The Channel (nightclub)

The Channel was a music venue located in Boston, Massachusetts, that was part of the underground arts community of South Boston.

History edit

Joe Cicerone, Harry Booras and Rich Clements founded The Channel in 1980,[1] choosing the name because the club sat at the edge of the Fort Point Channel, which separates South Boston from the Financial District. The club was on the other side and a little south of where the Boston Tea Party took place (old Griffin's Wharf) in 1773. Cicerone's involvement in the club would be short lived and he would soon be replaced by Jack Burke. Burke and Harry Booras along with Peter Booras as General Manager would run The Channel throughout its heyday of the 1980s. The authorities had revoked the liquor license several times with fines for serving minors. In 1990, owners Harry and Peter Booras filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and at the end of 1991 sold their ownership stake in the club to a group that was headed by Steven A. DiSarro. Former New England Mob boss Frank Salemme and his son Francis P. Salemme Jr. had a financial interest in the club under this new ownership group, with Salemme Jr. listed for a time as the assistant manager of the club. Former owner Harry Booras denied any mob ties during his ownership of the club from 1980 through 1991, stating “We were approached a couple times, but we were never associated with mobsters.”.[2] The Channel continued hosting shows through 1992, including shows in November by Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots.[3] In the spring of 1993, the venue was transformed into an adult entertainment club known as Soiree that featured semi-nude dancers. On May 10, 1993, shortly after the Soiree opened, DiSarro disappeared.[4] Over 25 years later, on September 13, 2018, Frank Salemme and Paul Weadick were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for DiSarro's murder. Salemme Jr. was also believed to be involved but was not tried due to his death in 1995.[5]

In the late 1990s, developers demolished the building to make way for Big Dig construction.

In 1986 a local designer, AletA, had a fashion show at The Channel presenting fashion lines by both her and another designer, Lady B. Having a fashion-related show presented at this venue was controversial in subject matter, yet fit perfectly, as its format was that of a fashion-musical which was funky and progressive. Rather than displaying the clothing via runway presentation, the designs were shown through skits, with the music and clothing co-mingled together and choreographed, by Earl Boston, into telling a story. The stories being told, enacted lyrics of songs dropped on the Purple Rain (album),[6] by Prince (musician).[7] The Show opened with an elaborate display of colorful, sequined garments gyrating to the song, Baby I'm A Star,[8] by Prince (musician)[9] and kept the same momentum until the show closed in presenting a romantic video-production enacted to Hello (Lionel Richie song),[10] by Lionel Richie.[11] This original Fashion-Musical, by Pisces Design Studios, was the only exception to the Rock music format of this venue. The style of this show was unique to this designer's brand, and no other show of its fashion-nature was ever presented at The Channel thereafter.

In the mid- to late 1980s, the club was in its prime. Local up-and-coming Boston bands relished the opportunity to make it to this stage and plug in. David Tedeschi and Peter Vernaglia installed the original sound system at The Channel. Tedeschi would leave about a year later to pursue other interests and Vernaglia would remain as lead engineer. House soundmen included Rocky Marsiano, Norman Cook and Leonard Rosengard Vernaglia and crew would remain at the club for some eight years, following which soundman Dinky Dawson would install and maintain a new sound system for The Channel. He had settled in Boston from his native England, where he had made a name for himself in the 1960s and 1970s from his road work with bands like Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, The Kinks to name but a few. Many of these old acquaintances like Mick Fleetwood or John McVie were seen milling about The Channel visiting with Dinky on the occasion that they were in Boston. The sound system that Dinky owned and brought with him to The Channel was rumored to include the same sound cabinets that first blasted Manfred Mann's "Doo Wa Diddy" in a recording studio back in London in 1964. Dinky's past is documented in the book Life on the Road published by Billboard Books in 1998.

Notable DJs edit

Hugh Munoz was one of the club's first full-time DJs and also hosted a show called Metrowave at WERS-FM.[1] Many popular Boston DJs would also spin on special occasions including Carter Alan, Albert O, Tami Heide, Bradley Jay, and Peter Choyce. Debbie Southwood-Smith, Mike Idlis and Mod Todd (Todd Nichols/WGIR-FM) ushered in the mid to late eighties' era along with BCN's Metal Mike, DJ "Black Starliner" and Jim Mitchell. Also included in this category of Channel deejays are DJ Dana Z (circa 1983-1985), Carmelita (WBCN, WAAF) and Janet Planet (circa 1983–1987), who also worked the Nu Musik Nights, Shred (WERS, WBCN) and Hugh Munoz (1980-1983), creator of Metrowave on WERS.

