Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bloc 11: Café Society with an Open Mic.

Bloc 11: Café Society with an Open Mic.

Now, I am a regular of the cafes in my home turf of Union Square, Somerville. I try to alternate between the unpretentious home of the oatmeal scone at Sherman, and the sleek, hip environs of Bloc 11. For some reason I prefer to have my bagels at Bloc 11 (with my supplement of pickled herring) and keep to the baked goods at Sherman. Years ago I had a poetry reading at the Sherman Café, and now I noticed that Bloc 11 on Bow St. has an open mic every Thursday night from 6PM to 9PM for musicians, singers and even poets. On Wednesdays nights they have featured musicians play such as: Audrey Ryan, “Quill,” and Somerville resident Jennifer Greer. A press release states:

“This all ages, weekly series will provide a house guitar, keyboard and PA system, along with the chance to play 2 songs for peers and fans alike. This series will give back as much as it receives from performers. Never charging a cover, offering a free podcast of each performance, plus a video recording, steaming online and on Somerville Community Access Television (SCAT).

Sponsored by Rockin Bobs Guitars and Performer Magazine, those who shine at the Bloc 11's Open Mic can win free musical gear and an ad in Performer- a national music publication.

Hosted by local indie-rocker Kristen Ford, this Thursday night series is meant to foster community among musicians.

‘There is so much we can learn from each other, musically and professionally. With so few all ages venues in the city- it’s a shame to ostracize so many up and comers because of liquor sales. It’s not right to expect a starving artist to pay a cover, and buy drinks just for the opportunity to play. The open mic at Bloc 11 is open to all ages, all genders, all ability levels and all income brackets. We just ask that you come to play and listen. Those who join in have the opportunity to network, be considered for a full set on our Wednesday night acoustic series, plus the chance for national exposure with Performer Magazine.’

Kristen Ford's open mindedness has rubbed off in the first few weeks yielding memorable performances across genres, ages and genders. With initial open mics packed- one can only assume great things are to come for Bloc 11 Cafe's open mic night, and for the players who fill it.

The Bloc 11 Cafe Open Mic series will be every Thursday, starting January 7th 2010. Sign up is from 5-6pm with music 6-9pm. Open to all styles of music, spoken word and performance, Bloc 11's open mic night is only missing one thing- your performance.”

I had the chance to talk the founder of this spanking new enterprise Kristine Ford, who hails from Aldersey Street in Somerville. Ford is an employee of Bloc 11, an aspiring musician, and grew up in Western, Mass. She attended college in Chicago, and eventually moved to Somerville. Like any artist she needed a steady job to keep the income flowing, and allow her to follow her avocation. Bloc 11 has proven to be haven for her. She makes a living (and a pretty mean bagel with tomatoes, onions, and butter on the side) and works with other young artists with gigs outside of their job. Megan Brideau, for instance, is a smiling and welcoming presence behind the counter as well as the curator of art exhibits at Bloc 11. Presently her own provocative work is on display, but she has exhibited many other local artists.

Ford said he recently navigated the dangerous shoals of city government to get an entertainment license. I asked this vivacious guitarist where one could hear her play: She said:
"I’ve been around town: The Toad, Burren in Davis Square, the Lizard Lounge, and, well of course-- Bloc 11."

***Bloc 11 Café is located at 11 Bow Street, Union Square in Somerville, MA 02143
Ph: 617 623 0000
Open 7 days, 7am-9pm Open Mic Thursdays sign up at 5, music 6-9pm.

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