Back in the day, the Kenmore Square and Fenway areas of Boston were ground zero for our city’s vibrant music scene, from clubs like Mama Kin’s and the Rat to Avalon and, Axis, as well as housing influential rock radio station WBCN on Boylston Street and alt-weekly the Boston Phoenix on Brookline Avenue.
Now, the only music coming out of the area is the national/touring-act destination House of Blues, small club Church nearby on Kilmarnock Street, and the always-awesome playlists of DJ TJ Connelly during home Red Sox games at Fenway Park.
Soon, however, we can add high-end music-themed hotel The Verb to the list, which is set to take over the Howard Johnson hotel space on Boylston Street later this summer. But of course, with its close proximity to Fenway Park, it doesn’t look to cater to musicians — just the old guys who want to pretend-party like them.
The Howard Johnson, one of the first of its kind, was a haven for musicians, labels, and agents coming to town to either play on Lansdowne Street or visit ‘BCN. Between this and the Rathskeller-themed room at the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore, Bostonians get to feel kind of how New Yorkers did when CGBG’s closed and turned into a store for John Varvatos.
The Verb hotel, set to open this summer, aims to celebrate the rock-era club scene that used to thrive in the baseball park’s neighborhood. Acts including the Who and Janis Joplin played now-defunct venues like the Boston Tea Party and Psychedelic Supermarket.
The hotel’s walls will be adorned by fliers, posters and record covers from that era through the early 1990s grunge period. Headlines from the recently closed Boston Phoenix alternative weekly newspaper also will be on display.
“Baseball is the dominant theme in the history of Fenway Park,” said Steve Samuels, principal of Samuels & Associates, which is developing the $32 million project with Weiner Ventures and Spot-On Ventures. “But as we began to dig deeper, we saw a great culture of art, music, publishing, great rock ‘n’ roll clubs and radio stations.”
Mr. Samuels has invested $1.5 billion in projects in the area including new luxury apartments and the expansion of Landmark Center, a mixed-use project that will include 550 apartments and the first Wegmans gourmet supermarket in a major U.S. city. A Cleveland native who moved to Boston 1984, Mr. Samuels is best known for efforts to redevelop the Fenway area—and for producing the George Clooney film “Michael Clayton.” He said he plans to invest another $1 billion in projects in the neighborhood.
Pretty funny that headlines I might have actually written for the Boston Phoenix during my time as Music Editor could be displayed above the headboards in a hotel I probably can’t afford to stay at.