Tuesday, August 8, 2017

This Old House of Blues

From Dave Brigham:

The crazy guy sitting behind the drums and bashing the cymbals with his acoustic guitar could have spit on me. I was that close. My friend Jeff and I were transfixed as Hasil Adkins belted out insane songs like "The Hunch," "She Said" (more famously covered by The Cramps) and "We Got a Date," in which he yowls about cutting his girl's head off.

This was the one time I saw a show at the original House of Blues in world-famous Harvard Square. Opened in 1992, the Cambridge, Mass., club was intimate and got pretty sweaty the night that Adkins, a rockabilly cult favorite, played. The place served good food, and in addition to great blues music, was known for a gospel brunch on Sundays.

Anybody who's seen a band at any one of the 11 current House of Blues locations might be surprised that the building in the above photo was the original club. I went to the L.A. one nearly 20 years ago, and it was nothing like the cozy space in Hahvahd Squayah. The original spot was shuttered in 2003. The company opened a new franchise in Boston, near Fenway Park, several years ago.

A steakhouse named Brother Jimmy's moved into the spot, but closed in 2008. An outlet of the Tommy Doyle's restaurant chain moved there afterwards. In late 2013, the Hasty Pudding Club, a Harvard-affiliated theatrical society best-known for its Man & Woman of the Year parades and ceremonies, moved its clubhouse into what is officially known as the Hyde-Taylor House.

From BroadwayWorld.com, about the house:

"In 1846, the current house was built by Isaac Hyde in the Greek revival style. In 1900, George Mendell Taylor purchased the house where he both lived and gave piano lessons, beginning the performing arts tradition that has continued to this day. The building took on a new persona in 1950 when Geneviève MacMillan opened the first French restaurant in the Square. The restaurant, Club Henry IV, was frequented by the likes of William Faulkner, Thornton, Wilder, and Joan Miró. Geneviève had interests that lay far beyond her restaurant. She dedicated her life to collecting African art, promoting diversity and learning about one another's cultures, and establishing fellowships and grants to further these goals. She began a legacy of philanthropy and education that, like Taylor's, has been passed down through the building's history. In 1965, the area's first discotheque, La Discotheque Nicole, opened in the basement of Club Henry IV."

Pretty cool.

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