Rita: The end of the year always makes me think of things I’ve lost in the past. Lolita: I lose my temper on you on a daily basis but how about asking artists to tell us a story about a Boston area venue that is lost to the scene and no longer doing business? Rita: Have you lost your mind? That’s a great question. One in a row dear sister. Let’s start by asking one of our favorite folkies ELLIS PAUL (Ellis Paul): The legendary folk club the Old Vienna Coffeehouse in Westboro, MA, was the initial first step to many musical careers in the Boston area. The open mike list would read like a who’s who of American musicians – Patty Griffin, Dar Williams, Darryl Scott, Martin Sexton, the list goes on and on. The environment and the people behind the open mic, Robert Hague and Tim Mason, made it feel like a tiny Grand Ole Opry, because they cared and put heart into it. Because of that, the best emerging songwriters gathered there weekly in attempt to outdo each other. Try following Vance Gilbert. Or Jonatha Brooke. Our learning curves flew by because of this. Friendships were formed and still go on since then. My first paying gig was on it’s stage opening for Roger McGuinn from The Byrds. I opened for Shawn Colvin, Richie Havens. I’ve had almost 30 years on the road since that night and I am forever grateful for that place. I’ve seen many clubs come and go and evolve since then, but none left a greater hole in fabric of the national folk scene. *** KIM ERNST (The Bristols): The Beacon Street Tavern in Brookline. A great, funky bar with velvet couches and a little pool room with a bordello feel! It was my local watering-hole for years and Michele and I and others spent many fun nights there, including watching the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011! It is missed. *** MAURO CAPUTO (Impressive Promotions): It was at The Rat and Harlequin was playing on Halloween. I wasn’t working sound that night but I was helping out Granny with the lights. Mondo was just wild. He had the barbed wire wrapped around his head with the rubber rats and there were pink flamingos all over the stage. I don’t remember the song but he took a humongous pumpkin and smashed it on the dance floor. There was pumpkin shit and slush everywhere. So there was this really cute small petite blonde sitting down with a lot of dry ice fog – Mondo took the blonde onto the stage and stabbed her to death. She fell down and there was smoke all around her body as she laid there. That was incredible. (laughs) *** LOIS GRECO (The Lois Greco Band): Two venues that I really miss playing, that have now closed their doors, are The Onset Blues Cafe and Harry’s Blues Bar in Hyannis. There was a musical vibe in these places. We always played to a house packed to the brim with music lovers who truly appreciated the uniqueness of our band and the caliber of musicianship. The intimacy these clubs provided, along with the energy and excitement of the crowd, always created a live concert atmosphere. The best part were the owners who treated us like kings, with respect and admiration. *** WILL MARINER (x-The Pilgrims): A place which will always hold a place in my heart is The Surf Nantasket. It was there I began lifelong relationships with Lenny Baker (Sha Na Na), Fred Crowley and Bobby Matulina. I had been leader of the band The Cat’s Meow which had won The New England Battle of the Bands at Pleasure Island moving on to Teaneck, New Jersey at The Music Circus for the national contest. The year was 1966. We didn’t win but it was a thrill none the less to have Paul Whiteman as a judge. He had us fourth on his card. It was later that year I, Marin Lee, auditioned as a singer/ front man for a band, The Pilgrims. They were one of several bands in the stable of Surf Management. On Fridays and Saturdays, The Surf came alive with an energy all it’s own. The Pilgrims dressed in Pilgrim costumes at our performances. I was in a band that opened for most of the national acts that came through Boston, including The Animals, The Beach Boys at Boston Garden and many more. But hanging with Wilson Pickett before the show at The Surf Nantasket in Hull has to be my highlight. He talked about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and how they got all the headlines about their music. I turned to him and said, “Wilson, they wrote some great songs but you have too and I’ll tell you something. They’ll be playing your songs long after you and I are gone.” He took a sip from his glass of gin and his face brightened as he looked at me. “You really think so?” “Yes,” I said, “absolutely.” There is no Surf Nantasket anymore. It’s an era long gone but it’ll live in our hearts forever.
