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Exciting New Music Frontiers: Boston Creates and the Open Music Initiative

Two stories came to my attention recently that could be potential game-changers for indie musicians. Both involve major initiatives taking place in the Boston area. One, Boston Creates, could greatly assist musicians and other artists living and working in Boston. The other, the Open Music Initiative, could impact the lives (and livelihoods) of musicians around the world.

Boston Creates

Following Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s election in 2013, a Chief of Arts and Culture position was created along with increased funding for the arts in the city, and the Boston Creates cultural planning program was established. These sorts of initiatives tend to be very slow in coming together, but since then, they’ve been engaging the public in a series of town hall meetings, focus groups, interviews, a survey and an online map of cultural assets. Recently, the plan was drawn up and it looks like real action is about to start taking place.

The results of these efforts can now been seen in the Boston Creates Cultural Plan. There’s a lot of reading here, from information about the research process through the plan’s creation, implementation and action items. If you’re interested, do check it out. However, the basic gist of it is that the city is putting some money into improving the situation for artists and their audiences (long overdue), in addition to encouraging art education in schools (and often-overlooked subject). This is a very good thing. Some of the key problems they found include the need for affordable cultural spaces and facilities, the lack of affordable housing and work space for Boston artists and imbalances and gaps in funding for Boston artists, the arts and cultural organizations. It was also found that there is a need for better arts education programs in Boston public schools.

The good news is that they have a 10-year action plan, and the plan details recommendations and action items. Since the plan was recently approved and put into play, musicians and other artists living (or attempting to live) in the Boston area may find some help in the way of funding and resources. To keep apprised of the latest news, visit the Boston Creates site.

Open Music Initiative

This wonderful initiative began as a collaboration between the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) and the MIT Media Lab. They state the mission of the Open Music Initiative as being “to promote and advance the development of open source standards and innovation related to music, to help assure proper compensation for all creators, performers and rights holders of music.” Not a moment too soon. Lack of artist compensation by streaming media sites has been widely documented, and that’s just one part of the wider problem that makes it nearly impossible for musicians — unless they’re superstars — to make a decent living. The way music licensing, distribution and ownership works is complex and often quite secretive. The Open Music Initiative seeks to make the entire process more transparent and fair, and that’s definitely something to cheer.

Fortunately, there has been a lot of industry interest in this, both from big names to independent musicians. Some of the entertainment companies that have signed on include YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, Netflix, NPR and major labels Universal, Sony and Warner. Perhaps if the process of identifying music rights was easier, there would be fewer lawsuits and more fairly paid artists. What they propose is a global infrastructure — a shared, open database of music ownership rights. They believe this would help to speed up payment to the artists from the entities that play their music. This would include streaming sites, internet radio, podcases, YouTube and elsewhere. As Panos Panay, founder of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, describes the music business, “It’s one of the few industries that I know where you can use something and it’s OK to not really know who to pay. We don’t think that that should be acceptable.”

This ambitious project, if it is successful, will change the outdated methods of rights identification to reflect our current digital landscape. For more information, read this article from local NPR station WBUR, and visit the Open Music Initiative. For now, there will be a three-week summer innovation lab led by BerkleeICE and collaborator IDEO.

Boston Creates: web | facebook | twitter | boston creates cultural plan

Open Music Initiative: web | business wire article | yahoo finance article

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A Fitting and Festive Eulogy for Johnny D’s!

The closing of a legendary neighborhood institution after 47 years (2 months, 13 days) seems too big to try to sum up in a lowly article. There’s the importance of this fine club for the many bands that graced its small stage, artists that somehow fell outside of the usual rock fare of most of the other venues around town. These were bands that were rootsy, country, bluegrass, folk, world music, singer-songwriter and others that were ‘none of the above’ (Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, anyone?). Johnny D’s was also extremely important for, ok, I’ll go ahead and say it, the older folks who still love live music, but can’t deal with the bootcamp atmosphere of Boston’s rock clubs. Johnny D’s had a comfortable homey roadhouse feel, with tables where you could enjoy a nice dinner and an intimate musical performance. They had an amazing history of artists, both local luminaries and world-famous names, and they will be greatly missed. However, the stellar send-off for this wonderful venue was done in pure New Orleans style, with fantastic music from local legend Ken Field and his phenomenal Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, the equally stellar Harpageddon and a traditional second line parade around Davis Square.

