New England Music Scrapbook
The Channel

Our Corner of the Rock 'n' Roll Life

Making its debut tonight is Channel 1, Greater Boston's largest (capacity 1500) rock club at 25 Necco st., near South Station. Entrepreneurs Joe Cicerone, who owns North End North restaurant in Saugus, and Harry Boras, former manager at Jason's, contemplate booking nationally known rock acts Monday-Wednesday with local/regional rock groups Thursday-Saturday, and Sunday given over to local country and western bands. While earlier ads had projected Channel 1 as a "new wave" facility, the exclusivity of the label was later deemed misleading. The Neighborhoods headline the launching tonight with the Dawgs opening up. Tomorrow, it's Count Viglione's rock spectacular with Love and Flame, Mission of Burma and a new La Peste.

Ernie SantosuossoBoston Globe,  May 30, 1980

While the next biggest room, the Paradise, can accommodate 500 people, Channel 1 can handle close to 1700 (although just how comfortably remains to be seen).

[Monday-Wednesday bookings by Don Law are] sure to hurt the Main Act in Lynn (1200 capacity) and other venues of similar size like Uncle Sam's on Nantasket Beach and Mr. C's Rock Palace in Lowell.

The club, which at 25 Necco st. is not far from South Station, is a gamble. It's physical layout--where a gaudily lighted disco dance floor lies next to a rock 'n' roll stage--is a risk; and it has to overcome a questionable past reputation as the Mad Hatter disco, when rowdiness and fights sometimes necessitated police intervention.

Steve MorseBoston Globe,  June 5, 1980


Channel's Owners


Upon entering, there's a slick patio-like room of landscaped ferns, potted plants and a small pool (no seats around it, though). The monstrous inside room--shaped like a horseshoe--has a disco dance floor on the left (looking like a wide bowling alley lane), then wraps around a stage and large pinball anteroom. The intent is definitely to marry the new-wave disco feel of the Boston club Spit with live music a la the Paradise. Dancing is the focus, for there's a wide-open dance area in front of the stage as well.

There's a low ceiling, two bars and functional, non-bolted tables around the perimeter (plans are to raise this area to improve presently iffy sight lines), but the nicest feature may be the two back picture windows overlooking Fort Point Channel. These lend a floating, cabin-cruiser ambiance. A stone floor is also neatly dovetailed with carpeting, giving what patron Toni Seger praised as a "subterranean feel."

Steve MorseBoston Globe,  June 5, 1980


$10,000 Challenge
at the Channel
July 1, 1981

The Stompers came on last and put technique together with soul and passion, burning in high gear throughout. They were disappointing in one sense: they took no risks with slower, more ballad-like material and played only two "new" songs. Said Baglio: "I went up and played my hits."

But the Stompers hits are formidable--aggressive marriages of gutsy, hard driving rhythms and transcendent guitar and piano bridges. Like Bruce Springsteen or Southside Johnny, Baglio considers rock 'n' roll as salvation and dreams as something to still be worth having. With "You're the One," "Dirty Water," "Escape" and others, the Stompers confidently leaped from one plateau to another. -- Jim Sullivan, Boston Globe, July 3, 1981

[T]he crowd, as it always does, ate up the Stompers and their brand of classic American rock that has its roots in a '57 Chevy and a night on a four-lane strip lined with hamburger hangouts. The focus is Cars, Girls, the Streets and R-O-C-K as salvation. -- Tristram Lozaw, Boston Rock, August 6, 1981, Issue 20


I played the Channel many times with Niki Aukema and with The Lifters. With Niki, we opened for Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels (his band). Also opened for Jon Butcher Axis and The Stompers many times. With The Lifters, I believe we were the headliners. ... I don't have "fond" memories of the place ... a huge beer-blast place.

