RITA AND LOLITA
Rita: Thanksgiving is coming up and it reminds me of when I first came to Boston and Jimmy Harold, owner of punk paradise The Rat, asked me out for dinner to show my gratitude. Lolita: I was the cute red head from Simmons College dancing the watusi at a Gang Green gig and he takes you out? Rita: So I jump in his white cadoo and he drives us all the way up Route 1, past The Golden Banana in Peabody, to a McDonald’s that had the first drive through window in the state. Lolita: A gobbler eating a turkey big mac in the back seat reminds me of a great question to ask some super stars: “Can you tell us a story that involves the Rat?” FRED PINEAU (The Atlantics): I have a lot of stories. My band Bonjour Aviators was the third original band to play at The Rat when Jimmy changed formats. We played a Friday and Saturday, and had to do three fifty minute sets each night. We really had to stretch to get that many songs, and repeated three songs from our first set in the third set. After the third set, Jimmy came over and said “You repeated three songs.” He did pay us seventy five dollars however! Another time we were opening for a national band that I won’t name, and after sound check everyone but me and one of the guys in the national band went out to get food. We were hanging in the original dressing room in the front of the club, which was the boiler and electrical room, and he asked me to watch the door. I thought that he was going to change his clothes, so I turned my back and looked out the door into the club, but we still kept talking. Then I smelled something, turned around, and he had his works out and was cooking a shot of heroin in a spoon while we talked. Without missing a beat, he tied off, shot up, sat back for a minute or so, then packed everything up into his kit bag, all while still engaged in our conversation. I had never seen anyone shoot up before, so it was surreal to say the least. *** XANNA DON’T (Xanna Don’t): In the mid eighties, before I started performing, I was at The Rat on my own watching The Blackjacks. A drunk baseball fan kept trying to talk to me and I was polite, but focused on the band. He wanted more of a response and gradually became agitated. People in the crowd started to notice, the band started to notice, and when he violently grabbed my beer out of my hand, the band stopped playing! Johnny Angel announced he was sorry the Sox lost but to “leave the girls alone.” Especially one of our girls.” The guy was shown out, somebody replaced my beer, and I felt truly special. *** DAVE MORRISON (The Trademarks): I have lots of Rat stories, but here’s the one that springs to mind. It was 1979 or so, and The Trademarks were opening for Johnny A’s Streets for two nights. Something rare for me happened and after the first night I woke up to discover that I had blown out my voice, which freaked me out. As soon as we got to the club I went to Mitch, and not realizing that I was sounding like his famously ragged voice croaked “Mitch! I don’t know if I can sing tonight!” He gave me a murderous look that made my blood run cold. “You making fun of me?” he said very quietly. In that instant, I felt like something very bad was about to happen to me. “No! I’m not! Something’s wrong with my voice!” Seeing that I was serious (and terrified) he put his arm around me and walked me over to the bar. “Don’t worry,” he said, “Italian cure.” He had the bartender line up six shots of anisette. It didn’t hurt. But it didn’t help. I croaked through half a set, the audience and my band mates cracking up, and we packed it in. Every time Mitch and I saw each other after that we would shake our heads and mumble “Italian cure.” *** GLENN GAUDIN (The Royal Pimps/ Expose): It was home for a lot of us. The Royal Pimps loved it/ lived it there. I was playing a gig with Expose there once, and as we were playing, I looked up to see a large rat right above me on a pipe. It wasn’t moving, just sitting there bobbing it’s head! It ran down the pipe and out of sight at the end of the show. I felt I had been blessed by The Rat Gods! *** BOB GRANT (Bombsaway Bob Grant): Johanna Wilde. Sunday night Halloween Eve midnight show. Broadcast live on WCOZ. 1977. I was going to UMASS- Amherst at the time and wanted to see the show at The Rat. Hitch- hiked from Amherst to Fitchburg where I was supposed to meet friends and go to The Rat. Missed them by ten minutes and wound up recording the show on cassette. Eight years later, I saw Jon and Derek here in Fitchburg where they were performing at Fitchburg State as Jon Butcher Axis. I gave Jon the cassette from the show now, nineteen years later, it appears here on YouTube. I’d call that pretty cool. *** TONY STACEY (The Bottom of The Hub Band): I saw The Cars there before they made it big. I played there a couple of times at The Rat with Chuck Mustone and Sean Harkness in The Bottom of The Hub Band and after watching their entire set I thought they were alright until their last song which was “You’re All I Got Tonight” and I realized how fucking good they were. At the end of their set I spoke with Ben Orr and told him how impressed I was with their sound and I thought they were going to go places! Six months later they were one of the hottest bands in the country. Their music was phenomenal. i was sitting home one afternoon reading the Boston Globe looking for some music to listen to that night and the movie ‘Christine’ had just come out about this car crashing into buildings destroying everything. I saw an ad for The Cars at The Rat and I thought if “they were anything like the car in ‘Christine’ they might be interesting to see.” I went to Kenmore Square and paid the five dollars to get in downstairs to see them play. I listened to them for about an hour when they played their last song “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” and it was like someone had hit me in the back of the head with a sledgehammer !!! It wasn’t until I heard that song that I realized I was listening to a real up- and- coming band that was gonna go national. I have lots of fond memories of The Rat.*** ASA BREBNER (The Chartbusters): I was pissing one night into the broken beer bottles in one of The Rat urinals and I became aware of a big, afro sporting black guy next to me. doing the same. It was Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. I would soon play on a bill with him at the Pink Pop Festival in Holland though we didn’t know it yet. He pulled out a little package of white powder and dumped it on the top of the pisser and shared half of it with me. A perfect gentleman. And now back to our regularly scheduled program.
