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by Jordi Herold with David Sokol
With its five colleges and population of the progressive, cultured, and curious, the Pioneer Valley, and Northampton in particular, was an ideal spot for a new coffeehouse and music listening room in 1979. Not that there weren’t plenty of clubs, concert halls, and boogie bars in the area… there were. But the coffeehouse, that expanded into a 170-seat music hall in 1989, was different. From the very start, the Iron Horse drew caffeine-hungry musicians and Smith professors, students, locals, and colorful street people by day and music lovers of all genres by night.It was Jordi Herold’s vision that conjured up this scene. In the 25 years between 1979 and 2004—give or take a couple after he sold the club in 1994 and before he was hired to book it for Eric Suher in 1995—more than 8,500 shows were brought to the region under the Horse banner, most though not all of them at the club itself. The room, on an unassuming Northampton side street, became the heart of a cultural renaissance that rippled out from there, drawing hundreds of thousands of music lovers to its confines in the process.