Little Haiti Rock City

Published on June 21st, 2014

Little Haiti Rock City


Though a building may still stand, there is something to be said about the soul of a place. Local filmmakers Franco Parente and Angel Eva Markoulis understand one such vibrant place is the Miami-based bar Churchill’s Hideaway. They, along with many local South Florida musicians and music fans, agree that the former owner of the bar, Dave Daniels, was the soul of Churchill’s Hideaway. But retirement called, and after 35 years of ownership, he sold the famed pub, situated in the Little Haiti neighborhood.

Franco & Camera

Franco Parente

Though the new owners swear they plan to maintain the bar’s reputation as live venue, when director Parente heard ownership of Churchill’s was about to change hands, he knew he had to work fast to catch history. “I’ve been wanting to do a project on Churchill’s for years now,” he says. “I guess it’s been all about timing. The story breaking about it being sold lit a fire under me to get up and do something about it.”

Producer Markoulis, who has worked with Parente on some of his previous projects did not take much convincing to join the project, a film they’ve dubbed Little Haiti Rock City. “It has no pretense,” she says of Churchill’s charm. “It’s real, and it’s raw, and they feel no need to be like anyone else… Anything goes there, artistically and musically, and pretty much all around. For me, it’s just a place you can go and chill and be yourself, very unlike most places in Miami.”

Rat Bastard

Rat Bastard

It may have a “cozy” stage, but no music venue in Miami has earned the sort of affection and legacy that Churchill’s has. It’s not just a watering hole, it’s an establishment that ushered several watershed moments for the local music scene. Marilyn Manson would have never made it without cutting his teeth on its stage with the Spooky Kids. The Mavericks, a group of Miamians playing country music would not have earned the credibility that resulted in CMA and Grammy awards. Miami’s noise scene and the International Noise Conference would have never existed without Churchill’s permitting Rat Bastard to experiment with the limits of what some call music (he’s often said he’s done the right show when the “noise” forces patrons to leave the building).

The filmmakers, like many fans of the venue and the musicians who have played there, understand that Daniels was essential to creating the institution of Churchill’s. Says Markoulis, “The freedom Dave provided within the walls of Churchill’s was just the beginning of an incredible culture that kind of grew out of that. It’s something that could not have happened anywhere else. And that goes back to the way Dave ran it.”

jacuzzi boys

Jacuzzi Boys

Parente has wasted no time gathering footage, interviewing many local artists like Rat Bastard and the Jacuzzi Boys, not to mention Daniels himself. “We have about 250 hours shot thus far, including tons of B-Roll, some key interviews we felt needed to happen within the bar itself before it changed hands and a lot of time with Dave Daniels.”

But now comes a lot more legwork, including traveling to interview some of the legends incubated by Churchill’s. Parente notes, “There are some high profile artists that have found their way through Churchill’s early on like Brian Warner and Scott Putesky of Marilyn Manson, Sam Beam from Iron & Wine, Sam Fogarino from Interpol, and Jeff Buck from REM, and a few other key people that have moved away.”

It will take some extra funding, The duo have started a Kickstarter campaign so they might be able to do the travelling necessary for some of these interviews, not to mention all the post production work and editing of the hundreds of more hours of footage they plan to shoot. Parente says funding is key to keep the project going, and he hopes the fans will step up. “In order to complete the film we felt it was time to turn back to the community that has shown so much support and excitement for the project and ask for their help,” he says.

Their goal is reach $79,000 by July 3. As of press time, they have a little over a 25 percent of that. The Kickstarter is key to maintaining the momentum they’ve built up. Parente is frank about how important it is to their funding plan. “There is no backup plan,” he states. “Stories like this have a deadline of their own. Telling a contemporary story about the last 35 years means it needs to be told now. People move away, they forget things and archival materials get lost forever. The time is now and a backup plan is not in the cards.”

If you would like to contribute to the Little Haiti Rock City Kickstarter, visit:

Churchill’s this Saturday, June 28th at 8pm.
It’s a “Kickstarter Rally” featuring an amazing lineup of bands that are a big part of Churchill’s history, and also featured in our documentary. The Rally will be hosted by Dave Daniels and Nicky Bowe, both of who are returning for one night only in support of Little Haiti Rock CIty. Performances include Charlie Pickett, humbert, The Pawnshop Drunks, Tremends, Rat Bastard, the Shark Dust Sisters (former members of Load, Quit and The Holy Terrors), and more. The $10 entrance goes to our Kickstarter campaign to fund production costs. Tullamore Dew whisky will be in the house passing out drinks as well.  RSVP
~ Hans Morgenstern | The Independent Ethos (