Ken Field and the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble

Ken Field and the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble

Harpageddon -- and one melodica

Harpageddon -- and one melodica

My personal remembrances of magical evenings at Johnny D’s date back to pre-blog days, when I worked at Northeastern Records. Several of our bands played shows there (Barry and Holly Tashian, John Lincoln Wright, Shirim, the impossible to classify Bud Collins Trio and the equally impossible to classify but definitely not country or bluegrass Cul de Sac, and those were the heady days for me during my brief stint in the music business. Johnny D’s was also where I had the great honor of seeing people like Butch Hancock and the inimitable Townes Van Zandt.

Johnny D’s was also the place where I unwound for a low-key but deeply satisfying evening with a few exceptional cover bands, such as Rust Never Sleeps.

In the absence of this home for rootsy rock, Americana, country, folk and bluegrass, it’s uncertain if any other venue will step up to take its place to welcome those kinds of bands in a smaller setting. Let’s hope so! In the meantime, we’d like to wish owner Carla DeLellis and her loyal staff the very best in their future pursuits. And do check out the official Johnny D’s site, which for now has been left up as a tribute, with much gushing praise and many articles. Share your own memories on their guestbook!

Queen of the Festivities, Carla DeLellis

Queen of the Festivities, Carla DeLellis

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Introducing Communion Presents — New Concert Series at Brighton Music Hall!

There’s a new concert series in town. Communion Presents will be hosting shows at Brighton Music Hall that will feature 4-5 artists each month, a diverse lineup of national and international touring acts and local bands. Their debut show is Tuesday night, September 8, featuring Photocomfort (Boston), Conrad Sewell (Australia), Freedom Fry (France/U.S.), The Franklin Electric (Nashville) and Abadabad (Boston).

If you enjoy an exciting evening of music comprising multiple genres and new musical discoveries, this is most definitely for you.

::: Buy tickets from Ticketfly ::

Communion’s monthly U.S. residencies take place in New York, Nashville, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Louisville, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Maquoketa Iowa — and beginning this fall, Atlanta and Boston. More cities will be added in October. Prior residency bands include Walk The Moon, Vacationer, Magic Man, Rubblebucket, Bear’s Den, Marian Hill and Catfish & The Bottlemen.

Communion was founded in London in 2006 by Ben Lovett (Mumford & Sons), Kevin Jones (Bear’s Den) and producer Ian Grimble, and it became a thriving artist community for new bands. They’re involved in live promotion, recording and publishing, and have released music by Ben Howard, Gotye, Michael Kiwanuka, Tennis, Nick Mulvey, Willy Mason, Rubblebucket, Matthew and the Atlas, Bad Suns, Deap Vally, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Bear’s Den, Daughter and more. Communion presents monthly residencies in 15 cities across the U.K., U.S. and Australia. Their mission is to introduce emerging and established artists to fans around the world, while encouraging collaboration in a creative and supportive environment. Their shows are in venues ranging in capacity from 150 to 10,000.

If you like what you see and hear, tickets are available from Ticketfly — super cheap! Follow Communion Music on Facebook to keep apprised of new shows.

Communion Music: web | facebook | twitter | instagram

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Thank You and Farewell to T.T. the Bear’s Place

Good heavens, where to begin? T.T. the Bear’s Place in Central Square, Cambridge has been a beloved member of the Boston music scene family since 1973. Dark and divey, this intimate 300-capacity club has hosted notable legends from Boston and beyond — The Pixies (who recently performed there again in a surprise gig), Lemonheads, Arcade Fire, Dropkick Murphys, Dinosaur Jr., Mission of Burma, Jane’s Addiction, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Shins, Scruffy the Cat and many more. They’ve also hosted many up and coming bands from around the world. They were also the proud home of Boston’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble from 2011-2015. [And as my friend, esteemed poet, psychic and past-life regression therapist Victor Robert Venckus pointed out, they were also home to Stone Soup Poetry for a number of years.]

TT’s will unfortunately be closing their doors forever on July 25.

The only good news out of this is that they’re going out with a bang rather than a whimper with a Farewell Blowout week-long+ celebration that will see quite a few local legends, with many performing together on the same bill. Due to the heavy demand for these really low-priced tickets, all sales are in person at the box office (7pm – closing), with a small amount of tickets put aside for “first come, first serve” the night of the show. The final evening on the 25th with Scruffy the Cat is already sold out, but there will be limited tickets available at the door.

