Hard to believe it’s already Wednesday when last Thursday we headed to Cambridge for the first annual Glow Festival at the American Repertory Theater’s second stage. One of our dearest friends, the great performer Justin Vivian Bond, opened this new festival with two shows back to back Thursday evening. I was convinced that these shows would have sold out, but, alas, we had rather small turnouts; though the audience we had was quality, even though the quantity was lacking. I don’t really understand how a performer like JVB (and all our performers) who mostly make their home in New York City will sell out in cities all around the country and the world, enjoying the same large crowds they do in their home town, but when it comes to Boston, or more specifically, Cambridge, we experienced some degree of crickets.
Still one perseveres and the whole point of this new festival (just like the series we already do at ART/Oberon on season) is to create a home in this New England capital for our “brand of performers” and to make Boston a place where these artists can come and enjoy full houses of appreciative audiences. But Boston is weird. And perhaps there is a reason why our performers have felt alienated by this city, which is just three hours away by train, when they can show up in Manchester or Dublin or Sydney or Zagreb or Los Angeles or San Francisco or London or Rome or Vienna and find appreciative showgoers. Maybe Boston folks are too conservative, reticent, not to mention stingy with their time and money.
Even people I know in Boston were not forthcoming. I had to raise about fifteen thousand dollars to cover all aspects of this new venture and I raised about $250. I know that Boston has a pulse; and those audience members who did show up were pretty great folks, mainly from Somerville and Jamaica Plain. But there is a cultural anemia among the very rich in Boston where having wealth seems to go hand in hand with having zero personality. And then, on the other side, there are folks who live in Boston who seem so in love with their poverty. And even those who have “made it” like, say, Amanda Palmer (ok she’s the only one) won’t even make a donation of a few shekels. I suppose their too busy cultivating their own art of asking to understand the joy of giving.
So we shall see. I’m not going to pursue this festival if I continue to hit walls. I can’t afford it. And as it is I will end up owing the venue a good deal of (personal) money. Never mind the fact that it costs me to stay in a hotel and eat while in town doing something like this. I don’t mind dedicating my time and energy to helping great performers have wider audiences in places. But it just might be the case that Boston/Cambridge doesn’t want to know from our great artists and would rather go see Broadway knockoffs or the Blue Man Group.
I won’t say fuck you to Boston. Just yet. But that town better get it together or I’m going to cater to those who will.
The colors I chose for this new festival year, in honor of starting the new Glow in Cambridge, were pink, green and brick. Dear Justin Vivian Bond showed up in that color scheme. And with a band with whom we also play. I had the pleasure of introducing JVB to our and other’s great musical director Matt Ray and he and Viv and Nath Ann Carrera and Claudia Chopek and we did have the chance to have a littlbe brekkie the next day and catch up. We haven’t spent much friend-time with Viv in quite awhile and, as is true with good friends, we just picked up right where we left off.
Justin Vivian’s show was all about “slut shaming the Ladies of the Canyon” and there were great songs from Stephen Stills and Joni Mitchell and Ronnie Blakely and the Mamas and Papas and even the Doors. It was musically right up our alley. Of course Nath Ann, who is the youngest old-soul I know and encyclopedic in his musical knowledge would have brought a lot of lore to the story. Like Joni’s song “Conversation” being about Stephen Stills and Judy Collins. As is true with all the festivals we have done in Provincetown certain themes tend to emerge; and we say this Stephen Stills and Judy Collins theme, specifically, and the overall theme of Laurel Canyon, also coming to light in another performer’s show over the weekend. Synchronicity is the order of the day when you make creative efforts. And one thing is for sure: we had great press for this festival despite the fact that obviously people in Boston don’t read newspapers or watch PBS arts programs or, if they do, it doesn’t inspire them to part with a few dollars to see something they would otherwise have to travel to New York City to witness. They just might need to take the train in the future.
Typos happen—I don’t have time or an intern to edit.*
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