By Sean Mackey
Packing up like Tetris in a subway car, those who commute to work in Boston encounter stressful traveling situations. Relieving this tension is John Gerard, a musician from Alewife who plays not only on the streets of Cambridge and Boston, but also at the subway stops. Gerard turns the atmosphere in a more pleasant direction, armed with his amazing voice and impressive acoustic guitar talents.
I met John Gerard yesterday with a firm handshake, accompanied by his friend & musical companion, Steve, as they entered WERS for a live mix. Gerard opened up with the soothingly rhythmic “Easier”, which cannot be found on his records, but is “often heard out on the subway and streets.” As he let his lyrics flow, the WERS staff was taken aback by the amazing voice possessed by this one man. Gerard then followed the request of a friend by playing “The Only One”, and continued on with the slow, deep acoustics of “Let Me Be”, backing the melodiously stunning vocals.
When asked by our host exactly why he enjoys performing in the subway, Gerard responded: “That’s a good way to hone your skills. It’s how I really wrote the last album. I had a handful of songs and I practiced them in the subway. And I tend to write a lot in between trains.” Complementing the joys, though, are challenges. Gerard also described to us how playing in the subway means playing against the boisterous noises of everything else – people and trains. “So once you get to play an actual venue that’s meant for what it is, it’s gold,” he told us. Intrigued by this, I asked John Gerard to sit down for an interview, and he agreed to it, very enthusiastic about the idea.