Robin Moran Serves Up The Channel Reunion Concert

Robin Moran Serves Up The Channel Reunion Concert

How it all began … I was a bartender at The Channel in 1990 and 1991, the last years that it was open, and it was absolutely the best club I’d ever worked at. I mean, at what other Boston venue could you be surrounded by the best staff, make some money and see your favorite artists perform night after night? I wasn’t quite as fortunate as some of my co-workers who worked there much longer than I did and saw many of the greats – Roy Orbison, Iggy Pop, Alice in Chains, Wendy O. Williams, to name a few – but one show by crossover-thrash pioneers Gwar still stands out in my mind. So messy, lots of pigs blood (eeeewwwww!), just incredibly insane and entertaining.

One of the many of my favorite shows was Cheap Trick. You couldn’t move in the place and I was lucky enough to be the band’s bartender. They rocked the club and were the sweetest group of guys, very kind to the staff and to the fans. From Monday to Thursday, The Channel hosted the top local bands and I loved Shyboy. Great guys, great music. Tin Pan Alley was another of my local faves and there were a bunch of others that I loved. Still, since I was working there in the club’s final years, I missed many of the acts that played there and still wish I could’ve seen them.

Who came up with the original idea for first Channel Reunion Concert (held on June 23, 2013)? Well, I did! About two years before the event, I was talking with my friend Debi Longo, who’d worked with me at The Channel, about all the great people we’d worked with, all the bands we saw and how we wished we could go back for “just one more great night.” Since I’d worked in other clubs and had managed various events in the past, I said, “Wait, why can’t we?” Debi said she was in, 100%. Initially, our idea was to organize an all-day and all-night event in the parking lot where The Channel once stood, so I started making the necessary calls. I thought the Gillette Company still owned the lot but learned that they’d sold it. I took a drive to the spot one Sunday and sat there just looking at it, imagining how we could make the event happen and excited about what it could be. Putting together The Channel Reunion Concert went to the top of my bucket list.

I knew a few people in the industry, so I began asking around about what it would take to accomplish an event of such magnitude. I was told I’d need to build a stage, acquire all the necessary permits, coordinate staffing and loads of other stuff. I was doing all of this with virtually no money and I wanted all the funds that we raised at the event to go to a charity; the show’s purpose was to reunite friends and bands in order to raise money for a charity and my own satisfaction came from making the event a major success. Debi and I agreed that we should pick a particular venue in the area and my choice was Club Royale because it had plenty of space and a great sound system.

The first person I asked was Tony Lentini, who was/is tour producer for dozens of major artists including Aerosmith. This was a big deal given decades of experience and I brought in some other industry folks I’d met since I needed a board of directors. Everybody I asked to join the board said “yes” immediately, even though I told them that they wouldn’t make a dime on the reunion concert. They didn’t care; they loved the idea. Next, I asked Hirsh Gardner, a brilliant businessman, musician and producer who said he was in, and Liz Borden of Lizzie Borden & The Axes, because I knew she and her band would provide the sort of vibe that I wanted.

The next question was to which charity we should donate the concert’s proceeds. Hirsh said I should call The Del Fuegos’ drummer Woody Giessmann since he’d founded Right Turn, a substance-abuse treatment facility in Watertown, and had produced some charitable events with great success. Since I needed the help of a charitable organization to guide me in the venture, I made the call and Woody said he was in. So, that’s how the reunion concert got underway. It was a long road and a huge learning experience but it raised a significant amount of money for a Right Turn, a very deserving organization. Our plan was to hold a second event in 2014 on the site where The Channel had stood.

How did we pick the bands? I had my own wish list, of course, and the other board members had theirs, which we cross-referenced. As it turned out, we had basically the same thoughts on who should play. Hirsh brought most of them on board, such as Charlie Farren, Johnny A., The Fools, Jon Butcher and, of course, his bandmates from New England (two of whom, Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo, flew to Boston to play at the event). I asked Robin Lane and Liz Borden and they said they were in (with The Chartbusters and The Axes). Then I called Sal Baglio of The Stompers, he called the rest of the band and I had another “yes.” There were a few groups on our lists that were unable to appear since they were no longer together or key members had passed away.

The production end of the event was the biggest challenge and that’s where Tony came in, as head of production, since he’d toured the world with major artists for more than half of his life; I couldn’t imagine having anyone else as the head of production. We were fortunate to have Natale “Zeus” Fisconaro join the team working side by side with Tony to insure that everything in production ran smoothly. They were amazing! Hirsh brought in Guitar Center to provide all of our backline and the retail chain was a huge help in many ways. Not only did they provide the backline, but they supplied guitar techs and created the event posters. Everyone involved was incredibly supportive and excited to be part of the project.

For me, the reunion concert was a dream that materialized into much more than just a charity event. As my friends know, if you tell me I “can’t” do something, then I’m probably going to do it bigger and better – and work a million times harder – to actually do it. For me, the most important thing was maintaining the integrity of the concert by staying focused on the cause. I created it so that people could go back in time for one night, of course, but most importantly I put it together in order to raise as much money as possible for Right Turn Recovery, an organization staffed with caring and knowledgeable professionals who go above and beyond for those in the stronghold of addiction as they move toward recovery.

The people who either played, worked at or were fans of The Channel rallied with an almost overwhelming amount of support for the reunion and I’m grateful to all of them for donating their time. The vendors, Roger Chouinard with his book, The Story of Bobby Chouinard Drummer Extraordinaire. Tracey Cassidy jewelry, Dinky Dawson with the original Channel t-shirts. Loads of people volunteered to help on the night of the show including Dave Berndt (as lighting director), Michael Lamm, Dave Rubin, Mike Direnzo and Laurie Kranick. There were bumps in the road along the way, but with each one I learned an important lesson or two and the board of directors – Woody, Hirsh, Tony, Liz, Zeus and Debi – guided me with wisdom and inspiration, listening to my dream as well as my bitching (lol) as I worked to make it a reality.

Although I never got to hang out later with my Channel friends, my old roommate Mellissa Sittinger or any of the crew that I worked with, I’ve been very blessed to have all of these wonderful people in my life and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. If there is anyone who worked the show whom I have not thanked, please know I am forever grateful to you and for your part in The Channel Reunion Concert.

Peace and love!

(by Robin (Moran) Lowe)

Robin (Moran) Lowe was the creator and executive director of The Channel Reunion Concert.

Published On: May 22, 2024