I can say it is where I played my last "pro gig" in 1984! (July?). -- Rob Amaral of East Coast Muscle, Niki Aukema's band Lip, and the Lifters, e-mail message, August 20, 2002


Definitely interested in making the club a more comfortable place to visit, the Channel now serves pizza and subs in what used to be the coat check room. In response to rumors that the club was going to be closing down, owner Harry Bouras replied, "Bullshit. There might be some people who'd like to see us closed, but we're definitely not closing. We have dates booked well into May." -- Mike Dreese of Newbury Comics (and Boston Rock and Modern Method Records), Boston Rock, March 18, 1982, Issue 27


Located on the waterfront near South Station, the Channel is a stopover for many major acts. New-wave dominates, but the Channel's bookings have been varied--a recent schedule had Feat (formerly Little Feat) slated to appear a couple of nights after a Black Flag gig. Channel owner Harry Booras has shown willingness to book all-ages shows and to offer the club at a reasonable fee to organizations for benefits. The Channel is a warehouse of a club--there is a lighted dance floor, a restaurant, an excellent game room, three bars, tables for those who prefer to sit--and it's all a bit shabby. But the bouncers are unobtrusive and courteous.... -- Joyce Millman, Boston Phoenix, September 28, 1982


Like the Paradise, another important rock and roll outlet, the Channel, has neither the requisite history nor appearance of a good listening room. Situated just across Fort Point Channel (hence its name) in an industrial section of South Boston, it has mostly warehouses for neighbors. And the building resembles one itself; the first occupant of the site was an eatery called the Warehouse Restaurant. For a little while thereafter it housed a discotheque called the Mad Hatter, and then stood empty for a year before it emerged as Boston's roomiest club. To give some idea of the Channel's size, it contains a video-game room as big as some entire local clubs. Among other amenities is the projection video screen, with its own sunken-livingroom-type viewing area, with continuous showings of rock videos--some of which were shot on the club's very own stage by Red Shark Video, with whom the club maintains an ongoing relationship. There are enough little nooks and crannies to give it the atmosphere of a self-contained environment, a rock habitat.

The difficulties inherent in installing sound reinforcement in such a space stem from the sheer number of people the club holds--an audience is a superb acoustical energy sink--and the low ceiling in the room (only nine foot). The major consideration has been to ensure that the sound output carries all the way to the back of the room. According to sound engineer Peter Vernaglia, the key was to "get stuff off the ground, so people's bodies don't suck up sound." The Channel doesn't own its own PA, but has for the past few years leased a system from Vernaglia's firm, Sound Company, of Woburn. Vernaglia cautions, "The system was not designed specifically for the room, it was designed for a combination of long-throw and short-throw capabilities." He further implies that it may be due for an upgrade soon. -- Michael Bloom, Boston Phoenix, March 22, 1983

At the top of the first page of this article is a photograph of Richard Clement, working the Channel's soundboard.


On a foggy night, the Channel is shrouded in mist, and the picturesquely trenchcoated youths stomping to its door will make you think you're in a film noir. -- Sally Cragin, Boston Phoenix, October 2, 1984


Anything  from heavy metal to Latino and gospel. If it has an audience, we'll do it.

[Booker] Warren Scott,  Boston Globe,  January 2, 1985


wow....that was one of our favorite clubs to play! We performed there for several New Year's parties... I will always remember it being a place where you could really feel like a rock star. The place would be shoulder to shoulder with over a thousand screaming fans ... the stage was up high, so we'd be bouncing all over it in our dresses and fishnet stockings, sweating all over the guitars. The perspiration would be just dripping down my face, off of my nose and chin onto my bass strings. There would be several rows of guys right in front of us, yelling and clapping their hands. The sound was wonderful, and there was always the feeling that we were in a place that was happening. It was a heady place to play in the 80's. -- Sandy Martin of Girls Night Out, e-mail message, August 19, 2002


We sure did play a lot at the Channel. They would really pack them in over there. I remember playing there for our 10th anniversary show, which was recorded and released on video, called Live Your Dreams for Real, and CD as The Stompers Greatest Hits Live. All the shows kind of blend together in my memory. People from the back right up to the front of the stage, really packed in. Hot, sweaty, loud, the audience would sing along. I remember Sal stopping the band during "Good News" and the audience sang the whole song.

