MOVIE REVIEW: Five Bucks at the Door – The Story of Crocks N Rolls (2020)

FIVE BUCKS AT THE DOOR – THE STORY OF CROCKS N ROLLS (2020)

Directed by Kirsten Kosloski

When she was a kid, it was director Kirsten Kosloski’s job to spend the weekend taping albums for her thrifty dad, who was always borrowing records from friends.  With a floor full of tapes and cases, Kosloski grew to love music in that intimate way that only true music fanatics can relate to.  She felt like a bit of an outsider in Thunder Bay Ontario, but her love of music helped her bond with some local punks.  The place to be was Crocks N Rolls.  She walked up to the entrance.  Owner Frank Loffredo sat in the booth.  Five bucks at the door.  Kirsten had empty pockets.  Loffredo gestured for her to go in anyway.  A life was changed that night.  She became a music journalist.  The dream job she didn’t know existed until Crocks N Rolls opened up her world.

Five Bucks at the Doors – The Story of Crocks N Rolls is a uniquely Canadian documentary.  You quickly realize that Crocks N Rolls could only be the result of Canadian geography and personalities.  We joke about Thunder Bay being isolated (though it is said that their landfill hosts a treasure trove of 80s cassette tapes), but the truth is far deeper than simple stereotypes.  Yes, Thunder Bay is eight hours’ drive away from the big cities, but it also occupies a unique crossroads on the Canadian roadmap.  Touring bands from Ontario and further east had to go through on their way west.  Western bands also had to pass through the crucible.  The only place to play was Crocks.  Most importantly, it was the right place to play.

Sook Yin Lee (Bob’s Your Uncle) calls it a “wonderful enclave of freaks and weirdos.”  Frank Loffredo was just a music fan.  He’d drive to Toronto to see a show. He dreamed of being in the New York or London scenes and drinking up the rock and roll.  Instead he did something better and he brought that vibe to Thunder Bay for everyone to share.  Bands started coming through.  Great bands, bad bands, mediocre bands.  Even if they didn’t sell tickets, Frank would book them a second time.  It wasn’t always about the bottom line.  He would live and sleep in the bar to make it work.  It was about Canadian rock music.  It was about making life bearable for the kids of Thunder Bay who dreamed of getting out.  To Frank it was like “one long day,” but to the kids it was another home.  There were no fights.  It was a melting pot of acceptance and ideas.

Bad Brains, 13 Engines, Razor, Sacrifice, DOA, Henry Rollins…Rollins on a spoken word tour no less.  Five Bucks at the Door is loaded with stories and the best has to be about Henry Rollins and being short changed $10 by Frank Loffredo.  Hank didn’t notice, but Frank had to make it right. He asked a friend to repay the $10 that Frank accidentally owed him.  He also insisted on photographic evidence of the transaction, and that evidence is part of this smorgasbord of punk rock history.

Dave Bidini (The Rheostatics), Bob Wiseman (Blue Rodeo), and many more Canadian artists have acres of stories to tell.  A bunch of tree planters and a canoe?  From Frank’s mom’s home-made spaghetti dinners for the tired band members, to the name of the place.  It looked like an Italian restaurant and the logo looked like it had a bowl and a spoon.  “It was a dumb name,” says Frank.  But the important thing was that “the audience was as much of the show as the band.”  That’s clear by the testimonials and amazing black and white photos.  Scratched and unretouched.

Crocks closed in 1996.  It was no longer sustainable, and then as if adding insult to injury the original place burned down.  But in 2007, Loffredo gave it another go.  Naming it Crocks N Rolls flat out indicated this was to be a continuation of the original.  As before, it’s all still in the family, with a new generation now working with Frank in keeping the rock rolling in Thunder Bay.

Five Bucks at the Door is a refreshing reminder that there are some crucial things we need in life.  Connection, belonging, and music.  Frank brought all three to the teenagers of Thunder Bay that longed for it.  It’s a story that needs to be told, and you owe it to yourself to check it out.  It’s available for streaming for free until September 20, 2020.

5/5 stars

23 comments

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for the incredible review of our film. Your words means so much to us. Your review made me so happy to know that it reached you on a personal level and something I could only hope for as a filmmaker. Crocks N Rolls was as much about a feeling as it was about a place and your review just nailed what the experience meant fo so many people. Thank you for taking the time to provide such a thoughtful review and share it with your readers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My pleasure :) I feel fortunate that the film was available for me to watch alone, let alone free! I have been looking forward to it for some time — Deke has been talking non-stop about it.

      Great film and one I’d love to add to my DVD collection hint hint.

      Like

      1. I will definitely keep you posted when the film becomes available for sale and digital download. I’m working on it for early in the new year. I’ll make sure to send you a copy as a thank you for all of your support and incredibly thoughtful review. It just felt great to read your words and feel that the movie was truly understood AND by a huge music lover too ❤️ Word can’t express my thanks, so maybe a DVD/Blu-ray can at least be a start!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I just read Deke’s and your review. Now I need to see this movie.
    As I said to Deke, thanks for the link.

    We just lost another music venue in KW this past week so we are down to Maxwells and that is it. They have no concert promotion posters up. The place looks like a ghost town. If they go under I don’t know what I’ll do.

    Any mention of a music venue on film is good. Especially in these times of no concerts. Great review. Thanks to you, Deke and especially Kirsten for brightening up the bleak scene that is Ontario music.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If I didn’t know better I would say Ladano is from Tbay! lol That opening paragraph is worth the price of admission which is free by the way lol
      So folks watch this Doc before it’s not FREE!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. K and I watched this last night – It was so good! We both could identify with the small town music scene thing.
    I was 19 when I left Sudz and didn’t see too many bands at all while I was there, but I can definitely identify with buying music in a small town which was difficult. And also, the feeling of isolation that you feel in such a town. We were only 5 hours from TDot (not 8), but we were far from the big smoke too. This movie really spoke to me. I was nodding my head in agreement all the way through it!
    And all those Canadian bands! Lava Hay for Pete’s sake! Did you notice how they spelled Sarah McLachlan Sara MacClocklyn? lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lava Hay! And no I didn’t catch that about Sara(h). Poor Lava Hay. They were good but I could not give away their CDs unless they were in a 99 cent bin :(

      I didn’t recognize Bob Wiseman at first!

      Like

  4. It’s amazing what music can do for people. Crocks N Rolls changed Frank’s life, it sounds like! I love how Kirsten became a music journalist after her experience with Crocks N Rolls!

    Like

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