Back at Lilypad
The Lilypad is one of Inman Square’s most humble diamonds. On late nights, visitors need to mine it from a dim stretch of sidewalk, roaming cautiously past the boutiques and restaurants of Cambridge Street.
It’s no surprise that people wearing headphones tend to miss this tiny joint. Those with open ears say their true guide—far more telling than the modest “Lilypad” sign suspended over the entrance—is the live music emptying into the street.
I visited Lilypad last year for a jazz band. Though the show was great, it was January, i.e., the small intestine of winter. My legs stung from traveling in a skirt I’d been ballsy enough to wear, and I wound up going home early, particularly after my friend texted, “Temps will drop to 15 when you’re done. Good luck.”
I’m glad to say my most recent visit was on a warm night in late July. I initially came out to support Sam Hammerman, a musician-friend I’d met at a catering gig several months earlier. But Sam was a third of the night’s performance; Aaron Shadwell, who goes by “Shadwell,” and the George Woods band were also scheduled to perform.
Lilypad was hosting what was probably its first “Music-Go-Round” (like “merry-go-round,” minus the horses but with guitars and trumpets and drums and roughly ten times cooler). Each band plays a set of four songs, then trades off as the affair spirals late into the night.
Lilypad is literally composed of a cluttered stage and rows of wooden benches. It’s a tiny place—there’s no sugarcoating it, but it isn’t a bad thing. Guests observe the slightly aged interior and exterior of the joint and feel somewhat cozier.
Lilypad is one of Cambridge’s less expensive options for those craving a night of live music. There’s a small table at the front door where money matters are handled, and though Lilypad never claimed to be a bar, craft beers nonetheless reach guests’ hands during a concert.
Admission fees don’t always match from show to show, but they tend to remain in a comfortable $10 range. My very first visit had a $5 price tag. This one was free, though a $10 donation was appreciated.
These low prices not only make Lilypad a popular pick for folks that keep an eye on their spending, but it’s equally as great for those aimlessly exploring Cambridge and in need of a last-minute hangout.