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Brighton Music Hall to replace Harpers Ferry, open in mid-January

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  November 4, 2010 10:39 AM

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(Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe)

Co-owner of the future Brighton Music Hall Declan Mehigan said the space that had housed Harpers Ferry for 40 years was cleared out earlier this week after a farewell show Sunday.

The live concert venue scheduled to take over the Harpers Ferry club in Allston has booked two shows and is hitting the web to announce its plans to open around mid-January.

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Harpers hosted its final show on Halloween night after a 40-year run as a cornerstone of “Allston Rock City.”

Its anticipated new tenants, who will rename the spot Brighton Music Hall after its Brighton Avenue address and because they liked the name’s sound, are wasting no time to capture and build upon that loyal fan base by launching a website along with Facebook and Twitter accounts where messages are being pumped out about tickets going on-sale Saturday for its first two scheduled shows.

Two weeks after Harpers announced its looming closure, reportedly because the building’s landlord declined to renew Harpers’ lease, partners Joe Dunne and Declan Mehigan made a surprising move to take over the nightclub.

The 340-capacity space will become a feeder club, or, as its soon-to-be replaced booking agent Ryan Vangel put it, a “development room,” for the Paradise – a recently-renovated live music club less than a mile away on Commonwealth Avenue near the Boston University West campus.

With room for 850 people, the Paradise, co-owned by concert promoter Don Law, Joe Dunne and Mehigan, has more than double the capacity of the future Brighton Music Hall.

“We need a club that is a first step, and we think this would work so acts would then grow into the Paradise,’’ Law said previously.

“It will be similar musically to what’s at Paradise now, but just a level below,” said Vangel, who also books shows for Paradise and the House of Blues behind Fenway Park and will be replaced by another booking agent for Brighton Music Hall so he can focus on his other two concert spots.

Between now and its mid-January opening, the space will get a new, upgraded sound system and undergo cosmetic renovations – cleaning, painting along with sprucing up bathrooms and its exterior– though its layout and capacity will remain fixed, Mehigan said.

The new ownership will also need to seek permit approval from city and neighborhood groups before opening, which “we don’t expect will be an issue,” Mehigan said, adding that city officials and local residents have expressed support for Brighton Music Hall. The group had a hearing today with the city’s licensing board, which will make a decision to approve or not Thursday, and its final major hurdle will be to receive an OK from the state alcohol commission.

The first scheduled show, slated for Jan. 19 will bring Swedish-Japanese synth-pop group “Little Dragon.” The show will not necessarily be the opening act for the new venue, but it will likely host its first performance around then, said Vangel. Scheduling events earlier than that would fall during a typically slow period – between mid-December and mid-January – for Boston night clubs, as area college students are often away on winter break, he said.

Another show, featuring “The Hood Internet,” a Chicago duo who create mash-ups using hip-hop and indie rock songs, has been set for Feb. 11.

Tickets for both 18-plus, 9 p.m. shows are being sold through Ticketmaster’s website, which will be the venue’s online ticketing source. Tickets can also be bought service-charge free at Paradise’s box office before the show, or just prior to the show at the Brighton Music Hall’s doors.

Law, who Mehigan said will oversee the Brighton Music Hall’s booking, holds an executive position at Live Nation, which merged with Ticketmaster earlier this year – though their respective websites continue to run somewhat independently of one another. Law’s stake in Brighton Music Hall is being acted upon separately from his Live Nation affiliation, according to a previous Globe story.

The “Little Dragon” performance costs $15.50 per ticket, while admission for “The Hood Internet” will be $12. Ticket prices will likely range between $8 and $16.50 a piece with the majority being in the $12 range, Vangel said.

Around 10 other shows have been confirmed, but are not yet ready to be announced, he added.

Meanwhile, Harpers’ shows that were scheduled beyond this past Sunday have been relocated to various nearby venues. Thus far, the club’s general manager has declined repeated requests to comment further on Harpers’ history, its closing and why the lease was reportedly not renewed by the landlord.

The now empty concert hall’s website displays a message expressing gratitude to its fans.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.

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