Notes on the 20th anniversary of the Middle East
Isis live at the Middle East in March of this year
The MIDDLE EAST RESTAURANT, with its upstairs and downstairs rooms, is the nexus of metro Boston’s rock-club scene for local and touring bands. The restaurant opened in 1970 and was bought by brothers JOSEPH AND NABIL SATER four years later. The Saters had entertainment — mostly belly-dancing and Arabic music — in an adjacent room, with no intentions to rock. But late in 1987, Roger Miller played a solo gig there, a show booked by his now ex-wife Su. Soon, scenester/promoter BILLY RUANE picked up the ball and started booking shows under the moniker of Helldorado.
Fast-forward to today. On November 10, the Middle East celebrates 20 years of music (as well as the birthdays of Ruane and present booker KEVIN HOSKINS) with a benefit for STEPHEN FREDETTE. In August, doctors detected mantle-cell lymphoma, and the 51-year-old guitarist, formerly with Scruffy the Cat and now with Pony, is undergoing chemotherapy. (Pony play T.T. the Bear’s November 16.) “There’s an enormous wave of people my age getting lymphatic cancer,” says Fredette. His rare type, he says, “has no cause.” Of this benefit: “I am entirely grateful.”
Ruane and Hoskins assembled the line-up: HALLELUJAH THE HILLS, the REID PALEY TRIO, the THALIA ZEDEK BAND with CHRIS BROKAW, M.G. LEDERMAN, EMPTYHOUSE COOPERATIVE, HELMS, IV DIFFUSION, and DRUG RUG. Ruane says there’s a blend of chamber rock and brash, celebratory rock. Part of the reason for the gig, he said, is “to thank the Saters for putting up with the rock community for 20 years.”
“No regrets having live music,” says Joseph Sater. “It’s an honor to have the local musicians come and play. If you don’t have the local scene, you don’t have the other. If you don’t have the flowers, the bees won’t come for the nectar.”
: New England Music News
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