Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Catacombs revisited

I chatted briefly with friend of the blog Doug Ferriman, who provided me with much helpful information on the Catacombs last year. Ferriman recently confirmed what I long suspected: that the subterranean space at 1120 Bolyston St. in Boston was indeed the old music club known as the Catacombs—the spot where Van Morrison performed during the summer of 1968, refining a collection of songs that eventually became Astral Weeks. (I sought clarification because after my November visit with the good folks at Berklee College of Music, there was some confusion over whether the venue's former location was 1120 Bolyston or at some of the school's offices at 1126 Bolyston St.).

Ferriman—who is founder and CEO of Crazy Dough's Pizza, as well as a neighbor to the old Catacombs club (one of his restaurants is located at 1124 Bolyston St.)—said that even after the venue stopped hosting live shows, it remained a fixture (though a highly secret one) on the Boston music scene.

"The space was handed down from one band to the next," Ferriman explained. "The last to occupy it was a local heavy metal act. Bands used it to hang out and practice. It was a party place for any artists coming through town. I heard Bob Dylan visited—even bands like Megadeth. They would go down there to party and jam. It was totally off the grid. Nobody knew about it except this small network of artists. It was very cool."

Ferriman, however, isn't too fond of the Catacombs' current purpose. "It's a little sad," he said. "The place has lost much of its lore. It's just a rehearsal space now, without any of the character it once had." ​

1 comment:

  1. I saw Van Morrison and the Moondance band perform songs from that album (and 'Ordinary People') twice here in the fall of 1969, before the album was out. What great shows!