Clubland: John & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

  • From left to right, John Moloney, Erica Pinto, Ted Lee, Paul Labrecque, Matt Laporte. Photo by Steve D'Agostino

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Opportunity knocked; John Moloney and Ted Lee answered. They’re now the new owners of the Greenfield music venue and bar, The Root Cellar.

“When it became available, we jumped on it,” said Moloney. “Ted and I have been collaborating on events and projects for a while now, and we’ve always daydreamed about having a space where we could host a show with a good sound system, a bar, and an option for serving food on some level.”

The Root Cellar is the real-world version of that dream, and Moloney and Lee are getting help from friends Paul Labrecque, Matt Laporte and Erica Pinto, running the place as a group.

Even with all the assistance, Moloney admitted, “This is a very tough business. We should have our heads examined for opening a bar and venue, but we really want to do something lasting for the local community that’s safe, all-inclusive and fun.”

The group took over The Root Cellar on February 2 and brings together decades of experience. Moloney is the tour manager and second drummer for Dinosaur Jr (and J Mascis’ solo projects), and he’s been a musician and tour manager — or both at the same time — for artists like Thurston Moore, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Six Organs of Admittance, MV&EE, Pigeons, Howlin’ Rain, Steve Gunn and others.

Moloney began organizing shows in the late-’90s at a loft space in Charlestown, Mass., where his band Sunburned Hand of the Man lived together; they’d routinely host concerts and weekend festivals at their place. He moved to the Valley in 2007 to work for Byron Coley and Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Yod, an appointment-only record store and event space, and Moloney booked all of its shows until his tour schedule became too busy. He’s been on the road 6 to 8 months each year for the past decade.

Lee is an artist, musician, and owner of the Feeding Tube record label and store, which has hosted live performances over the years. He’s performed and toured in numerous bands (including Egg, Eggs and the high-energy duo Zebu!).

Labrecque, a Valley resident from 2000-5, moved back to the area to help with the opening. He’d lived in Europe for the past 13 years, where he created music under the moniker Head of Wantastiquet, collaborated with Thurston Moore, Faust, Magik Markers and others, worked in Berlin as a sound engineer for two different venues, and toured as a “front of house” sound technician on Moore’s tours of Asia and the EU.

“We’d love to present a space that’s open to all,” Labrecque said, “that can challenge the community to open their ears and minds to new sounds and old favorites, while keeping everyone who walks through the doors feeling like they’re part of a greater world of art and human experience.”

Since the new Root Cellar crew’s February 2 opening, Moloney said highlights have included a rare smaller-venue show from Dinosaur Jr, as well as an appearance by Nigerian band Tal National (which sold out with only 36 hours notice).

A big gig on the club’s horizon is Speedy Ortiz on Wednesday, May 16 at 7 p.m. (with hyper Chicago multi-instrumentalist/rapper Nnamdi Ogbonnaya also on the bill), but the current calendar is full of unique offerings. 

Wet Tuna, the new band featuring Matt Valentine & PG Six, headlines a Psych Night tonight at 7 p.m. (with opening acts Footings and Tongue Oven).

Elka Bong, Walter Wright, Bonnie Kane, 4 Airports and others take part in an evening of improvised and experimental music on Sunday at 7 p.m.

Brooklyn singer-songwriter and guitar hero Steve Gunn plays a solo set on Thursday, May 3, at 7 p.m., headlining a bill that includes the Trevor Healy Trio and Willie Lane.

Steampunk cabaret act Frenchy & the Punk (featuring Scott Helland and Samantha Stephenson) share a bill with Valley hardcore punk band Gay Mayor on Thursday, May 10 at 8 p.m.

Local theatrical synth-and-vocals duo Home Body team up with Space Cubs and Patrick Bella Gone on Friday, May 11 at 7 p.m.

Trinary System (featuring Roger Miller of Mission of Burma) plays with Ryan Davis on Friday June 8 at 7 p.m.

Bill Kirchen — “Titan of the Telecaster” and former member of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen — and twangy local wonder Dez Roy take to the stage on Friday, June 22 at 8 p.m.

For more details and the full concert calendar, visit RootCellarBar.com.