New England Music Scrapbook

The slogan of this club is "Where Boston's Rock Bands Are Born," and that's no empty boast. This seedy little joint is an important starting place for young punk and new-wave bands. For a crash introduction to the local scene, this should be one of your first stops. -- Joyce Millman, Boston Phoenix, September 28, 1982

now it comes back to me! you have jarred my memory. I remember the blizzard of '78. we just could not give up a gig at cantones! we rocked the house and teddy cantone himself and even suzy headbanger and loretta were there. ... david champagne and i seemed to connect with the mystery muse.

-- Gary Shane of Shane Champagne

Source: E-mail message, August 5, 2002

I remember the Moving Parts playing Cantone's in the winter of '78 for a Frenzy magazine benefit. The front two legs of my Fender Rhodes piano (which also had my Farfisa Combo Compact Organ balanced on top) was supported by two coffee cans. Midway through the set I hit a big final chord for one of our songs and the whole rig came crashing down. Five minutes later we were back in commission and miraculously nothing broke.

A few months later, I remember playing Cantone's again on a bill with the Molls, Brighton's other art rock band. After the gig, we decided to leave some of our gear there and pick it up the following day. I met up around lunchtime with their electic bassoonist Billy Lostland and we decided to sample their cuisine since during the day it was an Italian restaurant. The food was average at best and catered to the downtown suit crowd.

Cantone's was by far one of the seediest clubs I've ever endured and I always loved the two separate room theory. The bathrooms were the rankest around and roaches (the ones with legs) were a very common sight. Along with the many local shows I caught there, I also recall seeing the Troggs perform on the miniscule stage which was a truly bizarre experience. What this '60s chart-topping band from England was doing there is anyone's guess!

-- Erik Lindgren of the Moving Parts*

* Not to mention Birdsongs of the Mesozoic

Source: E-mail message, August 6, 2002

Before most people knew what new wave rock was, it was happening here. By day, the financial district businessmen eat here; by night, the new wavers pound forth in the small confines of the lounge. Dancing, volume and sweat are the cornerstones, and you'll hear bands play out their hearts for a pittance.

-- Steve Morse, Boston Globe, September 11, 1980

LIZZIE BORDEN IS A WALKING, TALKING TIME CAPSULE of Boston rock-and-roll history. Living in a small apartment above the now-legendary ... rock restaurant Cantone's as a teenager, she'd witness firsthand the initial wave of the burgeoning punk movement. From the Real Kids and DMZ to Lou Miami, Borden was able to soak up the area's finest influences as well as outside forces like New York's Dead Boys and Mink Deville.

-- John O'Neill, Worcester Phoenix, March 13, 1998

This section contains adult language and adolescent situations
that may not be suitable for people age-60 and over

When word got out that Vancouver-based D.O.A. was scheduled to play Cantone's, you knew the outcome would be disastrous. And with only two days of publicity, Cantones was oversold. As soon as D.O.A. took the stage slammers began to take position on the club's booth-seats. Lead vocalist/guitarist Joey Shithead needed only to scream "Ronald Reagan, you're fucked up," hit the first few notes to "Fucked Up Ronnie," and the club started falling apart in a fiery frenzy of slam dancers. The tiles were literally ripped down from the ceiling and in a matter of two minutes Cantones was filled with asbestos dust.

In a rage, Teddy Cantone, the club's owner, tried desperately to shut down the show, but for the time being failed as D.O.A. blitzed into their second and final song of the night, "The Enemy." Several minutes later the Boston Police Department sent everyone home.

-- Shred of WBCN-FM

Source: Boston Rock, November 17, 1982, Issue 34

Cantone's closed evidently in February 1983. Our fairly extensive search failed to turn up a date or even a single detail. Evidently the club's considerable contribution to the evolution of Boston's rock community was nothing but a misty memory.

CANTONES ... tripe and rock n roll ... i still see teddy cantone every now and again ... this east boston kid felt right at home ... rock n roll aglia oglio...

-- Sal Baglio of the Stompers

Source: E-mail message, August 6, 2002

Recently we posted a page about a legendary Boston night spot, the Rat (Rathskeller). We're interested in pulling together a similar page about Cantone's. Please get in touch if you have fond memories of Cantone's, or stories about the place, that we might be able to include here. We have a few reminiscences already, but probably not enough yet for posting.

I really like the picture of Cantone's that appears at the top of this page. If you think you have a better one, though, we'd love to hear about it. So far, I haven't run across a picture of the interior in our archive. -- Alan Lewis, August 19, 2002

New England Music Scrapbook:
Popular music, past and present,
with a New England twist.

Webmaster: Alan Lewis