Monday, January 21, 2008

The Live Music Capital of MetroWest

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!


The Hamster said...

Red Pepper, the Chinese restaurant at 17 Edgell Road, right off the Route 9 Framingham Centre exit, is now featuring live jazz on Sundays, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Cover is $3/person, $5/couple.

Great news, hope it's a success! Get out and support local live music.

Anonymous said...

Haven't you heard of TCAN? The Center for Arts in Natick blows away these dives and coffeehouses.

The Hamster said...

Sure I've heard of TCAN - it's a fine venue and I've been there many times. But this blog is about *Framingham* not Natick.

And dives to me are in the eye of the beholder. I've seen some of the best music ever in so-called dives. They're usually pretense-free zones as well.

Anonymous said...

Amazing Things Art Center this coming Saturday, Feb 5th - a great show featuring three of Boston's top Americana Bands.

Adela & Jude, "Boston's Americana Duo" and winners of the Club Passim IMF award for new artists perform first with their unique brand of music will be laying down their renowned Gothicana, hot on the heels of their new album release. One of a kind and not to be missed.

The Rationales, led by one of the best singer / songwriters on the scene today, Dave Mirabello will be playing their pop infused Americana mixing Beach Boys & Byrds.

Headlining the night is The Autumn Hollow Band - a group of talented and accomplished musicians, Brendan and his gang will delight you with there tasteful playing and gret songs.

A show not to be missed for fans of Americana Music, brought to you by the New England Americana Festival -bringing you the best in quality Americana music -