Channeling Your Inner 80’s! Boston’s Channel Club 'Reunion Concert' to Bring Back Music and Memories
May 30, 2013
BOSTON - In its 1980’s hey-day, The Channel was widely known as one of the most rocking venues in Boston, having hosted a wide variety of bands and artists over a decade’s time… from rock and metal bands like J. Geils Band, The Cars, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica and Slayer, to punk bands such as Fear, Misfits, Bad Brains and Black Flag to jazz, soul and blues acts James Brown, B. B. King and Ornette Coleman, to alternative bands like The Cure, Violent Femmes and Pixies... and everything in between.
Photo one: Channel Reunion Concert Poster, courtesy of Robin Moran
Photo two: New England, photo by Joe Milliken
Photo three: Farrenheit, photo by Joe Milliken
Photo four: Robin Lane & The Chart Busters, courtesy photo
Launched in 1980, The Channel was located at the Fort Point Channel, separating South Boston from the city’s financial district. At its peak during the mid 80’s this diverse venue was a mainstay for many national artists, as well as countless up-and-coming music acts throughout the Boston area. For about a decade, bands from all over the world would plug in at The Channel when touring through Boston.
The Channel enjoyed a wildly successful run through 1991 when its doors finally closed for good, before the venue was eventually demolished by developers in the late 1990’s as part of Boston’s “Big Dig” construction project. However and although the building is now gone, the great musical memories created at The Channel could never be forgotten and to prove it, a “Reunion Concert” is now planned for June 23 which will feature several of the great bands that once rocked The Channel stage back in the day.
The idea for the show came about when Boston-resident and former Channel bartender Robin Moran thought it would be a cool idea to bring back some of the bands and throw a reunion concert bash to benefit a local charity. “The Channel was the best club I ever worked with… at what other venue could I be surrounded by the greatest staff and witness some of the best local and national artists of the time,” Moran said in a recent interview.
“Many former employees tell their stories about artists such as Roy Orbison, Iggy Pop, Alice In Chains and Wendy O’ Williams… a couple of my most memorable shows included Cheap Trick (I was lucky enough to be their bartender for the night), Buddy Guy, Gypsy Kings, Lita Ford and even GWAR!”
Moran, the Executive Director of the project, had been talking with another former Channel employee, Debi Longo, (who is on the Board of Directors) about how great it would be to create such a reunion event and ultimately decided to spearhead the project.
“Originally, the idea was to have an all day and night event at the very spot where the club originally stood, (now a parking lot) but putting together a staff, building a stage and getting the proper permits seemed a daunting task for a first-time charity event, but the idea became my bucket list. S, after making a few calls to some friends in the industry, I decided to go for it and chose Boston’s Club Royale as the venue to host this show.”
One of Moran’s friends, long time Boston sound engineer Tony Lentini, (along with his right-hand man, Natale Zeus Fisconaro) agreed to help with the event and after naming a Board of Directors, the reunion project now had legs. “Tony was the first professional I asked and he never batted an eye about helping,” Moran said. “After that, every person I approached about joining the board loved the idea and jumped onboard.” Other board members include drummer/producer extraordinaire Hirsh Gardner of (the band) New England, Liz Borden of Boston’s Lizzie Borden and the Axes and Woody Giessmann, former drummer of Boston rockers The Del Fuegos.
Talking to Gardner – a brilliant musician, talented producer and businessman – was the next step for Moran, knowing that Hirsh would be a big help in tying everything together. “I was asked to help with the show and as I have served on a few other boards as well, was happy to lend a hand,” Hirsh Gardner said in an exclusive interview.
“We approached several industry professionals to join the board and all that were asked agreed to donate their time to the project… it really has been a labor of love. Once we had the Board in place, we had to decide what charity the event would support, wanting it to have something to do with music… and Woody Giessmann – an amazing musician himself – came to mind.”
You see, not only is Giessmann the former drummer of The Del Fuegos, but also just so happens to be the President and CEO of Right Turn Recovery, a creative place for recovery based in Arlington, Massachusetts, and the organization chosen to benefit from the Channel Reunion concert.
