If you’ve ever paid ANY attention to the Greater Lowell / Merrimack Valley music scene, you’ve probably heard of or attended a show at UnchARTed on Market Street in Lowell. The place is more than just a venue and art space, it’s a home to many. As of this Tuesday, that home has held its final performance. While no words can summarize what the venue meant to the masses, here’s a brief sample of what the venue meant to some of us involved with The Lowell Spin:
UnchARTed was, my favorite venue in Lowell. I’m not talking about over the past few years either. I’m talking about of all time. Michael F. Dailey Jr. and the rest of the UnchARTed staff past and present, created a community feel to the venue which so many people took part in. I used to pop in UnchARTed at least once a week, if not a few times a week. It felt like a home away from home. Whether it was going there to catch a show, sitting at the bar talking to Mike and the staff, or just going there with my laptop to work on things, it always felt great. The Lowell Spin was even founded at UnchARTed with all of our physical meetings having taken place there. My favorite highlights were playing shows with Horse Mode, Doin It Together Fest, Rock N’ Lowell Fest, filling in with oldsoul and with Don’t Blow It, attending Halloween shows, booking some of my favorite bands to come play there to experience it, the mushy goat pizza (RIP), hounding Mike to keep wheat beers in stock (which he always did), I could go on and on, the list is endless. I made a lot of friends at UnchARTed. It will be sadly missed. – Joel Gray
In losing UnchARTed, Lowell loses one of the all-time best performance spaces to have existed in the Mill City, and I don’t consider that hyperbole in the slightest. No mere dive bar or stadium-style arena could host so wide an array of bands, artists, and non-musical performances, and certainly no other place would have had the guts to take on the booking risks that Mike Dailey was willing to take. No other venue was as open, free, and safe to the assortment of people that went in and out of its doors to attend everything from punk shows to noise shows to indie shows to hip-hop shows to everything in between. It’s where I grew as an artist across several bands, and was the foot out the door to get me into local music writing via the Lowell Spin’s inception through UC. If our city truly values itself as one of artists and thinkers (Even when Jack Kerouac isn’t involved) then we truly owe a depth of thanks to MFDJr for his invaluable contributions to the scene, and must make it a point not to let our other artistic spaces, local venues, or perhaps the next UnchARTed go without their due. – Lilz Martin
I love UnchARTed, and you do as well. You and I have seen the ‘best’ music, the ‘worst’ music, the ‘new’ music, the ‘old’ music, the ‘weird’ music, the pop up local shops, the comedy, the production events, and the everything else at 103 Market St. Mike and everyone involved with UnchARTed Gallery gave my closest friends and I place to grow as a people and musicians without any judgement whether on or off their stage. In 2018, Mike and I were in a DITFest band and it was one of my favorite experiences playing there. I remember giving him an immediate hug after performing with him. From playing a Folk Fest weekend, to the weekday shows sometimes within days of each other, UnchARTed holds the roots and blossomed every new artist who’s been able to perform there. I’m going to miss this and you will too.
– Navarre Williams
The loss of UnchARTed does not represent the death of the Lowell music scene. There are other venues, and other people who book shows. Things will continue to happen. And mercifully, Mike Dailey will continue to be one of those people. But the value to a local music scene of having a venue like UnchARTed is incalculable. They created a space for artists and musicians that was welcoming to everyone, and actually made it a FUN place to be. Uncharted was a place where you knew you could either book, play, or go see a show, just about any time, and it would always be a good one. A place where whether there were 10 people in the crowd or 100, those people were there for the music or the art, not just looking for a place to get drunk (though it was also a very fun place to get drunk). A venue like this, that is as inviting for the audience as it is for the performer, that is open and willing to put on any kind of show on just about any night of the week, and puts the artists and the local community first, might not be the most successful business model. That may be a sad statement on our society as a whole – but Uncharted was like a vision of what I think we all hoped our city and our world could be like. I didn’t want to write a lot because words can’t do justice to how much this place meant to me, so that’s it. This sucks. We need an Uncharted in our city and until we get that back, the loss to Lowell will be felt, and hard. – Jim Warren
I walked by UnchARTed tonight only to see a CLOSED sign and the lights off. In my head I thought, “Oh, it must be Sunday or Monday and they are closed as scheduled.” Or at least I wanted to think that was the case. Then it hit me…then it felt “real”. Losing UnchARTed is definitely devastating to our local music scene, but it is by no means the end of it. And as much as I am saddened by this major loss, it has brought to light how lucky I am to have spent time there, and to have been a part of it with all of you. And how lucky WE, as the local community, were blessed with such a beautiful venue owned by the most amazing family and with some of the best staff in town. I will always cherish the time I spent at UnchARTed and the friends I’ve made because of it. UnchARTed forever. – Kevin Conway
The level of camaraderie that just innately sparked within UnchARTed was fucking kinetic. Having only been to a handful of yummy shows and booked only one at it’s apex, UnchARTed offered me comfort when I decided to reach outside of myself. Michael and Angie created a space for fostering authenticity; accepting vulnerability as it’s hallmark. We’re thankful for the time we shared. You were always gracious to us.
Long live UnchARTed.
Let’s do it again sometime? But different? Yet the same? Both. We’re going with both. – Alyssa Aileen Vautier
Feature photo by Mary Dumont during the final performance.