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. The record release party for Live At The Rat Volume II is at The Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square where Graham Junior College used to be. The hotel has a Rat Suite filled with local punk memorabilia and the music itself was recorded there. WILLIE LOCO ALEXANDER does “At The Rat,” JOHN FELICE and THE REAL KIDS do “No Fun No More,” THE DOGMATICS do “Saturday Night Again,” STEVE CATALDO and THE NERVOUS EATERS do “Loretta,” ROBIN LANE & THE CHARTBUSTERS do “Don’t Cry,” PETER DAYTON does “Spymaster,” and THE DROPKICK MURPHYS do “Bar Room Hero,” along with a lot of other classic tunes by legendary local artists associated with The Rat. The second release is forty one years after the original album came out in 1976. Expect a line to Mass. Ave. to get in. *** DAVID CHAMPAGNE has a new Latin band called EL AZUCAR with RUSS GERSHON (Either Orchestra/ Lookie Lookie) playing keyboard bass, tenor sax and flute, VINCENTE LEBRON on congas and ZAYRA POLA on timbales. *** WOMR is a community based radio station on the Cape in Provincetown with a large listening audience across the states. They produce almost all of their own music and spoken word programs and provide music not easily accessible on commercial radio. Check out Straight No Chaser a jazz show with host RICHARD WILLICKE with music in past shows by LENNY TRISTANO, DON MESSINA, CONNIE CROTHERS, KAZZERIE JAXON, LESTER YOUNG and SAL MOSCA. *** Check out WEST END BLEND from Hartford, CT, and their new album Attitude. We just saw a live video of their song “The Scene.” A great song with horns galore. ERICA BRYAN vox, SAM HORAN pounding, TOM SULLIVAN on bass, PAULIE PHILLIPONE on keys, JESSE COMBS and MIKE DIPANFELO on guitars, JOHN MUNDY on trombone and MIKE BAFUNDO on trumpet and vocals. See them at the Middle East upstairs on December 8 with Boston band SIX FOX WHISKEY and their jam rock folk sound opening for them. *** AD FRANK is in a new band called THE DAYLILLIES. *** KEITH JORGENSEN heads the Fillmore Seats Group that supports local musicians and venues by getting the word out about them and promoting their assets and sound with speed set videos. Check them out on their FaceBook page. Keith was overheard saying “there’s gold in them thar hills and it’s time we start mining it!” *** NAT SEELEN tells us his klezmer band EZEKIEL’S WHEELS are at The Burren in Somerville on November 9. Great band. Great club. Don’t miss this show. *** The same day JON BUTCHER and HIRSH GARDNER (New England) will be the featured guests with blues harpist VINNY SERINO’s BOSTON BAKED BLUES band at a Hurricane Relief Benefit at Teresa’s Hill View Country Club in North Reading. Doors open at 6:00pm, comedians MARK RILEY and then DAVE RUSSO go on at 7:00 and the music starts at 8:00. L3AVING ED3N will start the music. *** More Butcher news: Jon plays on one of TOM GUERRA’s new songs “Blood on The New Rising Sun” with his magic Stratocaster tones on his upcoming album out soon. Stay tuned. And look for two new NBC drama series. Reverie and Rise will both feature music from Butcher’s new record 2Roads East. Reverie will debut with his tune “Power of Soul.” *** You all know veteran folk artist ELLIS PAUL, but did you know there is a great Vancouver musician named PAUL ELLIS and that they are FaceBook friends? Left coast Paul has a band NECTARINE and has two solid songs “First Sight” and “Skywritten Memory.” ELLIS PAUL has a couple of specialty excursions planned for next summer. One is a week long cruise to Alaska through the Inner Passage in May. The other is a five day trip to Monhegan Island in Maine in June. Ellis says “They should be fun, with special music guests, evening performances and workshops during the trips.” Real cool. Or maybe real cold. *** DENNIS BRENNAN’s band THE WHITE OWLS has a residency at Toad every Monday night with TIM GEARAN, ANDY PLAISTED, JIM HAGGERTY and STEVE SADLER who are also busy making music in the studio for an album with original tunes and blues covers they do on Monday nights at the club. Dennis also gigs with blues pianist extraordinaire ANTHONY GERACI (Sugar Ray & the Blue Tones) is in ANTHONY GERACI & THE HIPNOTICS with WILLIE J LAWS on funky guitar, MICHAEL MUDCAT WARD on upright and OSI BRATHWAITE pounding. See this super group at the new City Winery on November 12 and then at Chan’s in Woonsocket, RI, on December 1. Anthony is thrilled to have played piano on RONNIE EARL and his band THE BROADCASTERS’ new recording The Luckiest Man and Ronnie pays back the favor by guesting on two songs on Anthony’s tentatively titled upcoming album Two Steps Away From The Blues on the Delta Groove Music label. And Tim can also be seen onstage with CA MCNEILL and JESSE DEE, NEPHTALIEM MCCRARY and KIT HOLLIDAY at their Wednesday night residency at The Sinclair in Harvard Square. CA tells us “it’s good for the soul.” We agree. *** Don’t miss MATTHEW STUBBS & THE ANTIGUAS album release party at The Sinclair on