The Boston region’s notorious Bluegrass Tuesdays jam session and concert has been going on for nearly 30 years. Held at The Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, MA, and hosted by Geoff Bartley, the recurring weekly events would sometimes feature top touring acts coming through New England, and at other times local groups or even pickup bands made up of from the area’s bluegrass community.
The COVID shutdowns forced the closure of The Cantab, who like so many other small businesses that served the public, were unable to survive when restrictions prevented them from plying their trade. But new owners took over last year, and restored Bluegrass Tuesdays, which had been extremely popular with residents as well as young pickers who were studying music at Berklee or New England Conservatory in Boston.
Now Tony Watt, noted Boston/Cambridge bluegrass music instructor who has assumed management of the weekly series, tells us that they have had to find a new home.
“The new management at The Cantab was very generous with Bluegrass Tuesdays, and made some significant improvements including opening up the night to those 18 and older, and clearing out an extra room for jamming. But as things started to slow down early this summer, they asked us to go on hiatus to help with their financial situation. After a 27-year run at The Cantab, we decided to move Bluegrass Tuesdays to our new home at Lily P’s Fried Chicken & Oysters.
Lily P’s Restaurant & Bar opened in late 2019 near Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA (just a few minutes from Downtown Boston). There are a ton of amazing things about Lily P’s, including unlimited free parking, a location close to both the highway and the subway, award-winning fried chicken from a highly regarded chef, a large outdoor patio for outdoor jamming and lots of places to jam indoors, high ceilings with good acoustics, a super-cute family-friendly atmosphere, and much more.
But more than any other factor, the main reason we’re moving Bluegrass Tuesdays to Lily P’s is because of the support and encouragement of chef/owner Chris Parsons. Chris is an aspiring banjo player who started learning from banjo player and teacher extraordinaire Rich Stillman. Chris really fell in love with bluegrass and acoustic music when he used to live in Colorado, but he was surprised to learn about the vibrant bluegrass community we have in the Boston area. And now Chris is overjoyed to be helping us write this latest chapter in the nearly three-decade-long saga of Bluegrass Tuesdays.
Our first night was held this week (Tuesday, October 4), and it was a big success on many levels including some of the best sound I’ve ever heard at a bar gig. The main act was Chris Luquette presents The Grass Messengers, who drove all the way up from New York City just to play our opening night. They feature Chris Luquette (of Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen), along with Ellery Marshall (on banjo), and guitarist Christian Apuzzo. Also performing last night were local favorites Cousin Bobby, and Steve & Eric’s Third Set Jam. Pretty much everything about Bluegrass Tuesdays is staying the same, only the venue has changed.”
Given the large population in this region, and the number of people who travel to Boston for business or school, Bluegrass Tuesdays has been a long tradition for nearly an entire generation of pickers and fans. It is wonderful news that a new home has been secured to keep it going into the future.
If you live in the area, or will be visiting, be sure to put Bluegrass Tuesdays on your schedule.