Monday, November 30, 2015

The Ranch House In Marshfield Sold?


People who grew up on the South Shore have long known that her time had passed... but it still hurts to see her go.

There are rumors that The Ranch House in Marshfield, which has been closed for most (closed in 2004) of this current century, has been sold. They were asking a mere $365K, reduced from $373K. It is zoned for Residential use now, so get ready for a McMansion or some condos.

Before that happens, they're going to have to put the wrecking ball to a local hardcore icon.

It makes sense. The derelict old building was a fire waiting to happen. I'm sure that some homeless have squatted in it. It's a vine-covered eyesore. If you get close, it smells like 1970s white trash vomit. Whatever rodents are running around your Canal Street yard probably winter in there. Out-of-town drunks still make the Hajj, only to find disappointment. It should have come down long ago.

That doesn't mean that we won't miss it.


There are bars and clubs all over the South Shore, but none of them were in The Ranch House's league as a den of debauchery. Set between a beach neighborhood and a marsh on Canal Street, it was at least a regional capital of the Irish Riviera.

You couldn't ask for an uglier locale. It looked like someone made it for a Patrick Swayze bouncer movie. The actual bar in the film Road House was miles ahead of the Green Harbor landmark as far as aesthetics go, and that movie was supposed to be about a dive.

To keep it Hollywood for people who may never have been inside... it's pretty much exactly like the bar that the Blues Brothers had to sing Rawhide in... except that bar was classier.

You parked on a dirt lot, wherever you could fit. If you had 4WD, you could park in the marsh. Once inside, you sat at the sort of tables that you see in the backyards of poor rural families. I think that they may have bought their chairs from a high school closing, and they were the perfect size/weight to hit someone with. The exposed rafters had the authenticity that you just don't get when a yuppie restaurant has exposed rafters- you were supposed to swing from these beams.

photos from Molisse Real Estate ("Selling the entire South Shore") ad for the property
She was, once you dotted the Is and crossed the Ts, a concert venue. Some of the greats trotted across that humble stage. Aerosmith played there when they were nobodies. I'm pretty sure that The Cars earned their stripes there. At least some of the J. Geils Band played there, if not the whole bunch of them at the same time. The Fools played there both before and after scoring a big hit.

You also had regional superpowers like Clutch Grabwell, Jim Plunkett or the Fat City Band playing there. You had cover bands galore, including Crystal Ship of Bitchin' Camaro fame. You had bands that never crossed the goal line, like the The Steamers, The Well Endowed Gentlemen, Silent Underground, Itchy Fish, Feel Thing and Exit 11. First ballot Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer Joe Perry of Aerosmith and little-known Hannes Schneider of the Injurys (I asked them, it's supposed to be spelled wrong) plugged their guitars into the same outlet.

A thousand other local bands tried and failed there. Your friend who can play the guitar a bit may have secured a slot there in his youth, only to find that their drawing power was limited to family and very close friends.


This focus on live music gave The Ranch House a different crowd than the dozen gin mills nearby.

Rather than a gathering of locals (although they were well-represented), TRH usually had a good crop of road trip people who were there because they liked the band. For a guy who struck out with the whole South Shore, the new girls this diversity provided probably prevented an alienated loner-style mass shooting at some point in my 20s the late 1980s.

You also had people- sometimes bikers- who came just because of TRH's reputation as a rowdy bar. The rowdy bar part worked for the locals. If your houseparty got the wrong crowd and it was time to move it to the bar... but if you didn't want to ruin your good name at the local bar that you frequent... that's why God gave us the Ranch House.

Beyond that, it becomes a hazy collage of drunken memories:

- I know a guy who got knocked out at the Ranch House, another guy who got his jaw broken, a third guy who tried to pepper spray some behemoth and the spray failed, catching him an extra-effort whupping. I know a guy who got a bottle broken over his head. I know a girl who slapped another girl unconscious there, and a bystander girl who got hit with a pool cue during a fight she wasn't in.

