Boston Compass, Extra

Boston Compass #114: Places You Can Hang // Echo Bridge

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Places You Can Hang: Echo Bridge

Built in 1876, the Sudbury Aqueduct carries fresh water from Farm Pond in Framingham to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Brighton. Along its way is Echo Bridge, an American Water Landmark, spanning the Charles River at Hemlock Gorge between Needham and Newton Upper Falls.

The gorge offers scenic, secluded trails on both steep banks. Descending from the Needham side leads to a boardwalk, then onto a peninsula featuring the craggy puddingstone ledge “Devil’s Den” and an abandoned nail factory. The views from atop the bridge, of forest, valley, silk mill and waterfalls, are right out of a postcard.

The real place to hang, however, is under the bridge on the Newton side, on the deck, with some friends if you can rally them, with some musical instruments if you can carry them, or with only your stomping feet, clapping hands, and projected voice. The echo is exceptional – a natural delay pedal. Play a call-and-response rhythm, play sparse for a straight trance feel, or find the pocket, hit between the echoes and play a triplet or 6/8 groove. Sing arpeggiating melodies or bend notes and you’ll harmonize with your own echo. If you’re more a dramatist or poet than musician, experimenting under Echo Bridge will no doubt be enjoyable and fruitful for your practice.

The Hemlock Gorge public parking lot is on Ellis Street in Newton just south of Route 9, or walk, bike, or “cab” it from the Eliot T-stop on the Green Line D-Line.

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