The Abbey Lounge holds last-ditch benefit

Dear Abbey blues
By STEVEN BEEBER  |  September 15, 2008

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Muck & the Mires

Unlesssomething good happens, it's getting close to closing time for Somerville’s Abbey Lounge. Faced with financial problems and a shrinking audience, the venerable mainstay of the mainline crowd is considering closing before the end of the month.

To avoid that possibility, bands long associated with The Abbey are staging a benefit at the club now through Saturday. Muck & the Mires, Rock Bottom, Watts, Classic Ruins, and the Konks are just some of the groups taking part. Tickets are $12 per night, or a week-long pass can be purchased for $48. (A full line-up can be seen at abbeylounge.com/website/calendar.)

"We're saddled with debt from renovations that were made a few years ago," says Abbey booking agent, Mike Fuedale. Feudale — better known as "Skinny Mike "of the Coffin Lids — says the renovations included removing a wall between the bar and the performance area and building a separate wine bar next door. The red-and-chrome Z-Bar will also be shut down if the Abbey goes under.

But debt isn't the only issue affecting the venerable venue. While clubs everywhere are hurting as a result of a disastrous economy, the Abbey's usual regulars are also growing older. "Priorities change," says Skinny Mike. "I don't see a lot of the familiar faces."

When the Abbey became a center for the garage rock scene nearly a decade ago, it filled a void left when Cantones and the Rat closed. With its sticky floor, bare walls, and nonexistent accommodations, it was home to both the black-clad rockers who played there and the silver-haired regulars who'd patronized the bar since it opened in the 1920s.

Skinny Mike fondly recalls the infamous egging of the Konks on the Abbey stage. Other highpoints include former New York Doll Sylvain Sylvain's solo show, the annual White Trash Fest (basically garage rock without the garage) and, for Skinny Mike at least, the Coffin Lids’ first show.

"It's the perfect dive," says the Bentmen's surreal, monster-mask-wearing leader Des (Bill Desmond of the living/recording space the Sound Museum). "We played some of our favorite shows there, and I'm sure whatever Bentmen are still alive to remember them do so fondly."

The Save the Abbey Benefit Series begins nightly at 7 pm, at 3 Beacon Street, Somerville. All shows are 21+. Tickets $12; $48 all week. Call 617.441.9631.

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