By Michael Coughlin Jr.
In what has become a staple in the neighborhood, the 11th anniversary of the Jamaica Plain Music Festival will take place tomorrow, September 9, from 12:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Pinebank Field at Jamaica Pond and will feature fun for everyone.
The festival — which is free to attend — will feature performances from a total of 21 bands, all of which, in some way or another, have a connection to Jamaica Plain. Each of these bands will have the opportunity to play about a 20-minute set in front of the thousands of festival goers who come and go over the course of the day.
Additionally, the festival will feature activities for children as well as food trucks from Across the Border, Bon Me, Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers, Mela’s Modern Indian Cuisine, Papi’s Stuffed Sopapillas, Revelry and Work Hard Eat Good, per the festival’s website.
Further, a local dispensary, Seed, a sponsor of the event, will have free pedicabs, giving people rides to and from the festival and to restaurants and bars in the area.
For Rick Berlin and Shamus Moynihan, two individuals who are part of a larger team that organizes the festival every year, allowing these local bands to play in front of large crowds is something great to see.
“It’s wonderful if you haven’t gotten your nose even out of the water as a successful musician. To be able to play on a stage that might have anywhere from 3,500 to 6,000 people out there on the field all giving a damn that you’re playing your stuff,” said Berlin, who is a musician himself.
Moynihan echoed this sentiment, even indicating that giving these local bands a spotlight was one of the main reasons the festival was started in the first place.
“You have these amazing, amazing bands playing to, you know, 35 people at the Midway on a Wednesday night, and it’s just like you guys should be on a big stage, and so it gives these bands an opportunity to play in front of thousands of people,” said Moynihan.
However, the support for these local bands continues beyond there as the bands are also paid for their performances, which is remarkable considering the festival is actually a non-profit organization.
Moreover, Moynihan mentioned that the band’s merchandise is also sold at a booth at the festival, and they receive 100% of the proceeds.
The festival, which has become well-known in the neighborhood since its inception, had humble beginnings, and the idea spawned from a conversation between Berlin and Moynihan.
Berlin explained that when he was playing a show, someone had asked him why there was not a JP Music Festival. “That’s when the lightbulb went off,” he said.
Then, after posing that same question to Moynihan in a laundromat a week later, the ball got rolling on the event that is now celebrating its 11th anniversary.
In talking about those humble beginnings, Berlin said, “The first year was really wonderful because so many things went wrong that became funny later.” For example, he explained that in the first year, a lot of the equipment was donated from Guitar Center and broke.
However, Moynihan explained that after the second festival, they really found their footing. “After the second festival, we decided our formula of how we do things works, and we don’t want to change that because it’s really successful,” he said.
Although the festival nowadays seems to be firing on all cylinders, that does not mean it does not take a massive amount of work and a lot of different people to put on successfully year after year.
“Rick and I get most of the credit, and we get most of the face time, but it takes a small army of people to put this thing on,” said Moynihan.
He mentioned different facets of making sure the show runs, like bringing the two professional stages in, putting the sound system in, listening to all the bands and picking a lineup, doing the permitting with the city, and more.
Moreover, Berlin spoke about the volunteer staff and all the work they have to do, like putting up banners and advertising on the stages and picking up trash. “Our volunteer staff is just amazing,” he said.
“It takes six to nine months worth of work to see a seven-hour show, and I don’t think a lot of people realize how much work that is and how many people put the effort in to make that thing happen,” said Moynihan.
Not only does this festival take a lot of work to produce, but it also takes a lot of money. Moynihan had mentioned that he thought the cost of last year’s was around $42,000.
That said, although the festival is free to attend, donations will be accepted at tables during the festival, and you could also make a donation at gofundme.com/f/the-2023-jamaica-plain-music-festival.
Donations not only go toward supporting the festival itself so it can continue to be put on but also go toward paying the bands who perform.
Both Berlin and Moynihan encouraged those who are looking for a good time to come on out tomorrow and experience the fun that is the Jamaica Plain Music Festival.
“Come on down because it’s a great day in the neighborhood, it’s a fun event in the park, it’s free. If you have kids, you can bring your kids; if you have a dog, you can bring your dog,” said Moynihan.
“In this world where everything costs a million dollars to do anything — you can come out and have a free day of fun in the park,” he added.
“It’s free, and it’s happy — we’ve never had bad weather except the last part of the show one year, so it’s just great,” said Berlin.
“It’s not to be missed,” he added.
To view a program about the festival and even a playlist consisting of the different bands slated to perform, you can visit http://www.jpmusicfestival.com/.