Rita: How about some fabulous factoids? Now is the perfect time to spread the word about what’s going on in the New England music scene. Lolita: I hate when you make sense. JON BUTCHER’s 2RoadsEast band now includes JEFF KEITHLINE on bass. He and SAL BAGLIO (THE STOMPERS) have a side project called THE MARCONIS and recently released a cool new song “Monster” right before election day. *** The opening track on DENNIS BRENNAN‘s latest release is “Into This World” and the closing cut is “Out of This World.” His band includes DUKE LEVINE and KEVIN BARRY from THE J. GEILS BAND, BILLY BEARD (x- FACE TO FACE) drumming and bassist RICHARD GATES. Their two night record release party at The Lizard Lounge, where Dennis also has a residency, was incredible. CHRIS COTE and ANDREA GILLIS each opened one of the nights. *** LOVEWHIP’s song “Wrecking Machine” was heard on Showtime’s Shameless in a scene with Fiona (Emmy Rossum). At their live performances they give kazoos to the audience with the band’s name on it. *** Adult Swim and Mello Music unleash a new joint effort with rappers MR. LIF and L’ORANGE called The Life And Death of Scenery. Local hip-hop artists HOMIE AKROBATIK and GONJASUFI are on the hit “Strange Technology.” *** JAKE CASSMAN’s pop/ punk/ folk/ rock band DRUNKEN LOGIC has a cool new song “What A Beautiful Morning” that you should check out. *** Catch THE WOOD PEPPERS with DAN KING, DAVID BROWN, WOLF GINANDES, and DAVE MATTICKS every Tuesday night at Jalapenos in Gloucester, MA. *** BRUCE MARSHALL‘s great sunset photo of Hancock Pond (where he lives in Denmark, ME) is being used by MICHAEL PAGE during his weather segment on NECN. Bruce now includes photo contributor for the station on his Magna Carta length resume. He also has a new residency every second, fourth and fifth Tuesday of the month at O.Dans in Sebago, ME. All of his fans in Maine and New Hampshire take note. Bruce kicks the night off at 7:00 then brings up players until 10:00. O.Dans is a farm-to-table restaurant with local beers on tap. You can arrive by car or boat! *** DUKE ROBILLARD jumped onstage with NEAL VITULLO and his band THE VIPERS for a few tunes at The Burger Bar in Pawtucket, RI. *** The bluesy PETER PARCEK TRIOA had great gig at Thunder Road Music Club with PETER PARCEK on guitar and vocals, RYAN LEE CROSBY on bass and PETE PULKRABEK pounding. MOEJOE MARINO filmed the whole night. *** Weymouth rapper MARC VINCENT has a new tribute song just released. “Letter to Rob” is about a good friend of his who recently died. LORCAN O’ NEILL did the special cover art work. Request it on all the local radio stations. *** The Spotlight Tavern in Beverly recently hosted a musician’s yard sale. *** LIVINGSTON TAYLOR has been celebrating his 50th year in music by touring all over the States, India and Japan in support of his latest release Songs My Parents Sang Out Loud which recalls the amazing melodies that filled his young ears. SHELLY BERG accompanies Liv on piano. Catch him at TCAN – The Center For The Arts in Natick on December 2 and at The Sinclair on January 20 for his record release party. *** Have you seen Connecticut’s GENERATION BLUES BAND? It includes BONNIE MARIE and LIZ ASHKINS on vocals, SEAN CONWAY on keys, BRAD GREENE pounding, TOM GRAND and MIKE CHERVANSKY on guitars and vocals, and ANDREW DOUGLAS on bass. Bonnie and BOBBY HARP have been writing original songs too. Check them out. *** Americana/ electro band THE MOTIVATED SEQUENCE released The Science. The Fiction at The Middle East upstairs with NARROW WAVES and MOBILE STEAM UNIT. *** BERKLEE SILENT FILM ORCHESTRA had a scary Halloween special presentation of the 1925 film The Phantom of the Opera at The Cabot in Beverly, MA. The organization is dedicated to composing original scores for silent film classics and performing them live to picture. *** Paintings by NICK MORSE (STEVE MORSE‘s son) were included in an art exhibition that was part of Let’s Dance: An Evening Of David Bowie Songs. SEBASTIAN SMEE, the Boston Globe‘s Pulitzer Prize winning art critic was overheard saying after checking out Nick’s new website, “Nick’s work is wonderful! So vibrant and full of speed and blur and curve