Who said you have to go to Boston or Worcester to hear good live music? Perhaps, if your tastes run toward sitting in a cavernous building watching a famous band who charges way too much for tickets. But if you're like me and enjoy seeing local, regional, and the occasional national act in an intimate setting, you need never leave the Ham.
Most suburban towns have a dearth of places that feature live music. Not the Ham, since we're a big town with lots of city feel. Downtown, in fact, has plenty of happening places all within walking distance of each other.
One of the most well-known is The Chicken Bone on Waverly Street. If your last impression of "The Bone" was a parking lot full of motorcycles and blues blasting out the door, things have changed. Under new ownership, The Chicken Bone has a renovated interior and now features, in addition to blues, rock, funk, groove, hip hop, classic rock, and jazz, five nights a week. And don't worry about the crowd - it's a very laid-back atmosphere that attracts a wide demographic, and the staff is super-friendly.
Just a block west on Waverly Street is The Happy Swallow. How weird is it that there are two bars with birds in their names so close together? What is it they say about birds of a feather? The Swallow's live music schedule is not as full, generally just weekends, but they get some top-notch bands, mostly blues, to liven up the room. The Happy Swallow is a classic old-style bar with some colorful characters among its regulars, but they're harmless and the staff does a good job keeping order. Probably the cheapest beer you'll find in the Ham!
Another interesting development in the downtown music scene is the rock concert series being presented at the Framingham Civic League on Concord Street, near town hall, by Natick's own Allen Adrien Events promotional agency. Featuring up-and-coming bands with a national reputation, this is a great way for the underage crowd to see acts that would often be playing nightclubs.
Arguably the best news for the downtown music scene is the opening of the Amazing Things Arts Center at the old fire house on Hollis Street. Amazing Things has built a strong reputation and a loyal audience at its original Saxonville storefront location by offering a wide variety of musical and other cultural events, including theatre and spoken word. From Tuvan throat singers to jazz, to folk, rock, blues, world music and classical, the schedule at Amazing Things has something for every kind of music fan. If you have not yet attended an Amazing Things event, well, you'll be amazed. Better yet, become a member, to support the organization and get a discount on all events you attend.
Well, there are plenty of other live music venues in town, including Brazzille, The Rat Pack Cafe, Bruburger's, Firefly's, Nobscot Cafe, and Pepperoncini's, but that's enough for now. Look for more reviews in upcoming posts. And if you have a favorite place that's not mentioned, leave a comment and maybe it can be featured in a future post. Happy listening!