Alternative music agency helps the local scene

A new local booking agency called the Music and Arts Matrix is helping to get bands from Jamaica Plain’s burgeoning music scene into traditional and alternative venues alike.

“It’s a promotion agency with a heart,” said Lisa Fraggos, a 32-year-old Hyde Square resident who founded the company about eight months ago.

She has already represented such well-known JP bands as Coyote Kolb and Tallahassee. And she is helping book lesser-known local and touring acts into non-traditional venues like restaurants and some of JP’s top artist communes, such as Heartbeat Collective and the Whitehaus.

That sort of help is crucial to spotlighting unknown bands, especially in a neighborhood with few regular venues and an industry focused on performances in bars.

“I’m just tired of the cover bands…[and the] drunken type of environment with music in the background that doesn’t matter,” Fraggos said of the traditional music-booking industry. Her message, she said: “Give a band a chance.”

Her work extends into other areas of community life. A mother of three children, she also has arranged for musicians to appear at after-school programs at JP’s Manning Elementary.

Fraggos grew up in Brighton, where her father was a booking agent and musician.

“I grew up with bands playing in my living room,” she said.

That led her to create a promotion agency with a sense of artistic community in an industry infamous for ripping off bands and limiting access to official venues. She said that in many cases, “capitalistic ventures start to take over the community’s warmth of people getting to know each other.”

Fraggos originally intended the Music and Arts Matrix to be a nonprofit, but it turned out to be too difficult to organize. It is technically for-profit now, but works on unusually low percentages and sometimes even on barter.

The name of her agency is a positive spin on the shared, futuristic world imagined in the famous action movie “The Matrix.”

“If you refer to the movie, we’re all kind of locked into this collective consciousness,” she said, explaining how that reflects the community spirit behind her effort.

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