Dan Hirsch

What counts in music today

Since 2001, Dan Hirsch has been one of most influential music booking agents around town. You could call him an unsung hero, except that he’s widely respected for the range of shows he has programmed in his various stints at the Museum of Fine Arts, Non-Event, World Music/CRASHarts, ArtsEmerson, and on his own.

He’s had a good ride, but earlier this week Hirsch packed up his Cambridge apartment and set out for a new job. When the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University opens this fall, Hirsch will be on staff as a curator of performances and public programs.

On the eve of his departure, Hirsch riffed on the incredible memories he’s taking from the five organizations where he worked tirelessly in the name of good, and important, music.


1. Museum of Fine Arts. “Dirty Three burning the place down. . . . Tinariwen holding the audience in thrall. . . . Spiritualized flanked by gospel singers and strings. . . . hanging backstage with Odetta. . . . Jimmie Dale Gilmore in the rain. . . . Hearing Beach House for the first time. . . . Joanna Newsom in the courtyard. . . . Jorge Drexler being mobbed like he was the Beatles. . . . Matmos mixing light S&M with Steve Reich. . . . Seu Jorge madness. . . . A drunk woman getting up on stage and grinding on Britt Daniels while Spoon tried to play. . . . Sharon Jones giving the Dap-Kings a rhythm tutorial on the loading dock. . . . And, of course, Alejandro Escovedo’s rendition of Mott the Hoople’s ‘I Wish I Was Your Mother’ sung off-mike, from the edge of the stage.’’

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2. Non-Event. “Getting to present Finnish legends Pan Sonic was a longtime dream come true. They stayed at my apartment and said barely a word until the next morning, when Mika Vainio looked at me and said in halting English, ‘You have a very nice apartment.’ ’’

3. World Music/CRASHarts. “Two vastly different but equally cathartic shows at the Somerville Theatre come to mind: Os Mutantes’s triumphant Boston debut, a mere 40 years after the Brazilian band released its seminal trio of early albums, and Vic Chesnutt’s final local performance before his untimely death - a howling, defiant coda, backed by members of Fugazi and A Silver Mt. Zion.’’

4. ArtsEmerson. “I’ve always thought that Low never gets the credit it deserves. On a good night, they’re as emotionally devastating a band as you’re going to find in rock. At the Paramount, ‘When I Go Deaf’ could have gone on for hours, and I wouldn’t have pulled the plug.’’

5. Free agent. “I put on a number of loft shows in Chinatown, most memorably Jack Rose and Glenn Jones playing in jungle-like heat and humidity on a summer’s night.’’