Black Church at Bunratty's in 1989. (Dave Tree)
Will Toxic from Mouth Sewn Shut performs in 2008. (Nicole Tammaro)
Will Toxic from Mouth Sewn Shut performs in 2008. (Nicole Tammaro)
Torr Skoog of Kings Of Nuthin at T.T. The Bear’s in 2002. (Tara Feely)
Torr Skoog of Kings Of Nuthin at T.T. The Bear’s in 2002. (Tara Feely)
Stage diver at the Channel in 1982. (Gail Rush)
Stage diver at the Channel in 1982. (Gail Rush)
SSD in Boston’s Combat Zone in 1982. (Gail Rush)
SSD in Boston’s Combat Zone in 1982. (Gail Rush)
Seth Cohen from Buried in Leather at Church in Allston in 2008. (Nicole Tammaro)
Seth Cohen from Buried in Leather at Church in Allston in 2008. (Nicole Tammaro)
Scissorfight performing during a 1997 boat cruise in Boston Harbor. (Tara Feely)
Scissorfight performing during a 1997 boat cruise in Boston Harbor. (Tara Feely)
Sam Black Church at the Channel in 1991. (Dave Tree)
Sam Black Church at the Channel in 1991. (Dave Tree)
Oderus Urungus of GWAR at the Channel in 1991. (Dave Tree)
Oderus Urungus of GWAR at the Channel in 1991. (Dave Tree)
Mike McCarthy of For the Worse performs at the Cambridge Elks in 2006. (Nicole Tammaro)
Mike McCarthy of For the Worse performs at the Cambridge Elks in 2006. (Nicole Tammaro)
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones perform at Tower Records in Boston in 1995. (Tara Feely)
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones perform at Tower Records in Boston in 1995. (Tara Feely)
Larkin Brigade at Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain in 2007 (Nicole Tammaro)
Larkin Brigade at Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain in 2007 (Nicole Tammaro)
GWAR performs at the Channel in 1991. (Dave Tree)
GWAR performs at the Channel in 1991. (Dave Tree)
GBH at the Rat in 1988. (Dave Tree)
GBH at the Rat in 1988. (Dave Tree)
Freedom Rally on Boston Common in 1994. (Tara Feely)
Freedom Rally on Boston Common in 1994. (Tara Feely)
Circle Jerks at the Living Room in Providence the night before it closed in 1990. (Dave Tree)
Circle Jerks at the Living Room in Providence the night before it closed in 1990. (Dave Tree)
Boston Crew members of SSD and DYS in 1982. (Gail Rush)
Boston Crew members of SSD and DYS in 1982. (Gail Rush)

Greg Cook is co-founder of WBUR’s ARTery. Follow him on Twitter @AestheticResear. Friend him on Facebook.

Greg Cook Twitter Arts Reporter
Greg Cook was an arts reporter and critic for WBUR's The ARTery.

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