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(go back to Music Travel)
Fort Apache Studio (Suite 2, 1 Camp St)
Some young musicians built the 8-track studio themselves in the mid 80s (with funds from the mysterious “Mr Cash”)in a warehouse located in a very rough neighbourhood in Roxbury (169 Norfolk Ave), hence the name.
The DIY ethos of the studio, and their benevolent billing practices ensured that they became very popular with Boston’s poverty stricken but energetic indie rock scene. Young bands like the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, Throwing Muses and the Lemonheads made their early recordings at the studio.
In 1987, as the studio became more popular, they upgraded to a more sophisticated operation on Camp Street, located above Rounder Records (which included George Thorogood and Burning Spear on their roster of artists). The studio kept on growing, lost their original figureheads, were taken over by people with good business heads, Billy Bragg bought a share of the studio, then in 1995 they started their own label with financing from Music Corporation of America.
Landsdowne Street Music Hall / Mama Kin (36 Lansdowne St)
This club (which is located in the middle of Boston’s nightclub zone) was opened by Boston’s own Aerosmith as a way of giving something back to the local music scene. The band used to live nearby in a share house at Apt 2B, 1325 Commonwealth Ave, in the early 70s, before they signed their first recording contract.
The Boston Tea Party (53 Berkeley St)
Although the Velvet Underground are more often associated with New York clubs like Max’s Kansas City and The Dom, they found it hard to get gigs in New York, and it was Boston’s Tea Party that gave them their most regular venue. It was here that a young Jonathon Richmond first heard the band in the late 60s.
The Tea Party was opened in January 1967 as a psychedelic club. In the years that it operated, just about every major English band played their earliest US gigs at the Tea Party. In 1969 the club moved to 15 Landsdowne St - it has now closed down, but the Avalon club is currently located in the same building.
Jonathon Richmond fans will know this as the route taken by the lone driver in Richmond’s classic song Roadrunner, who loves to drive at night by the power lines, listening to the car radio. The road runs around the city and passes by Walden Pond (where another of Boston’s great romantic writers, Henry David Thoreau, lived). In the 90s, the Eagles’ Don Henley successfully led a campaign to save the Pond from the commercial redevelopment that lines Route 128.
The Government Centre (Tremont Street)
Although Jonathon Richmond claimed that there was much Rockin’ going on down at the Government Centre, one can’t help having the feeling that he was just thinking positively, because not much rocking at all happens in this windswept concrete wasteland by the docks.
The Rat (528 Commonwealth Ave. Kenmore Square)
The Rathskeller opened in the 60s, and by the 70s it had become the CBGB’s of Boston. Over the years, many of Boston’s best bands have played the Rat, including Willie Alexander, The Cars, the Pixies, Buffalo Tom and the Lemonheads. The club closed at the end of 1997.
The Middle East (4 Brookline St, Cambridge)
This Lebanese restaurant provided a venue for the Helldorado club (possibly named after a bizarre old Roy Rodgers cowboy movie) back in January 1988. Some of the regular bands included Morphine, Dinosaur Jr and the Lemonheads. The restaurant still shows the best bands in Boston, and serves a fine Lebanese meal.
Club 47 / Passim's (47 Palmer St, Harvard Square)
The Club 47 coffee shop opened in the late 50s, and was a typical bohemian beatnik hangout. By the 60s, it had grown into a major East Coast folk venue, with regular appearances by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie and the Butterfield Blues Band.
Club 47 closed in April 1968, but Passim’s coffee shop still keeps some of the old beat spirit alive with regular blues, folk and rock gigs.
Cantones (69 Broad St)
By day Cantone’s was a downtown Italian restaurant, feeding the office workers of the lonely Financial Zone. However, when darkness fell, the tiny restaurant mutated into one of the key venues of Boston’s late 70s and early 80s music scene.
The Centre for Personality Research (5 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge)
Timothy Leary was a promising young research psychologist when he arrived at Harvard’s Centre for Personality Research in early 1959.
However, shortly afterwards he decided to do research into the effects of psylocibin, a drug extracted from fungus. Within a couple of years, Leary and his followers had shocked the academic community of Harvard with his enthusiastic promotion of consciousness raising drugs: first psylocibin and then LSD-25.
Leary was responsible for introducing the Beat Generation to hallucinogens, and before long, Leary had become a kind of prophet to the Sixties Psychedelic Revolution.
Rhode Island School of Design (2 College St, Providence)
In the early 70s, several students at the college formed a band called the Artistics. They moved to New York, changed their name to the Talking Heads, and became very successful.
Newport Folk Festival (Freebody Park, Freebody St, Newport)
For many years, the park hosted both the Jazz Festival and the Folk Festival. In 1965 the all-new electric Bob Dylan was booed from the stage (though some witnesses suggest that this had more to do with bad sound than a conservative anti-rock audience). The folk festival was started in 1959 by Albert Grossman (later to become Bob Dylan’s manager), but by the early 70s the festival had ended.
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