Iron Horse Music Hall
|Address||20 Center St.
|Owner||Iron Horse Entertainment Group|
|Opened||24 February 1979|
The Iron Horse Music Hall is a music venue located in Northampton, Massachusetts, west of Boston and north of Springfield, Massachusetts. Its motto is Music Alone Shall Live. The music has showcased a wide variety of musical genres and performing artists in past years, including artists such as Richie Havens, Leo Kottke, Janis Ian, Livingston Taylor, Duke Robillard, Ellis Paul and Vance Gilbert.
Jordi Herold and John Riley opened the club on February 24, 1979 as a bohemian cafe with 85 seats. The club (doubled in size in the late 1980s) is home to many kinds of music and talent ranging from popular local performers to artists of international repute. In college, Herold fantasized about opening a club and placed a bid on space in Amherst. (Needs Verification) After limited initial success, he began teaching for the Amherst, Massachusetts public school system.
John Riley was responsible for bringing the first jazz shows into the club. In the early years of operation, music was really a complement to the room's ambiance as opposed to the main event, live music was limited to a strict format of classical chamber music (Thursdays), jazz (Fridays) and folk and classical (Saturdays) and the talent was mostly local. The club gained recognition when national acts Dave Van Ronk and the Heath Brothers played the club during its first year.
By 1982, musical performers played the Horse on a regular basis, with many performers being nationally known or critically renowned artists. Some now well known acts such as Suzanne Vega, Stanley Jordan, George Winston, Michelle Shocked, Tracy Chapman, Dar Williams, Northampton-area native Sonya Kitchell and comedian Steven Wright performed at the Iron Horse before they became nationally known artists. The lineup of musicians has also included legendary reggae group Toots & the Maytals, Michael Franti, pop-rock icon John Mayer, monster guitarist Jorma Kaukonen (a founding member of Jefferson Airplane), pioneering free-jazz pianist Cecil Taylor, folk-blues legend Taj Mahal, alternative-rock band They Might Be Giants, psychedelic-folk act The Incredible String Band, rock musician Jesse Malin, folk-rocker Steve Forbert, Chicago blues guitarist Jimmy Dawkins, children's musician Mister G the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, and rapper George Watsky. The Iron Horse closed for a time in the 90's, but was eventually reopened.
The music hall continues to operate, and food and beverages are served on the premises. The Iron Horse is owned and managed by the Iron Horse Entertainment Group, owned by Eric Suher. IHEG also manages the Calvin Theater, Pearl Street Nightclub, The Basement, Pines Theater, and Mountain Park Amphitheater
- Social Web site
- See "The Iron Horse Turns 10" By David Sokol, originally published on Feb. 20, 1989 in The Valley Advocate.