I was told the other day that 1/3 of Boston’s population is composed of students. 1/3. Considering Boston’s population is now well over 600,000 people, that calculates to about 200,000 students in the city alone. This would not be as significant if it were not for all the student-run businesses that have sprung up as a result, including the small concert-cafe known as Cafe 939.

Run by Berklee College of Music, Cafe 939 functions as both a quaint coffeehouse and a low-key concert venue. This student-run location features new musical acts every month in their Red Room, a small, open area that offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the performing artist. And when I say up close and personal, I mean it. Getting there early can land you a spot in the front row (for those of you who want to physically see the sweat collect on the singer’s upper lip) and staying late can lead to a meet and greet with the artist you spent all night crooning after. Autographs, pictures, interviews, hugs, you name it. You can have it all.

But if you’re not up for snuggling with strangers in the front of the crowd to see your favorite artist, the Red Room offers couches on the side as well as plenty of standing room in the back so you can enjoy your favorite artist without sacrificing your personal bubble.

This is the approach I took on July 11th during my Cafe 939 endeavor. With my $15 dollar ticket in hand and my iPhone camera at the ready (note my quality journalism materials), I entered Cafe 939’s concert venue to see the likes of Teddy Geiger. Inside, the colorful red-blue lights lit small stage at the front of the room where singer Sarah Miles broke the ice, followed by Berklee alum Jesse Ruben. Then came Teddy Geiger, 2008 heartthrob who mesmerized the crowd with his raspy goodness and sent me back to all those “hairbrush and mirror” concerts I held in my bedroom featuring For You I Will on repeat. (Too fangirl-ish?)

What really stood out to me to me about this venue, though, more than the original music and laid-back atmosphere, was their declared mission: to give back every dime earned to the original performers. In a time where money is scarce, Cafe 939 dedicates its venue to helping artists thrive by giving 100% of the funds earned (whether it be through ticket sales or concert souvenirs) back to the people that deserve it: the artists themselves.

So whether you want to see that unknown indie artist that you secretly love to hoard to yourself or you want to find new talent or if you just want to rack up some karma points by giving back to people who deserve some attention, head over to this small Boston cafe to put some music back in your life. If you’re skeptical, just remember: big things come in small packages.


Cafe 939 is located at 939 Boylston street in Boston, MA. Information about the artists mentioned can be found here:

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