I moved to Salem, Massachusetts in 2002 and I can say without any doubts that I’ve been able to make as much music as I did during all these years, thanks to the incredibly supportive and generous scene where, totally unexpectedly, I found myself in. I came from an academic background and was not aware at all of the depth and richness of the music created in the so called “underground”. I will be grateful forever that my life led me to this place.
Massachusetts is bitter cold during the winter and rent in Boston and around is horribly expensive. But these factors don’t seem to deter its people who have (at least for my eyes) a peculiar kind of devotional endurance. Even though keeping non-lucrative spaces running is a challenge, the “scene” always finds a way to stay vibrant. Spaces come and go: lofts, basements, art centers, house-shows, record stores, art galleries, museums, clubs, you name it… Organizers are in a constant search of venues willing to host non-conventional music. Fortunately, many do, and somehow the ball keeps always rolling.
Needless to say, everything has been turned upside down with the pandemic, But, even during these demanding times, the generous spirit that fuels the community has never stopped being present. As in many other places, there has been a boom of live streamed shows, outdoor concerts, collaborative recording projects, etc. It’s been fascinating to observe how everybody tries to continue contributing even under the challenging circumstances we have all been through.
Boston is certainly an important hub, but not at all the only one. Cambridge, Somerville, Lowell, Worcester, Tauton, Salem, Western Mass – with cities like Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, Turner Falls, Greenfield, Belchertown – and probably more towns, are all places which have hosted experimental music shows in some capacity. I live in Massachusetts and therefore I am more familiar with what’s happening here, but there are many things going on in other New England states: Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut. Perhaps this is a good moment for a disclaimer: I am not trying to be exhaustive at all. It’d just be way beyond my scope. I’ll name venues and artists that I had some sort of personal connection with.