Boston finally has its own House of Blues again, after the original HoB in Cambridge closed about 5 years ago. This past Saturday night (2/21) they had their Grand Opening VIP Party, and though invitation-only (which is a shame) Jake & I were able to get in by way of a charity auction.
So we made the show, and had a fantastic night! Friday afternoon Buster & I suited up and hopped in the Bluesmobile to pick up Shotgun at Logan airport; he'd flown in his suit, sans shades and tie but then added those finishing touches just after deplaning. The three of us enjoyed a nice dinner at Pizzeria Uno's before heading back to Bismo's Bluesmansion for the night.
Saturday, after dropping Buster off with friends to spend the night, Shotgun & I headed into town to check into the hotel room included in our auction package. We cruised by the House on the way in, and got plenty of appreciation both driving down Lansdowne Street and while cruising through the city in general. After checking into the hotel we went up to our room... and looked at each other. Then at the single king-size bed in the middle of the very nice room. Then at each other again.
About 45 minutes later we'd finally gotten a room with two double beds instead... crisis of brotherly love averted! After dinner on Boylston Street at a nice little Irish pub ("Solas"), we hung in the hotel room listening to music and each having a small glass of bourbon (Blanton's) while waiting for showtime, then headed over.
We'd found out (finally!) Friday morning that the House management had decided NOT to park our Bluesmobile out front... they had tenting up along the front of the club to provide heat for the lines, and didn't think it was practical to try to set up a parking area for us. We'd debated just leaving the Bluesmobile at the hotel then, to avoid extra parking fees and to free up my liver for enjoying the night's VIP open bar, but ultimately we both knew she HAD to go with us. So we drove her back over and after cruising by the line once, circled back to park her in the garage next door.
The line was a little surprising... VIP or no the wait was well over half an hour to get in, as they were checking people in at tables in the foyer, similar to registering for a SciFi convention. But eventually we were in, and after that the night was just fantastic!
The place is indeed very big, three levels. The main floor (all standing room) has a bar lining each side wall, then a step down to the main dance floor. I'd decided that since we DID bring the Bluesmobile and I'd be driving home, I'd stick with beer for the evening, so asked for a Sam Adams... but they weren't supposed to sell bottles that night, only cans (presumably to avoid broken glass on the open dance floor, though why they wouldn't pour out into cups is beyond me), and none of those beer choices appealed to me. So I had bourbon (Woodford Reserve). What can you do, ya gotta have standards!
The gospel choir had just started when we got in, the same group that will be performing when they get the gospel brunches started up there. (We chatted with one of the singers for a few minutes between sets when she came over to get her picture taken with us.) A lot of the folks in there were mingling around, hunting out the free food sample tables. We made our way right up to the front of the stage, of course, and basically settled in for the evening. We thought about looking around more first, and maybe checking out the Foundation Room (that our VIP tickets gave us access to for the night), but ultimately we're there for the MUSIC so we pretty much stayed put. Plenty of people were coming by to chat with us though, and we were also in demand by many, uh, very attractive ladies who wanted their pictures taken with us in numerous fun poses. (I gotta search Facebook and the like to find copies of those for ourselves, they're great ego-boosts!) There was also another woman there dressed as The Penguin, which was very funny... when we first noticed her moving our way through the crowd, we started ducking and dodging the other way and soon she was chasing us through the crowd, armed with her own ruler!
Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters was the next act, a very well-respected Boston-based (with some national exposure) blues band, and it was a great set. After that there was about a 25-minute break, which meant more photos and more mingling, all very fun with all great people. Nina, the barmaid working our area, came by frequently to chat and even hung with us during her break. I was resisting a second bourbon... not 'cause I didn't want one, but because I'd found it's difficult to dance - especially Blues Brothers dancing! - with a sloshing cup of bourbon in your hand! (You can see this in the TV video linked to below.) But Jake ordered a second one and when Nina came back she had one for me too... 'cause she knew I really wanted it. She was, naturally, correct! I sipped it for a bit then downed the rest in a hurry once the Sacred Hearts Band took position on stage.
