History of Music in The Berkshires Shared Interest Group

The Road House Era


    Aspects of the rich history of music in the Berkshires are well known in our area and well beyond:  Tanglewood, the Music Barn/Inn, The Jazz School of Lenox, the Guthrie’s and James Taylor. 

    But other important aspects of Berkshires music history deserve to be much better known: such as the colorful history of roadhouses like Woody’s Roadhouse of Washington, which flourished in the 70’s and 80’s and were important sources of entertainment, community and social life - drawing to this area nationally prominent touring bands like Bonnie Raitt and Orleans.

    The goal of this SIG is to bring this colorful history to life and create a widely distributed podcast that documents it.

    Our SIG will explore the history of the local road houses and their music and musicians—and related topics such as:    

    • Country blues in the nearby Berkshires hill towns
    • The dance halls that were the forerunner of the road houses and were important early 20th century social institutions
    • The profusion of local brass and jazz bands that played in parks, at church socials and other venues that were forerunners of the road houses  

Our SIG will do hands-on research such as:

    • Searching for collectors who have recordings of Berkshires folk and rock music from the road house era
    • Research in local libraries, the Berkshire Eagle archives etc.—to provide historical context
    • Contacting representatives of artists like Bonnie Raitt and John Hall (of Orleans) to set up interviews about their memories of playing local venues and what attracted them to the Berkshires
    • “Field trips” to local venues like Pappa Bob’s and Listons that have survived from the road house era.

Please contact Mark Rosenman for more information about this SIG.

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