I'm sure the Harvard kids have been slumming it at the divey Cantab Lounge (est. 1938) since JFK was an undergrad. But, it's new to me. $5 gets you into the green-and-red bar with a blues band (fronted by a killer sax player) and plenty of room for dancing. The older crowd (wonder who they might be?) is lovin it.
Tonight's a free night, so I cross the Harvard bridge over to Cambridge to check out the strip of indie venues on Massachussetts Ave. First stop is the All Asia Cafe: a Chinese restaurant in its (recent) past life. They've got a bar and a small stage, which is currently (and loudly) occupied by Worcester synth-guitar duo Herraterra. Sounds a lot like every other electro-indie outfit in vogue right now. Which, for these guys, isn't necessarily a bad thing. Other stops include TT The Bear's Place and Middle East, with three full stages.
I'm off to Beantown to attend this weekend's Boston Symphony concerts, which mark Seiji Ozawa's first appearances at Symphony Hall since his departure in 2002 after 29 years as the BSO's Music Director. (I was at Ozawa's final concert at Tanglewood later that summer.) In addition to Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique, he'll be nodding to the Messiaen centennial with a performance of the Trois Petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine (1945), with Peter Serkin and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Ozawa has a long history with Messiaen's music: he conducted the premiere of Saint François d'Assise in 1983, and later toured the world with an abridged version of the opera. The BSO has an even longer history with the composer, having commissioned his Turangalîla-Symphonie in 1949 and invited him to teach at Tanglewood numerous times over the last forty years of his life.
After you're done watching the slightly-cheesy video homage to Seiji - with a soundtrack including everyone from Isaac Hayes to Steppenwolf - go check out this very cool feature, which lets you compose like Messiaen, using percussion, strings, and even bird sounds. Can't think of a better way to spend an idle half-day at the office.
(pictured: Messiaen and Ozawa at Tanglewood in 1975, courtesy of the BSO Archives)