The stage was right near the back door of the club and one night someone took my bass right off the stage after the show had finished and walked out the back door with it. It cost our crew guy his job. I guess it's not all roses, huh? -- Stephen Gilligan of the Stompers, e-mail message, August 21, 2002


Because of its 1,200-plus capacity, a large crowd at some of the other clubs can became a small gathering here.

The Channel books local to international acts, mainstream to hardcore, and is the most serious rock club in town when it comes to reggae and all-ages shows. New Music nights are all-local showcases featuring five or six bands. The view gets a bit hazy from the back of the club, so get there early. -- Lisa M. Moore, Boston Rock, Early Fall 1988, Issue 92


yeah, man--the channel ... i had a band (animal train) with my (now ex-) husband, kenny harris (great songwriter and keyboard player)--we played at and went to the channel often--we would bring new recordings down and have them played over the huge sound system and see how they went over with the folks dancing or whatever.

one year we made a christmas recording--joy to the world to a bo diddley beat--instrumental version--5 horns--really cool--anyway, we took it down to the channel one night and they played it and i'll never forget how cool it was to see everybody bopping around to joy to the world. we subsequently won some kind of radio station listener favorite call-in contest with that recording--we figured we would, mostly because of the positive response we got from the channel crowd. -- Michelle Willson of Animal Train and Evil Gal and the 1993 Winner of the Battle of the Blues Bands at Harpers Ferry, e-mail message, August 15, 2002


Necco Place isn't about to be mistaken for a yuppie fern bar. Except for the blue tablecloths and lounge lights, the separate, smaller and more sophisticated music room which opened Thursday next door to the Channel has a plain decor not very different from its big brother. It's quite unpretentious for a club with big windows overlooking the water and a diverse range of acts.

The new 250-capacity club is basically the Channel's old VIP room cordoned off from the main club, given a separate entrance and a musical slant all its own. -- Paul Robicheau, Boston Globe, February 25, 1989

If there's any model for the room musically, we're trying to do something like what Jonathan Swifts did. -- Robert Sacks, Booking Agent, Boston Globe, February 25, 1989


In a move sending shock waves around the Boston music scene, the 1,500-capacity Channel club has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. The nightclub will continue operations, but admits to being hard-hit by the spiraling costs of booking talent, buying advertising, paying rising liquor liability costs and competing against the powerful Tea Party concert agency run by crosstown rival Don Law.

"It was just a necessary move. It's been harder and harder to do business," Channel co-owner Harry Booras said yesterday of the bankruptcy filing, which was made last week.

"There's no one cause behind this. We did it for a variety of reasons. Our rent has also gone up a lot, and the general economy is not what it used to be. People are more careful about what they spend, and we're coming off a horrible December when the cold weather kept people away. Another problem is the local music scene is not as strong as it once was." -- Steve Morse, Boston Globe, February 1, 1990

The Channel's adjacent sister club, Necco Place, will likewise continue, with more emphasis on the acoustic and folk scene, he said. The Channel also hopes to bring in more outside promoters such as Al Goldman, who used to book Jonathan Swift's in Cambridge, and Garen Daly, who formerly booked bands at the Somerville Theater.

"We're hoping for the best, but it's hard because not as many bands do club tours any more," Booras added. "It used to be that acts always had to do club tours to promote their new record, but now they get help from MTV, VH-1, college radio and commercial radio. It also seems like more people are buying records, tapes and CDs, but less and less concert tickets." -- Steve Morse, Boston Globe, February 1, 1990


The 1,500-capacity Channel club is bouncing back from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy it filed in January. "We've weathered the storm," co-owner Harry Booras said this week. "Since we undertook the bankruptcy action, we've definitely operated in the black."

