Thursday, July 18, 2024

Andrew Stern debuts his album “Lonely Hunter” at the Stubblebine Lutherie in Somerville. (Photo: Michael Gutierrez)

To quote something Gwyneth Paltrow never said: “When one door closes, another opens.”

There’s always a lot of local hand-wringing when a favorite club closes its doors. It was no different for Toad, a bar and music venue in Porter Square. Mostly beloved for most of its 30 years!

When news broke in April that Toad was changing hands, there was the usual outpouring of fond memories and final toasts. If you put your ear even closer to the concrete, you might have heard the oft-repeated and infrequently fact-checked trope that the local music scene – nay, America! – is losing its music venues. Sniped off one-by-one by gentrification, industry consolidation driven by the Ticketmaster/LiveNation industrial complex and other boogeymen.

Is it true? Sorta, kinda, mebbe. But before you strap a “The End Is Near!” sandwich board over your shoulders, consider the following. The legendary “art bar” and dance club ManRay returned from the dead; the new ownership of Toad promised live music will continue at the bar (take with a grain of salt, though Cantab Lounge made good on a similar promise); and there’s a new DIY venue, 4th Wall, opening somewhere within the hollows of Capitol Theatre, a stone’s throw from Toad on Massachusetts Avenue.

Things are happening. Music is happening. Whatever the industry trends higher up the food chain, there are exciting things afoot at the ground level. It might just not look, sound or be found the way you’re used to. More than a few of these doomsday hand-wringers are mourning their youth rather than the clubs they spent it in. Instead of mourning, make it new.

Good example: the record release show for Andrew Stern’s album “Lonely Hunter.” The veteran jazz-rock-whatever fusion guitarist has fielded more monikers than Joseph Campbell’s got faces. Some recent outfits that come to mind: AS3, Crystal Lizard, Hellbender. But his show Sunday was a solo endeavor, showcasing fret-smashing styles running laps around the likes of Duke Ellington, Neil Young and Ira Gershwin.

And what spot did Stern choose for the big album rollout? Stubblebine Lutherie in Somerville. If you don’t know what a lutherie is, we’re not going to tell you. Here’s a hint: You’re surrounded by half-finished stringed instruments in states of repair and disrepair. No beers for sale, but plenty of free crispy boys in the cooler post-show. All of this accomplished without paying dividends to Ticketmaster (a few bucks to Eventbrite, though?). A nice little DIY micro-economy. Maybe that’s the future of music after the tech titans smash the marketplace to bits and piss on the leftovers.

Here’s a few ways to funnel money into the local music economy:

Sunday: Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness, Crystal Ballroom, Somerville

Global Arts Live programs world music that doesn’t want to be called “world music.” And for good reason! This isn’t 1999. Phil Collins doesn’t get tapped for “Tarzan” duty anymore. Artists from around the world globe can upturn the apple cart of the American music scene in their own name. Catch the BCUC doing it live.

Friday or Tuesday: “The Stones & Brian Jones,” Brattle or Regent theaters

If you miss the stellar music documentary The Stones & Brian Jones at The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge on Friday, you can catch it for one last time on the big screen at the Regent Theatre in Arlington before the film heads to the streaming graveyard. Plus, a Joan Baez doc is Wednesday, part of the Midweek Music Movies series at the Arlington stage.

Nov. 10: Velvet Dreaming, Orangepeelmystic, Andro Queen and Targus Targus, The Jungle, Somerville

Velvet Dreaming anchors this electropop-charged maelstrom of a four-stack bill. If you’ve only seen their sticker above urinals around town and haven’t yet seen the act, now is your chance.

Nov. 11: Awnthay, G.O.L.E.M., The Snorts, The 4th Wall, Arlington

Don’t miss the opening night of new DIY venue The 4th Wall. Three indie acts (plus local lazer lordz Digital Awareness) are taking this baby on its maiden voyage. The organizers are sure to fuck something up, feel bad about it and give you some free popcorn. Hadn’t you heard? The ship is setting sail from the Capitol Theatre on Massachusetts Avenue. Follow @the4thwallbos on Instagram for up-to-the-minute details.

Here’s three things we know right now about The 4th Wall: (1) It’s organized by two local gonzos, Biff and Ethan, affiliated with the Capitol Theatre and Crystal Ballroom; (2) Ownership is sorta cool with it, but kinda worried you’re going to hurl yourself through the movie screen during performances (Ethan: “Please don’t break the 4th wall! It is a really expensive screen and our boss will kill us!”); and (3) the idea for the 4th Wall planted itself in Biff’s mind while touring through unconventional stages with his band Battlemode (Biff: “an apartment rooftop,” “a factory” and “a rock-climbing gym”; “any space could be a DIY venue if executed properly”).

A rooftop, a factory, a rock-climbing gym? When one door closes, another opens.

Ribbit-ribbit. Croak. Or, to not-quote Zendaya: “Who the fuck is Gwyneth Paltrow?”


Michael Gutierrez is an author, educator, activist and editor-in-chief at Hump Day News.