By Seth Daniel
If Pat Loomis and his son, Antonio, get into a tiff over taking out the trash, or any number of other little father-son squabbles, that all disappears once the guitar and saxophone come out of their cases.
The father-son duo from the South End are once again entertaining audiences with wonderful jazz and blues music at the Library Park for the fourth year of the concert series in the Park that’s designed to enliven and activate the space.
Antonio Loomis, who grew up in the South End and just finished his first year at Berklee College of Music, said he finds it exciting to play with his dad, Pat, every summer. This year, having gotten fully involved with his guitar at Berklee, it’s been even more incredible. And playing at the Library where he spent countless hours as a child with his dad, is only that much better.
“It’s always a learning experience to play with a musician that’s got his experience and is also your father,” he said. “Each time you learn more and more and I cherish the experience. We kind of get to brainstorm around the kitchen table or on a piece of paper together for these concerts and the vibe we want to create for each concert.”
Pat Loomis, who plays alto saxophone, said he and his son are always on the same page, but the tables have turned between teacher and student.
“I am learning as much from him as he’s learning from me,” said Pat. “I stopped being the teacher a long time ago. I’m learning from him now…During the day, maybe you get on each other’s nerves along the way as sometimes happens. However, as father and son, once you’re at the gig, all of that just melts away into music. Then, of course, once it’s over you can pick right back up where you left off. It’s a really cool thing to play in your neighborhood with your son.”
The Loomis’s have been playing in the Library Park all summer, and have performed three of the four concerts in the series already – including a rousing program at the last concert on Aug. 9. There, as Antonio picked the strings in a beautiful and well-executed jazz guitar solo, his father counted time and waited his turn. When it was his turn, Pat walked over to his son and they did a little tit-for-tat solo between guitar and saxophone – likely worked out over years of playing together in the front room of their Tremont Street home.
The next, and final, version of the Library Park Concerts will be on Aug. 23. It will be titled, ‘Let’s Groove Tonight: A Funky Dance Party With Ivory Jones and White Chocolate,’ featuring Ivory Jones, alto saxophone and vocals; Antonio Tha Great, guitar; Sarah Soulchild, vocals; Jimmy Dow-Dow, keyboard and vocals; Stevie Q, bass; Tommy Bounce, drums; Thunderfoot, percussion; and special surprise guests.
Marleen Neinhuis, president of the Friends of the South End Public Library (FOSEL), said the concerts have helped to change the often-rough park.
“People on this side of West Newton said they wanted to do something about Library Park,” she said. “It was a little problematic and it was not a good place and really was rundown. In the last couple of years, we’ve developed a rapport with the Police Department. We have turned a corner. It’s so much better than three years ago and three years ago it was so much better than eight years ago…The concerts are so nice and it brings people together in a way few other things do. It’s very relaxed and it’s in a nice, accessible park and there are bathrooms. It all just works.”
For both Pat and Antonio, the Library Park Concerts are very important because the South End Library was such an important part of their lives, from when Antonio and his brother, Aiden, would come with Pat or his wife, Crystal, on a daily basis.
“The Library here was a big help to our family,” said Pat. “When our kids were young, we decided to home school them. This place was a big help to get all the books and videos we needed to take with us. Not too long ago, they approached me to do a Christmas concert, which we also do. They’ve been a big help with our kids and they asked us to do the concert series in the summer and we couldn’t say no. We actually thought it was really, really cool to help.”
Antonio said it was also very exciting for him to help the Library, after spending so many years there and learning from long-time children’s librarian, Margaret.
Last year, Antonio followed in his father’s footsteps to attend Berklee School of Music, and he said he hopes to get into studio production.
For this summer though, it’s working out his chops with his old dad in Library Park.