“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.”