by Rick Winterson
Last Sunday afternoon, August 26, was memorable, in part because of the 2017 Jazz Fest in South Boston’s Maritime Park, in part because of how varied the South Boston Seaport vista has become, and in part due to Mother Nature’s gift of incredible weather. It was an afternoon to walk leisurely from east to west in the Seaport District.
The most prominent happening was the 2017 Jazz Fest, which took place in the South Boston Maritime Park at the northern end of D Street. After resolving a few moisture-related problems, six groups played for seven hours – noon till 7 p.m. Each one performed a full set of original works. South Boston Online has space to review only one of those groups – the Matt Savage Quintet (Matt himself on keyboard, bass, drums, guitar, and tenor sax – joined for their last number by a trombone). The bass and the drums set up the necessary rhythm relationship early on; the subsequent solo improvs went smoothly from instrument to instrument, including a trombone during the group’s closing number, a funky “Pick up the Pieces”. Other titles included “Flash and Flash in G”, the jazz classic “All the Things You Are”, and “Southie to Soho”, a real original.
The Jazz Fest was free; lunch could be bought at Larry’s BBQ Café. A key Fest sponsor was our own East Boston Savings Bank, which has three branches along Broadway and one in Andrew Square. The Jazz Fest’s setting in Marine Park, next to the skillfully designed Eastport Park and across Seaport Boulevard from the iconic Fish Pier, was truly outstanding.
This year, Boston’s Society of Arts + Crafts relocated from their long-time Back Bay location at Newbury and Exeter to the South Boston Waterfront at 100 Boulevard Pier Four. That’s near where Anthony’s used to be, and close to the ICA Museum. The Society serves as both a gallery and an exhibition space, and they were open to the public last Sunday afternoon. To say that the crafts on display were clever and even humorous is not enough. All of the items being shown were highly creative and artistic; all were crafted with extraordinary skill. Online hopes that the photographs give you some small idea of what’s there, and will encourage you to visit the Society of Arts + Crafts in person. Note that you yourself can learn to weave basketball nets to keep your neighborhood hoops in perfect shape.
Further down Seaport Boulevard is the newly consecrated Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage, the first new Catholic Church in Boston in several decades. Its interior design lines in the nave, side aisles, and sanctuary are simple but evocative. Stained glass windows, including a rose window in the choir loft, and various artifacts from previously closed churches in other parishes have been integrated into the Shrine. Spend a few moments with the statue of Our Lady of Good Voyage in the room off the narthex at the Shrine’s west end.
Walking slowly down Seaport Boulevard is a pleasure these days, both to see what’s there and to watch the transformation underway. Reflections on the many high glass curtain walls give a wavy, abstract feeling to the views. Prominent among the signs saying what’s to come soon is the one advertising L.L. Bean, a New England institution if there ever was one (Trivia question: What does the “L.L.” in L.L. Bean stand for?).
In leaving South Boston’s Seaport District, two more icons are encountered. The first is “The Barking Crab” (no, Online doesn’t know where that name came from). The second comes immediately afterward – the now permanently open Northern Avenue Drawbridge, of the “swing bridge” kind. And then it’s off to St. Anthony’s Feast in the North End, an entirely different neighborhood.
As a parting reminder, the weather here last Sunday was remarkably good – perfect, in fact. But let’s not forget the people of Houston and East Texas. Their weather was disastrous last Sunday. They are suffering. Over the next days, weeks, and months, they’ll need everything we can send to help them get back on their feet.