- I want to make sure to tip a glass to Mary, the waitress with the inexhaustible supply of miniskirts. She had a sister who worked there, forget her name, may have been Elaine some form of Teresa.

- Close to when the business sold, I saw Steven Tyler pay a visit to owner Dorothy Hudson there during a show with a full house. Some drunk walked up to him and said, "Hey, you're Steven Tyler," and Tyler went "No sh*t?"

- There's a rumor about a 70s era bouncer who threw a guy up the chimney.

- You could hear music and even distinguish song lyrics from Ranch House bands in Duxbury Beach neighborhoods. I may post this in a few Duxbury groups to see if the noise made it across the marsh into Duxbury Proper in the right weather conditions.

- It is very possible that Joe Perry, who at times lives a half mile across an open marsh from TRH, could sit on his back porch and listen to local Axemen trying to play Aerosmith covers on the Ranch House stage.

- A house on Ocean Road North in Duxbury once brought the bar home for an afterparty, even the band and their instruments.

- The loss of The Ranch House, coupled with the residentializing of Paddock's Package Store, means the end of Canal Street as a business district. It also killed two of my favorite spots with a range from about age 5 to 32.

- The Green Harbor General Store and the Brant Rock Market gained Paddock's beer/snacks customers. The local rowdies from TRH bled into the other local pubs.

- If your formerly low-key tavern deteriorated into rowdiness during the late Bush II era, that's most likely what happened to it.

They don't make 'em like The Ranch House anymore.

Marsh Vegas still has some rowdy bars, but it ain't what it once was.

Brian's Place is a Mama Mia's franchise now. The various bars that occupy the spot at the Green Harbor Marina are edging towards Yuppiedom. The Ocean Cafe, once the ugliest building that I ever enjoyed eating in, is now a lovely place that people call Haddad's. The Venus II got a facelift.

Marshfield- especially the Irish Riviera part- will never be a really delicate place. But it is changing...

Just one "Anyone have any Ranch House pics I can use?" post on Facebook brought up at least one Duxbury Wannabe comment regarding the nature of the neighborhood. Someone else called it "Duxbury Delusion Syndrome."

Coastal property- even if it is a few streets back- never loses that much value. Not everyone can hang onto the family cottage, nor can they turn down the money they can make selling it to some rich family.

The next thing you know, the people who own the rowdy hard-rock bar see the future coming, lack the desire to transition into something Yuppie, and decide to sell the property.

There were nibbles in 2004, but it's hard to build when you abut wetlands, have a reputation as the go-to rowdy bar on the South Shore that will take a generation to erase, and will immediately require a tear-down (it's essentially a giant doghouse) and re-build. I loved The Ranch House, but I wouldn't have dreamed of eating in that building, even bagged potato chips.

Most people have higher tastes than me, and that pretty much punched the ticket for The Ranch House.

It sucks when a relic from your past has to go away, and no one stays young forever. The live music scene is lessened for it, and you'll have to drive a bit to see a band in any sort of building that isn't better suited to a breakfast buffet. Most people will forget soon enough.

But not all...

It will be funny if whoever builds there throws up a large structure, and has to continually answer the door and tell people that The Ranch House no longer exists.

We probably aren't too far from a day where people will have to stop the car and think about exactly where The Ranch House used to be. There was once a time when there would have been no question about it.

You know that I'm stealing that Wagon Wheel. Dibs!

45 comments:

  1. WHAT?? No mention of the Steamers or Duke and the Drivers??? What's wrong with you??

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    1. I suppose the Steamers merit a mention, I may edit it.

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    2. The Lines as well. 2 places on the South Shore for live music Ranch House and The Surf/Uncle Sams. How many a fool I saw get escorted down the stairs without touching any

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    3. The Fools for sure graced that stage more than once

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    4. The Coinz was our band and we played there several times in the early 80s. Backed up the T's several times. What a great venue for live music. The Coinz are back now and playing at the British beer company in Walpole and other local watering holes. Come check us out.

