Toledoan and Minor Threat co-founder Jeff Nelson
It wasn’t supposed to happen in a stodgy city of starched shirts and conservative think tanks, but it did. The Washington, D.C. punk scene impacted the music world like a meteor, and decades after it peaked, we’re still feeling the effects. The scope of the crater is explored in the new documentary Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement in Washington D.C.
Featuring Toledo resident and Minor Threat/Dischord Records co-founder Jeff Nelson, Punk the Capital is a decades-in-the-making labor of love from filmmakers Paul Bishow, Sam Lavine, and James Schneider covering the peak years of the D.C. punk scene from 1976 to 1983.
“The quality of the film is amazing,” said Nelson, an Old West End resident who still runs legendary punk label Dischord Records. “(Paul and James) have amassed a huge amount of home movies on Super 8 and 16 mm that features old film footage from shows and regular D.C. scenes. They did a great job capturing the essence of DC in the late ‘70s. You really feel like you’re there.”
With the band
The film follows three D.C. punk bands— Bad Brains, The Slickee Boys, and Minor Threat— through the ups and downs of the burgeoning music scene. Nelson recalls first being interviewed for the film more than 15 years ago when he was living in Arlington, Virginia. “This film does a great job of capturing the fun spirit of the scene and explaining what made the D.C. scene different from other parts of the country.”
Punk the Capital, currently being shown across America by the filmmakers, has a tour stop in Toledo on Thursday, October 10 at Handmade Toledo. Nelson will attend the screening and participate in an audience Q&A.
Nelson says the film will appeal to anyone who’s interested in seeing how young people can change the world around them. “There was no road map for us. It was not a well established musical town so we had to do it ourselves. When you live in a place where your stuff is not being played on the radio, it can make a scene stronger.”