LYNN — Seven months from now, residents could enjoy violinists outside the city’s senior center or lively street musicians in front of downtown barber shops.
Justin Morley, the administrative coordinator for IronBound Marketplace and Food Truck Emporium, has a music-driven vision for Lynn. He just applied for a $10,000 grant from the Lynn Cultural Council (LCC) to launch the Street Soul Music series. The project would have Morley partnered with downtown businesses to allow for quality street performers to play outside their front doors.
“What I visualize happening is on Saturday afternoons, to start, you walk downtown, corner to corner, and it’s a little musical tour to check out,” said Morley. “I want it to be spread out enough so people can hop from location to location. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years.”
Morley has partnered with Lisa Wallace, the founder and president of the Community Path of Lynn Coalition (CPLC). As a new non-profit organization, Wallace said they are in the best position to work with Morley on his dream for music across the downtown. She said many of the spaces he wants to use incorporate the CPLC.
“This is just another option for people to have an outlet to express themselves,” said Wallace. “If we start bringing in more options for our community then we are going to have less negative impacts of crime, it will give our kids another thing to do, and it’s a way to bring outsiders in with a touristic aspect. It’s going to start changing the way people think about Lynn.”
There are 10 designated hub spots that Morley is vying for in the music series. Multiple mini venues throughout IronBound on Mount Vernon Street, Central Square in front of the city’s historic clock tower, the corner of Mount Vernon and Exchange streets, and the corner of Silsbee and Union streets.
After getting support from the businesses, Morley hopes to have outdoor venues at the island intersection between Omar and Oscar Jewelry and Pie and Pint Revolution, Victorious Barbers on Union Street, North Shore Community College near the MBTA entrance, on Market Street in front of Brother’s Deli, on Union Street out front of the Community Minority Cultural center, and My Brother’s Table on Willow Street.
“The number one reason I want this for Lynn is it improves people’s moods,” said Morley. “The right type of music has the capacity to improve their mood and more people in better moods can lead to better mental health.”
Although Morley has gained financial support with CPLC and applied for the $10,000 grant, he said a lot of work needs to be done to gain the right amount of funding. With his anticipated plan of 10 musicians at 10 locations, paid $100 for one hour, for 24 weeks, Morley estimates he will need between $24,000 and $25,000.
A response about the grant is expected by the end of December, according to Aaron Liber, co-chair of the LCC. Liber said the council received 53 grant requests last year and accepted 48 of them, giving out about $48,200, distributed from the Mass Cultural Council. This year, the LCC received $56,300 to be used for grant requests, which are selected by council members using a grading criterion.
“The biggest obstacle has been trying to maintain enough funding to pay musicians so we don’t end up without quality,” said Morley. “The other is learning how loud we can go without disturbing any businesses or residents because there is no ordinance for anything like this right now so it’s the perfect time to experiment with it.”
Brian LaPierre, the city’s councilor-at-large, said he wholeheartedly supports the idea. He said Morley has the pulse of the city and the music series is a way to showcase talent that people may not have heard about otherwise. Street Soul Music, and its necessary ordinances, is a very new concept for the city.
The councilor-at-large said Lynn has never had to accommodate anything like this proposal before. The city and its councilors, as well as Morley, are all learning from this, according to LaPierre.
“I’m happy to make sure things happen that are good for the community, and what he is doing down at IronBound has been really nice to see,” said LaPierre. “Justin is really taking this task to heart and is providing an infusion of energy to that area of downtown and frankly I haven’t seen anything like that in that area in a number of years.”
A preview of the Street Soul Music vision is currently underway at IronBound Marketplace every Saturday until the last weekend in October. Morley said he hopes to kick off the downtown music series in April, along with the food truck emporium. With the right funding in order, Street Soul Music would run for one hour every Saturday afternoon.
“There’s a lot brewing here,” said LaPierre. “Lynn is changing and I fully support that.”