and movement. It’s the color I love above everything though.” *** Klezmer band SHIRIM has a new CD called Turning Point. They are bringing their klezmer Nutcracker to Passim on Sunday, December 4. Shirim has been torquing this traditional holiday happening in a very novel and cool way. Instead of sugarplum fairies spinning stiffly on point, Shirim conjures up rugalah elves twirling through an uproarious hora. The melodies are familiar but the mood is much more Bolshoi than ballet. *** Dead Wednesday is alive and well at The Portland House of Music in Maine. BUILT TO LAST just started their mid-week residency. Check out TOM FAUNCE and AARON NADEAU on guitars, RYAN BENOIT on drums DARRELL BRIGGS on keys and STEVE VELLANI on bass. Also, THE WORKIN’ DEAD with Tom, Aaron and MARK MCKELVEY will perform at an earlier happy hour slot the same day. *** Americana band GIRLS, GUNS & GLORY had a record release party for their latest Love and Protest at The Narrows in Fall River. WARD HAYDEN on vocals and guitar, PAUL DILLEY on bass, CHRIS HERSCH on guitar and JOSH KIGGANS on drums have a great new song “Rock And Roll.” PAT NORTON is head honcho at The Narrows and also is the executive producer of the new album. *** There’s a great new hip-hop band CLOAK x DAGGER with SEAN MATHIAS and CRACK SIZZLACK influenced by J DILLA and ALCHEMIST. *** KEN FIELD’s REVOLUTIONARY SNAKE ENSEMBLE released their fourth album I Want That Sounds and had a killer release party at Once in Somerville, MA, with SOGGY PO BOYS. It was a night of great New Orleans music. The ultra funky “Discoveries” is the hit. *** BUFFALO TOM’s BILL JANOVITZ has a new side project called THE NEEDY SONS with MIKE GENT (The Figgs), bassist ED VALAUSKAS and drummer ERIC ANDERSON. Vis-A-Vis is their first album and “Roll Call” and “Red Line” are the rocking hits. *** The in-depth tale of the “low-rock” ’90s Boston band MORPHINE materializes on DVD this December 9. It can be ordered now at the MVD Shop or on Amazon. *** CHANDLER TRAVIS tells us about his newest band THE CATBIRDS. “If you really want to know what an absolutely solid, bluesy groove feels like when it’s been nailed, proceed to the current installment of song of the weak featuring The Catbirds’ version of LOWELL FULSON‘s “Reconsider Baby.”
MORE CLOSED CLUBS
Rita: Enough gossip! Let’s get back to asking another local legend about the venues their freeloading put out of business. TIM COLLINS (Collins Management): Driving in to Boston when I was in college to go clubbing was what it was all about. School, work and more work was my life. Living for the weekend was my motto. Bunratty’s was one of my fave’s – cheap drinks, great bands and let the good times roll! I knew I wanted in on this action but I had no idea how. But one night I met a guy there who changed the course of my life – Mickey O! After a chat with Mickey I knew what I was meant to do! The rest is history! Thanks Mick! *** MARY BETH CRONIN (Drive The Cars tribute band): In 1987 my band went on a mini vacation in Boston and we went to a club called Celebrations. A beautiful club. I was of age to get into clubs but I hadn’t gotten my picture ID license in the mail yet and it seemed to be a requirement to get in. At first, the bouncers said I couldn’t get in without a picture ID, but after 10 minutes of convincing them I wasn’t from Boston and would have nowhere else to go I was let in but given a wrist band and a warning not to drink. I told them I wouldn’t. I wasn’t a drinker anyway. As MY luck would have it, some guy needed to use the bathroom and asked me to hold his drink for him while he ran into the men’s room. “Sure. No problem,” I said. Whilst waiting for him to return of course I was spotted by the bouncers and asked to leave. They didn’t believe “my guy had to use the men’s room” story which was true, by the way. I waited outside for my fellow band members to stop gallivanting in the club and then we left. Unbelievable! *** RAM (x-Corduroy/ The Ram Band): One funny story was after a gig at The Rathskeller in February, 1985, on the way home the van engine died in a blizzard. We had to have the van towed to our gig the next night at The Last Call in