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City Winery Opens In Boston, Offering Live Music And Wine

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Michael Dorf, founder and CEO of City Winery, which recently opened in Boston.
Marilyn Schairer/WGBHnews
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171005_hith_city_winery_michael_dorf_final.mp3

WGBH News' Henry Santoro interviews Michael Dorf, the CEO of City Winery, now open in Boston. Below is a lightly edited transcription of the interview.

Henry Santoro: Michael Dorf is the founder and CEO of City Winery, a rapidly expanding wine focused restaurant and music venue that's located at One Canal Street in Boston. Boston is the fifth city for City Winery. The others are New York, Nashville, Chicago and Atlanta, and there are several more in the works. And it's my pleasure to welcome Michael Dorf to WGBH and Weekend Edition and to Henry In The Hub. Michael, great to meet you.

Michael Dorf: Great to meet you, Henry. You're a legend.

HS: As are you, for that matter. Congratulations, first of all, on the Boston location. So let's go back to 1987, the legendary New York club, the Knitting Factory. You co-founded that with your partner; it became known for a very certain type of music. Two [people] that come to mind are John Zorn, and of course, The Lounge Lizards. How would you describe that music, and did it find you or did you find it?

MD: Both. There was a real need in New York for a place that was kind of open to all kinds of things, not even just music, [but] poetry and weird dance performances, and just an open mind. And so, we did both jazz and instrumental. We also did a lot of rock, alternative stuff, the Indigo Girls and Sonic Youth, and Beck's first show. I love it all. My record collection is not as big as your record collection, but I love all kinds of music, and I was just a young kid who wanted to be part of it. I wanted to have that Jack Kerouac kind of existence in the club world, and so, having Allen Ginsburg in the space was, for me, a highlight. I just wanted it all to happen there.

HS: And it had that beat feel to it?

MD: That's kind of what we were striving for. You know, it was a struggle, I don't think we ever made any money the whole time. I mean a little bit, but not much. It was not about the money. I didn't have a family and kids, I slept in the back for the first two years to survive.

HS: Just as the Knitting Factory represented a type of music and a vibe, does City Winery represent a certain type of music and a vibe, as well?

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City Winery Founder Michael Dorf meets up with Henry Santoro in the WGBH studio in Brighton.
Marilyn Schairer/WGBH News

MD: Yeah. Some people say it's a Knitting Factory for grownups. It's certainly [a] different life cycle for me and I was building something really for me. I wanted a place that I would love to go to and I've become into wine. And so I want to drink wine in a real glass, not a plastic cup. I want to have a real list, because one day I might be into some old Italian, Sicilian wine and next I want a younger, Willamette Pinot from Oregon. So I wanted that experience, and luckily, there's a lot of other people who share ... those same needs.

HS: You've already created this perfect niche for the type of artists that we're talking about.

MD: Well the world has changed, as we know, in the last 10 years. It used to be artists would tour to support a record and that's their primary source of income. Now those are meaningless and it's all about live music. Live music has become the precious good, and we've just created a really better mousetrap for the particular artists now that need to work, want to work, and want to be in a real listening room.

HS: Michael we are so glad that you are in Boston. Michael Dorf is the founder and CEO of City Winery — it’s off to the races. Michael, thanks so much.

MD:  Thank you for having me.

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