FRAMINGHAM – Joe Raia and his band kicked off the Framingham Public Library’s Outdoor Summer Jazz Performances and Jams series last night, July 6.
The small patio area behind the Christa McAuliffe Branch of the Framingham Public Library was a sea of colorful lawn chairs and blankets last night for the concert that started at 6:30 and lasted until dusk.
Concertgoers of all ages were in attendance, ranging from small toddlers who danced their hearts out to older men and women who happily nodded their heads and stomped their feet to the beat of the music. The warm summer night’s relaxed atmosphere was complimented by the smooth jazz swirling through the air.
The passion of the band was tangible as they poured their hearts into their music.
Raia, a Lexington native and graduate of Berklee College of Music, danced with his saxophone as he played. One minute he was on his tippy toes, the next he was nearly touching the ground as he let out the last few notes of the song. The rest of the musicians, who Raia introduced as “Michael Angelo, Classy Michael Chasse, and Steve Whitney” were equally invested in what they were playing.
The Summer Jazz Performances and Jams series was created as a collaboration between the McAuliffe branch of the Framingham Public Library and Amazing Things Arts Center, also located in Framingham.
It was the first-ever outdoor concert series at the Christa McAuliffe Library.
According to Ellen Sturgis, the director of Amazing Things, the concert series is a way to provide programming for the public library while also drawing publicity for the arts center, since Amazing Things is closed for the summer.
“I think the library system, the two libraries, are just incredible with all the programming they do. So I’m really honored to be partnering with them because I think what they do, they do so well,” Sturgis said.
She hopes the summer concert series will draw people’s attention to Amazing Things and that they will be excited to attend the art center’s shows in the fall.
Jazz was chosen as the genre of music for the summer concert series, as it is the most popular feature show at Amazing Things throughout the year.
“Jazz never gets the same following that, say, A Grateful Dead tribute bands gets, or Americana bands, but they’re dedicated. And there aren’t many places to hear good jazz,” she said.
Sturgis felt the backyard space behind the library was the perfect atmosphere for jazz, as it is a casual space where people find themselves able to relax.
Individuals are able to come and go throughout the night. In fact, even at 7:21 p.m., about halfway through the concert, the audience continued to grow larger.
All of the four musicians who will be playing at the library are regular participants at Amazing Things Arts Center in downtown Framingham.
Sturgis said “for [the] regular jam we have a rotation of four or five different lead musicians who lead each jam each week.”
When asked if they wanted to participate in the summer concerts, all of the lead musicians said yes.
There are three more concerts left in the Outdoor Summer Jazz Performances and Jams series.
On Thursday, July 20, Jon Dryer and James Miranda will be playing. On August 3, Michelle Hirsch will be playing. For the final concert on August 17, Kaoruko Pilkington will be the featured musician. All of the concerts start at 6:30 p.m. and continue until dusk. Admission is free.
Amazing Things Art Center will open back up and resume its shows right after Labor Day. For those looking to get their jazz fix after the summer concert series ends, Amazing Things hosts Jazz Show & Jam every Tuesday night. The tickets are $5 for members, $6 for non-members, and $3 for students.
Photos by Shauna Golden