On Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, the basement of the Brookline Veteran’s Post at 386 Washington Street comes alive with the sweet melodies of classic jazz and the celebratory clinking of community members’ glasses. These are the sounds of POSTunderground, a community gathering place developed by American Legion Commander, Elmon Hendrickson, and John Purcell, the Brookline Music School jazz and rock coordinator. 

POSTunderground offers free music, food, and neighborhood spirit twice every week. On Friday evenings there is also a cash bar with reasonable prices. “Social interactions seem to be based around three main things. You have an open community space that everyone is welcome to come to, and you have food, and you have music,” says Purcell. “That’s how you gather the community.”

Accessibility is crucial to the founders, which is why the event is always free. Veggie Crust contributes pizza, and donations fund the upkeep of the space and payment of the musicians. “Anyone can come in regardless of their circumstances and have a meal and hang out and listen to the band,” says Purcell.

The band is actually a house band like clubs used to have in the heyday of the jazz age. Back then, famous musicians would come to local spots to play with their house band. POST works similarly. There’s a base group of musicians who play (almost) every night in the house band, including Phil Grenadier, a well-known trumpet player and Washington Square resident, and Matt Marcus, a pianist, and former Brookline Music School student.

Any musicians that wish to can join the house band for classic American jazz jams (think Ella Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Miles Davis, etc.). On Fridays, before the house band comes on, there’s an hour-long set that features a rotating collection of local jazz groups. You may see the same musicians around the hidden gem, but the sets are always unique as the band riffs off the vibe of the crowd on any particular night.

Purcell’s top priority at the moment is acquiring more long-term funding for the project. “Longevity is the whole idea,” he says. Brookliners can contribute in person or on the POST website via PayPal. With the logistics of keeping the lights on and the music covered, he could turn his attention to bigger dreams. One of those dreams is to utilize the professional kitchen in the Veteran’s Post to highlight the local culinary talent and serve a larger meal selection. But these developments will hopefully come with time.

In the meantime, Brookline can enjoy something that it’s long been lacking – regular live music performances in a local space. Don’t forget your dancing shoes. It’s impossible to stay still when Grenadier starts belting out those jazz age notes.

By Celina Colby