The Handle Bar Benefit

The Handle Bar Benefit

featuring The Bindlestiff Family Circus

Subterranean Books, Pensacola, FL • April 28, 2001

A few weeks ago, the building that once housed Sluggo’s, and more recently, was the home of the Handle Bar, burned under circumstances that are less than clear. The building and the club were both landmarks in the small, eclectic scene in the Gulf Coast. Subterranean Books opened their doors and courtyard to a daylong show to raise money towards rebuilding or relocating the club. More important than the money raised was the show of solidarity for the club owners, who had been so generous to local musicians.

Bands like The Jobbers, This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, and The 8-Track Players all performed throughout the day and evening, but the finale was quite unexpected. The Bindlestiff Family Circus from New York had been booked to play the Handle Bar on the 28th, but obviously could no longer play. A bright idea and a couple of phone calls later, and they decided to play for free as part of the benefit. The circus, which includes magic, music, and a very large man in a negligee breaking cinder blocks on his head, played outside on the courtyard to an audience that ironically was probably larger than they would have drawn at the Handle Bar. Being consummate professionals, the Bindlestiffs adapted their routines to fit in the awkward space of the courtyard and put on a very entertaining show. They even had to move the entire show out to the parking lot to perform the bullwhip trick finale, lit by cars’ headlights.

It was heartening to not only see the local scene turn out for an event like this, but also to have touring performers think enough of a small scene like the one in and around Pensacola to donate a performance.

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