First Mission Hill Arts Festival Kicks Off Jazz-Inspired Summer

As the summer began to roll around, Mission Hill’s Luisa Harris knew that the community needed an outdoors pick-me-up, and at the same time, she also knew that the city’s musicians and visual artists needed to get their work back in front of audiences.

So, she put the two things together and came up with the 1st annual Mission Hill Arts Festival, a summer-long series of concerts and arts shows in The Yard behind the Tobin Community Center that kicked off last weekend, on June 26.

 “In April, when things started to open up a little, but COVID-19 protocols were still in place, I thought it would be good to find space outside and put together some concerts and encourage the musicians who have been on the sidelines for so long now, and also encourage the community at the same time,” she said.

 At the beginning, it was only her and her husband, noted jazz musician Kevin Harris, who were on board. That quickly changed as Luisa said she was able to get the support of Mission Hill Main Streets, and then got some funding from the Mission Hill/Fenway Neighborhood Trust and the approval of John Jackson at the Tobin Community Center.

 “We saw it as a way to give back even it if was just Kevin and I trying to get this to happen,” she said. “We felt it was a way to give back to the community.”

Now they also have the support of the City of Boston Credit Union, Eastern Bank, Arts Talks, The Boston Foundation, East Boston Savings Bank, The Record Company, Mandlora Music and more.

Harris said she has also partnered with Massachusetts School of Art (MassArt) to have showings at each of the concerts of their artwork. That makes it a great way for original music and original art to be shown to the public throughout the summer.

 “One of the great parts of this is everything that is going to be played each of the five nights are original works,” she said. “There are no covers. It’s all new and original and amazing work.”

Already, last Saturday, Anibal Cruz and the Blue Island Project kicked off the Arts Festival, but more is to come on July 10. The full lineup includes:

      •July 10: Steve Langone and The Jinga Project,

      with Art Exhibit by Nicholas Milkovich.

      •July 24: Kevin Harris Project featuring Fabio Rojas,

      with Art Exhibit by Rania Abdalla.

      •August 7: Débo Ray and EcoSoundSystem, with Opening Act by Boston Arts Academy Students.

      •August 21: The Arni Cheatham Project (CD Release event).

The event is not free, Luisa Harris said, as she said it’s important for the musicians to be compensated for their work after so many months out of work. So far, that hasn’t been a barrier and the price has been well-worth the experience.

Tickets are $40 for front-row seating, and $20 for general admission. Seniors and students are $10 and Teens are $5. Those 12 and under are free. Pre-registration is required by going to the Arts Festival Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MHArtsFest.

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