The Blues Brothers show was awesome, of course! Pretty similar to the show I saw last summer, and what others have described seeing in Atlanta, Texas and elsewhere, though with some local flavor and some special guests thrown in. James Montgomery, a local harp hero, sat in for many of the songs, notably a kick-ass version of "Muddy Water" (aka "Boston You're My Home") worked up for the town. Skunk Baxter was also there and played on a few songs, and best of all Paul "The Shiv" Shaffer, Mr. Entertainment himself, came out for the second half, leading the band in "Green Onions" and then playing through the second set!
The real highlight though was Sam Moore, who came out for a few songs and of course took the lead on "Soul Man". He looked and sounded fantastic, and it was especially fun watching Danny staying off to the side and just grinning ear-to-ear watching HIS idol playing his own song! Shotgun & I were also both pleased to note we could easily see from our vantage point that Danny did indeed have "ELWOOD" on his knuckles. (And as for ourselves, when the genuine article, no-imitation Blues Brothers are in the house, Shotgun & I went with, well, "SHOTGUN" and "BISMO" on our own knuckles.)
After the show ended, I'd say around 12:15am (the Brothers started their performance at 11pm), we hung for a few as the place emptied out and thought we'd at least look around a bit more. We went up to the second level (a standing-room mezzanine) and found the Foundation Room was still open! So we decided to check it out after all. It was filled to capacity so they were letting folks in as others came out, but with the concert itself over the wait was only about ten minutes before we could get in. We saw Judy Belushi-Pisano talking to some folks there, though didn't get a chance to meet her (or any of the band, alas).
Once in, we ended up spending about two and a half hours in there! We chatted with a great many people, and we ultimately settled into a smaller corner room on a couple of couches with a bunch of 20- and 30-somethings (hmm, it felt like the cast of "Friends"!). They didn't have any glass bottle restrictions in there so we were finally able to enjoy a couple of Sam Adams as well.
Jake spent about 90 minutes chatting with a young lady who was about to get married and so was enjoying her flirting, and who was also apparently soon to be joining the Army... Jake having just retired from the USMC that gave them plenty to talk about. He found out only after they'd been talking quite a while that this young lady was Judy Belushi's niece!
Meanwhile one of the other 20-something young ladies, very, uh, nicely attired, decided my harp playing was making her homesick for Kentucky so she came over, snuggled in against me for the next hour or so and asked me to teach her how to play! I was, of course, happy to oblige. (It's just suck and blow, ain't it?) We finally closed the place down when they kicked the last of us out around 2:45am, picking up our commemorative show posters on the way out. (I'll get a photo of posted at some point, haven't taken a picture of it yet.)
Now, it being hours after the show ended we had to find someone to unlock the Lansdowne Garage for us since it had already been closed, but fortunately we were able to get ourselves extricated. We pulled back up to the front of the hotel, looked at each other and realized we really didn't want to sleep there... we only had the room because it was part of the auction package, after all. Since I hadn't had much to drink (sure, two bourbons and two beers, but that was over an almost 7-hour period, with close to 3 hours between the bourbons and the beers alone!) and hell, only lived 25 miles away, we walked into the hotel at 3am, grabbed our overnight bags and checked out. After all the trouble to get the double-bedded room, I don't think we as much as SAT on one of the beds! But it felt the right thing to do. By 3:45am we were home, had a nightcap bourbon and hit the rack.
Now the part you're waiting for, here's the link to the rest of my photos from the night:
Boston House of Blues Grand Opening - a set on Flickr
Also I showed up in this live story from WBZ-TV (local CBS affiliate) that aired the other night:
WBZ-TV Video Archive - wbztv.com
I DID take some videos of my own, and hopefully they won't pull the vids on me since technically posting a concert vid like this could be an issue... but I doubt anyone'll be complaining! Here's the YouTube link:
YouTube - BismoBeerbelly's Channel
Okay, now I'm ready for a vacation... only about 36 hours until we're on a plane for Florida!