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Venue Crush: Radio opening in October

August 22, 2011

Friday afternoon we let you know about Radio, the new venue coming to Somerville’s Union Square, taking the place currently occupied by Club Choices. Rosebud bartenders Aimee McGrath and Josh Banville will be opening the club in October; you were promised more details, so we got together with the two owners, booker Ashley Willard and chef Jim Seery to get their thoughts and plans on the record once and for all. Take a look:


Boston Band Crush:
In opening the new venue, what are your top priorities? What do you see Radio bringing to the table?
Aimee McGrath: There are two things: We want to be a good fit for the neighborhood. We want it to be a place that everyone feels comfortable with and that people want to be here, almost like we’ve been here all along. We also want it to be a place that bands want to play. Getting great sound and lighting are top priorities; we just want every band that plays here to have a good experience because in the end, if they have a good time and sound good and look good, they’re going to want to come back and that will bring people in.

BBC: This whole process has been very DIY, and we know a lot of friends have been helping out. What do you want to have ready for opening, and what sort of improvements will be made over time?
Aimee McGrath: It’s not going to be perfect at first, there will still be work to do. Like I said, sound and lighting and making sure the bands have a good experience are the most important for now, so that’s the focus. There’s already a stage there, and we’ll work with that for now; the room holds 200 people so we’ve got to figure out what works best. If everything sounds good, people won’t mind that they’re sitting on old bar stools or the bar isn’t as pretty as it could be; and eventually we’ll get to fixing all of that as well. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the local music community – so many people have offered to help out – so it’s important for everyone at Radio to make this a place that belongs to everybody. We’re a work in progress, so we want suggestions. We are totally open for feedback and want to know what bands and patrons want. [Ashley adds: This is a very DIY, FUBU (ha, remember FUBU?) venture, and we’ll likely enlist a small army of helpers to get the place ship-shape prior to opening. Offers have been pouring in and we haven’t been able to keep track, so we suggest keeping an eye on the Facebook page ‘cause when we’re ready to recruit, that’s the place we’ll do it.]

BBC: We know that your time at the Rosebud was a labor of love, but that there were often challenges that you had to overcome to keep it going. Now that you’ve surrounded yourself with a team, how do you see that changing?
Aimee McGrath: It’ll certainly make me more sane in the long run. It’s a great team, and only good things can come from that. We’ll be able to accomplish a lot more. It’s important to start with a good group like the one we’ve got, where we’re all working together to make this happen and it’s not just one person trying to run everything. There’s less room for things to fall through the cracks.

BBC: Ashley, the buzz about Radio is that it’s going to cater mostly to Boston area bands, do you have any sort of experience that will help you in these new duties?
Ashley Willard: Well Richard, since you are my roommate and BBC co-publisher, I know that you have some idea of the answer to this question; nonetheless, I will appease you. I have been running Boston Band Crush for the past three years, and before that I worked for a local music magazine for about as long, so I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Boston’s rock clubs seeing local bands. I’ve booked or produced many local music-related events. My iPod is overloaded with local music and so is my inbox. So yeah, I’ve got a little experience with Boston music.

BBC: How has booking gone so far, and was it tough trying to stay under the radar all summer?
Ashley Willard: Booking Radio has been a little challenging so far since I’ve had to do all the reaching out. I am relieved that the cat’s out of the bag because that means my job will get a little easier as bands start coming to me; but it also means it will get tougher as bands start to come to me, you know? Since we’re only having music four nights a week, I only have so many slots to fill. We all knew that the “secret” wasn’t very well kept; just with the bands I’ve already booked alone, there are hundreds of people who have been aware of this for a couple of months now. They’ve done well at keeping it under wraps-ish. As you might expect, my inbox has been a hotbed of activity since we broke the news on Friday. I apologize that I can’t answer every email; if I know your band and your music, chances are good that you’re on my radar and I’ll try to get you on a show.

BBC: What have you got on the calendar so far?
Ashley Willard: We have lots of kickass local bands already scheduled into the fall. Our opening weekend will look like this:

Friday, Oct. 7
The Rationales
The Organ Beats
John Powhida International Airport
plus a surprise band TBA

Saturday, Oct. 8
BrownBoot
AM Stereo
Watts
Dirty Truckers

Sunday, Oct. 9
Dinner With the Band: Erin Harpe
(A free dinnertime show with Erin playing two sets. Chef Jim Seery will prepare a Delta-inspired menu to accompany Erin’s Delta blues.)

Beyond that, you’ll see fall shows on our calendar with acts including Sarah RabDAU & Self Employed Assassins, Mellow Bravo, Nina Violet, Guillermo Sexo, Streight Angular, Lovewhip, Cask Mouse, Full Body Anchor, Willy Mason, Parlour Bells, Sidewalk Driver, Roadsaw, Eldridge Rodriguez, Rule, and tons more. We’ll also be the new home for the popular Mixtape series, as well as OldJack‘s residency on the last Saturday of every month. Plus we’ve got some fun stuff cooking for Halloween weekend following in the local tradition of bands dressing up and playing as other bands.

I’m not sure yet what kind of format our calendar will be available in, but at the very least I’ll make sure all of our listings go up on our Facebook page if we don’t have a full website in time for opening weekend.

Bands interested in booking can contact me at playatradio@gmail.com. Make sure to include a link to music online (not MySpace!) so that I can get an idea of what you sound like.

BBC: Josh, you’re co-owner with Aimee, and we hear that since live music will only be running Thursday – Sunday, you’ll be bringing in some non-music related events during the week. What have you got planned?
Josh Banville: I’m working on some ideas for some pretty fun and unique stuff during the week, but I don’t want to give anything away just yet.

BBC: Jim, you’re coming on board from the Plough & Stars in Cambridge. What do you have in mind for Radio’s kitchen? Are they letting you run wild?
Jim Seery: My goal is to settle in with some solid interesting basics and keep a healthy balance between the carnivores and the vegetarians. We’re going to focus on local seasonal meats, fish and produce, and specials will revolve around their availability. Union Square already has some wonderful places to eat; I’d like to add to that with our own unique Radio twist.

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So there you have it. Excited? We sure are.

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5 Comments
  1. I'm so excited about this!

  2. Is there a such thing as a superyay!?!?!?

  3. Word is out…

  4. Yay…welcome to the madness!

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