November 24 with BEARLY DEAD and THE JULIE RHODES BAND. *** Hajjar’s, in Quincy, MA, near the Shipyard, is being sold and is closing. *** KIMBA BATTIS wants us to spread the word that her band MANCINI SOUL has a gig at Bill Ash’s Lounge in Revere, MA, on November 3. If you are on the North Shore we recommend you show up and enjoy yourselves! *** The Jug Band Giants, which includes GEOFF MULDAUR, JOHN SEBASTIAN (Lovin’ Spoonful) and JIM KWESKIN, is coming to Newton North High School November 18. Jim Kweskin founded the legendary JIM KWESKIN JUG BAND in Cambridge with Geoff Muldaur (husband of Maria) during the folk rock revival there in the ’60s. They’re playing traditional folk music together for the first time in decades. Welcome back. *** Check out CHRIS FITZ and his band every Sunday for a rocking good time at Brodie’s in Salem, MA. Always jammed. The dance floor is always full and the patrons love it and we do too! *** Summer is over but Antonia’s on Revere Beach is still red hot every Tuesday night with PAUL MAURAS’ band BLUESADELIC. *** Did anyone recently catch BRUCE MARSHALL’s photo on NECN of a beautiful Maine riverbank sunrise? He’s a photo contributor to the station and had his photos on NBC weather too! *** Subway fiddler ILANA KATZ KATZ will be representing the Boston Blues Society in the solo/ duo category at The International Blues Challenge in Memphis January 2018. Congrats to the best Appalachian roots fiddler we know. *** ‘TIL TUESDAY guitarist ROBERT HOLMES is now in a band in England called THE CORDUROY KINGS. If you are across the pond in November and December they will be playing gigs in Tewksbury, Stroud and Hardwicke. *** Remember BILL STEPHENS from radio and V 66? He was just seen on NBCSP as one of the color commentators during the Mecum Auto Auction. *** Every Monday night go to Blue Monday to see KOSHER KID and his band THE INCREDIBLE AMPLIFIERS at The Miller’s Lounge in Middleton, CT. He’ll be at Veracious Brewing in Monroe, CT, November 11 with ORB MELLON and also at Nick A Nees in Providence, RI, on November 17 with THE RED PENNYS. *** KATE TAYLOR has an upcoming string of shows titled Sister Kate Revisited where she will be doing the songs off her first record Sister Kate produced by PETER ASHER and released in 1971. Kate was overheard saying, “Plus, because Sister Kate still lives (!) I’ll be doing newer material too.” See Sister Kate at her first show November 8 at The Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA, and the last show at The Bull Run in Shirley, MA, on November 18. Our advice to you is to get tickets for both performances because it’s not often you get the chance to see Kate perform live twice in one week!
MORE RAT RECOLLECTIONS
Lolita: Enough gossip! Let’s get back to asking another local legend how they honed their survival skills at Boston’s premier punk palace a generation ago. PETER DAYTON (La Peste): I have some clear memories and many many not so clear memories of The Rat. Jim Harold and the bartenders…getting ready backstage then walking through the audience to get to the stage and how good the sound was there for the bands and a shout out to Granny and all the other sound people who helped the bands over the years. Also way before La Peste started even playing or rehearsing I remember Willie Loco, The Boize, Mickey Clean, Reddy Teddy, Fox Pass, DMZ, and so many others that we would study and listen to and love every minute of it all. The best part was that every single band played their own original material which was a revelation for all of us. Always felt at home there as well as Cantones… but The Rat was amazing and a great room to play. The night I remember went like this: we were there playing with I don’t remember who or exactly when it was but probably late 1978. We finished our first set and I went outside alone in front to the curb to have a cigarette and 20 feet to my left I saw a guy in a suit with two other guys in a car and the guy was hitting a woman (his girlfriend?) and slapping her pretty hard in the face. I instinctively walked over and grabbed the guy by the lapels (I had never been in a fight before that night nor since) and the next thing I know I’m down on the ground getting the shit kicked out of me by like five different people. It probably lasted 15 seconds but felt like an hour and I somehow got up and ran as fast as I could towards Fenway, up that street whatever it was called. I was in total shock and kind of hiding near that little bridge and I felt the top of my head. I must have had ten hematomas that felt like they were two inches high on the top of my head. I could not believe it. I calmed down and snuck around the back of the buildings and went in the rear entrance into The Rat. I went backstage and told the band what had happened and made them feel the top of my head. I got a beer and lit a cigarette. Then it came to me… it was the bouncers from The Rat who beat the shit out of me and I had probably walked by them five times already