The Importance of EMF is Community – Part 1

Kristina Kehrer's picture

Sound Museum Rehearsal Complex

Thirty years ago, Des Desmond’s rock band, the Bentmen, needed a rehearsal space to practice their music. In entrepreneurial fashion, Desmond took out a small business loan, leased a building in the South End and built the first Sound Museum Rehearsal Complex, which, as a company is still operational today.

In the Boston/Cambridge area, affordable rehearsal spaces for musicians and artists are slowly becoming a remnant of our glorious past. This sickening story keeps being played out over and over again – priced out, priced out, priced out.

It has reared its ugly head again in the battle over the EMF building located on Brookline Street in Cambridge, which has been one of the locations of the Sound Museum for over a decade. The only good thing about this story is it is getting lots of press, because the 200+ tenants are trying to find a way to stay in the building and are seeking help from the city of Cambridge, and from the new owner John DiGiovanni.

Twelve years ago, Desmond leased the EMF building from the Katz family and set about building rehearsal spaces, which are priced accordingly to the square foot. Prices varied, but are considered affordable compared to what is out there these days.

EMF stands for Electric Motor Frequencies, but Desmond’s interpretation of the acronym is “Electric Music Family,” which is what was created along the way in that funky old-school “ecosystem” that thrived on Brookline Street.

In part 1, I introduce you to the man, the myth, the legend, who does have detractors in this story, but is beside the point in the bigger picture of the steamrolling transformation of the city of Cambridge. No one can undermine Desmond’s role in the fruitful and historic pantheon of music and arts that has put this city on the map. But in the ethos of capitalism, the future of our artistic greatness remains uncertain.