Welcome to Part 2 of Episode 6 of Four Questions – a weekly podcast where I answer four questions about my husband’s aspiring indie rock band, Learson Peak. My name is Michelle Learson and I'm your host.
Last post, we explained that this episode came out terribly long, covering too many topics, so I split the written version into two parts. This is Part 2 (it starts at 19 minutes into the recording above).
Part 1 was all about Boston Calling. If you missed it, you can read it here --> Three Biggest Surprises from Boston Calling
#1. WHAT WENT WELL FOR THE BAND LAST WEEK?
The Boston Calling after party went very well at Article 24. We handed out some 1,000 flyers with the words “free access” on them and people came out strong after The Killers finished around 11pm. Even our Airbnb guests came out to see Stephen play.
Although the staff are very friendly, we’re not sure if we’re going to perform there again given that they venue does not provide a sound system for musicians (Stephen brought his own) and the “stage” is located in a sound trap such that if you are standing in the stage area you can’t hear yourself.
#2. WHAT DIDN’T GO SO WELL FOR THE BAND LAST WEEK?
I want to say that I love designing t-shirts. However – the process of the designing the Learson Peak / Indobox T-Shirts was BRUTAL this year. We must have spent a solid week going back and forth on ten different designs. Jules (our drummer) wanted to have a setting synth-vibe sun. Stephen wanted to insert mountains. I wanted to stick to our postcard image. There was a LOT of swearing at Photoshop.
One tip I wanted to give everyone is – if you are going to design a t-shirt – it's way better to start the design on a dark background and design the image in white –since most t-shirts that people buy are dark-colored. If you start the design, like me, on a white background using dark ink, the design looks completely different when you invert the colors and I basically had to start from scratch.
At the end of the day, we settled on two designs – an Indobox surfer riding a wave to the Block Island light house, and the original rising (or setting) Box Island sun with the Learson Peak unicorn subtly on the right.
#3. WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING I LEARNED?
This week I’ve learned about an ongoing dramatic battle going on between the community of the EMF artists' building in Central Square and the Harvard Square Business Association. As of Friday, June 1, it looks like the tenants have lost the fight. But now they are planning to stage a public protest during the Harvard Square Make Music Festival.
Below is a message we received from a representative of the protester's movement:
“I’m reaching out as a member of Cambridge Artists Coalition, which is an organization started on the heels of 200+ musicians being evicted from our practice space EMF. The building housed music teachers studios, recording studios, art studios and a plethora of other space-needing artistic endeavors that people’s livelihoods relied on.
The man who is in charge of the evictions, John P. DiGiovanni, is the head of the Harvard Square Business Association, which runs the Make Music festival. In turn, the local music community (after countless meetings, attempts to go through official routes and much more) has decide to Occupy Make Music.
We are hoping that acts who have already signed up will stand with us in solidarity, not just for EMF but against the general trend of developers profiting from our crafts and then running us out of our spaces.
This can include choosing to not play, showing up and handing the mic over to organizers, showing up but running an iPod through an amplifier, playing a few songs and then stopping, etc. It’s really up to the performer. We won’t be disrupting people who choose to play but we obviously appreciate any ounce of support that you can show.”
After some digging, I learned that this battle has been ongoing ever since April, when the artists were asked to move out. In a public statement on May 30, Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said that they welcomed the protest, which was “misguided” but defended the actions of their president – John DiGiovanni.
“Two years ago, John DiGiovanni, President of Trinity Property Management who also serves as chair of the board of the HSBA, purchased the EMF building outside of Central Square in Cambridge. The building, which is 98 years old, has been used for practice space by musicians for about a decade. It is unsafe and in need of major repair. The tenants have been asked to vacate by May 31, 2018, so that the necessary work can take place.
To be clear, Mr. DiGiovanni’s purchase of the EMF building has nothing to do the HSBA. However, there has been a deliberate and unfair melding of the two. The HSBA is managed by an executive director and is overseen by a 23 member board. The HSBA has no role in, nor is it involved in any way in the management of Mr. DiGiovanni’s private business.“
Read the full article on the Harvard Square website. On Facebook, there are over 1,100 people who are going or interested in the Occupy Make Music Festival protest. Several news reports have written that Massachusetts state representative Mike Connolly will also be attending.
Learson Peak is slotted to perform around 6pm on the main stage in Winthrop Street. I asked Stephen if he still plans to go on and perform, and I think he's going to make some public statements supporting the artists' cause.
I just hope there is no violence. Stay tuned to see what happens!
#4. WHAT AM I EXCITED ABOUT NEXT WEEK?
Aside from the Harvard Square festival on June 16, we have two majors shows coming up:
The Indobox performs at Thunder Road on Friday, June 8. Tickets are $10. Doors 8pm. 21+ This will be the very last performance by the band in Boston - ever.
Learson Peak performs at Cambridge Fresh Pond Day Fest on Saturday June 9. This festival is completely free and open to all ages. The weather is forecast to be 80 degrees and sunny! Catch our set starting at 12pm.
Hope to see you there. You can find me at the merchandise table, as usual.