that night. We did a second set and I never said another word to anyone including Jim Harold about what happened. I don’t know who the guy was that I grabbed before I got beaten up but the bouncers were protecting him and I’ve always wondered what the girl who was being abused might have thought about my actions? I hope she noticed. This was the first and last time I played two sets, got my head kicked in and then got paid… now that’s punk! *** MICHAEL AROIAN (Elsewhere): My band Elsewhere played there very early in our career, in 1996 and 1997. Before our soundcheck for the 1996 show, the staff found an actual dead rat where they keep the beer and some blonde punk chick (who I didn’t hook up with) and an overweight bar keep ended up lighting it on fire and burning it right there on the concrete floor of the club! What an intro to the mystique! I miss that place. *** BUZZ KLAVANS (The Fans/ Zug Zug): True story. Early 1980s. The first time ever playing the Rat. We were opening for Badfinger. This was when the dressing room was still near the front entrance. Elliot Easton, there to hang for the night, started jamming with Jerry in the dressing room and also got up on stage and jammed with us as well – which was very cool. After the gig, some other musicians invited me and the girl I was with to come out back, smoke a fatty and do some lines. I had never even seen Coke before. So we’re sitting in the car smoking a fatty, when the guy pulled out a mirror, dumps the coke, spreads out the lines, and passes it to me first. The girl I was with sneezes and blew that shit everywhere! No joke! Just like out of a movie. Ha! Needless to say they kicked us out of the car. That was a fun night. *** BILLY CONNORS (The Boize): I first met Jim Harold when John Felice started the Monday night residency at the newly renamed Rathskeller (formally TJ’s). John recommended that I speak to Jim about playing there. When I introduced myself to him, he was not impressed but he said The Kids are doing well so he reluctantly gave The Boize a Monday.night audition. After the audition he reamed me out for calling The Rathskeller The Rat, and for our singer hanging onto the pipes above the stage. Fortunately for us about 30 of our friends came to the gig so we got to be Rat regulars, played a lot of gigs and got to be on the first Live At The Rat album doing two songs “I Want Sex” and “Easy To Fall In Love.” On the new release we do “Limousine Jean.” The Rat was different from most clubs. They didn’t skim from the door money and we always got paid. One weekend early on we had a very good three night weekend. As Jim was paying me he told me that although he had a very good weekend he didn’t have enough to pay for his beer delivery on Monday. I am sure that you know that most/ some club owners loved to fuck bands over but though I barely knew Jim at the time we decided to trust him. A week later I got all the money he owed us with a little extra to say thanks. Very rare for a club owner back in those days. One of the things that folks don’t know about Jim is that despite the gruff attitude he is genuinely a sweetheart. I know for a fact that there were more than a few bands that were going through money problems. On many occasions he would advance money to bands so they could pay their rent or eat. Many comped ribs at the Hoodoo. One well known Brookline band may have starved if not for Jim. Jim and I went on to become close friends. We have been season ticket holders together for the Red Sox and BC Football, traveled the entire east coast on his boat The Liberty, and have supported each other through good times and bad. If I can sum up what kind of man he is, how many club owners could get his best bands to get back together to record a DVD 40 years later for free? Jim is one of my closest friends and I am proud to say I love the guy. We have got to get together for a beer so I can tell you about the Ratfish Harold story. *** MICHAEL CAHILL (The Amazing Mudshark): I saw Emergency Broadcast Network (EBN) there in the late ’80s or early ‘90s. Very unique audio visual experience. *** LINDA LEWIS (Rat regular): No particular story but I do recall always feeling like my feet were stuck to the floor. *** BILL MCMASTER (Bill McMasters Productions): As a freshman at Boston University from the sticks of Springfield, MA, the students from my floor at 700 Comm. Ave went to Kenmore Square our first Saturday night there. When we got there, we split to rock or disco. I think WIllie Alexander was playing at The Rat. Before I could get to the bar to get a beer, I was offered a hit of blotter acid. I eventually graduated from Northeastern and I’ve become a recording engineer, from the BSO to Public Enemy. But at the time I was just a biology student at B.U. who followed NRBQ around. I was just at a Rat Beach Party at The C Note on the South Shore. Many people still remember Boston’s rock ‘n’ roll golden age fondly. The stale beer, sweat and bus station restroom is the eau d’salon.
