Square Will Soon Sing the Blues

For Hard Rock Cafe co-founder Isaac B. Tigrett, there's no place like Harvard Square for a House of Blues.

Tigrett said he wanted to locate the flagship blues bar, set to open on Winthrop Street in less than a month, in "the epicenter for radical thought."

"We want to serve as a resource for positive social change in the community, not to be perceived as some large chain invading it," said Jan C. Larsan '89, community liaison for the club.

According to Larsan, the House of Blues plans to slate big names for benefit events to prove their dedication to the community.

Obviously, the club has an interest in the blues as well as in community activism.

"To educate people [about the blues] will be one of our main focuses--and to reveal in the process our homespun roots," said Colston P. Burgher, one of the operating managers for the bar.

Memorabilia from past blues performers will hang from the ceilings and patrons can choose their own selections at each booth from a 20,000 song play list.

Club officials were not sure how often live bands would be featured or whether there would be a cover charge.

"Our central mission is to enable everyone to celebrate the blues as the taproot of modern American musical forms," said Larsan.

The club has made contact with Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, Phillips Brooks House and area homeless organizations in anticipation of the benefits, Larsan says.

Larsan has also spoken with Associate Professor of Music Graeme Boone about having Boone's jazz core class do a case study on "the musical and sociological setting of jazz in a capitalistic setting."

Marianne Koole, manager of Grendel's Den, praised the new bar, saying it will likely increase traffic in the Square business district.

Students are looking forward to the bar as well.

"Graeme Boone has certainly done a great job of spreading the jazz gospel to the Harvard minions," said Eric R. Columbus '93. "The question is, will they love it at midnight the way they love it at noon?"

But Columbus, like other Harvard students, says the bar's success may depend on whether they mix "a mean gin and tonic."

If the Square location succeeds, House of Blues officials say New Orleans and Los Angeles will be the next locations.