“We are always thrilled to be a part of music events that expose Right Turn Recovery to people who might benefit from our program,” Woody Giessmann said in a recent interview. “Our mission is to reach out and offer a creative place for people to get into recovery, to let them know that recovery is possible and sometimes saying that with music is the best way to get the message out! “Every Saturday night we have live music and comedy performances which are open to the public, for everyone to enjoy entertainment in a comfortable setting at Right Turn Live – A Sober Café. We’re thrilled to partner for this event.”
Next on the Board’s agenda was lining up the music for the show and as one can imagine, the list of both national and local bands and artists that rocked The Channel club through the years was long. “Picking the bands was quite a process and I certainly had my own wish list,” Robin said. “Myself and the other board members each made a band list and then cross-referenced to decide what bands should be contacted.
“From there, Hirsh was able to bring several bands onboard including Charlie Farren and Farrenheit, Jon Butcher, The Fools and of course, his New England band mates as well. In fact, Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo are flying in for the event.” Other bands appearing at the benefit concert include Robin Lane & The Chartbusters, The Stompers and the aforementioned Woody Giessmann and Lizzie Borden & the Axes.
“Lizzie Borden and The Axes are thrilled to be playing The Channel reunion concert,” Liz Borden said recently. “The Channel is our home… we used to play there a couple times a month and everyone who worked there was like family to us. When Robin came up with this reunion idea and that it was benefiting Right Turn Recovery, I had to be involved right away! We all have so many things going on in our lives now, so for Lizzie and The Axes to get back together for an event is a huge deal… but we wouldn’t miss this show for the world!”
“This is Boston’s music community at its best,” Hirsh Gardner added. “And I guess this would be an appropriate place to address the concerns and requests of many of the bands that weren’t chosen to perform at the event… as so many wanted to play! We really struggled with who should play, as we made very long lists of many bands, before finally asking all the Board members to list their top choices.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge of the event is the production aspects of the show, coordinated by the aforementioned Tony Lentini, who has toured the world with such talents as Aerosmith, Peter Wolf, Benjamin Orr, Foghat, Living Colour and RTZ to name a few. “Tony has been amazing and I can’t imagine having anyone else as head of this production,” Robin said.
“Along with Tony’s hard work, Hirsh has also brought in Guitar Center to sponsor the event and not only provide the show’s backline, but also offered a guitar tech for the show and even created our event posters.” Other local supporters have included WZLX Radio, Music Drives Us, Boston Mechanical Services, Roche Bobois and Boston Rock Tours.
The response and enthusiasm from the public leading up to the show has also been tremendous, as many people who either worked, played or partied at The Channel over the years have become members of a special Facebook “group page” surrounding the event. “Many folks associated with The Channel over the years have rallied around the event with so much support… it’s quite overwhelming,” Robin added.
And of course, one can only imagine all the music memories and stories to be told...
“I’ve always had wonderful memories of my shows at The Channel, but the one that really stands out is the night my first daughter, Ivory, was born,” Charlie Farren said in a recent interview. “I remember getting great reception from the audience when Muzz (Farrenheit drummer John Muzzy) surprised me mid-show with a four-foot-tall inflatable baby bottle on stage and the place went nuts! When I got home from the show at three in the morning, my wife said it was time to go to the hospital… so off we went. I still had my stage clothes on and I was rocking a little eyeliner at gigs in those days. I must have seemed like quite the father-to-be!”
“New England did a show at The Channel once,” Hirsh Gardner recalled. “It was a sell-out crowd and a great night. I remember jumping up on my drum riser and it was so high that I got a little too close to the lights… it’s very hot up there!” Woody Giessmann added, “The Channel was a wonderful music hall that supported The Del Fuegos throughout our career. I remember one time hanging out in the back room with Iggy Pop way into the night… we were very naughty boys.”
Ah, yes… the stories.
“This has been a wonderful learning experience and I can’t thank all the Board members enough for their wisdom and inspiration, for I am incredibly blessed to have all these people in my life,” Robin concluded. “This show was created so we could to go back to The Channel days for one fun night filled with music… but the other goal is to raise as much money as possible for Right Turn Recovery. This is such a wonderful organization, staffed with professionals who really go above and beyond to help those in the stronghold of addiction and to find recovery.”
To learn more about Right Turn check out their web site at www.rightturn.org. To learn more about The Channel Reunion concert and to order tickets, go to www.ticketfly.com or visit the event Facebook page at www.facebook.com/#!/events/562542627104375/?fref=ts.
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