Saturday, August 11, 2012

Paul's Mall, 733 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

Paul's Mall helped introduce acts like Linda Ronstadt, The Stone Ponies, The Wailers, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to the rock audience. It was an intimate club opened in 1963.
Fred Taylor, now 87 years old, was the Entertainment Director at Paul's Mall.

Barry Manilow's first solo gig was here. He opened for Freddie Hubbard.

 In late June 1975, Bob Marley did 14 shows in seven days here. Marley began on his knees, singing “Rastaman Chant.”

Unknown photographer.
Rick Springsteen!
For years two clubs, side by side, provided Boston with some of the best jazz and blues available in the country, Paul's Mall and the Jazz Workshop. One set of stairs on Boylston Street led down to both clubs. Cannonball Adderley, Mose Allison, Elvin Jones, The Fabulous Thunderbirds -- they all played there. Groove Holmes and Jimmy McGriff recorded a live album there.
One evening after his outdoor show at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, B.B. King went to hear James Cotton, who was at Paul's Mall. Paul Butterfield showed up, too. B.B. and Butterfield joined Cotton on the stage of Paul's Mall.

When these clubs prepared to shut their doors it was B.B. King who played the last date at Paul's Mall.(1)

Jerry performed here on
8/1/71 Howard Wales
11/12/74 early and late shows Merl Saunders
"We sat right next to the band, Fierro's head was as big as a basketball, veins exploding as he spit on us and blew his sax. His flute was adorned with multiple feathers. Jerry was sweating profusely and Merle was mumbling and groaning. Very intense."(3)

It wasn't a throng of fans who crammed into a sweltering basement last night, but a cult of worshippers. Even Garcia's rather long tune-up breathers between the marathon numbers were filled with cries of JERRY!!; sporadic outbursts of applause followed each tuning stroke.
He walked to the stage unannounced ahead of fellow musicians Merl Saunders on keyboards, Paul Humphrey on drums, John Kahn - bass, and Martin Fieno - sax. [sic] He began a two-hour opening set with a slow easy blues number, "It Ain't No Use."
Garcia has an intimate, almost whispering vocal style that manages to evoke the necessary emotion of a blues ballad without ever getting flustered or rattled. For want of another term, "laid back" might be an apt way to describe how the group limbered up with this first number.
There were traces of Elmore James and B.B. King in Garcia's guitar play. He is a study in relaxed concentration. His thick black hair and full beard draw you to the eyes beneath the glasses. Observers used to refer to "Jerry's cosmic stare," back in the days of The Dead, and it is indeed a very intense yet warm and confident look he exchanges with the audience and the members of the group he casually spars with.
The mood is low key. Garcia stands off to the right of center, leaving the focal point for Fieno, the colorful and extremely fluid sax man. "It Ain't No Use" grew to set the tone for the evening, for it wasn't too long into the number that Garcia started to spin off a rich myriad of chord progressions. But like a trio of stunt pilots, these instrumental flights were always flanked superbly by Saunders and Fierro."(4)

11/13/74 Early and late shows Merl Saunders
"There was no advertising, no promotion, no names on the marquee. Garcia's drawing power is absolutely phenomenal. He is perhaps the only pop figure who plays and tours regularly and is still able to sell out his concerts through word-of-mouth alone."(5)

11/14/74 Early and late shows Merl Saunders

1.)^Sawyer, Charles,
2.)^terrytown, 2010-06-16,
3.)^Kirk, George, attendee, 1974-11-12.
4.)^Gelzinis, Peter, 1974-11-13, Boston Herald American,
5.)^Howard, William, 1974-11-14, Boston Globe,


  1. That 8/1/71 date is highly speculative. There's no evidence for it, that I know of.

  2. Thanks i worked around 5 years in the place,Karel

  3. "Cannonball Adderly, Mose Allison, Elvin Jones, The Fabulous Thunderbirds -- they all played there."

    The correct spelling is Adderley (note the extra E).

  4. Played Paul's Mall a number of times in the mid-late 60's as a member of David, della Rosa & Brooks. Great gig!

  5. My mother worked at Paul’s Mall. Does anyone remember Sara?

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