This summer will go down as the one where Cambridge lost longtime live music venue T.T. The Bear’s Place, but it could also soon be noted for when Out Of The Blue Gallery Too found its sound. The Central Square art space and cultural center, relocated from its original spot on nearby Prospect Street and into the large vacated space left by Blockbuster Video at 541 Massachusetts Ave., has become a haven for musicians and artists looking for an all-inclusive gathering point. This Friday, it hosts its first music festival, an 11-band-and-performer party dubbed Back To School Fest.
“We have spent the last 10 months setting everything in place, lining the walls with local artwork, fighting for an event license, establishing and growing a venue for an art gallery that, before landing the new location, could not accommodate loud music,” booking agent TJ Edson tells Vanyaland, adding that the team there are busy “redefining” the space in all aspects. And they have the room to grow. “Out of the Blue Too aims to cultivate local art and music and now, with 6,000 square feet to play with, there are so many ways in which we are finding ways to do this, including turning the space into a legitimate and refreshing music venue experience.”
Back To School Fest is aimed at students coming to Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville for the first time, but also for the local music scene to realize a new stage has been added to the circuit. “To those returning and the first arrivals, I hope that can come and see the gallery and find a safe place to express themselves and to have some fun,” Edson adds.
And on Friday, it will actually be two stages, which will be helpful to accommodate the volume of performers and keep down time to a minimum. So far, the lineup consists of: Magic Shoppe, The Channels, Steep Leans, Horsehands, World Cup, Sunshine, Jarva Land & The SharkBag Collective, Só Sol, Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth, Puzzle Mansion, and Nathan Ventura (listen to everyone via the embeds below).
“The lineup came together when a friend of mine, Travis Long, and I were working on booking his band [Jarva Land & The SharkBag Collective] at the gallery,” Edson says. “He threw out the idea that we should try out utilizing two stages and have a few more bands for the night. The two of us began seeking out bands to play and the bill began looking more and more like a big night. I jumped on the idea because I thought it would be a great way to have an awesome night of music and to do something we haven’t done with the space by using another stage. Also, the venue has grown exponentially with help from promoters like Boston Hassle, Illegally Blind, Show Mom Collective, Eye Design Records, Kids Like You and Me, BUFU Records, and WEMF and the general positive buzz of what a refreshing and cool spot that Out of the Blue Too is. People love it! With that in mind, I want Back to School Fest to be representative of what the gallery and its loyal volunteers are capable of.”
Dug McCormack, a Somerville-based artist and frontman of rock trio Psychic Dog, sees the potential in the space for a variety of uses.
“It’s the perfect space,” McCormack says. “Local art, local music and a love for the community. The crew they have there are genuinely all about supporting anything they can. There is literally something happening every night — cheap room fee, good sound, awesome staff.”
Since opening in May, Out Of The Blue Too has been subletting its space to artists, craftsmen, vendors and other creative types. “We have plans to carve more of the gallery out so that making rent is more sustainable,” says Edson. “Renters are essentially getting their own piece of the gallery to use as their own gallery retail store or workspace. A few of our renters have managed to utilize their space as both their own studio workspace and sell their artwork on display around them in their studio. It really adds to the community aspect that Out of the Blue Too already has in spades. We are also working on becoming a non-profit organization. It is all really exciting!”
BACK TO SCHOOL FEST :: Friday, September 4 at Out of the Blue Too Art Gallery & More, 541 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA :: 6 p.m., 18-plus, $10, dogs welcome :: Facebook event page :: Listen to the participating bands below
Flyer by Adric Giles…