Providence and we didn’t miss a beat. We did the show sans sleep! *** RICK BARTON (Continental): Not sure of the exact date but I’m sure it was the spring of ’81. My old band The Outlets opened an all-ages early show for Dead Kennedys at Fensgate Ballroom in Kenmore Square. Then we powered all our gear over to MIT for a late afternoon outdoor headlining show! Imagine two shows on the same day in the same city? Bands are lucky to be able to play one show every two months in their hometown nowadays! Anyway, after that show we all ambled over to the Underground to see Mission of Burma. Rumor was Jello Biafra would be joining them onstage and the rumor was indeed true! I know The Rat and Cantones are the old venues most people revere, but the Underground was a very cool place to play and hang! *** KATE SEAVEY (Black Cat Road): I lived in the Cambridge/ Somerville area for 13 years before I moved to Maine and played in many of the venues in the Boston area during that time. There was a club on Mass. Ave in Central Square called The Phoenix Landing. Don Reed (keyboard player in Black Cat Road) and I used to be part of the band Little Wolf & the Mojos, and we hosted a blues review show there every Sunday afternoon from October 1995 until March 1998. That band included Irina Yalkowsky on guitar and Nicky Kulund (RIP) on drums. We were the core band and each week we’d front a different blues singer/ musician. Also, every week we’d feature the late, great Henry Lee Spencer for two to four songs on harmonica and vocals. The venue let us use the house sound system, and we’d never know what shape it was going to be in. It was always a big mess of tangled cables and beer-soaked monitors. We had a great run there, featuring musicians like Weepin’ Willy and Buddy Johnson, Cheryl Renee, Chris “Stovall” Brown, Madeline Hall, Amyl Justin, Bo Thayer, and many more! We got paid $120 a gig – we’d pay the feature artist $50 and the four of us house band members walked out with $17.50 each! Good times. *** GEORGE McCANN (The James Montgomery Band): I was playing the infamous Allston club Bunratty’s in 1976 with a band called the Lean Street Sliders. We finished a tune and there was a buzz in the crowd that blues legend James Cotton was in the club. I saw him at the front of the stage nodding to us he wanted to get up and play. The next thing I know he’s onstage blasting out the intro to “She’s Murder” on his harp as the place went wild. After a slow blues and a version of “The Creeper” it was done and we had played with one of our heroes. I was only 22 years old and the James Cotton Band was the first professional band I had ever seen when I was 14. I have had the honor of working with him many times since with James Montgomery but that first time was a thrill I will never forget.
Lolita: Back to babbling! ELLIS PAUL kicking off his 25th year on the scene with four shows at Passim on December 30 and 31. *** MAGIC DICK (The J. Geils Band) and guitarist SHUN NG have a new release called About Time and will have a local record release party early next year. SHUN NG & THE SHUNETTES will be performing at the Boston Music Awards at The House of Blues December 8 and then the band will have their first public show December 10 at The Lizard Lounge. *** RICK BERLIN had a great gig at The Midway with his NICKEL & DIME VAND, RED RED ROCKIT and I THOUGHT THEY WERE MODELS? Other Berlin news: Rick was seen at the Jamaica Plain, MA, bookstore, Papercuts, where he had been invited to an early release and signing of his very first book, The Paragraphs, which will be out next spring. KATIE EELMAN and KATE LAYTE own, manage and event strategize this great indie bookstore in the hood. Rick and ROBBIE MANOCHIO continue to work on their storefront songwriting plan. You provide the style, genre and topic. They write you a song. Ring them up! *** CONTINENTAL finishes up their international tour with a gig at The Firehouse in Providence, RI, on December 18. Don’t miss it! *** North Shore guitar ace GARY HOEY wailed on the National Anthem with his Strat before the Bruin’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets the night before Veteran’s Day. The crowd went