The Boston Tea Party

From The New England Music Scrapbook Web-Site – The joint was rocking on Friday, January 20, 1967, when, for the first time, the Boston Tea Party opened its doors to the public. The original location on Berkeley Street was once a synagogue. Then it became Moon Dial (or Moondial), a venue that showed underground films. (Going entirely on memory, it seems to me that Mel Lyman was connected with that establishment.) Ray Riepen and David Hahn bought Moon Dial and reopened it as the Tea Party, a rock ‘n’ roll music hall. New York’s Electric Circus probably exerted the main influence on this new development in Boston.

The Tea Party relocated the club to 15 Lansdowne Street in September 1969, taking over from the Ark club.

The Hallucinations – Peter Wolf and Stephen Jo Bladd’s first band, the Hallucinations played the Tea Party many times. On April 4 ‘68 they opened for Muddy Waters the day Martin Luther King was assassinated. Their last Tea Party gig was July 18-20 ‘68.

Review from – The Chambers Brothers and the Hallucinations appeared at the Boston Tea Party this Saturday night, February 11, and set everyone and everything in sight and hearing on fire. The Chambers Brothers were the main attraction of the night with their combination of hard rock and soul music. The quintet danced and gyrated along with the wild sounds they played. Most of their songs were solid rock rather than soul, probably for the benefit of the dancing public, but the soul songs that the brothers played came on smooth and mellow, though over-amplified. This is one of the few groups that sounds better live than it does on records; the Brothers performance of their latest hit “All Strung Out” left every one gasping for air When it was over. During their second set the group really had the audience switched on, dancing, clapping, and shouting in time to a five minute drum solo.

Not to be outdone, the Hallucinations, who alternated sets with the Chambers Brothers, roared in with their own brand of rock and roll. Depending heavily on the frantic harmonics and screaming vocals of their lead, the Hallucinations blasted out a sound that put everyone within hearing on their feet. The mere volume of the music knocked the legs off chairs and the surge and movement of the beat included dancing that paralleled the rites of spring.

The Boston Tea Party, where this took place, is an amazing discotheque of itself. The entrance is up a wide, steep flight of stairs between panels lettered with the names of men who have given light to the world; Prometheus, Uranus, Watt, Edgerton, Edison, Lao Tse, and others. The dancing’ is in a huge cavernous room where one is engulfed by cascades of light and sound and surrounded by dancers in all types of clothing, from “mad mod” to “straight.” The walls are covered with designs that glow purple and green under fluorescent lights, kaleidoscopic patterns that change shape and color in apparently ceaseless and unrepeating mosaics, Campbell soup cans, pictures of Batman, and flashing lights. “Organic” movies, blobs of color that dance and pulsate with the music, are projected onto a large movie screen that hangs above the dance floor illuminated by brilliant strobe lights that make the dancers flicker in and out of reality.

Dave Hahn, who runs the discotheque and is an MIT graduate, like to think of the Tea Party as an experiment in neur-psychology; what happens to the mind when it has received so much stimulus that it reaches the overload point? Some people are so overwhelmed by the noise and lights that they collapse into the nearest chair and don’t move for the remainder of the evening, others dance themselves into near exhaustion and then there is the fellow who wore a button that said “Take a trip with Jesus.”

The J. Geils Blues Band – Pete and Steve left the Hallucinations and joined the J.Geils Blues Band in the summere of ‘68. The new J. Geils lineup debuted on September 20-21 billed as the J. Geils Quintet, reverting back to the J. Geils Blue Band name for a gig on November 21-23. They returned to the Tea Party January 30-February 1 ‘69 (opening for Savoy Brown) and on March 6-8 (opening for Chicago).

The Boston Tea Party – 40th Anniversary Event – The Tea Party’s gone, but not forgotten – Seth Justman, Stephen Jo Bladd, and Danny Klein, together with other Boston rockers, gathered yesterday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the legendary club’s opening.


Photo Credit: Barry Miller

The Bostonian Society unveiled a marker that’ll be affixed to the South End structure that once housed the club. Other attendies included bluesman James Montgomery; guitarist Johnny A; Boston band members Barry Goudreau and Sib Hashian; Willie Alexander, who opened the club on Jan. 20, 1967, along with Peter Wolf’s band, the Hallucinations; former Tea Party manager Steve Nelson; promoter Don Law; Del Fuegos drummer Woody Giessmann; Phoenix exec David Bieber; car magnate Ernie Boch Jr; and Charlie Daniels, a.k.a. the Master Blaster, the club’s emcee back in the day.


Credit: “Photo by Allan E. Dines, courtesy of Music Museum Of New England”.
Steve Nelson (on the left) and Don Law with the marker in place on the Tea Party building

Boston Tea Party Marker Event, June 20th – The Bostonian Society will be installing the historic marker on the Tea Party building this Wednesday, at the corner of Berkeley and Appleton. This from Steve Nelson, President & Co-Founder of MM/ONE – Music Museum Of New England:
We’re not planning any big doings around the event, but Don Law will be joining me at 3pm for a photo shoot with the marker. If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, you’re welcome to drop by. And I expect you’ll see some follow-up coverage in the media.


Peter Wolf was unable to attend but sent in this statement

Click here to visit MM/ONE – Music Museum Of New England.
Click here for more info and a history of the Tea Party.