Walking past it now, you’d never know it, but in the ’80s, the corner of Causeway and Lancaster streets in North Station across from the Garden was a hotbed for live music. It was the site of Chet’s Last Call, a dirty second-floor rock club above the Penalty Box dive bar that housed hundreds of bands — including Treat Her Right, Throwing Muses, Scruffy The Cat, and the Bosstones (pre-Mighty Mighty) — from around 1983 to 1989. In the late ’90s and early ’00s, the room operated as the Upstairs Lounge, and these days, both the former Chet’s space and the Penalty Box have been replaced by an upscale beer garden and restaurant called the Causeway.
However, the hazy drunken memory of late weekend nights at Chet’s has been back in people’s minds. On December 10, its owner and booking agent, Richard “Chet” Rooney, died at the age of 61, and now a bunch of bands are coming together to play a show in his honor and to raise money for the Pine Street Inn and craft a documentary about his efforts at the venue.
On February 12, six bands that were no strangers to Chet’s — Dogzilla (with AEF), Bim Skala Bim, Dogmatics, Pajama Slave Dancers, Liz Borden Group, and Moose and the Mudbugs — will all come together and play the Once Ballroom in Somerville. That show will be the first off three in the Cuisine En Locale performance space designed to raise money for the documentary and celebrate Rooney’s efforts in the local scene, followed by another gig on May 21, and a third event in June. Lineups for the later shows have yet to be announced.
All three events will be filmed for the documentary, according to a Kickstarter page created by Dan and John Vitale.
“Dozens of Chet’s old friends will be interviewed and share the stories of his kindness to young misfit bands in need of a venue to get their music out to the world,” their description reads. “We will also have our interviewers doing several sessions with Chet’s old musician friends, bar workers, and regulars telling wonderful stories about everything from Chet giving them their first headlining weekend show to Chet actually saving the life of one famous Boston musician.”
For more on Chet’s Last Call, check out this post from Freedom In An Unfree World, and feast your eyes and ears on some video and audio from its live yesteryear performances below.