Kevin Prater, Tray Wellington do Bluegrass Tuesdays in Cambridge, MA

Kevin Prater Band performs at Bluegrass Tuesdays in Cambridge, MA (7/18/23) – photo © Tony Watt

Tony Watt shared this account of a memorable night at Bluegrass Tuesdays, a recurring concert/jam sessions in the Boston area, held just across the river in Cambridge. In addition to being a private bluegrass instructor in the area, Tony also hosts this weekly gathering.

Last week we had a very, very special night at Bluegrass Tuesdays at Lily P’s in Cambridge, MA. Regular readers of Bluegrass Today will hopefully recognize Bluegrass Tuesdays as the modern incarnation of the weekly bluegrass night that was hosted by Geoff Bartley at The Cantab Lounge for 27 years up until the pandemic.

Last night was already anticipated to be one of our best of the year because we were welcoming back The Kevin Prater Band to our stage. Kevin first played The Cantab with the late, great James King, and has come back to wow our audience many times since. Although we have a ton of great bluegrass musicians in the Boston area, we rarely get to see bluegrass performed with such power and energy as The Kevin Prater Band. It’s a real treat to have them play for our crowd, and we look forward to having them back when they’re in the area again.

And at the last minute, we were able to add a second national touring band to the show because The Tray Wellington Band happened to be in town with a day off between gigs. Tray and his band had played a great set the night before across town at Club Passim, the world-famous folk venue in Harvard Square that used to be named Club 47. Fortunately, Tray and company were willing to play a “secret set” for us at Lily P’s, and they put on another great show for our community. We are so lucky to have been treated to some of the best traditional and progressive bluegrass on the same night!

The stage show began with a new duo, Cecily Mills & Isaiah Gardham playing the opening set. Cecily is a great cellist in the inter-generational, all-female group, The Charles River Ducklings, and Isaiah is an amazing guitarist and brand new graduate from Berklee who performed at IBMA and elsewhere in Berklee’s American Roots Music Program flagship ensemble, The 21st Century String Band.

As usual, we had some of the best jamming anywhere, with Berklee students and graduates mixing it up with the local bluegrass community. Of particular note, we had about a dozen high school students join us for the first time who are all studying bluegrass this summer at Berklee’s prestigious Aspire Five-Week Summer Program, where Berklee gives away over ten million dollars in scholarships each year!

Last week’s show was the first in a summer jam-packed (pun intended) with national touring artists visiting Bluegrass Tuesdays. For instance, nearly every Tuesday in August features an on-tour artist:

  • August 8th — 10-time IBMA Bass Player of the Year, Missy Raines & Allegheny
  • August 15th — From the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Lindley Creek
  • August 22nd — Bluegrass Album Band alumnus & Winfield Champion, Mark Schatz & Bryan McDowell
  • August 29th — Reigning IBMA New Artist of the Year, Rick Faris & Friends

With so much great music coming up this summer, it’s safe to say that bluegrass will be surviving and thriving on Tuesdays at Lily P’s!