When it comes to old school legendary punk venues CBGB’s out of New York City is often the first place to come across people’s lips. Or maybe the 9:30 club in DC or The Whiskey A Go-Go in LA. When it came to phenomenal punk rock shows many of today’s generation are unaware that Cincinnati had a killer punk venue in its own backyard.
For the Midwest, no venue came close to matching The Jockey Club. Located in Newport Kentucky on 633 York Street (now home to Wooden Cask Brewing Company) The Jockey Club was a hotbed of punk and hardcore shows. A list of who’s who in punk played the small Newport club including The Ramones, The Dead Kennedys, Samhain, The Cramps, The Circle Jerks and a long list of others.
Unfortunately, this was before my time. The Jockey club first opened its doors in 1982 and closed in 1988. The venue was first brought to my attention when I purchased a bootleg Samhain record that featured a live recording from The Jockey Club. I was extremely excited to find out that it was located in Newport Kentucky. I immediately had to find out more about this place. Imagine all of those cool shows taking place in my hometown!
From all accounts, The Jockey Club was a tiny little shithole of a venue. What else would you want for a punk show? Featuring a men’s bathroom with discarded Fosters oil cans clogging the toilets, dirty carpeting and dingy walls stained yellow from stale cigarette smoke. What made the club the memory it is today where the fans who inhabited the walls and went on to form long lasting friendships.
And a short old cigar chomping pistol wielding curmudgeon lovingly named, “Shorty.”
Before the Jockey Club, the building was originally a place called The Flamingo Club. Two brothers, Hallman, “Shorty” Mincey and Hayne “Tiny” Mincey purchased the building. During its heyday The Flamingo Club was part of Newport’s notorious nightlife gambling scene. After Newport outlawed gambling in the early 80’s, the building needed to be used for something else.
And a new Punk Rock scene was born.
Around this time Shorty was approached with the idea of opening the venue up as a place for local bands to perform. Soon after, the place became a home for underground rock as The Jockey Club started to attract some national attention with bands that were huge in the punk scene at the time. Even Metallica showed up at Newport’s little punk palace. After their gig at Annie’s in 1986, the 4 Horsemen headed across the river to check out The Ramones show that was going on that same evening.
After closing its doors in 1988, the original building was sadly demolished. When The Wooden Cask Brewing Company opened its doors a few years ago, they uncovered and restored The Jockey Club’s original Italian Terrazzo tile floors. You can check them out for yourself during a brewery tour.
For much more information on The Jockey Club, the shows and Shorty himself, I highly recommend checking out the book, “Stories for Shorty. A Collection of Recollections from The Jockey Club 1982-1988" by Aurore Press. This book can be purchased at most Cincinnati based record stores such as Shake it and Everybody’s.