Sunday, June 16, 2024

A Sunday jazz show with Ra Kalam Bob Moses, right, at The Lilypad in Cambridge’s Inman Square. Special guest Bruno Råberg is on standup bass. (Photo: Michael Gutierrez)

Here we are in the vanishing interval between Memorial Day and, according to the calendar, the true start to summer on June 20. Calendar dates aside, summer starts when the heat starts. And when the heat starts you better already have plans for how to deal with it.

Here’s what you don’t want to do: Wither alone in the isolation of your at-home AC unit. No matter how icy that beast gets, life was made for living in community. Check out our event recommendations for ways to outsmart the heat all summer in public.

One of the first events to circle on your music calendar is Nice, A Fest in Somerville at the end of July.

The festival enters its fourth year, and every year’s been a little different, but there’s one strong thread running through every iteration: local music. Top to bottom, the bill is built with local (or “local adjacent”) artists. That adds up to more than 80 bands playing over four days at three (or more?) locations. Hard to wrap your head around the numbers, but it’s happening.

Nice, A Fest also presents a good opportunity to wrestle with two fundamental strategies for “beating the heat.”

The first strategy is satisfying, if milquetoast: Flee indoors with the air conditioning! The festival continues its relationship with venues Crystal Ballroom and The Rockwell. Both have top-notch units to cool you down on the outside, along with frosty beverages to cool you down on the inside. No shame taking a break indoors to enjoy some great music away from the summer heat.

The second strategy, though, is the galaxy brain stuff: Flee outdoors and embrace the inferno! The festival includes an outdoor stage this year at the Grove Street parking lot, also in Davis Square behind either Dragon Pizza, Painted Burro or both.

Half the complaints that people have about summer heat come from poor preparation combined with overdoing it. Dress comfortably, wear a hat, slather on the sunscreen, stay hydrated, head indoors if you’re feeling overheated and you’ll be fine. It’s no different than a day at the beach, except you’ve got great live music instead of some jackass blasting tunes on their smartphone.

First strategy, second strategy. A one-two punch to enjoy Nice, A Fest, and any event all summer long.

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Saturday: A Benefit for Mark Erdody (Middle East, Cambridge)

Past and present rock ’n’ roll heads are gathering for a benefit bonanza to help fight Mark Erdody’s outsized medical bills while he fights Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If you were kicking around in local clubs during the ’90s and ’00s, you might have caught Erdody playing guitar in Kudgel or Bullpen Catcher. He’s taking a medical timeout from his current musical gig as bass player for Black Helicopter. Friends, family and the extended music community have rallied a crowdfunding campaign to collect donations to make sure he straps on the four-string as soon as possible. You can donate and attend the fundraiser concert on Saturday. Two in one day, an early and late bill, with appearances from Minibeast, Black Helicopter, Hilken Mancini, Chris Brokaw and more.

Sunday: BYSO 66th Season Final Concert (Sanders Theatre, Cambridge)

Sixty-six years? The Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra closes out another season in style at the gorgeous Sanders Theatre. Too many highlights to choose from through so many decades of connecting talented youth with classical music training and performance opportunities, though returning to Colombia in 1979 “by popular demand” ranks up there. Federico Cortese will conduct a program that includes Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Listen for the trauermarsch, or funeral march, that opens the piece.

June 10: Akiva’s Condux String Band and This Music All Stars (The Jungle, Somerville)

This Music presents a free jazz series at The Jungle. We’re at the second installment of the once-a-month affair. The typical lineup includes a special guest on the front end and the This Music All Stars cleaning up on the back end. This Monday welcomes Akiva’s Condux String Band, featuring Akiva Jacobs conducting a motley crew of stringed and nonstringed instruments alike. Expect the experimental.

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Live: An evening of Joy with Ra Kalam Bob Moses

Speaking of experimental, jazz drummer Ra Kalam Bob Moses has been probing the far side of percussion his entire career with a who’s-who of old school and new school legends, from Charles Mingus to DJ Logic.

On Sunday night at the Lilypad he enchanted a crowded house with every kind of knocking, clinking, clunking implement under the sun. The ensemble was completed by special guest Bruno Råberg on standup bass along with Nitzan Birnbaum (drums), Ethan Klotz (saxophone), Hank Fisher (guitar) and Gabriel Toth (drums).

If you’re adding up the ensemble in your mind’s eye, yes, you’re seeing three drummers and three full drum kits. But instead of triple-powering the conventional skins, the three drummers used their breadth of vision to summon the house gods and scare off evil spirits. Every type of implement, every type of material, every type of surface braced for impact.

Plastic tubes, metal tongs, wooden sticks, skins stretched tight and loose, congas, cowbells, crashes, a teeny-weeny gamelan, an art deco mail divider, a bouquet of bedsprings, a Stanley tumbler and what looked like a wreath of mice skulls were all fair game for squeezing out rhythmic vibrations.

As the elder jazz statesman and first name on the bill, Moses guided the musical exploration. But, like a true educator (he taught at the New England Conservatory of Music for years), he knew when to loosen and tighten the reins and let the kids have their way. Saxophonist Klotz shined in the spotlight, boiling over like a kettle on the stove with sonic textures drawn from a “Meditations”-era John Coltrane.


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