Breaking the HKS Bubble: Where to find Live Music in Boston

By Anthony Barrows, MC/MPA ’13, Staff Writer

Boston’s musical history is rich: its black musician’s union counted Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington as members; Harvard Square’s Club Passim was the epicenter of the 60s folk scene; rock clubs churned out the Cars and Aerosmith in the 70s; and Allston spawned thriving hardcore and third-wave ska scenes in the 80s and 90s. As we all know, history is certain to repeat itself and now Boston is buzzing again with cool music and innovative artists.

Here are some of my favorite spots to catch a great live show:

Jazz
If you only see live music once in Boston, go to Wally’s Cafe. A true Bostonian institution, Wally’s has anchored the South End jazz scene for over The Regattabar60 years. With nightly live bands and no cover, you can’t go wrong; get there early as the place is tiny and fills up fast. A few blocks away is The Beehive: with craft cocktails and an exposed-brick ambience, it also has no cover, but with a more upscale vibe. If you prefer to stay close to HKS, Regattabar and Scullers are havens for bigger jazz acts. Plus, you already know about Ryles’ jazz brunch from the Oct. 22 issue.

Wally’s Café – 427 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston
The Beehive – 541 Tremont Street, Boston
Scullers – 400 Soldiers Field Road, Allston
Regattabar – 1 Bennett Street, Cambridge
Ryles – 212 Hampshire Street, CambridgeThe Beehive3

Hip-Hop
Boston’s had a vibrant hip-hop scene for decades, from Almighty RSO and Edo G. through Slaine and Moe Pope, but few venues will host live shows. Thankfully, Central Square’s Middle East has always been supportive. Watch for headliners, such as KRS-ONE and Kool Keith who both put on two of my favorite shows there.  If you’re longing to catch gritty local acts, head to Church – a Fenway restaurant and club – Tallboy Industries books good talent there. The Western Front in Cambridgeport also does their part in keeping Boston rap alive.

The Middle East – 472 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridgemiddle east
Church – 69 Kilmarnock Street, Boston
The Western Front – 343 Western Avenue, Cambridge

House/Dance
Middlesex Lounge in Central Square is a good bet for house, disco, funk and more; local legend DJ Kon spins there on Saturdays. The Good Life is worth the trip downtown, especially when the boys from Fresh Produce (classic hip-hop) or the eclectic BREK.ONE are spinning. Machine in the Fenway has been the center of Boston’s house scene for as far back as I can reThe Beehivemember. Although famed DJ Bruno has retired, Sunday nights still rock with a rotating cast of DJs.

Machine – 1254 Boylston Street, Boston
Middlesex Lounge – 315 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
The Good Life – 28 Kingston Street, Boston

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