Celebrating self-expression as a basic human right essential for the

healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities


Stephen H. Baird, Founder and Executive Director

39 Robeson Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130



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The History and Cultural Impact

of Street Performing in America

by Stephen H. Baird Stephen Baird 1999-2023


Revival of Street Performances in Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.

Squares in the Square jazz collective gathered in Brattle Square during the pandemic shut down of area clubs
to share music with the public and each other plus keep up their muiscal technique skills.
This is image of keyboard player James Leavitt.
Squares in the Square FaceBook page link HERE
Boston Globe article May 10, 2021 about the Squares in the Square link HERE

Brother Blue  Placque  Memorial Dedication July 12, 2021 in Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.
Brother Blue was the primary Street Storyteller of Harvard Square from the1960s to the 2009.
"From the middle of the middle of me to the middle of the middle of you!"
"Me and Shakespeare were tight.  I was in his hand.  Willy the Shake.  Shake the speare mighty.  In your heart."

The memorial celebration gathering included the
Ruth Hill, Storytelling and Street Performing artist communities plus
City of Cambridge Officials and Harvard Square business community members
The event was broadcast by Cambridge Community Television CCTV

Ruth Hill didsplaying  the  memorial with Storytelling Community members, plus Cambridge City Councilor and Harvard Square Bussiness Assocation Director
Charles Coe, Steve Aveson, Blue Puppet Master, Alex the Jester, Squares in the Square Bill Trabilcy on Sax, Peter Panic


"Hot work and long hours, but human statue makes cool cash"
Boston Globe, July 13, 2012 by Stephanie Steinberg
Article on living statue performer in Harvard Square

Images from Harvard Square in July

Living statue - Blake Brasher http://www.blakebrasher.org
Bart Caruso http://www.myspace.com/379766836
David Johnston http://www.myspace.com/davidjohnstonband http://cdbaby.com/cd/davidjohnston
Greg Klyma http://www.klyma.com/index.htm klymabooksgigs [at] gmail [dot] com
Peter Podobry http://portalternativo.com/banda/Peter-Podobry/
Living Statue - Puppet.RealGirl (at) gmail (dot) com

Sad New to report! The passing of one of our finest artists and spirirts. He was 88 and died on November 3, 2009.  Brother Blue was the primary Street Storyteller of Harvard Square since the 1960s.  "From the middle of the middle of me to the middle of the middle of you!" "Me and Shakespeare were tight.  I was in his hand.  Willy the Shake.  Shake the speare mighty.  In your heart."


The Cambridge street performing scene has a long history with many curves in the road. Please contact me for numerous letters, articles, petitions, meeting flyers and other documents for review. Street Artists Photo-Journalism Project Started documentation project of street performers and artists in 2003. See photographs and short biographical sketch here: The Photos

Current law and application:

Cambridge: Harvard Square is best area in the evenings and weekends. The Cambridge permit is now FREE. Online or in person application process. Cambridge Arts Council, 344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139 617-349-4380. https://www.cambridgema.gov/arts/Programs/streetperformers    This permit is good for one year beginning January 1st. You can sell your own cds and use amplification at 80db in a 25 feet distance. Download copies of Cambridge Ordinance Cambridge Arts Council site (Laws are periodically updated so always check the City Clerk office for latest version). Look for the statue that tributes Russian puppeteer Igor Fokin  http://www.igorfokin.com and the plaque honoring Brother Blue in Brattle Square.

Highlights of this story:
  • Before 1966, street performances happened only sporadically. There are references that Joan Baez performed in Harvard Square during the early sixties folk music scare.
  • From 1966 to 1970, Harvard Square, was one of the centers for the 60s counter culture. There were weekly musical gatherings on Cambridge Common and many street peddlers. Club 47 had closed and became the Eugene McCarthy campaign office in 1968. The Nameless Coffeehouse at the First Parish Church was hosting emerging performers every Friday and Saturday evening with musicians spilling out on to Church Street and Massachusetts Ave. Much of the street activity was curtailed after the escalation of the anti war protest in to street violence and the Harvard Square Riots.