Lolita: Back to babbling! This year’s HONK! Festival OF ACTIVIST STREET BANDS in Somerville included local bands NOVA BRAZIL (Boston), BOYCOTT, THE BRASS BALAGAN (Burlington, VT), THE BREAD & BUTTER CIRCUS BAND (Glover, VT), DIRTY WATER BRASS BAND (Boston), EMPEROR NORTON’S STATIONARY MARCHING BAND (Somerville), EXPENDABLE BRASS BAND (Northampton), HARTFORD HOT SPECIAL (Hartford, CT), LEFTEST MARCHING BAND (Portsmouth, NH), THE PARTY BAND (Lowell), RARA BEL POZE (Boston), SCHOOL OF HONK (Somerville), SECOND LINE SOCIAL AID & PLEASURE SOCIETY BRASS BAND (Somerville) and WHAT CHEER? BRIGADE (Providence, RI) joining groups from NY, TX, LA, WA, GA, CA and Brazil for another cool parade for social activism. *** RICK BERLIN’s NICKEL & DIME BAND released their latest music The Courage of The Lonely – we love the title song and also “Tease Me,” two super songs featuring RIck’s super singing. *** Fun DUKE ROBILLARD fact: Duke has four different 78 record playing cartridges and three hand-crank Victrola record players. He also has a thousand or so needles for them to play his ancient discs! *** A New York City band called LUNA has released an album of covers that includes WILLIE LOCO ALEXANDER’s magnificent melody “Gin” and it’s the second song on the CD. Willie was overheard saying “Seems like my ballads are finding new ears after decades of hibernation.” Luna does covers from THE CURE, VU, FLEETWOOD MAC, BOWIE, JAGGER/ RICHARDS… and WILLIE! *** JOHN FELICE and THE REAL KIDS do a killer cover of JONATHAN RICHMAN’s “Fly Into The Mystery” on their latest album – they added some new words. *** Achtung! MIKE GIRARD (The Fools) may be a fool but his father was a war hero. Mr. Girard and three other soldiers captured a Nazi flag banner while being among the first at Kerhisteinhaus what Hitler called his “eagle’s nest.” It was the fuhrer’s retreat at over six thousand feet in elevation and was only accessible by elevator. After fighting his way through Germany and France for three years, Mike’s dad and his buddies went up the elevator not knowing what to expect. They happily found the place deserted and spent the next couple of days drinking Hitler’s booze. The flag banner with the swastika is 20 inches long and was taken from what they thought was his den. Mike says, “Dad always said he ‘drank champagne with his feet up on Hitler’s desk’ but he never mentioned the flag.” Girard found out about it after his niece googled his father’s name and found out the banner has been enshrined in a military museum in Seabring, FL. Stand at attention the next time you see Mike. *** JOHNNY A (The Yardbirds) back in town during a Yardbirds tour break November 30 at the newest club in Boston – City Winery. *** BAY STATE VINTAGE GUITAR is having a huge moving sale. After 35 years on the third floor at Huntington Ave. in Boston, they are having a ton of guitars and amps, tubes, parts, pick ups etc. on sale every Saturday through November 25. *** The Brookline Public Library is proud and excited to announce the launch of their new vinyl record lending collection. Through generous funding from The Brookline Library Foundation and an exciting partnership with MIKE DREESE’s Newbury Comics, the library will be bringing vinyl records back for circulation to the public. The library will also be lending portable record players and headphones. The current collection is focused on popular, dance, classic alternative and classic hip-hop. They also have some metal, punk and classic rock. Newbury Comics worked closely with the library staff to develop an interesting and exciting collection of music. The Noise believes they are the first library in the state to take a large scale and fresh new look at vinyl and record players. *** ERIN HARPE & THE DELTA SWINGERS have a new album out called Big Road on Vizztone Records. Roots rocking blues, boogie blues, funk and soul at it’s best. *** The Cabot in Beverly, MA, just hosted 40 FIFTH grade students from Cutler Elementary School in Hamilton at ukelele master JAKE SHIMABUKURO’s concert at this cool club. Jake met with all the kids before his performance. Here’s the short end of the story: School teacher MELISSA GRAHAM fell in love with the instrument 13 years ago and is a dedicated and enthusiastic player who has been teaching the instrument to most of the students in her two classes. Melissa is not the school’s music teacher but has taught the instrument there for the past decade. She is also a member of the Boston Ukelele Union! The students also perform under her direction as STRING JAM. Hosting this interesting event was KEVIN O’CONNOR from PBS TV show This Old House. Kevin’s son LUKE O’CONNOR was one of Melissa’s appreciative uke beginners and that’s why he put this great gig together for the kids. Real cool! *** Don’t miss ARLO GUTHRIE and his Alice’s Restaurant Thanksgiving Show at The Cabot on November 17. *** ELLIOT EASTON (The Cars) and his band THE EMPTY HEARTS have two Christmas songs due to be released soon. “It’s Christmastime” and “Joyful Noise” will be out on vinyl. Check their website for the date it will be available. *** RICH GILBERT and HUMAN SEXUAL RESPONSE will be doing a reunion show November 3 at The House of Blues across from Fenway Park. The band just played a warm-up show down in Nashville at The Family Wash, the club now owned by former Boston rocker JAMIE RUBIN (The Fans/ The Rain). *** DOPAPOD is at The Paradise December 31 at the end of their cross country tour. The rock band just released their fifth studio album Megagem at the end of Rocktober and as a break to their fans the CD was available at a “name your own price” download on their Bandcamp page in the month leading up to it’s release. Keyboardist singer/ songwriter ELI WINDERMAN was overheard saying the band will take a year sabbatical after playing a 150 shows a year for the past seven years. Guitarist ROB COMPA tells us the album pays homage to THE BEATLES, ELO, WEEN and TOOL… also MEDESKI, MARTIN and WOOD, SCOFIELD, SOULIVE, and PHISH. *** RANDALL KROMM’s CD release party at Passim on November 6. A vet of the 1980s Boston indy pop scene, Kromm re-invented himself as a folksinger in 2009. Rough And Polished Stones is a thoughtful, occasionally wry look at keeping romance alive when one