There are many others far more qualified to sing the praises of T.T.’s, since I only arrived to Boston in 1992 and for the last 10+ years have lived in the wilds of the North Shore, not getting in as often as I used to. However, I’ve covered quite a few of their shows here on ‘musings,’ so here’s a few personal highlights.

Local Natives’ first ever Boston show, in the dead of winter, with two other L.A. favorites, The Union Line and Voxhaul Broadcast – 1/17/2009

“Better late than never. Work obligations, the oppressive cold bearing down, and all that. But last Sunday, a distant and rapidly fading memory now, I braved the elements (snowy, windy and cold as they were) to see three really great L.A. bands at T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge. And as I so often am at these times that finally inspire me to get my ass off my small island and down from the North Shore into the city, I was cold, lonely and bereft of inspiration, desperately in need of an indie band live music fix. These guys really delivered for me.” Read more >>

Happy Hollows’ debut Boston appearance, with two Southern rock bands – 10/18/2009

“Toward the end of my ‘Silverlake East Coast Revue’, there was this marvelous miracle of an appearance by highly regarded (and rightly justified!) eastside L.A. band, The Happy Hollows, at our lovely little dive, T.T. The Bear’s Place in Central Square. I don’t know how on earth they got plunked onto a bill that sandwiched them between two swampy Southern rock bands, but bless all the pagan gods that they did. [as Sarah said to me afterward, “we were the odd ducks in the middle”. Odd and immensely talented ducks, I’d say!]” Read more >>

Crooked Fingers – 11/6/2011
(covered on Ryan’s Smashing Life)
“Many indie rockers, when looking for a breath of fresh air away from their main band, will gravitate towards folk-informed singer songwriting, and rootsy alt-country. It’s a yearning for something stripped-down, more personal and self-contained, simple and emotionally direct. It’s a desire to get back to basics, and to find that connection with traditional storytelling and down-home comfort food for the spirit. Elder statesmen such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, and Steve Earle light the way. But few can really pull it off, to ingest and then transform those influences into their own voice. Eric Bachmann is such an artist, and at the risk of coming off as corny, I felt like I was in the presence of a really old soul at T.T. the Bear’s Place.” Read more >>

Rock ‘n’ Rumble Semi-Finals Night #1 – 4/12/2012
(covered on Ryan’s Smashing Life)
“We’re getting down to it, folks. No more messing around, the gloves are coming off, and Boston’s music fans were treated to ferocious jams on Thursday night, as preliminary winners fought hard for a place in next week’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble finals. There was ferocious 50s-style garage rock on the front end, hardcore headbanging on the back end, and sandwiched in-between, a rather breathless battle between the considerable musical prowess of Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck, and the elegant old-timey Americana of Cask Mouse.” Read more >>

The Drowning Men – 11/11/2012

“I had seen The Drowning Men on several occasions as support for The Airborne Toxic Event, mostly in larger venues. I had become so accustomed to seeing/hearing them take over the room and captive big crowds in a big space, that nothing quite prepared me for the sonic onslaught of that huge sound of theirs in the small confines of T.T. the Bear’s Place. This is a happy problem to have–being too good for a small venue. As Nato himself said, when headlining, they’re still a “small band,” though they sure as hell don’t sound like one.” Read more >>

And speaking of Ryan’s Smashing Life, there was that highly esteemed Boston music blog’s 4-Year Celebration —

Oh, T.T.’s, with your dank and cozy vibe, wall-bursting sound and dodgy lighting, I shall miss you. 🙁

Wednesday July 15 (last “regular” show)

Air Traffic Controller w/ Purples (Philly), Gladshot (NYC) and People Skills (NH)
8:30pm doors | 18+ | $10

Thursday July 16 – Wolf’s Farewell to TT’s Party

with the Legendary Vudu Krewe (9pm) & special guests Jenny (Dee) D’Angora, John Powhida, Amber Casares (8:30pm); Fireking (Asa Brebner, Kevin Connelly, Jittery Jack, Anthony Kaczynski) (7:30pm); Michelle Paulus (Dents), Ramona Silver and more!
7:00pm doors | 18+ | music starts at 7:30pm | FREE!

TT’s Farewell Blowout
Friday, July 17 – Saturday, July 25

Friday, July 17
The Upper Crust (midnight), Last Stand, Stop Calling Me Frank, The Bristols, Reid Paley, Pooka Stew…plus special guests!
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15

Saturday, July 18
7/16 5:30pm – It has just been announced that indeed, Mighty Mighty Bosstones will be playing an 11pm set at T.T.’s, coming directly from their support gig with Foo Fighters! They’ll be performing with “special guests” (maybe the other support on that bill?). In any case, you can only get on the list here. It’s $20, with no actual tickets. Your name will be at the door and you’ll need ID. The show is 18+.

