Club Passim first opened as a jazz venue in 1958 under the name Club 47. Shortly after it opened, the club was shut down by the Cambridge police due to local blue laws that prohibited more than three stringed instruments from being played in a place that served food and beverages. In order to return to making music, the venue obtained a non-profit educational charter and reopened as a private club, where patrons became members at the door.
It wasn't long before Club 47 became known for its good music, coffee, and company. Its reputation as an integral part of the Cambridge folk scene began when a friend of the then unknown 17-year-old Joan Baez rented the Club to give Baez a chance to get on stage. Baez quickly built a strong following and was featured regularly. It was at Club 47 that she introduced Bob Dylan, and he would play between acts.
Club 47 was also one of the first venues in a northern United States city to feature African American blues musicians from the South, hosting artists like Mississippi John Hurt and Jackie Washington. Staff and patrons gave African American musicians a place to stay when Cambridge hotels would not rent to them.
In 1968, the Cambridge police shut down the Club once again, but the performers rallied to keep the music going. Supporters soon realized that they had built a strong community around the Club, a community that remains to this day.
When the 1960s came to a close, so did the era of Club 47, but the space was reborn as Passim in 1969. The new owners, Bob and Rae Anne Donlin, worked to keep the venue true to its roots, and they were successful. Passim remained (and still remains) a small venue where the audience members get an intimate musical experience with the artists.
A Legendary Listening Room
For more than 50 years, Club Passim has presented both new and established performers to the Boston area, garnering national recognition. This historic music venue hosts over 400 shows per year for more than 30,000 listeners. In all of its incarnations, from the original Club 47 (1958-1968) to Passim (1969-1994), and finally Club Passim, the Club has been a special place for both artists and audience members. An intimate room that seats no more than 102 people, this space is the place where musicians like Joan Baez, Tom Rush, Peter Wolf, Patty Larkin, Regina Spektor, Josh Ritter, and Suzanne Vega started out before they began playing at larger venues.
Club Passim is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is to create an inspiring and interactive music experience for all. Passim strives to build a vibrant community for artists, students, and audience members through its legendary listening venue and School of Music.
In order to continue fulfilling this mission and remain financially sound, we need your support. Passim relies heavily on fundraising efforts through donations, corporate sponsorships, and grants. Above all, we rely on you. Your support and membership allow us to keep the music going.