Environment edit

The Channel had a legal capacity of 1,700, although management often oversold the venue for major acts. Upon entering the club, the patron faced a large raised wooden corral that provided a view of the stage from the far end. The look of the venue was that of the classic roadhouse. The 4' high stage faced a 20' square sunken dance floor, nicknamed "the pit", which was surrounded by drink rails and tables with padded stools. For punk rock and metal shows, the management locked this furniture up in the coat room. When the bands were playing and the crowd was jumping, the entire wooden floor often bounced up and down, causing the 15' high PA system to sway precariously back and forth.

In addition to a dozen bar stations, the club had a concession stand/store ran by Doug Abbott that sold hot dogs, candy, soda, and popcorn, as well as official club merchandise (T-shirts, jackets, sweatpants, etc.). Directly behind that was a semi-private game room with a half dozen video games.

There was also a back bar area that had the ability to be closed off during all-ages shows by lowering metal grates over the window openings. All ingress/egress was restricted to a single door that was manned by a bouncer who checked for hand stamps to allow the over 21 crowds to enter for a drink, as well as prevent them from bringing alcoholic beverages out into the rest of the club with the underage crowd.

To the rear of the back bar area was yet another, smaller room that was usually closed off on nights when the club wasn't sold out. This was known as the VIP room, and regularly played host to artists like Jimmy Page, U2 and Aerosmith when they were in town and wanted a private place to sit with friends and have a few drinks.

Depending on who was playing, the pit would become a mass of sweaty skinheads, punks, metalheads, goth kids and the occasional hippie slamming into each other. In the late 1980s, shows would be stopped because kids were getting too violent. The bouncers had a notorious reputation of brutality, and there were a number of incidents where this was the case.

Music edit

The Channel started out booking new wave bands such as Human Sexual Response, Jon Butcher Axis, and The Cars. During the early and mid-1980s heyday of hardcore and punk, bands like Hüsker Dü, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat were headline acts. Later, local bands such as The Pixies played alongside major touring acts such as Big Audio Dynamite, Los Lobos, The Damned, and Einstürzende Neubauten.

The Channel was booked by Warren Scott from 1980 to 1991, and was not limited to punk/metal bands. The Godfather of Soul, James Brown played there, as did jazz legend Ornette Coleman. Classic shows of note have included Jerry Lee Lewis, Gregg Allman, Eric Burdon, Meat Loaf, The Go-Go's, The B-52's, Aztec Two-Step and Steppenwolf. Live radio station broadcasts also packed in large crowds. Often, The Channel became the first or last stop for many major tours.

The club also regularly booked reggae shows featuring acts such as Yellowman, Dennis Brown, Steel Pulse, Toots & the Maytals, Burning Spear, and Black Uhuru. Blues greats B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite, James Cotton, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy (as featured from 1989 as a bonus on the end of the 2007 DVD "Junior Wells Live At Nightstage"), Pinetop Perkins graced the stage on more than one occasion.

Notable acts edit

(local band)
(new wave band)

References edit

  1. ^ a b Booras, Harry. "A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CHANNEL". The Channel Story. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  2. ^ "New podcast looks back at The Channel nightclub - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2024-03-14.
  3. ^ "The Channel, Boston, MA, USA Concert Setlists |". Retrieved 2024-03-14.
  4. ^ "With Remains Identified, An Old Killer Comes Back Into Focus". 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2024-03-14.
  5. ^ "Mobster 'Cadillac' Salemme And Associate Sentenced To Life For '93 Murder". 2018-09-14. Retrieved 2024-03-14.
  6. ^ Purple Rain album
  7. ^ Prince musician
  8. ^ Baby I'm A Star song by Prince
  9. ^ Prince musician
  10. ^ Hello (Lionel Richie song)
  11. ^ Lionel Richie
  12. ^ "1991 Shows at the Channel".

External links edit

42°20′55″N 71°03′07″W / 42.3486265°N 71.0518556°W / 42.3486265; -71.0518556