(click on the images for new window to down load pictures)

  • This August 28, 1973, article in the Boston Phoenix details the arrest and trial of John Westerfield in Cambridge. To open Cambridge up for performances took over a decade Click for a PDF version of the article (306K one page) here
  • 1975 and 1977, Letters sent to Mayor Walter Sullivan and Mayor Alfred Vellucci to stop the arrest of street artists.

John Burrill "Mister Bones" (1920-1993)

Mister Bones started his career playing "bones" on the streets of Cambridge in 1975. He augmented many street bands with his spirit. See article: http://www.oocities.org/fredremainslost/b/johnburrill.htm.tmp
  • 1976 first Cambridge Street Performers Ordinance passed. Limited to 1 PM to 10 PM and three specific areas: the traffic triangle in Brattle Square, Cambridge Common and Winthrop Park. Permit fee $2. No amplification allowed. Most folks perform on the traffic triangle and Holyoke Center under a private permit system by Harvard Real Estate. Still many arrest and threats of arrest. Street artists like Fantasy Jugglers, Shakespeare Brothers, Trent Arterberry, Peter Sosna, Slap Happy, Mr Bones, Brother Blue and a host of street artists nurture the scene into one the most talented and respected performances areas in the country and the world.
  • 1982 Permit fee raised to $5
  • 1984-1986 Beverly Woods arrested for playing hammered dulcimer in Harvard Square. New Red Line construction eliminates traffic triangle and creates new pedestrian areas. Letters and draft of new ordinance sent to the city is ignored.
    • "Street Fight: Street Performers take on restrictive city ordinances" by Jean Riesman, The Cambridge TAB, June 17, 1986

Beverly Woods on Cambridge Common and Kenny Hoilday on Brattle Street 1986

(click on the images for new window to down load pictures)

  • 1987, July 3, Sharrhan Williamson and Jonathan Backstrom threaten with arrest for play flute with digital delays and synthesizer
  • 1987, Street Performance festival started with support for Ben & Jerry's Foundation and Cambridge Arts Council. Festivals featured Tracy Chapman and the Shakespeare Brothers (Steve Aveson went on to be WBZ Evening Magazine host and Fox 25 News Anchor. Al Krulick went on to work for Disney in Orlando, Florida and ran for Congress).


Shakespeare Brothers: Al Krulick (right) and Steve Aveson (left)

Click for larger image

Tracy Chapman Busking in Harvard Square Cambridge MA USA

Cambridge Street Performers Festival in 1988 with Tracy Chapman

Attorney Dianna Stallone, Lorraine Saltre and Brother Blue ... Martin Sexton at Street Artists Guild Meeting 1990

This sculpture of Igor Fokin's puppet "Doo doo" is located in Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA where Igor charmed both young and old before his untimely death. For additional details on this sculpture visit the web site: http://www.igorfokin.com
The Puppeteer of Igor Fokin - The Puppeteer is a magical film about Igor Fokin, an extraordinarily talented artist and street performer.  Igor captivated the imagination of both children and adults with a simple tilt of the wrist and flick of a finger.  He assembled a menagerie of fanciful wooden characters on a street corner in Harvard Square and delighed audiences by breathing life into his creations.  A true master of a lost Russian art!a! A film by Gary Henoch and Chris Schmidt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ2gizaqVw8

Evgeny Koshewsky, Igor Fokin's son is now performing  puppett show here is a video preview:
Evgeny Koshewsky - Wooden Horse Puppet Theatre https://www.facebook.com/koshevskyfokin

Transformers -- Break Dance team from NYC. Spins, flips, mock competions, comedy acrobatics...

Perform in Harvard Square, Cambridge several times a year. Pictures by Stephen Baird June 2004.

Transformers: Dirty: 917-415-4853 Zone: 917-361-9565

Street Arts and Buskers Advocates