At press time, we have no idea who will be playing on Saturday. However, Boston heavyweights Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Mission of Burma and Dropkick Murphys all happen to be performing with Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this weekend. Just sayin’.

Sunday, July 19
The Daily Pravda (1am), Bearstronaut, Animal Talk, Spirit Kid, TBA, The Luxury, Paddy Saul… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 7:00pm Doors | 18+ | $12

Monday, July 20
Mike The Considerate & The Interns (midnight), TT’s Staff House Band!, Mary Lou Lord (with Annabelle Lord-Patey), Jules Verdone, Matt & The Lower Standards (9pm)… plus special guests!
presented by PBR | 8:30 Doors | 18+ | $10

Tuesday, July 21
Runner & The Thermodynamics (midnight), Thalia Zedek Band, The Dazies, Evan Dando, Willy Mason, The Grownup Noise (acoustic set)… plus special guests!
presented by PBR | 8:00 Doors | 18+ | $12

Wednesday, July 22
The Lights Out (midnight), Ad Frank & The Fast Easy Women, Parlour Bells, Francine, Cujo (featuring Jen Trynin)… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $12

Thursday, July 23
Harris (1am), Emergency Music, Vic Firecracker, Orbit, Field Nurse featuring TT’s bartender John!, Atomic Spectra (featuring members of Taxpayer & Aberdeen City)… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 7:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15

Friday, July 24
The Dogmatics (1am), The Neighborhoods, Howie & The Scrapes, Martin & Morrell (members of The Neats & Del Fuegos), Bleu… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15

Saturday, July 25
Scruffy The Cat (midnight), O Positive, Randy Black & The Heathcroppers (with Willie Alexander)… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15

web | facebook | twitter | boston globe article | vanyaland article

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Jaggery Presents The Beautiful and the Grotesque: Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci @ the MFA

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Remis Auditorium
465 Huntington Ave – Boston, MA
Friday, May 1st @ 7:30pm | all ages
::: info & tickets :::
::: facebook event :::

It’s high time to check back in with my favorite darkly erotic, harp-wielding, siren-luring, viola-beckoning, piano, percussive and bass jazz-jiving exotic ensemble, Jaggery. They have an incredibly special performance coming up on Friday, May 1st at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It is called Jaggery Presents The Beautiful and the Grotesque: Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, an evening of original new music that coincides with and celebrates a visiting exhibit at the MFA of rare drawings by da Vinci.

The show is Leonardo and the Idea of Beauty and it features some drawings that have never been shown before in Boston.

Even by Jaggery’s usual ultra-high standards, this is going to be one damned classy gig. Most all the members of Jaggery have written their own pieces for the show and they explain their inspiration as being “everything from Leonardo’s studies of light and shadow on drapery, his forays into flight and flying machines, his bronze horse statue, an essay regarding correspondence between a music theorist and his portrait painter, to our own interpretation of Renaissance music.”

As it’s all new music, we’ll all have to be delightfully surprised together, but if you’re not familiar with Jaggery’s sensuously dark magic, here’s a little taste from their For The Record [LIVE] recording, released last year.

In addition to brand new offerings from Jaggery (as if that wasn’t enough to entice), they’ll be joined by very special guests Rabbit Rabbit (Carla Kihlstedt/Matthias Bossi), who, for those of you familiar with Mali Sastri’s magnificent Orgs, was renamed Now You for Org: Murder Ballads and Hello Dust for Org: Asylum. Brilliant musicians.

Needless to say, this is going to be an amazing event. Their performance is part of the highly recommended ArtWeek Boston. As they say in their press release, “come party with us like it’s the fourteenth-to-seventeenth century!!!”

And with that I’ll leave you with a pair of mind-melting music videos, to get you all in the mood. See you there.

Jaggery: web | facebook | twitter | youtube
Rabbit Rabbit: web | facebook | twitter | youtube

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Introducing… Mmmmaven

No, this isn’t the name of a hip new downtown restaurant or a particularly delectable new band. Oddly, the word maven has a Hebrew origin, meaning “one who understands,” as in an expert who passes their knowledge on to others, so I suppose it’s the perfect name for this Central Square, Cambridge-based music studio and DJ/production school. If you’re sitting there thinking that hip-hop beats and scratching techniques aren’t the most widely covered topics on this blog, you’d be right, but we’re giving our music creators of the machine persuasion a little love this year. After all, computers are people, too.

