Good vibes from downtown music

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Chris Perry in the room from which Yarmouth’s downtown music originates.


By Eric Bourque



The music playing in downtown Yarmouth seems to be a hit with most people, say representatives of the Yarmouth Waterfront Development Corporation, which initiated the project.

“We heard a lot of positive comments,” said Jim MacLeod, the corporation’s chairman.

Referring to the odd negative response, he said, “You take those comments with respect, but in the overall scheme of things it appears that the music has been well received.”

Last fall Yarmouth town council approved up to $17,000 to purchase a sound system for downtown music; and, while the project has turned out to be more expensive than that, MacLeod says the cost to the town will not exceed the amount initially approved for it.

The project’s cost has reached $21,000 – “It’s 21-and-change at this point,” MacLeod said – but he said he and a couple of other downtown people are contributing to it in order to make up for the higher-than-anticipated expense of setting up the system.

The system, which is based in the CJLS building, has music playing from Parade Street to Cliff Street and the plan is to extend it to Forest Street.

“Our goal is to complete the central business district, including Frost Park,” MacLeod said. “Not exactly sure when but hopefully in the calendar year … 2014.”

Music can have a comforting effect on people, he says, an observation shared by Chris Perry, a member of the waterfront development corporation board who was asked to come up with a proposal for a downtown music system. He presented the proposal, on behalf of the waterfront group, to town council last October and the town gave the go-ahead.

“It was only designed to cover the downtown core and if we need to go any further, there is that possibility, but it’ll take more money and equipment,” Perry said.

The system consists of a transmitter, eight receivers and amplifiers and about 25 speakers spaced at intervals of about 60 feet.

The music goes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Perry said, but this can be adjusted.

MacLeod says they may change the hours – perhaps start the music earlier in the day and finish it later – once the new ferry service begins.

The system featured Christmas music during the holiday season, then started playing what Perry referred to as “classic oldies.”

Perry admits musical tastes can vary from person to person and that it’s hard to please everybody.

“What we have done is asked a number of interested people to form a committee, if you will, and come up with a list of songs,” he said.

Given that some recordings are louder than others, he said, one of the things they try to do with the downtown system is have a consistent volume level.

Like MacLeod, Perry says the project has generated some positive feedback.

“Music in the workplace, music in our environment, has a pleasurable effect,” he said. “That’s why people like music. It puts them in a good mood.”

 Said MacLeod, “I think it’s a good project … if it makes people feel better, more relaxed, more comfortable.”


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Organizations: Yarmouth Waterfront Development, Yarmouth town council

Geographic location: Yarmouth, Parade Street, Cliff Street Forest Street Frost Park

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