Harpers Ferry Slips Out of the
Allston Music Scene
by Juhi Varma on November 4, 2010 via Wicked Local
Christine Occhino performs on Saturday night during the last weekend of shows at Harpers Ferry in Allston. Alex Jones / For the Allston-Brighton TAB - Photo by Alex Jones
Harpers Ferry, a 40-year-old much-loved live music nightclub at 158 Brighton Ave. in Allston, has closed its doors forever after a festive Halloween weekend.
The posting on Harpers’ website said, “Thank you everyone for a wonderful 40 years.”
Owned and operated by Edward Connelly since 1972, the club has played host to many famous names, including Maroon 5, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Fall Out Boy, Bo Diddley, Sister Hazel and Jefferson Starship.
Connelly, 68, said he named it after the Battle of Harpers Ferry in 1862.
“I used to teach school, and was a Civil War buff,” said Connelly. “I wanted to start a club with a country vibe; I wanted to mix the two.”
According to general manager Andrew Wolan in an e-mail to the Boston Phoenix, Harpers Ferry will exit the neighborhood on Nov. 1, because landlord John Corey, who also owns the neighboring Blanchard’s Liquors, would not renew the club’s lease.
A concert nightclub and cornerstone of “Allston Rock City,” Harpers Ferry has been a venue for numerous local artists to get exposure as well as the site for national concerts such as the 2007 and 2008 WBCN Rock N’ Roll Rumble (won by Township and Girls Guns & Glory respectively) and the 18-plus electro dance party, Paper.
Connelly’s son, Edward Connelly Jr., served as one of the club’s managers along with his day job. A native of Allston-Brighton, Connelly Jr. graduated from Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in teaching.
“We’re all sad that it’s closing; I grew up here,” said Connelly Jr. on the club’s last Saturday night performance, the “Internationals do it better Halloween party.”
DJ Alkan’s electro dance music pulsated, and the room was filled with lights and people in costume.
“Saturday night always draws in a big crowd,” said Ed P, who has been a bartender at Harpers Ferry for six years. He recalled the night, two or three years ago, when Will Smith showed up to watch his wife play in her band.
“I think the guy who owns the building is an #*&,” Ed P said.
Behind the main dance floor and the stage, three men were at the pool table. Ed DeBity and his two friends had been coming to Harpers Ferry for more than 15 years.
“I’ve always liked this kind of atmosphere,” DeBity said. “I don’t know where we’re going to hang out now.”
Live Nation Entertainment Inc., owners of the Paradise Lounge, quickly saw the opportunity to buy up the longtime establishment and convert it into the Brighton Music Hall, named after Brighton Avenue.
Owner Declan Mehigan, who is partners with Dunne Mehigan and Don Law, plans to upgrade the music hall similar to the Paradise’s renovations pending a bid for the lease and purchase of the license. The venue will continue to be used as stepping stone for bands not large enough to play at the Paradise or the House of Blues. The capacity is to be maintained at 340.
“All we’re going to do is clean the place up,” said Mehigan. “We don’t anticipate doing anything for a while there.”
The new club should open early next year.