Berklee's Boston Summer Music Preview

John Mirisola
June 20, 2019

Summer in Boston means a slew of great musical experiences are right around the corner.

Molly Tuttle ’14 will play at the Red Room at Cafe 939 on July 17—one of many great performances to catch this summer.
Image courtesy of artist

With all the festivals, club shows, and musicals around town—not to mention Berklee’s massive slate of free Summer in the City concerts throughout Boston—it can be hard to keep track of all the great performances you might want to catch over the next few months. To help you sort through Boston’s summer music scene, here are some highlights we think are worth adding to your calendar.

Kishi BashiKishi Bashi

Thursday, June 20
Paradise Rock Club

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Kishi Bashi (the stage name of Kaoru Ishibashi B.M. ’99) makes folk-inflected indie music that manages to feel both breezy and weighty. His latest album, Omoiyari, is a buoyant, richly textured collection of songs exploring the history of Japanese internment in the U.S. during World War II. Listen to “F Delano” below, and check out Kishi Bashi live at his album release show.

BAMS Fest 2019

Saturday, June 22
Playstead Field, Franklin Park

Last year’s inaugural Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Festival drew more than 2,000 participants for a day of hip-hop, soul, and spoken word performances by artists of color. This year’s festival, presented in partnership with Berklee and cocurated by Grammy-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, features Berklee-trained artists ÁBI (Abigail Kim B.M. ’19), Dalaun (Jordan Holly B.M. ’17), and Safiya (current student Safiya Leslie), along with many more performers, family-friendly activities, and vendors. The daylong event is free and open to the public.

Listen to Dalaun’s “Beggin'” on our podcast, Sounds of Berklee:

Fun Home

Image by Nile Scott Studios

Through June 30
SpeakEasy Stage Company

Back by popular demand, SpeakEasy Stage Company's acclaimed production of the Tony Award–winning musical Fun Home depicts one character, Alison, at three different ages. Two of these Alisons will be played by Boston Conservatory at Berklee alumni Amy Jo Jackson (B.F.A. ’05, musical theater) (pictured center) and Ellie van Amerongen (B.F.A. ’18, musical theater) (pictured right). A number of other Conservatory faculty and alumni are represented in the production, including Paul Daigneault, professor of theater, who is the show’s director and SpeakEasy’s producing artistic director. 

Molly Tuttle 

Image courtesy of the artist

Wednesday, July 17
The Red Room at Cafe 939

Guitarist and songwriter Molly Tuttle ’14 blurred the lines between folk, bluegrass, Americana, and country on her 2019 debut, When You’re Ready. The album showcases Tuttle’s considerable skill as a lyricist, as well as the virtuosic playing that has twice won her the International Bluegrass Music Association award for Guitarist of the Year. Listen to “Take the Journey” below, and catch her live at the Red Room at Cafe 939 in July.

Bang on a Can Summer Festival

July 15–August 5

If you’re looking to get out of the city, and you're interested in hearing music from composers including Philip Glass and Brian Eno performed by some of the country’s best young musicians, consider heading out to the MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) for the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. The three-week festival of new music, organized by legendary New York–based performing arts organization Bang on a Can, will feature daily public recitals in the MASS MoCA galleries, and culminates with the three-day LOUD Weekend August 2–4. Performances will feature Boston Conservatory at Berklee alumni Kevin Madison (M.M. ’19, contemporary classical music) and Reed Puleo (B.M. ’19, percussion), and current student Caroline Shaffer (M.M. ’20, flute), as festival fellows.

Summer in the City: Harborwalk Sounds at the ICADreion posing

Institute of Contemporary Art

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) and Berklee have partnered for more than 10 years to present Harborwalk Sounds at the ICA. Performances are free and open to the public on Thursday nights at 6:00 p.m. Head to the ICA’s outdoor waterfront grandstand to enjoy standout talent from Berklee performers. While you’re there, take advantage of the ICA’s Free Thursday Nights and check out Ragnar Kjartansson’s stunning musical exhibit, The Visitors, a nine-screen video installation that allows viewers to move around a large room and experience a sprawling performance from the perspective of each individual musician.

Summer in the City: Tito Puente Latin Music Series

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Taking place on Thursdays in July and August at outdoor locations across Boston, the six-concert Tito Puente Latin Music Series—coproduced by Berklee, the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and IBA Boston—presents a soundscape of live Latin music with a strong salsa influence in parks around the city. Performers include Berklee faculty, students, alumni, and world-renowned artists.

Summer in the City: Summer Concerts at Spectacle Island

Spectacle Island

Take the ferry out to Spectacle Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands, to hear live jazz by Berklee artists. While you’re there, take a hike, go for a swim or a boat ride, or lie on the beach. This year's performers include tenor saxophonist Anton Derevyanko B.M. '18, jazz composition major Sidney Blanchard, and student flutist Sheila del Bosque.

Watch the Sheila del Bosque Trio perform “Si Mi Isla Fuese Niño” live at Berklee:

Summer Musicals at Reagle Music Theatre

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

Searching for a classic Broadway experience this summer? Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston is the place to go. The Waltham-based stage company’s summer lineup runs from June through mid-August, with productions of Mame, La Cage Aux Folles, and the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. Go soak in some show tunes and keep an eye out for the many Conservatory alumni, students, and faculty in each production’s cast and crew.

Lalah Hathaway

Lalah Hathaway '94 won two Grammy Awards

Friday, August 9 (Two shows: 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.)
City Winery Boston

Multiple Grammy–winning vocalist and pianist Lalah Hathaway ’94 has performed with artists from Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg to Stevie Wonder and Robert Glasper. Her unmistakable vocal style seems equally at home in R&B, jazz, and pop settings, a fact on full display in her genre-defying 2018 release, honestly. Listen to the honestly single “y o y” below, and see Hathaway perform live at City Winery Boston in August.

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