is no longer quite so young. *** More Passim news: OLIVIA ANN GREENE is an emerging singer songwriter based in Boston. During last Summer she was part of a touring Americana duo with fiddler songwriter OLIVIA BAXTER called Live And Let Live. The first Oliva is currently enrolled in a prestigious dual degree program at Tuft’s and The New England Conservatory where she studies Contemporary Improvisation. Go see her at Passim at the club’s Monday Discovery Series LIV GREENE & ASARAN EARTH TRIO November 13 and on November 18 check out Boston based singer songwriter ALASTAIR MOOCK who made a name for himself in the folk, Americana and roots rock circuit in the mid ’90s and has played the Newport Folk Festival too. Go to his his hip hootenanny at his 15 year old series Pastures of Plenty with plenty of guest stars expected. *** MAYOR MARTY WALSH and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture announced the first ever recipients of Boston Cultural Council Artist Fellowship Award. This pilot program invests a total of $50,000 in the advancement of five individual artists designed to support their careers and continue their work in Boston. “Keeping artists in Boston is a key goal of the Boston Creates Cultural Plan,” says Mayor Walsh. “The artists receiving the awards today have all made essential contributions to the city. We are proud to invest in these artists and help them continue to create the high quality work that makes Boston a thriving community.” The five artists receiving the Artist Fellowship Award include JASON PALMER, a trumpeter, composer and educator who has performed with greats ROY HAYNES, HERBIE HANCOCK and WYNTON MARSALIS. He is also a board member at JazzBoston and an Assistant Professor of Ensembles and Brass at Berklee and served as an Assistant Professor at Harvard University. Also performance artist MARILYN ARSEM, film maker MARY- JANE DOHERTY, conceptual artist MICHELLE FORNABAI, and fiction writer DARIEL SUAREZ. The recipients will collaborate with the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture on an event to showcase their individual work. In addition, recipients will receive professional development support, and mentorship specialized to their needs. *** Check out Vermont folk band LOW LILY with LIZ SIMMONS on vocals and guitar, LISSA SCHNECKENBURGER on vocals and fiddle and FLYNN COHEN on vocals, guitar and mandolin. Their 2015 self-titled debut EP was very favorably reviewed in The Noise and they have a new release 10,000 Days Like These coming out in January. Their roots/ trad/ new acoustic sound reminds us of NICKEL CREEK and THE WAILIN’ JENNYS but it’s also truly unique and a great listen. We really dig “Full Grown Love” from their upcoming CD and so will you! *** Berklee will present an American Master Award to producer and engineer legend TONY BONGIOVI at Power Station at BerkleeNYC. Last month, friends from the recording industry and music business gathered at the recently renamed Power Station at BerkleeNYC, where Tony was recognized and honored for his lifetime of work in the industry as a record producer and studio engineer, and founder of Power Station studios, which he designed and opened in 1977. Guests that spoke in Bongiovi’s honor included Grammy-winning musicians NILE RODGERS and PAUL SHAFFER, Sire Records co-founder SEYMOUR STEIN, and comedian JACKIE “THE JOKE MAN” MARTLING. Over the years, Tony has been a guest speaker at Berklee in Boston many times, and also a panelist at various Berklee classes. He has hired some of the grads to work at Power Station in NYC. Back in the ’70s, Berklee put Tony up at the Hilton and fed him at Legal Seafood and reimbursed him for the commute in his own airplane’s gas which was 40 cents a gallon! After racking up producer credits for Jimi Hendrix, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Star Wars by Meco, and many more Tony received a call from his cousin John Sr. asking for some guidance for his then in high school son Johnny now known as Jon BON JOVI. Up in Boston, we remember Tony bringing local bands, including THE CITIZENS, into the studio and for having a ton of great stories.
FINAL RAT RECOLLECTIONS
Rita: And now back to our Rat Retrospect. LEROY RADCLIFFE (The Chartbusters): One particular night at The Rat titled: Forever Changed. It was the night Robin Lane came to check out me and Asa Brebner as potential band member “inductees” for her new band. Asa and I were performing that evening with Mickey Clean (R.I.P.) & The Mezz, version 4.0.1. The last number of the evening was “It Could Be Sally It Could Be Jane.” It was hot. it was sweaty. It was loud. It was GREAT! The house was packed and folks were being squeezed onto the stage. Eve Schlapik and Kim English had created a space in the middle of the dance floor with their wild dancing style that so categorized the fun times and spontaneity of the crowd every single night! Mickey jumped up onto the water pipes that ran across the stage at the top, still singing and playing harmonica, and began swinging back and forth. My heart was in my throat, thinking about broken necks and spines etc. and on the final chord, swung down landing upright and on his feet for the big crescendo! When the house lights came on, backstage, Jimmy was counting money. Mitch (R.I.P.) was watching out for those rude boyfriends who often were out-of-control and pushing their girlfriends around. Not on his watch fellas! It was then that Asa introduced me to Robin who seemed, at that time, to be overwhelmed by the Rat-phobia, the Rat-ness of it all, but soon to be forever changed! *** DANNY FAST FINGERS (Danny Fast Fingers): I loved seeing La Peste play there. One of the best punk bands ever. I actually played in the upstairs area in the early ’80s. In 1977 and 1978, I was a sophomore living in Myles Standish Hall at Boston University conveniently located in Kenmore Square. I was just getting back into playing guitar keeping my room mates entertained with covers of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. The Rat was a hotbed of punk rock music and my favorite band to see there was La Peste. They had the perfect blend of buzz saw tornado like music blended with nihilistic lyrics. I saw more than a few shows by them there. It was