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House of Blues Boston

 

House of Blues hits Lansdowne

 

Boston entertainment prince Patrick T. Lyons, in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation of his Lansdowne Street clubs, has sold them to the House of Blues chain.

Lyons will concentrate on restaurants and other entertainment spots he has opened in Boston and elsewhere. He had closed the popular music venues Avalon and Axis, adjacent to Fenway Park, to turn them into a bigger, flashier complex called the Music Hall.

And the House of Blues, which started in 1992 in a small house on Winthrop Street in Harvard Square and closed a decade later, will return to its roots in the Boston area - though in a venue some 10 times the size of the original.

 

"We know a little bit about the DNA of the House of Blues," said Lyons, a cofounder of the first House of Blues club. "They have the ability to book shows and bring in talent. We feel very comfortable with them taking over this asset that's so near and dear to our hearts."

Going with the demographic flow, Lyons, 55, is moving out of the music club and show business, which he entered in Buffalo in the early 1970s. He moved to Boston as manager of 15 Lansdowne St. - later called Avalon - in 1978.

 

Lyons is selling his company, That's Entertainment Inc., which operates the clubs, to House of Blues Entertainment Inc. No price was disclosed.

 

House of Blues Entertainment is owned by Live Nation, which was spun out from media giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. in 2005. The company, in partnership with Boston and Dublin restaurant operator Joe Dunne, purchased the Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue from Lyons late last year.

 

Avalon and Axis closed in October and are scheduled to reopen by the end of the year as an expanded $14 million complex that will include a music venue to accommodate 2,500, a 350-seat lounge and function room, and a 125-seat restaurant.

 

Work is about to begin on the plan by Cambridge Seven Architects Inc. that Lyons and a partner commissioned, and Lyons will continue to oversee design and construction.

"The only thing that has changed is in place of a sign that says Lansdowne Music Hall, it will say House of Blues," Lyons said yesterday. He will continue to own the real estate and will be landlord under a long-term lease to the House of Blues, which will book and operate the club.

The House of Blues, with a larger capacity than Avalon and Axis (formerly known as Boston-Boston, Metro, Citi, and Spit), is expected to be able to attract bigger-name acts.

Aidan J. Scully, senior vice president of House of Blues development, said, "I'm a Boston boy. We're coming home - I'm very excited about it." Scully, raised in Malden, was general manager of the House of Blues in Cambridge for about 15 years. He also worked in other Boston clubs and knows Lyons.

 

"He understands the business well enough to put together a multifunctional facility," Scully said of Lyons. "What he envisioned wasn't that far off from what we would want."

Scully also said Boston's new House of Blues, with about 50,000 square feet, limited seating, and VIP boxes, would be unique. "Historically we have created these venues not to be cookie-cutter," he said.

 

But, he added: "When you walk in you're going to know it's the House of Blues."

The House of Blues has about a dozen locations that use the HOB name, and it operates other entertainment facilities as well. It also operates a nonprofit foundation that teaches public school students about the history of American music.

Lyons said he would focus on his restaurants and other establishments, including Game On with its three locations, including Fenway, Lucky's, also with three locations, and Summer Shack restaurants, with four locations co-owned with Jasper White.

Lyons will also soon open a 250-seat restaurant, as yet unnamed, under the bleachers at Fenway Park.

 

He is currently partnering with chef Lydia Shire in Scampo, an upscale restaurant to open at the new Liberty Hotel in the former jail on Charles Street. And Lyons operates restaurants in Atlantic City, plus a nightclub and two restaurants at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

 

Thomas C. Palmer Jr.

January 29, 2008

 


Patrick Lyons is getting out of the Boston music scene.

 

The House of Blues is getting back into it.

 

Yesterday the Lyons Group confirmed it has sold properties located at 11-36 Lansdowne St., the site of shuttered clubs Avalon, Axis, Rocket Bar and Embassy - to Live Nation’s House of Blues chain.

 

Lyons’ previously announced plan to reopen Avalon and Axis as the Lansdowne Street Music Hall has been scrapped.

Live Nation Vice President of Communications John Vlautin confirmed the sale.

 

“It’s definitely going to be a House of Blues,” Vlautin said.

 

“We’re coming home to the Boston market,” said Aidan Scully, House of Blues senior vice president of development who helped launch the House of Blues chain’s original location in Harvard Square in 1992.

 

Scully said the Lansdowne Street House of Blues will open by the end of the year.

“We’re still putting in the final space plan and program,” Scully said. “We’re still solidifying the (construction) schedule, but the wrecking ball should show up shortly. It’s an aggressive schedule.”

