Former Location –
The Natural Fudge Cafe was what they call in Los Angeles a “pay to play” gig, but only for bands that were known to wreck their venues. Those performers were required to buy a certain number of tickets in order to play at the venue. Other more civilized bands were not subject to this.
The Natural Fudge Cafe was one of the many venues in Los Angeles that up and coming acts would use to hone their live performance skills.
It’s now a market.
Natural Fudge Cafe
5224 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029
They never ever charged our band to play there, they were supportive of musicians. They were totally cool people, we performed there for YEARS. I don’t know where they get the idea that it was ever a pay to play venue, or a presale or whatever. They charged an incredibly low door as well, and I think they would split it with the bands, although I don’t remember making any money there.
Natural Fudge was the punkest most underground coolest places to play. They never did the pay to play crap and the owners were amazing. They helped out young bands and we played there a ton. I remember one show when a bunch of cholos bust in with guns and everyone was like oh shit – they stashed the guns behind the entry bar and ran out the back. Just then police came in looking for them and couldn’t find them so they left. All this happened while the band kept playing and the pit kept going. I remember the big riot when Citizen Fish played – I think that was the end of the Fudge but I’m not sure.
My first job was at Natural Fudge. I worked there in the late 70s as a dishwasher.
Hey Tom, About 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 my band, Creation City played there. Janet Planet was our vocalist, Lee Cronbach, played an upright piano that was on the stage, Mel, Wiggins, Congas, I played jazz/rock flute, and vocals. As many have mentioned, John and Brenda were absolutely the best! We got many free meal tickets and a platform for any agent to come see us. There were a variety of “acts“ including comics, such as Sandra Bernhard and Judy Garrett, Mime for whom we improvised back up music.. There was a tall black guy who worked in the kitchen named Terry, who we wrote a song for after he passed on. Maybe you knew him? It was a creative time and people supported each other psychically.
I was the sound engineer for the fudge and we never charged bands outright unless Brenda made an agreement with the bands that were more destructive than others. Slam dancing broken chairs etc….
It was an Awesome time and I have many many blurry but fond memories.
It was a very cool place for all kinds of talent and I am proud that I did sound for most of the artist that walked in the door. Johnny RIP We smoke some good weed brother!!! Brenda Miss you and the kids!!
Hey Jason you did the sound for us when we played there the band name was “Raye & The Westside” Raye was a cute frizzy haired singer.
I performed at the Fudge early 90’s with my band “Loose Elbow” ! We felt nothing but support ….and we needed it because we we’re in our late teens ..lol ! Brenda was such a sweet heart and Johnny would always lend a great vamp for all the artists to hit the stage! I miss those days fondly. We we’re so young reckless and excited about our very first gig. RIP Johnny ! btw, when did Johnny die and was it was cancer that took him?
We’re you the African American sound dude that wore the cowboy hat? If so we did a comedy/music show and we gave you 20 bux for a vhs copy and you gave us a blank tape. Give me the footage and we will call it even. The band was Villains99 . Thanx Natural Fudge RIP
This place was amazing, sometimes wild and crazy, all kinds of bands and music, lots of Punk bands. I was a regular until the LAST day.
Brenda was one of the coolest, nicest, most honest person I’ve ever met. I miss her and the NFC a lot.
This was definitely not a pay to play venue. We didn’t make any money but got free meals once in a while. It was a very cool room.
wow my band Lestat played here many times almost weekly at one point early 90’s I remember Brenda :} wow I am old now, smallest stage on earth i remember …and now its a mexican market of course
Monkey Paw played there too. Never ever was made to pay to play. Hands down, one of the most authentic clubs in Hollywood with absolutely no bs like you got at most of the other clubs. The lady that ran the place was colorful and gave a warm and whacky introduction every time. I will never forget the rainy nights when playing gigs there, the incredible vibe of the room, and how optimistic the scene was at that time (early 90’s) thanks to kind owners and places like this.
Dud…da Cheesecake Dud
I was in a band called Headtrama and we played Natural Fudge in 1992 —we did not Pay to Play!. Great show and the sound guy was awesome, I had only been playing guitar for a short amount of time and he gave me my first compliment for the sound/tone I got with only a distortion peddle..something I will never forget!!
I played the Natural Fudge Cafe in the early ’90’s. Everything about this place was wonderful: Mr. Johnny the Compere-A Real Hoot/The PA Engineer/The Videographer. I received a video copy of my performance and interview with Johnny after my show. (What a character: RIP, Mr. Johnny!) All’s I got left of this Fab experience is here
I played there with my two brothers and our band Indian Summer maybe 1991. We were a sort of Hendrix metal band and my drums didn’t even fit on the stage. I wish I had photos or a recording. It was so cool. Never pay to play, but that was the standard on the Strip at the time at Gazzarris, Whisky or Troubadour where we played often 88-91.
I saw Joe Bonnamassa play there when he was 13 years old, fantastic…