always packed and sweaty. In the summer of 1979, I was attending a summer session at Berklee and on the musician’s bulletin board there was a post announcing auditions for lead guitarist for La Peste. Still not the owner of an electric guitar I showed up with my Harmony acoustic with a pick up in my hand and played one or two songs. One being “Better Off Dead” and I accidentally knocked a vocal mic off it’s stand. How punk. Needless to say, I didn’t get the gig. The Rat wasn’t gonna deny me though. After graduating college in 1979, I returned to Boston a number of years later and played a gig at the upstairs section of The Rat. They were featuring mostly acoustic acts and no I didn’t play “Better Off Dead.” *** ANDREW PERFETTO (Zug Zug): Zug Zug was playing The Rat with headliner The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It was wall to wall people in the club and you just knew something was going to happen. As we were playing, the crowd was getting pretty raucous. There seemed to be some slam dancing, I think the kids call it “moshing” these days. I was looking out into the audience, and saw some guy push a gal that I knew. Bad idea. The next thing I saw was that gal rear back and punch the guy in the face! FIGHT! The whole place got going. We actually stopped playing to tried and get things back under control. Eventually, the fighting stopped and we finished our set. Later on, I went to say hello to Mitch. I always said hello to Mitch every time I was at The Rat. He was NOT happy and blamed Zug Zug for the fight breaking out. There’s more but Danny Zug should be the one to tell it. It had to do with a little altercation he and Dickie Barrett from the Bostones in the dressing room before hand. It was a strange night to be sure. There was a line out the door going past the freaking 7/11 to get into the club that night. I had never seen that at a show I was part of. Pretty cool. I loved playing that place but it was always “is tonight gonna be the night all hell breaks loose?” That, and “I really, really hope I don’t have to use the bathroom.” *** JODI URBATI-MOORE (Billy Ruane Videographer/ Kenne Highland Clan & The Goody Goody Gumdrops): I was shooting the Hullabaloo show at the Rat September 21, 1990. There was the usual events – getting the love from Mitch, avoiding the pole-vaulting crabs, Rick/ Paulina Ocasek sightings, hoisting a Rat brew, and setting up next to either Granny or Mayhem.The place was packed and the fans were wild. Silly string shooting, bull horn screeching, beer soaked insanity. At the end of the night the lights went on and their pants went off! The musical merriment continued with dropped trou and Hullabaloo juniors making guest appearances. As the band plays on, Mitch comes stage side and shuts them down. Gesturing to get the f off the stage. One by one their mics are confiscated as the drummer played on… The video is on YouTube now I believe and there’s some stills and a video clip of Mitch shutting them down. *** DUNCAN WILDER JOHNSON (DWJ Photography/ Destruct-A-Thon/ Sam Black Church Documentary): In 1995, I moved into the dormitories at Mass Art. There was a mixer for incoming freshman in which you all got in a boat and took a cruise around Boston Harbor. I was all for checking it out until some girl in a Casualties shirt said “Hey, are you going to 7 Seconds tonight?” 7 fucking Seconds was one of the handful of staple hardcore punk bands that I had been into since I was 12. “Fuck the mixer,” I thought, “I HAVE to check this out.” The girl told me it was at The Rat, in Kenmore Square. I had heard of The Rat being a kid from Worcester County. I spent most of my teen years at W.A.G., The QVCC, The Espresso Bar, and E.M. Loew’s. I figured out how to get there, walking through the Fens, passing the baseball park, and walking towards the Citgo sign. As I entered Kenmore Square, the glow of the Citgo sign bathed all these leather clad punkers and I felt like I had found the Boston version of my tribe from back home. The place was packed. Skinheads. punks. long hairs, and hardcore kids lined the basement of The Rat. I bought a 7 Seconds tee shirt from a dread locked dude, and when the band took the stage I couldn’t believe that the drummer was also the tee shirt guy. I loved how simple that was. The place erupted as soon as the band started to play. The set mainly consisted of songs from their Walk Together, Rock Together record plus some new stuff from their then forthcoming album The Music, The Message. The sing-a-longs and positive message took me away. At the end of the set, I met Kevin the singer whom I idolized along with other punk front men like Ian Mackaye and Henry Rollins. Bewildered, I never wanted to leave Boston from that day forward. I had found my home with like minded people at the art school and my tribe with these angry rockers. That experience never left me, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve stuck around this town twenty some odd years later. Boston was where my people connected and The Rat was the first place where I felt it. *** JOE HARVARD (Joe Harvard): The first shows I saw at The Rat were Tracks featuring Lori Doll and Willie & The Boom Boom Band. I was 16 and it completely and permanently changed my view on what was musically possible, relevant and desirable. After that I was there a lot, every weekend it was Kenmore Square where I could borrow the car, and Cantone’s when I was Blue Lining, in from Eastie. I worked as a guitar roadie working for Baby’s Arm, and then followed Billy Cole to The Real Kids, and saw some wild and beautiful shit. Cap’n PJ and The Puppets: “we bow!” Bill Tupper intros: “whoa daddy! whoa daddy… FACE RAKE!” I watched a bleeding brawler hide under a car behind the club from a popular local guitarist who wanted to finish the job he had started, saw the parking shed across the street burn to the ground the night Bones opened for Johnny Thunders, and was with Dave “Bones” Pedersen when he accidentally backed over three rats while parking abruptly. Having my smashed Hagstrom hanging over Granny’s board, next to a chainsawed Plasmatics guitar, was and remains my idea of the Garage Hall of Fame. But my fave tale doesn’t involve me shooting dope in the ladies room, or rebuffing