Friday, February 13, 2009

201 Harvard Ave #4

Off to Boston for the weekend to visit Bridget. She lives on the same street where my parents and I lived for the first year of my life. Trowbridge Street in Cambridge. Bridget and I met in the early 90s when I was living in Allston at the corner of Harvard and Commonwealth Ave. My apartment was the top floor corner of the Pizzaria Uno building. I can still hear the drunken bellowing and puking college kids flooding out of Great Scott's at 2AM. I can still hear the cars colliding in the crazy intersection of Harvard and Comm. on the Green B Line. Almost every day I'd hear the crunch of cars plowing into each other. After a while I wouldn't eve go to the window to look anymore.

Below. View of the corner of Harvard and Comm Ave. in Allston. Our apartment is/was the top floor of the building with the Chicago sign (Uno's Chicago Style Pizza)
Another view. Great Scott's at left. 201 Harvard Ave visible above T train.
I was working for the Rykodisc record label at the time and these were good times in Boston for music. The parties we threw in that apartment, 201 Harvard Ave., are legend. Bunratty's was still a club back then, visible from the window, and Allston was filled with musicians and fans that thrived on Boston's self-sustaining and vibrant live music scene. Chris Porter was booking Bun's back then and now he's the head talent buyer for the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle. Bands like the Cave Dogs, Dambuilders, Gigolo Aunts, Volcano Suns, Moving Targets, Titanics, Letters to Cleo, Dinosaur, Pixies, Throwing Muses, the Bags, the Neighborhoods, the Zulus, and dozens more made it possible, if you so chose, to listen to strictly Boston bands and fill all your musical dietary needs. The standard for rock in Boston has always been very high, with a pile of great college radio stations that reflected and fueled the city's appetite. So many stories!

The parties at my apartment were usually on Halloween and I recall over the three years I was there that we had, performing in our living room, the Gigolo Aunts, Evan Dando, Juliana Hatfield, the Flying Nuns, Apollo Landing, The Sunspots (with the late great Mikey Dee on drums), the Dambuilders, Helium, The Lotus Eaters, Mary Lou Lord, Aimee Mann, John Lombardo from 10K Maniacs, Marty Willson-Piper of the Church to name a few. My sister met both of her husbands at these parties. I don't recall the first time I met Bridget, but it was in the thick of this era. She would reliably stay over and help me clean up in the morning. I will forever associate the Lemonheads "It's A Shame About Ray" album, which we put on auto-repeat, with these clean-ups. It's one of those albums that becomes a musical bookmark for memories of a time and place and people.


Henning said...

Man, those sound like some pretty nice parties. So much of that music is still with me.

I wonder if you were at the same Fort Apache party that I was at. I think the Dead Milkmen played or maybe just the main guy there. And who else?

I'm thinking this was some time in 86 or 87...

ana said...

It's so funny you posted this story. Last week I was cuttin' through Allston from Brookline (I rarely ever drive through Allston because most of my friends no longer live there), and while I was sitting at the red light across from Uno's, the memory of Big Dipper playin' in your living room came back to me like it happened yesterday. YIKES! Those were definitely the days of a vibrant local music scene, and how fortunate it was for us to experience it. Fond memories for sure.

Wednesday's Korner said...

yes, you're not exaggerating and I remember the first time you were appalled at the cigarettes stamped out on your black and white floor. I also remember you had a Zappa poster in the bathroom.

~PR Blake said...

Wow, six blocks and 20+ years from my Gordon Street roach motel of an apartment and still as fresh in my mind as the smell of urine in the Park Street T-station used to be.

How could I forget the night you dragged me to a Robyn Hitchcock after-show party when Michael Stipe showed up?

How could I remember the night you dragged me to the basement of some place not far from there to see some band with loud guitars where people "made" me smoke pot in the men's room?

Somewhere, maybe, in the back of the closet, there is a photo of the inside of 201 #4. It's destined for the scanner.

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Liam said...

Apollo Landing - I really liked that band.

Any chance you have their casette? (Doubt it made it to CD)

Jim Neill said...

Liam- I don't have a copy but I'm sure Ken Michaels does. He's on Facebook. Good luck!