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  2. Anyone remember Cat's Ass ???

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    1. YES My favorite cannot believe no mention of them!!

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    2. One of my favorites.

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  3. How about the phone booth a.k.a. "excuse booth". that was on the inside of the ranch house. It was a pay phone and there were background noises that you could select - airport sounds , a baby crying the doorbell ringing a dog barking , typing sounds for office ...... so that way you could pretend you were anywhere but the RANCHHOUSE when you needed to call home or have an excuse ! Go back to drinking dancing and wilding ! ha ha Ha good funny memories

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  4. Played there many, many nights. Got to open for the Fools one night. They were the coolest band we ever shared a stared with. I asked the sound guy if they were going to play Night for Beautiful Girls. Said it wasn't on the list but he would ask. He did and they did. What a night!

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  5. My friends Dana and Rachel met at this fine establishment. We thought the sawdust on the floor was to give it the truly iconic Ranch style feel but it was to make cleaning up puke and spilled drinks that much easier. Dana and Rachel married and the wedding party adorned mullet wigs while being announced into the reception. A true dive bar does not die, it just fades away.

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  6. played there many times with my band D'Spayre

    here are some videos of us there
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjVU-aT5E3Q

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0Ji1U_S1-E

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxP8qypsYyk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mXfNkSBcvo

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  7. Southbound ROCKED that place MANY times and should also be mentioned !!

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  8. Back in the 60's my dad was a Marshfield cop and many weekends that was his beat. He would sit outside on the edge of the parking lot in his pickup truck. Funny thing is I grew up in Marshfield and never stepped foot in the place.

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    1. I used to visit The Ranch House on Sunday afternoons in the mid 60's. They had a 4 piece Dixie Land band that played 4 to 8PM. They were good, and the Bud was always cold !

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    2. The Ranch House Sunday afternoons was the best, relax, play some pool, loved it. It was also one of the few places you could really go dancing without driving into the city. Great memories of easier times....

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  9. Loved it, everyday. My mom was a waitress there and I remember playing on the pool tables....when I got a little older we'd cross the marsh and listen to the band's play...by the time I hit 21, the ranch was closed...now almost 40, I've learned that my father-in-laws friends and family all hung out there...miss my little home town...sad to see another landmark go.

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  10. I was the singer in the band Madcow in the 90's. That was a run down place but rocking out there has very fond memories. So sad to see it go. I can remember our rhythm guitarist standing on tables during a show and our bass player going up to marshfield pizza just before a show at the Raunch House and even though he was 5 minutes away he was late for us to be on stage and then his fingers bled all over his bass. We had about 10 shows there, opened up for Entropy and Draw the Line as well as some other bands I don't remember the names of. Such Good Times...

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    1. def con 1....ah the memories!"""

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  11. THE T`s also packed the raunch on many a night

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  12. Love that place good old days;-) :-P

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  13. Two Hingham High School teachers Dick Jensen and George Murphy and several students had a '50's band called Conrad and the Pickups back in 74-75. Mr. Jensen was Conrad and did most of the vocals. Mr. Murphy played piano and also sang. They were very good. They played "The Raunch" either Wed. or Thursday nights during the summer of '75 and we'd drink a six pack on the ride from Hingham. Our drink of choice those nights other than the cheap beer was the Rusty Nail, made with Drambuie and Scotch. So much fun getting bombed and dancing back then. And to think we were legal at 18! Duke and the Drivers got back together to play there sometime around 2006and it was a pilgrimage to turn back the clock for a night!

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  14. Spent many nights hanging out shooting pool and played with my band there several times. The Steamers packed that place on many a Wednesday night with a line out the door. Drinking age was 18 back then and business was good. Cat's Ass was a favorite and the boys from Duke and the Drivers would stop in to hang out or jump on stage with their friends. Eddy the bartender was great at breaking up fights along with Chuck the bouncer. Never saw a fight though when Chuck was there because he scared the crap out of anybody who looked at him. Still have some old board recordings from there on 8 track tape and reel to reel.

