Celebrating 25 Years of WMBR's "Pipeline!" Radio Show and 50 Years of Boston Rock

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – To honor its 25th anniversary, the WMBR-FM Pipeline! live music radio show will host a 13-day concert event to celebrate 50 years of Boston's rich, rock and punk-underground music scene. From Friday, September 12 through Sunday, October 12, the event will feature some 80+, mostly "reunited" Boston rock bands (and a few from Providence) performing at five venues throughout the Greater Boston area including the Paradise in Boston, The Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, Brighton Music Hall in Allston, the Cuisine en Locale in Somerville and the Regent Theatre in Arlington.


Article by Joe Milliken * Courtesy Photos: 1. Original Pipeline! promotion 2. Robin Lane & The Chartbusters 3. Nisi Period 4. Fuzzy

WMBR-FM is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus radio station, a 720-watt station powered atop the Eastgate Building on Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA. Launched in 1989 and hosted on Tuesday nights by Jeff Breeze, Pipeline! was created as a live, local music show that would showcase rock and punk bands from the Boston metro area, Providence and throughout the Northeast. Each two-hour show features Breeze playing bands from all over New England, followed by a band playing live on the air and then a short interview to close out the show.

As for the upcoming special anniversary celebration to honor both Pipeline! and 50 years of Hub rock, the 80 bands chosen were hand-picked to represent the Boston-area rock/punk underground scene in all its glory. “The current host of Pipeline!, Jeff Breeze, called me at the end of March and said he'd like my help in putting together a 25th anniversary show,” Bob Dubrow said in a recent, exclusive Standing Room Only interview. Dubrow is a current announcer and producer at WMBR and past host of Pipeline!.

“The last celebration of this kind was in 1999 for the show's 10th anniversary, back when I hosted the show. We put together that reunion show Downstairs at the Middle East in Boston, which featured Volcano Suns, The Titanics, Busted Statues, Moving Targets, The Voodoo Dolls and Yukki Gipe, with the Targets playing Bullet LaVolta songs... it was a sell-out and big success! So I suggested we do something similar to that again and Jeff was all for it... he gave me the go-ahead and the whole thing kind of blew up – I just refuse to recognize any limits to what this celebration could be.”

Once Dubrow got the ball rolling on the event, more and more nights were added when bands that Bob has been a fan of kept contacting him as to join the line up. There were a few open slots left, however, they have now all been filled. Some of the bands that will be reuniting and performing go all the way back to the heart of the 1960's, such as Boston University's Barry & The Remains, who opened for The Beatles on their last tour, or Phillips Academy's (Andover, Massachusetts) own The Rising Storm, arguably the best prep band in the country at the time, and the late-60s psychedelia of The Freeborne, who opened for the Velvet Underground at a late-60s Boston Tea Party concert.

Representing the rowdy 1970's are proto-punkers and longtime favorites such as Willie (Loco) Alexander & The Boom Boom Band, rockers Reddy Teddy and The Nervous Eaters, the power-pop exploits of The Atlantics and the punk and garage vibes of Unnatural Axe, Stranglehold and The Dogmatics.

With the 1980's and 90's came a surge of new bands and venues to rock in, such as The Paradise Rock Club, The Rathskeller (affectionately known as The Rat) and The Channel, as well as an array of Landsdowne Street clubs, Cambridge mainstays such as T. T. The Bears and the Middle East and additional venues throughout Allston, Brighton, Somerville and Arlington.

The 80's started with the unmistakeable debut of Robin Lane and The Chartbusters, which paved the way for other rock, punk and garage favorites such as The Dogmatics, The Neats, Dumptruck, The Flies, The Bags, Big Dipper and Nisi Period. All of these bands will be appearing at the festival in one form or another. “We've played on WMBR plenty of times over the years, going back to when Carter Allen was the DJ at MBR,” Robin Lane said in a recent, exclusive Standing Room Only interview.

“They were one of the first stations – even before WBCN – to play “When Things Go Wrong” and some of our other songs as well. Robin Lane & The Chartbusters also took part in another Pipeline! show a few years back and Bob Dubrow already knew us from that event. So, he contacted me through Facebook and then I got in touch with the other members of my band about doing the upcoming show.”

Kris Thompson is the original bssist for Nisi Period, a dark, psychedelic post-punk band that rocked Boston from 1989 to 1995. “Yes, Nisi Period appeared live on Pipeline! back in 1992, but the band was in a temporary poor state of group-mind at the time, as most of us had gotten blotto drunk at the Red Hat beforehand,” Kris Thompson remembered in a recent Standing Room Only interview. “The performance was zoo-like and riotous... and probably not in a good way... I recall a plastic trumpet getting passed around.

“But we prefer to think of a different occasion, of playing for Bob on his previous WMWM (Salem State College) radio show called The Rumble Seat. Now that performane was really fun... Bob had told us that most bands scaled down a bit to play there, beause it involved playing in the medium-sized air studio with no monitor speakers. So, we developed a set using acoustic guitars, E-bowed dobra, toy keyboards, xylophone and all sorts of assorted percussion... including a toaster.

“We are really looking forward to the show and it wasn't hard for us to prepare to do this upcoming performance, as six of the seven members all still live in the Boston area. Plus, we had already reunited two years ago for another WMBR event – the 20th anniversary of their Bats in the Belfrey show.”