"We're coming back," said Booras. "We're still plagued by phone calls from people who think we closed, but we're very much alive." The Channel is cooking this weekend with two shows by the Cramps and Flat Duo Jets. -- Steve Morse, Boston Globe, May 4, 1990


Ahh... The Channel. What a great place. I lived in South Boston and the club was just a stone's throw away. My brother played in a local band [Paris] who headlined there a few times. My favorite shows there were The Ramones--the place was so packed that the walls would sweat. People swinging from the ceilings, slamming, stagediving. I saw the Neighborhoods there, on a Thursday night. The club was maybe a quarter full, but The 'Hoods rocked, and were joined onstage by Aerosmith's Brad Whitford for a rendition of "Walkin' The Dog".

E-mail message, February 13, 2003
Name Withheld Because I Don't Know What It Is


Wednesday's Human Sexual Response gig was the Channel's 10th anniversary party, and a damn festive occasion at that. Balloons and ribbons were strung everywhere and Quincy's Montilio's contributed a gorgeous, multi-tiered Channel replica cake. A lot of the old guard rockers, and former Channel employees, came out of the woodwork, making this seem like an enjoyable time warp. The Neats' Eric Martin heard the Neats' first single, "Six," on the sound system, realized he hadn't heard it in several years and marveled, "It sounds pretty good!" -- Jim Sullivan, Boston Globe, May 18, 1990


The Channel, Boston's largest live rock club and a major presence on the scene for more than a decade, shut its doors yesterday morning and canceled what should have been one of the biggest shows of the season, tonight's performance by the Cramps, an expected sellout. -- Jim Sullivan, Boston Globe, December 31, 1991

This show would have made the club a ton of money. We planned this gig as the kickoff for the tour we're starting in February. My agent from ICM says it seems there's a tug of war between [co-owner Jack] Burke and Harry Booras. It is murky. Something must be really bad with their books. -- Ron DeBlasio, manager of the Cramps, Boston Globe, December 31, 1991

If this is the Channel's last gasp, if Booras is unable to revitalize the club, it would leave a large gap in the pop music scene. No club booked as eclectic a roster of bands--from heavy metal to reggae to funk to rap to blues to mainstream rock--and no club offered local bands as large a performance space. -- Jim Sullivan, Boston Globe, December 31, 1991

[Right now] is absolutely the worst it's ever been [for clubs] in the history of this town. This has been so tough. All my clubs, every club owner has been crying. I'm completely stressed out trying to make the shows that I have work. The money is not there to support these venues. -- Jodi Goodman of the Don Law Company, Boston Globe, December 31, 1991

The Channel

THE CHANNEL WAS AUCTIONED TWICE, but neither time did this result in a sale. The club's curiously amusing story, as it unfolded, brought in reports of faceless, shadowy characters, financial irregularities, and rumors of ties to organized crime. The Channel was finally sold and reopened as a live music venue. So far a search of our archive has turned up nothing further until the decision was made to switch the entertainment from bands to semi-nude dancers. Semi-nude dancers?

While the ensuing chain of events is not without its points of interest, the Channel's story became more the stuff of which legal-oriented Web sites are made--and the New England Music Scrapbook isn't one of those. So we prefer to think back to the many great times had by club patrons. We like to think back to dancers, prancers, and second-glancers. And to many wonderful benefit shows. From the (count 'em) seven women of GNO sweating their pores out, while nailing "Love Under Pressure," to the Channel faithful packed in tight to hear James Brown. It was a wonderful era in the region's music history, and the Channel played its part in a very big way.

-- Alan Lewis, August 25, 2002


Please get in touch if you have a favorite story, fond memory, mental image, or other reminiscence of the Channel that we might be able to post here.

I really like the picture of the Channel that appears at the top of this page. We'd love to hear about it, though, if you have one that you think may be better. So far, a decent illustration of the club's interior hasn't turned up in our archive.

-- Alan Lewis, August 18, 2002

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