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    1. I think Chuck the bouncer was my brother....

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  15. What an awesome article! You took me back to some fun, fun summer evenings!

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  16. Summer 1968: After bouncing at the Rex, I picked up the ugliest girl in the USA. She was listening to Elvis on the juke box. Took her home. In the AM everyone of my f'ing roommates bailed at first sight. Such memories!

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  17. The Ranch House had the best ever dance floor! You could just slide with freedom and be find yourself dancing with3 or 4 people.It's where everyone went to enjoy all the great local bands. The place opened up in summer on Sunday after noons in the late 70's so it's where you went to after the beach!

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  18. Played there many times circa 1989-1990 with a band called Slant Six and opened up for The Fools a few times. Proud to have our band's picture on the back wall with a bazillion other bands. The club treated the bands right. I remember coming off stage to a case of beer on ice in the back room. Great times and a great write-up that captures the wise-ass flavor of the region. I don't live around there anymore and reading this takes me right back.

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  19. I remember doing the Thursday night gigs. Dolly H. was the greatest.

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  20. Two other things, the bartender dude from Weymouth who had that crazy British accent, and the sound guy was Robbie Jarvis, a saint if there ever was one...

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  21. My first job as a waitress was at the Ranch House early 80's! Wowo thse were some good times in Brant Rock/Green Harbor/Marshfield!!

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  22. Cat's ass was cat's association. There guitar player worked at the guitar shop in Marshfield center. Mary was the waitress, and her twin sister was tereasa. Late 80's. Lost many a brain cell in there watching the fools, etc. Rip rance house!!!

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  23. I last played The Ranch House in October 2003 with my mates in The PsychoRelics,10 months before they closed. I do have some pictures of the gig with the Budweiser sign just left of the stage. Good Times!
    I wish that I could get a piece of the green room wall, where all the bands signed their names when playing there. A Who's Who of rock legends!

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  24. Get Ready for the Ranch House Revisited! The Jetty, 278 Ocean St in Marshfield will be hosting it the week of April 11, 2016. We already have two of the bands listed on the chalk board in the photo above booked. Im guessing since its still on the chalkboard that those were the last bands to grace the stage at The Ranch House. We will continue to book bands that played at the Ranch House until the week and week end are full of Ranch House musicians.
    Richard@thejetty-marshfield.com

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  25. Went there starting about 45 years ago. Last time to hear Fat City. Some good memories.

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  26. We used to call it the raunch house.

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  27. This is very historical for me. I indeed appreciate it. Just in case you are finding home in Duxbury MA, I can provide you with a potentially great and stable way to invest money. There are many different factors to consider when investing in the real estate market. Just follow our link.

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  28. did Susan Tedeschi ever play there in her earlier years?, I thought I saw a blues-guitar playing gal once, can't remember who it was, she shredded SRV..

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  29. Sounds like an East Coast version of Colorado's Pioneer Inn. My preppie ass worked there in the 70's and had to mace/subdue/run from a few derelicts, hippies and hard rock miners. Its still there,but trimmed out as more of a low key fern/bar these days...

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  30. Last Years Ranch House event was so fun, we are making the entire Month of April 2017, Ranch House Month at The Jetty-Marshfield. Every band that plays the Jetty in April 2017 will have a Ranch House Pedigree. We have many of the bands from last year returning, and we have also found some more that you guys suggested. We only have a 1 or 2 Fridays left to fill and a few Thursdays.
    See all you music lovers in April at The Jetty-Marshfield

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  31. Do not forget Infractions, Shay Tay, Injuries, South Bound.

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  32. Great place to here live bands.Big stage and lots of room. Got to play there when I was only 18, someone got me in to play drums Lp...
    Will always be thankful for some of the first stage experiences.

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  33. Great place to see live bands. Nice large stage and plenty of room to dance. Someone got me in there when I was 16 to play drums Lp.
    What a rock to you drop night.

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