SCENE TOGETHER: “I have a firm belief that I want to make my living by trying to initiate and help create the infrastructure sustaining an arts and music community that Boston is lacking,” says Homegrown II organizer Dan Shea (here with his band the Needy Visions).
All too often, our music scene is referred to in the past tense. Boston keeps getting defined by its legends, its transplants, and those up-and-comings who sparkled and faded. Most bands who "make" it move away. Ditto many of those who don't. But that still leaves an ever-present surplus of great outfits who never find the national spotlight.
No one seems more aware of our plight than Dan Shea. Promoter, provider, booker, and believer, Shea is perhaps the city's greatest champion and hope for community and artistic unity. He helped create the North East Sticks Together (NEST) fest, he's booked at the Milky Way, Church, and Oxfam at Tufts, and he's famous for his house parties in a Brighton basement known as the House of Suffering Succotash.
"I think there are unified Boston scenes, and Dan knows how to bring the scenes together, sorta like the dude from The Warriors movie," says Drug Rug's Tommy Allen.
These days, Shea books the Temple, which this weekend will host the second year of his Homegrown Festival. Located on the third floor of the City Feed building in Jamaica Plain, the Temple, once an office space, is now a recording studio, art gallery, and 250-person-capacity venue. Perhaps the embodiment of Shea's vision, Homegrown II is a three-day, all-ages sonic assembly of local luminaries and well-kept secrets, complete with the help (and the status) of some notable out-of-towners.
"I have a firm belief that I want to make my living by trying to initiate and help create the infrastructure sustaining an arts and music community that Boston is lacking," Shea explains. "One of the things this town needs is a festival that puts Boston on a national map. The initial idea was that this would be a psych fest. This year, I realized I didn't want it to be a strictly psych fest, so I've dropped the 'psych' word altogether. There's still tons of psych, but that's just too narrow of a term. We're four hours from New York, so we can get a cool bunch of bands from there up here. We can get a bunch of bands from everywhere else in the country and mix them up with our great talent. That will be another platform for local bands to get their name out there, because there aren't a lot of those in Boston."
Homegrown II's line-up boasts 53 bands in three days — roughly 31 hours of live performances. Day One highlights include ex–Galaxie 500 duo Damon and Naomi in the penultimate slot before their pals Major Stars, Drag City's heavy-handed psych stalwarts, who bring the night to a close. Day Two offers Jesse Gallagher of Apollo Sunshine, Doomstar, a slimmed-down but no less raucous Drug Rug, and a special set by Keith Fullerton Whitman, who's renowned for both his spastic, avant-electro work as Hrvatski and his guitar-and-loop-drone creations released under his own name. A rare performance by garage distortionists Tunnel of Love closes out the night. Day Three has Shea's band Needy Visions playing catchy, psychedelic slacker pop, as well as Irish indie-fuzz band So Cow. Closing out the festival will be a solo set by BBQ, the moniker of Mark Sultan of King Khan and the BBQ.