Library goes punk rock for an afternoon


Photo by David Taber
Members of Minefield (from left to right: Max, Joe, Sam and Tommy) play in the basement of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library Feb. 3.

JP CENTER—A longtime haven for people concerned with intellectual pursuits gave over on Feb. 3 to punk rock mayhem.

From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., the Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library on Sedgwick Street hosted three bands—Minefield, Fruit Salad and a group that introduced itself as Ape Skit (a sanitized version of its regular moniker). The bands, with several members who live in JP, gnashed and howled for a crowd of about 75 teenagers and 20-somethings.

Fruit Salad’s lead singer, Matthew J. Hollander, said that he had been looking around for spaces that would welcome fans who have not yet reached legal drinking age. “It’s tough because there are no all-ages venues anymore,” he said.

When he approached branch librarian James Morgan about using the space, he received an enthusiastic response.

“As I told Matt, the library is a great resource and this is a fabulously diverse and talented community. We are only too happy to provide space for the community to use,” Morgan said in an interview.

Hollander organized the show in less than two weeks, he said. He is enthusiastic about setting up more events in the library basement and about promoting the space as a resource for the broader community.

“Maybe we could have hip-hop or reggae shows, get the community involved, show that you can do it yourself,” he said.

Because the library is only open for a half-day on Saturday Morgan said they normally host events on Thursday evenings. In the next month there will be, among other things, a jazz show, a Celtic show and the first installment of a series on global climate change.

Morgan described the Saturday event on Feb. 3 as “slightly special,” but said he would stay late on Saturdays for community events in the future, on occasion.

For their part, the punks were pleased with the welcome. An older fan, who asked to be identified only as Craig, said that through the 1980s and 1990s there were plenty of venues, including established rock clubs like the Paradise and the Middle East, willing to host all-ages shows.

“All through the ’90s we had shows in all sorts of spaces that were more underground,” Craig, who is 33, said. “Its been cracking down for eight or nine years. It’s at the point now where there are not many options at all, unfortunately,” he said.

“I feel like there are a lot of young people that have nowhere to go, and with the city cracking down, the end result will be increased drug use and an increased probability of getting in trouble,” he said.

The City of Boston recently began a crackdrown on some types of underage shows. On the other hand, young people ultimately benefit from having a safe, comfortable place where they feel free to express themselves, he said.

Aware that he is 10 to 15 years older than most of the show’s attendees, Craig said that, while he has “moved on from the social aspect” of the punk scene, he appreciates the “energy, sincerity and passion” of the music.

“I have always loved the music, and I believe I always will love the music,” he said.

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