wild. He’s played it for the Sox and The Pats in packed arenas before their games too. *** Check out 13 O’ CLOCK BLUES BAND with Cohasset, MA, guitarist and songwriter JON CATLER, TIMO SHANKO (Dub Apocalypse) on bass, the female STEVEN TYLER, BABE BORDEN singing and SKIP FISHER (Boston Baked Blues Band) on drums. *** Tavern at the End of The World in Charlestown, MA, now has Laughter At the End of the World in the backroom. SCOTTY hosts Funny Bone Trivia on Sundays. *** Vermont folk artist MARTIN GROSSWENDT and SUSANNE SALEM-SCHATZ are back from a great southern tour and returning to the Boston area on December 8 at The People’s Cafe in Newton, MA, to play a fundraiser for The Massachusetts Climate Action Network. *** The Chet’s Last Call documentary should be on out in time for the anniversary of Chet’s December 10 passing. The Cantab hosts an all-star jam every Sunday with FULL CIRCLE. Members of the group include LEE LUNDY, CANDY DELGADO, SIR CECIL (x-African Roots), and THE CHICKEN MAN. Also check out MICKEY BLISS‘s Club Bohemia downstairs at the Cantab. *** WILL MARINER was asked by the Veteran’s Administration to come down to The White House to talk about veteran homelessness. We told him to bring us back some silverware for The Noise kitchen. *** It’s not too early to think about the 2017 New England Blues Summit on April 28-29 with SHEMEKIA COPELAND and bands representing the Boston Blues Society, the Maine Blues Society, The Granite State Blues Society, the Rhode Island Blues Society and the Connecticut Blues Society. We’ll keep you posted as local artists get scheduled. *** Channel owner JOHN GARABEDIAN has a new book out The Harmony of Parts. Read how a young Armenian dreamer broke the rules to achieve national DJ fame. He also owned V- 66 with ARNIE WOO-WOO GINSBURG. LADY GAGA is quoted: “If it weren’t for John Garabedian no one in America would know who I am.” *** BUTTERSCOTT has a new holiday release “Hare Kwisskkah (War Is Boring).” *** STEVE TYLER and JOE PERRY announced a farewell AEROSMITH tour in 2017 via a new video on their Aerosmith News Network. The end is officially near for the bad boys of Boston. In the announcement video they spend at least 30 seconds passing Aerosmith puns and telling dirty jokes before getting down to the business at hand. *** B3 is is opening up in Berklee’s new building on Massachusetts Avenue. It will include a restaurant and a music venue. *** The Rockwell is the new name for the Davis Square Theatre. There will be great music and also delicious food available. It’s about the same size as Great Scott’s or Cafe 939. Stay tuned. *** City Hall art galleries plan to showcase local artists. MAYOR MARTY WALSH and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture have four art exhibits going on until the middle of December. On the 3rd and 5th floors check out CALEB COLE‘s Other People’s Clothes, Brazilian Art Impressions, The Marble Collection Pop-Up Gallery featuring works of teenage artists and writers, and one performance instillation, ELI KESZLER‘s Northern Stair Projection. It’s free and open to the public. Check it out. Mayor Walsh also announced the first call for artists for the Alternative Space Pilot Project, a partnership between the City of Boston and local businesses and institutions, allowing artists and organizations to apply for non-traditional space to create and rehearse. Very cool! *** We hear that Sonia’s, the new club at The Middle East where T.T. the Bear’s was once located, will be opening up any day now. We’ll keep you posted. *** Speaking of The Middle East THE TEN FOOT POLECATS played their final gig upstairs doing a half hour set. As usual JIM CHILSON, CHAD ROUSSEAU and JAY SCHEFFLER blew the roof of the club right off. *** Geezer’s Garage Night, formerly at The Granite Rail in Quincy has found a new home at The Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain. The first gig is Sunday, December 11 starting at 4:00pm. THE TOKYO TRAMPS, THE REAL REAL BAYOU BOY BAND, MISINTENT and piano ace PAT O’DONNELL are the planned artists so far. Show up and support Geezer at his first festival. Bring your talent, your guitars, your sticks and your horns.