the advances of a certain ’BCN jock promising airplay for blow jobs, or me at all. The story, which Frank Rowe told me, involves the late Kevin Glasheen. Kevin was a hard hitting drummer and he was a strong guy so he punished equipment. Kevin had a beat to shit set of cymbals. Every one was cracked and hadn’t been polished since they had been bought, just rode hard and put away wet on a regular basis until they were greenish-brown and cruddy. So the band was playing a show, it might have been the Wild Johnny Benefit as described so well in Frank Rowe’s “Geraldine I Need Money.” In any event, at the end of the night Kevin goes to load out and his cymbal bag is gone. Stolen. Kevin was a big guy. I had been physically afraid of him until we drove the RK’s shit down to Grinnell, Iowa, together, and I got to know him better. But I still wouldn’t want to get in his way in a bad mood, after numerous free beers and looking for a focus for his growing anger. In the end, his friends calmed him down with the idea of a benefit to replace his missing equipment. So the benefit goes well, lot’s of sympathy for the cause naturally, and Kevin gets a new shiny set of cymbals. A few months pass, then a year, and Kevin is gigging at The Rat when he decides he’d like to run out for a slice or something. So he takes his cymbals and starts to put them in his special secret hiding place behind The Rat’s upright piano (which I never saw played). But he can’t get his bag behind there something is blocking it. So he pulls it out a bit to see what’s in his way, and it’s his old “stolen” cymbal bag still there from the night of the first fucking benefit, right where he had forgotten he had hidden it. My next favorite tale is I was playing in Mr. Happy with Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing), Jerome Deupree (Morphine), Ted Pine (Sex Execs) and Dave “Bone” Pedersen. The night of the (supposed) harmonic convergence when “the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars,” we played “Aquarius” and “Four Sticks” at The Rat with Syd Straw singing. I went backstage to meet Los Lobos and one of them asked me “why do they call this place The Rat?” I had just finished saying “it’s actually short for The Rathskeller which is a German word for “bar in a basement,” when just like it was a stage cue, I see this e-friggen-normous scamper out from a hole in the wall onto the pipe directly above the guy’s head. And I just pointed and said “on the other hand…” They looked up and the rat looked down, epitaphs on the line of “oh shit!” were offered in two languages. And one cat from Los Lobos says “that doesn’t look like a German rat, that looks like an American rat,” and another one said “I guess it’s a pretty good name, it fits.” In retrospect I suppose we were the real rats in the basement – a bit wild, happy in our packs, survivors who were perfectly happy occupying the city’s dank, dark places. One night I walked into the Rat men’s room for a wee, and as I was taking care of business in came Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. I was a fan and had seen them open for Aerosmith at The Garden. Our Eastie cover band had no less than five of Lynott’s tunes in our repertoire. As I stood there trying to think of something to say that wouldn’t be dumb or fanboy he says, “hey mate, do you have any idea where I can get some blow? As it happened, I did. I told him to wait there and went to find my friend Vito at the bar. When I came out and asked him for a gram to show a potential customer, he wanted to see cash. I told him, “this guy isn’t going to beat me, he’s a rock star. just give me something to show him.” It was the night I realized Vito, who looked like a commercial refrigerator in an open necked nylon disco shirt impersonating a wiseguy with a hairy chest, had a thing about rock stars who he defined as “anyone in a band who pick up girls without waving cash or coke around.” Phil Lynott didn’t help matters. Back in the men’s room he hemmed and hawed, looked at the shit, gave it back, asked to see it again and I could tell he was waiting for a free toot. As a fan, I apologized for being discourteous. I could guarantee the blow was very good but I couldn’t offer him a taste because it wasn’t mine. $100 and ownership could quickly change hands. Phil told me he had to talk to the road manager and invited me to go back and party at their Cambridge hotel. I was annoyed but excited. Back at the bar, Vito was pissed that I had kept him waiting and none too pleased we would be dropping Phil and his blonde girlfriend off at The Sonesta. “What, we’re going right past it on the way to your place.” “So fucking what, you didn’t ask me.” Once he saw Phil’s hot blonde date he started simmering good. It’s possible that my North Shore “boss” abhorred a mixed couple in his vehicle, but I think just being a popular “rock star” with a mint ride was enough to garner his anger. The car ride from The Rat to The Sonesta was brutal, a total guinea fight. Phil asked after every other block on Comm. Ave. if we didn’t want to pull over and he and his date would take a cab, and finally like on the fifth time, we both turned around and shouted “NO!” in unison. It was the sole moment of accord between me and Vito the whole night and I still regret how rude we were to our guests. Phil Lynott seemed really relieved to get out of the car. Even so, he asked “are you sure you won’t come up and party with us?” After we hollered at each other half the way to Revere, Vito told me he thought the guy who wrote “The Boys Are Back In Town” and all those other hard guy songs would be tough. “You know, he wears the leather clothes, he’s got the biker studs and medallions and all, but he was kind of a pussy.” “Really? So if you’re in Dublin and you’re in a car with your girl when a couple of clearly stoned strangers were screaming at each other up front you would have been totally cool?” Vito thought for a moment and said, “Well, I would’ve bought the coke.” Just another night at The Rat.
R.I.P.: CHARLIE LELAND died recently of ALS. Charlie and his brother Mick moved their band SUSAN to NYC in the early 1980s. Susan’s song “Right Away” is on the 1976 release Live At The Rat. Band mate JOHN KALISHES stayed in Boston.