Boston’s Best Folk Music Venues

August 18, 2016 6:00 AM

(Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

Folk music may not be as popular as it once was, but it’s still alive and well in Boston. More than a few coffeehouses and clubs host folk bands and singers for fans to sing and dance along with. Some venues do a variety of genres, so it is always smart to check out who is playing ahead of time. Most places will advertise artists on social media beforehand or at least have a particular night set aside for folk music in particular.

(Photo Credit: Nameless Coffeehouse)

(Photo Credit: Nameless Coffeehouse)

The Nameless Coffeehouse
First Parish Church
3 Church St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

The Nameless Coffeehouse began its life as a folk music venue back in the 60s, when folk music was making big waves in the U.S. music scene. Located in the Unitarian Universalist First Parish Church in Cambridge, it is the oldest volunteer-run coffeehouse in New England. It is a local favorite where famous musicians and even comedians like Andy Kaufmann cut their teeth. Because The Nameless is not open regularly like other venues, it’s important to check the website for upcoming shows.

Related: Boston’s Best Music Open Mic Nights

Club Passim
47 Palmer St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 492-7679

Not far from The Nameless is another university student favorite–Club Passim. In contrast to The Nameless, Passim has a lot of events going on regularly, so folk music fans don’t have to experience a live music drought. In fact, there are more shows at Club Passim in a year than there are days, but not all of them are folk. Expect to see local favorites, tributes to the greats and even some of the greats themselves.

(Photo Credit: Lizard Lounge)

(Photo Credit: Lizard Lounge)

Lizard Lounge
1667 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-0759

Lizard Lounge is a cozy venue that hosts everything from folk music to slam poetry. The atmosphere is inviting with intimate seating, plenty of drinks and decent food to keep music fans happy. Both obscure and popular genres are represented in the Lizard Lounge schedule, so be sure to scour it for folk acts. One of the best times to hit Lizard Lounge is during open mic sessions. Musicians get a chance to practice on stage while fans get a taste of what’s up and coming in Boston.

(Photo Credit: The Red Room @ Cafe 939)

(Photo Credit: The Red Room @ Cafe 939)

The Red Room @ Cafe 939
939 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 747-6038

Berklee is Boston’s elite music school and home to countless small and grandiose music performances every year. One of its many venues is the student-run Red Room @ Cafe 939. Folk is common at this busy coffeehouse, but it is easy to catch other genres and student recitals as well. Admission is always either free or very affordable, so it is a great place for students to hang out. Performances are usually standing room only, so don’t expect the sit-down and relax vibe of The Lizard Lounge.

The Cantab Lounge
738 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 354-2685

A wonderful place to grab a drink and a show, The Cantab Lounge does open mic, folk, spoken word and much more. Split into two floors, the upstairs area is 21+ only. Its much easier to catch a folksy or rock band at The Cantab Lounge during the week. Dance music and a club vibe takes over both upstairs and downstairs over the weekends. Have a folk band that needs a place to jam? The downstairs is available to rent.

Related: Boston’s Best Bars With Live Weekday Music

Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at