FINAL CLOSED CLUBS
Rita: And now for the last of our vacant venue answers. HENLEY DOUGLAS JR. (Henley Douglas RnB/ Heavy Metal Horns): Bunratty’s on Sunday nights back in the ’80 is where my musical career took a serious left turn. I had been playing and studying jazz for about 10 years. I met fellow sax man John Vanderpool (Heavy Metal Horns) and he told me to come down to Bun’s and check out The Wrecking Crew. He introduced me to Brandy Pritchard who was the leader of the band. I got to sit in and they asked me to come back and I eventually became a member of the band. I met so many amazing people. Abel Harris, Anne Goade and many burning musicians, sound engineers, roadies and made a lot of life long friends. The Sunday night Jam at Bunratty’s with The Wrecking Crew was one of the best jams ever. *** DAN LAWSON (Dan Lawson Band): My band The Keep was playing a Halloween show with The Fools and Rick Berlin at The Channel. The costumes were all amazing! We opened the show to a sold out house. One costume stuck out a lot, my drummer Ian Elkus was dressed as a very provocative woman… Very provocative! As we left the stage a guy grabbed Ian by the arm to try and talk to him but the nice bouncers at The Channel squelched that fast! We got to our dressing room to kick back and have a couple of shots with the other bands before they went on as we stepped out for a fast chillum. Ian no longer dressed as a woman and headed to the men’s room right past the guy that grabbed his arm as we departed the stage… right past him! All of a sudden there’s a knock on the door and there he stands! He asked me where was “the chick” that was playing drums for you guys? I said she just went to the ladies room hurry you can catch her, well he stood by the ladies room door for over 45 minutes. Oh by the way Ian walked by him at least twenty more times, and he never recognized him! We laughed so hard we all almost pissed our pants! Got to love The Channel. *** SARAH SEMINSKI (Sarah & The Wild Versatile): When I first moved up to Boston in 2002, I used to grab a copy of the Boston Phoenix to get my bearings and see where the music was at. Because many of my all-time favorite bands (Morphine, The Pixies, The Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, Juliana Hatfield, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Dropkick Murphy’s) all started out on the Boston music scene, I was constantly going to shows, hoping to (and often) bumping into musicians I admired – only to turn red in the face when I couldn’t think of something to say other than, “I love your music,” as I awkwardly walked/ran away! Too bad I’m still shy! I used to go regularly to many venues that have since closed their doors like Harper’s Ferry, Precinct, T.T. the Bears, and Johnny Dee’s to dance my ass off. Glad my entry into the Boston music scene was as a patron long before I was ever a part of it as a performer. *** RAY MASON (Ray Mason Band/ The Lonesome Brothers): I remember once playing solo (with my trusty Silvertone) at The Rat where I played a few tunes and then sat on a chair (on the stage) and proceeded to be interviewed by Skeggie Kendall and Joe Harvard in front of the audience. Seemed slightly nerve racking at the time but I have fond memories of it now! *** JEROME DEUPREE (Vapors of Morphine): Here’s my story of a long gone club. One of Morphine’s early gigs was opening up for Ginger Baker at Nightstage. As I was loading in, Ginger was complaining that he’d said there was to be no opener so it was obviously going to be a fun night. He and his band refused to move any of their gear so we had to set up where we could. I remember his bass player saying “nothing moves” and leaving his whole set up on with the bass leaning on the amp. As we were getting off stage the bass was bumped unintentionally and was heading to the floor, I was waiting for the huge noise it would cause when a fan reached up and caught it before it hit the ground. Oh well. During their set Ginger said he was going to play a solo and someone yelled out “TOAD”! He said he didn’t play that anymore and said this one was for his wife, Ann. Well of course after a while the drumming sounded very much like a Ginger solo and a friend of mine said to me, “Well, a toad by any other name…” I also know there was at least one guy in the audience who was blown away by our set and became a fan, so I guess it was all worth it. Nightstage was a GREAT club and is sorely missed by me. Rita: Great answers! Sounds like a good time to end the column. Lolita: Send in your band’s news and come back and see us again for our next column posted on the first day of next year. HAPPY NEW YEAR’s EVE FOLKS!