Friday, June 13, 2008

Put another nickel in

What’s your favorite venue for seeing live music?

That would have to be Circle of Friends Coffeehouse in Franklin, MA. The sound there has always been excellent, and that, to me, is the most important criterion. The crowd is always friendly, plenty of people who know each other but never unwelcoming to new people, and they don’t talk during the music but do respond to the performers. The space is comfortable enough, sightlines are generally acceptable, tickets are reasonable, there’s plenty of parking, restrooms are clean, so there’s no particular drawbacks to the venue if you don’t mind general admission. There’s an amazing selection of affordable desserts available before shows and during intermission, but not enough beverage selection (mostly coffee, water, or tea).

A close second would be the Sunday brunch at Tryst in Arlington, MA, only because they have a jazz trio that I absolutely love paired with a phenomenally good chef and pastry chef and a comfortable space. Normally I’d really prefer to separate live music from food service, but the combination works there.

I’ve seen live music at venues ranging from my living room (Ken Batts) to Madison Square Garden (Paul Simon). I almost always prefer smaller venues, as long as there is enough of a crowd to generate some energy for the performers. (I did discover once that the Wang Center (Tori Amos) could feel just like a small venue if you have second row center seats.) I want to hear the music, and sound systems designed to fill a large space are rarely crisp. Symphony Hall in Boston (k.d. lang) does have great acoustics, and if I had to choose a venue for seeing a show from the last row of the balcony, that would probably be it.

And for a festival atmosphere, buskers around Harvard Square or Faneuil Hall on a summer night can be a treat.


Steve Sherlock said...

I agree with you on Circle of Friends. I catch at least 2-3 shows per year there, one year caught 5 in a row for a real treat. It is a great small venue.

I did also catch the Chieftains with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall and that was an experience to treasure.

The Natick Center for the Arts is also a good small venue.

Michael said...

I've only been to The Center for the Arts in Natick once, but I wasn't feeling well and had to leave at intermission. I'm looking forward to going back next month.