Mmmmaven offers instruction in DJ techniques and electronic music production. They have state-of-the-art production labs and the latest technology and software. They also offer a career development program, youth programs, summer camps and classes conducted in Spanish. Their classes meet twice a week and on weekends. No prior experience is necessary. Students range from college students to older adults and professional musicians wanting to pump up their skills. The styles of music explored are as diverse as the students and include all kinds of house music, hip-hop, country, electro-swing, soundtracks and tunes for video games. Mmmmaven sponsors special events and an annual electronic music festival. For a comprehensive profile about this unique music production school, check out this special on Chronicle.

If you’re in the Boston area and you’ve always dreamed of spinning discs at a club or staging your own rave, check out what Mmmmaven has to offer. Contact them for a FREE DJ lesson and a tour of their studio!

Learning the tricks of the trade, from one of their 'Sip & Spin' events

Learning the tricks of the trade, from one of their 'Sip & Spin' events

web | facebook | twitter | instagram | Together Boston Festival (annual celebration of music, art and technology)

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It’s HONK! Festival time again! (Boston, Somerville & Cambridge Fri 10/11 – Sun 10/13)

Well damn, I almost missed the boat on this year’s Honk! Fest. It begins today and runs through Sunday, in and around Boston, Somerville and Cambridge. If you’re not familiar with Honk!, it’s an annual gathering of noisy and wildly festive guerrilla street theater with horns — and is a hell of a lot of fun. I dare you to stay in a somber autumn mood for very long with these merry pranksters running around. This is definitely NOT your daddy’s high school marching band — be prepared for anything and everything! SEE THE FULL SCHEDULE ~ and the COMPLETE LIST OF BANDS

official site | facebook | twitter | youtube highlights

This year’s new bands include:

Os Siderais

from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Perhaps Contraption

London, England

Photo by Marc Sethi at Secret Garden Party

Photo by Marc Sethi at Secret Garden Party

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The Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

New Orleans, Louisiana

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RadioBDC Live on the Square on Sunday, October 13 – FREE Concert at Union Square!

Are you looking for some FREE live music this weekend? RadioBDC (along with Budweiser, Goodwill Industries and FIVE cool Boston-based or Boston-born bands) will be showing Union Square in Somerville some big love. This happens on Sunday, October 13, starting at 12 noon. The Sheila Divine headlines, and also on the bill are American Authors, Speedy Ortiz, Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters and Rhett Price. This is a really strong lineup of local musicians. And Goodwill are going to have their trucks there, so bring along your old stuff to donate!

The Sheila Divine are something of a Boston tradition, with a hardcore “cult following” in, inexplicably, “Boston, Buffalo and Belgium.” They’ve been in business since 1997 with two hiatuses and two reunions, the most recent of which was in 2010. In 2012, they released a new album, The Things That Once Were. You can listen to more of them on bandcamp and read a little history lesson on Wikipedia.

American Authors formed back in 2006 at Berklee (known as The Blue Pages), although they’re now based in Brooklyn, NY. Gaining in popularity recently, their debut EP features the singles “Believer” and “Best Day of my Life” (heard in US and UK TV ads). They’re currently in the midst of a U.S. tour which continues through December.

Hailing from Northampton, Mass., Speedy Ortiz produce some nice, noisy garagy stuff,, with Sadie Dupuis on lead vocals and she and Matt Robidoux on dueling guitars. Their debut album (as a full band) was Major Arcana, and their most recent release was the “Ka-Prow!” and “Hexxy” single. A limited 7″ vinyl is available from Inflated Records. Here’s a little background info. They have shows this month and next around the East Coast, but not typically free ones, so get on it.

Founded in 2007, Sea Monsters are a musical collective led by Christian McNeill which started as an acoustic group of revolving songwriters performing together. They took up what became a three-year residency at Precinct Bar (in Union Square, so this appearance is quite appropriate and special). That residency garnered them a Boston Music Award and spun off into a recording session at the legendary Q Division Studios, the fruits of which became a debut single and subsequent Everything’s Up For Grabs album.

As it said in the Boston Globe back in August, “Homeless violinist to YouTube sensation.” Rhett Price is originally from Texas but was schooled at Berklee and is now based in Boston. He’s been getting some serious buzz recently with his cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” performed along with his friend Josh Knowles at a Red Line subway station. It’s well deserved attention, too. They’re amazing.