Of course, the 90's brought us the haunting wonder of the late Mark Sandman and Morphine (and before that Treat Her Right), along with the pop-rock likes of Fuzzy, Gigolo Ants and the Dambuilders. Meanwhile, the newest wave of rock and punk favorites thrilled the local masses like The Sheila Divine, The Dents and The Charms. Fuzzy appeared on Pipeline! a couple times while they were together (1994-2000). "I remember us all feeling right at home and at ease for the show, thanks to Bob's comfortable, easy-going manner and good humor," Fuzzy lead singer Chris Toppin said in a recent, SRO interview.

"And we always sounded great, thanks to the expert engineering of Andy Hong. I particularly appreciated that Bob and Andy never balked at our volume level, as many other radio stations had done in the past. In fact we were encouraged to be ourselves and because of the nature of our vintage equipment... we did! They never complained and in fact, seemed to enjoy it!"

Of course, the main issue with the huge undertaking of this event was not finding bands that wanted to participate, but rather finding the proper venues to host the shows. “I was looking for venues that hold a capacity of 400 or more, which seemed to be the magic number, and things went well despite having to start booking the series late in the day, just four months before the festival was to begin,” Dubrow said.

"However, recently, a handful of venue dates fell through,” Bob added. “But a new space for live music, Cuisine en Locale in Somerville, came to the rescue and took every open date.” Cuisine en Locale is a community-based, sustainable food company located in the former Anthony's Function Hall on Highland Ave. “Jeff also works there and I quickly discovered that the owner, JJ Gonson, and all the employees were Boston rockers (and some quite notable) and it just felt right.”

Although some of the acts performing at this 25 year, multi-day celebration did not originally appear on Pipeline!, about 60 percent had, which creates a unique mixture of talent in which some bands got to experience the radio show's influence, while others weren't so fortunate for one reason or another. Either way, everyone involved seems to realize the importance of this influential radio show and wants to be a part of the celebration. The following is a run-down for the entire series of shows stretched over the four venues. The four-week celebration begins on Sept. 12 and ending on Oct. 12:

Friday, Sept. 12 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA.: The Freeborne, O Positive, Cordelia's Dad, We saw The Wolf and String Builder. Visit http://regenttheatre.com for ticket information.

Saturday, Sept. 13 at Cuisine en Locale in Somerville, MA.: Stranglehold, The Turbines, The Neats' Eric Martin & Friends, The Dogmatics, Baby's Arm and Miranda Warning. Visit http://pipelineatcel1.eventbrite.com for tickets.

Saturday, Sept. 19 at Cuisine en Locale in Somerville, MA.: Nisi Period, Someone & the Somebodies, Pods, Purple Ivy Shadows, Mistle Thrush, Curious Ritual and Ultrbreakfast Visit http://pipelineatcel1.eventbrite.com for tickets.

Sat, Sept. 20 at Cuisine en Locale in Somerville, MA.: The Sheila Divine, Dirt Merchants, The Gravel Pit, Fertile Virgin, Honeybunch and Evol Twin. Visit http://pipelineatcel1.eventbrite.com for tickets.

Friday, Sept. 26 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA.: Dumptruck, Vapors of Morphine, Big Dipper's Bill Goffrier & Friends, The Jigsaws and The Barnies. Visit http://regenttheatre.com for tickets.

Friday, Sept. 27 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA.: The Remains, Cardinal and The Downbeat 5,
Visit http://regenttheatre.com for tickets.

Sunday, Sept. 28 at The Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA.: Anastesia Screamed, The Flies, Bentmen, Men & Volts, The Nervous Eaters, The F.U.'s/Strawdogs. Visit http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/01004D05B46F8119

Friday, Oct. 3 at The Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge: Fuzzy, The Blood Oranges, Robin Lane & The Chartbusters, Tacklebox, Lazy Susan and Buttercup. Visit http://ticketweb.com for tickets.

Saturday, Oct. 4 at The Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge: The Clamdiggers (proto-Upper Crust), Orangutang, Bulkhead, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Kudgel, Quintaine Americana and Crazy Alice. Visit http://www.ticketweb.com for tickets.

Sunday, Oct. 5 at the Paradise Rock Club in Bosotn: Heretix, Willie Alexander & The Boom Boom Band, Shake The Faith, Reddy Teddy, The Charms, Big City Rockers (The Atlantics) High Risk Group and Kristina and carol of Quivvver. Visit http://www.ticketmaster.com for tickets

Friday, Oct. 10 at Cuisine en Locale in Somerville, MA.: Green Magnet School, Orbit, The Red Telephone, Hullabaloo, Permafrost (Miles Dethmuffen), Unnatrual Axe and Luca Brasi. Visit http://pipelineatcel4.eventbrite.com for tickets.

Saturday, Oct. 11 at Cuisine en Locale in Somerville, MA.: The Cavedogs, Gigolo Aunts, Flying Nuns, The Rising Storm, Drumming on Glass, The Natives, The Dambuilders' Dave Derby & Friends. Visit http://pipelineatcel4.eventbrite.com for tickets.

Sunday, Oct. 12 at The Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge: The Gizmos, The Bags, The Voodoo Dolls, Kenny Chambers/Electric Ears (Moving Targets), The Underachievers and Carrie Bradley (of Ed's Redeeming Qualities, The Breeders and The Buckets). Visit http://www.ticketweb.com for tickets.