 

The new venue will hold roughly 2,500 music fans in a general admission setting. It will include a mezzanine level with seating, not unlike the balcony of the old Avalon Ballroom. The building will be expanded into the adjacent Modern, Embassy and Rocket Bar spaces, which will be converted into the House of Blues restaurant operation.

 

“The whole package was put together as one property,” Curry said.

House of Blues was purchased by Live Nation last year, and currently has 10 venues under that name around the country, including one at Disney World. Unlike the pint-sized original Cambridge club, which closed in 2003, House of Blues venues no longer focus on blues and roots music, but present the same wide variety of pop and rock acts formerly presented at Avalon.

 

The purchase of Avalon and Axis continues Live Nation’s expansion, which includes a recent blockbuster deal to record and promote Madonna, and a tour promotion deal with Disney-rock band the Jonas Brothers.

 

A major force in summer concerts and amphitheater shows around the United States, Live Nation is looking to increase its revenues in cold weather months by buying small to mid-sized music venues. In the past year, Live Nation has been expanding its operation under the Fillmore name, taking over and renaming venues such as Irving Plaza in New York City and the Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami.

 

News of the sale comes after Lyons agreed in December to sell the 650-person Paradise Rock Club on Commonwealth Avenue to a partnership between Live Nation and local pub owner Joe Dunne. Lyons did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Lyons’ remaining properties on Lansdowne Street include Bill’s Bar, Jake Ivory’s Piano Bar, Mexican eatery La Verdad and the Fenway Park [map] sports bar Game On. Only Bill’s presents original live music.

 

Michael Marotta

 

 

 

 

 


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Avalon and Axis Closing Their Doors...

Courtesy: Jeff Miranda - Managing Editor - Northeastern News

Two popular Lansdowne music venues may close their doors this summer.

Avalon and Axis will be torn down to make way for a larger music venue at 15 Lansdowne St. On June 1, Patrick Lyons, a Boston nightclub figurehead who runs The Lyons Group, which develops real estate, won approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) board of directors to renovate the area.

Tentatively titled the Lansdowne Street Music Hall, Lyons said the 35,000 square foot venue will include a movable stage to accommodate both small and large acts and extra amenities for artists like dressing rooms.

Mimi d'Arbeloff, a
Lyons Group media spokesperson, said planning began six months ago and construction for the project will start as early as the end of this summer, noting they need no additional approval. It is expected to be completed within one year and estimated to cost about $14 million.

Lyon's long-term vision for
Lansdowne Street is to transform the nightlife scene into a 24-hour attraction and, along with the new music venue, includes a plan to add five more restaurants to the strip.

"It's basically been a dream of his for a very long time," d'Arbeloff said. "And the path began when the Red Sox committed themselves to staying at Fenway Park. During the course of the last couple of years, the city added trees, lighting and widened sidewalks to improve the neighborhood. This [renovation] seemed like the logical next step."

While
Lyon's ambitions for Lansdowne Street are being lauded by Mayor Thomas Menino and city officials, students are concerned that any drastic changes to the area may affect the college-friendly vibe that has thrived in the neighborhood for years.

Kristen Laux, a sophomore music industry major, said that along with the January decision to ban 19-plus nights from Boston clubs like Avalon and the Roxy, the new renovation plan is another attempt to limit the nightlife choices for college students.

"Students, especially those under-21, will be without some sort of activity at night, forcing kids to stay in their dorms or travel," Laux said. "It's the only street in Boston that has that young vibe."

Other students worry about the future of live music on Lansdowne Street. Avalon and Axis, which accommodate about 2,100 and 1,200 people respectively, typically give stage time to smaller, indie acts and local artists.

"It's going to be a lot harder for lower level bands to break in," said Sam Peisner, a middler communication studies and sociology major, who also plays in a band. "It'll be a lot more corporate."

Laux agreed and said a small venue like Axis provides "a much more intimate show, and you actually connect with the bands onstage." She also said the renovations appear to be targeting a much older demographic.

Jessica Shumaker, a media spokesperson for the BRA, said "the goal of ours is to have
Lansdowne Street to be active during the daytime, not to change any demographic. We definitely want to keep the nighttime presence."

D'Arbeloff disagreed with the notion that the area catered to the college-age set in the first place and said the changes will reflect the street's versatility.

"It will still have a little bit of everything, which is what
Lansdowne Street has always been," she said.

 

Phone:  617-262-2424

Fax:  617-437-7147

Address:  15 Lansdowne Street, Boston, MA  02215

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