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The Life is good festival 2013 ~ Sat., Sept. 21 & Sun., Sept. 22

Life is good Festival 2013
Saturday, September 21 & Sunday, September 22
Prowse Farm, Canton, MA – Rt 93 (Rt 128) at exit 2B
(15 minutes from downtown Boston)
More info. | ::: BUY TICKETS :::

It’s that time of year again for the “feel good and do good” Life is good Festival. I had the great pleasure of going to one of these two years ago, and was greatly impressed at the smooth organization, family-friendly events and easy-going nature, exceptional line-up of performers and the awesome fundraising efforts for a noble charity, the Life is good Kids Foundation. They help children who have been traumatized by abuse, domestic violence, neglect, natural disasters and poverty. Through purposeful play, they give these children back their childhood, which is crucial to social and emotional health and well-being.

With music, arts & crafts, games & demonstrations, a variety show, nature show, storytellers and — new this year — a coffeehouse with acoustic performances, the Life is good Festival is an amazing two days of fun for music lovers and families alike.

The musical lineup includes Jack Johnson, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Amos Lee, Trampled by Turtles, Dawes, Ryan Montbleau and many more. See their website for a full list of musicians. This year, the new Life is good Coffee House is an intimate atmosphere which will feature the new line of Life is good coffee and a stellar musical line-up curated by Ryan Montbleau (see schedule below). The Coffee House celebrates the launch of the new Life is good coffee, which is UTZ Certified, promoting sustainable farming and support for farmers and their families.

Saturday, September 21: Lori McKenna (1:30 – 2:20) | Vance Gilbert (2:35 – 3:25) | Ryan Montbleau (3:40 – 4:30) | Nathan Moore (4:45 – 5:35) | Stephane Wrembel (5:50 – 6:45) | Mike Doughty (9:15 – 10:00)

Sunday, September 22: Tall Heights (1:30 – 2:20) | Caravan of Thieves (2:35 – 3:25) | Ryan Montbleau (3:40 – 4:30) | Zach Gill (4:45 – 5:35) | Amber Rubarth (5:50 – 6:45) | Session Americana (9:15 – 10:00)

Life is good: web | facebook | twitter

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Boston Calling, Day 1 ~ beautiful vibes, pretty music

Daren Taylor, Mikel Jollett and Noah Harmon of The Airborne Toxic Event at Boston Calling

Daren Taylor, Mikel Jollett and Noah Harmon of The Airborne Toxic Event at Boston Calling

Despite it being a rather corporate affair and priced out of the reach of many of this city’s music fans, the Boston Calling Festival did a lot of things right, as large outdoor concerts go. They made an effort to include two more local bands and support a Boston charity through their Sonicbids contest, with a portion of proceeds from the submission fee donated to Boston Children’s Hospital (VIVA VIVA! played on Saturday and Royal Teeth on Sunday). Though they served alcohol (naturally), they did so in a special “beer garden” set away from the stages, which I think contributed to the fact that most of those close to the music were there for the music, and not just to get shitfaced with their friends. This was no small thing, and was greatly appreciated. The downtown setting was unique, convenient and was I’m sure a great sales boost to local businesses. There were a few problems at the start (mostly to do with what was and wasn’t allowed on site and consistency between various entities), but as they sorted out the stage placement, I’m sure they can deal with this as well. I still believe the cost is prohibitive, considering that festivals elsewhere with more performers and stages are similarly priced. I’m disheartened by all shows that cost more than $20-25, but the whole “concert-going elite” subject is a much larger topic.

Boston Calling, City Hall Plaza, at high noon.

Boston Calling, City Hall Plaza, at high noon.

People begin to gather at the blue stage.

People begin to gather at the blue stage.

Onto the music, which was absolutely superb. They wisely divided up the bands between the more “indie rock” types and the “dance/hip-hop/electro” types, which made sense and helped those who could only afford to go one day. I planted myself in front of the blue stage for most of the day, so my photos are of those bands. Everyone was clearly energized by the audience, which was among the best I’ve seen at something like this. Extremely engaged, friendly, supportive… just great. I’m sure this might not have been the case further back or as the night wore on, but my experience was very positive, and typically I’m not a lover of large music events, far preferring the small sweaty (more intimate) club scene. But I have to say, this was a lovely day. Onto the photos and my personal favorites.

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