Earlier this month, the lawn in front of the historical Jason Russel House in Arlington, MA transformed into a concert venue for the Boston dubbed “Queen of the Blues” herself, Toni Lynn Washington. After a challenging 18 months, everyone here at the Arlington Center for the Arts was so excited to welcome in our community members to an afternoon of great music and community engagement.
Toni Lynn was accompanied by Sax Gordon and Mario Perrett on Saxophone, Mike Williams on Guitar, Steve Monahan on Bass, Eddie Scheer on Drums, Dan Fox on Trumpet, and Cheryl Arena on Harmonica
In the words of ACA Executive Director, Tom Formicola, “it was only fitting that [Toni Lynn Washington] kick off our return to community celebration.” And what a celebration it was. Known for her signature desire to communicate joy and passion to her audiences through music, Washington did just that this past weekend. She and her band got the ball rolling and the community’s feet tapping right off the bat, starting with the well known, and well loved, “Stand By Me.”
As both a local and national treasure, Toni Lynn Washington is no stranger to the music scene here in Boston. She got her start as a teenager, sneaking into clubs around town, underage at the time, to perform anywhere and with anyone she could. From being the frontwoman for the Boston Baked Blues ensemble, to touring the world with the USO, to recording her own music with multiple labels, Washington has had a six decade career being a mover and shaker in the musical world of Blues.
Now 83, Toni Lynn captivated the Arlington community with last Sunday’s concert having all the hallmarks of a great live performance that have been missing these past months in the pandemic. Toes were tapping and heads were bobbing in time to the drums. Couples were dancing along with old time choreographed moves, while others were in their own little worlds, letting the music move them. While all the massive grins were hidden behind masks, it was easy to tell that Toni Lynn and her band were doing what they do best, entertaining and helping everyone feel good.
Toni Lynn had the audience laughing with her great sense of humor and ended the evening by getting up on her feet and showing us all the best way to dance along. Just like her canary yellow and gold dress was a bright spot on the day, so too was her music. As people packed up their chairs, folded their blankets, or hopped down from their places on the moss covered stone wall, it was clear how much they enjoyed the concert. Words of gratitude and exclamations of delight and excitement about the show filled the air. It was a wonderful opportunity for our community to connect and enjoy live music together again!
Click through the slideshow below to find more images from this amazing event! All photos taken by Tom Mahin.
Here's what the community had to say:
"Love Toni Lynn, wanting to vanquish pandemic loneliness and longing to dance!" -Deborah Elizabeth Lotus, Movement Educator at The Arlington Center.
"I thoroughly enjoyed it! The musicianship level was very high. The outdoor setting was pleasant, with perfect weather. The vibe of the event was peaceful and relaxed." -Jeff F.
"The whole concert was great, but I especially liked when the 3 musicians walked through the audience while playing." -Sandy
"[My favorite part was] that you planned something, presented something and made it available to anyone that heard about it...appreciate your getting the word out about the concert." -Anonymous
Thank you to everyone who came out and enjoyed the music! The entire concert has been recorded by our friends at Arlington Community Media Inc. (ACMI). Be sure to check out the full video below. ACA is just getting started with events this fall, so head to our website, www.acarts.org, to check out upcoming events, including the start of Fall classes, our fall exhibit REAL!, and Arlington Open Studios, which will feature our first ever Porchfest stage!
*Information in this article sourced from the following:
ACA interview with Toni Lynn Washington, December 2020. Moderated by Holly Harris, Host of "Spinning the Blues", WUMB