Worshipful brother J.R. Roach and the brethren of Cambridge Amicable Lodge
Last week, the LA Times covered Freemasonry's growth among LA's young men. This week, it's Boston. From today's Boston Herald:
Stodgy lodges, traditional initiations and secret handshakes would seem to be the antithesis of punk rock.
But a diverse group of Hub rockers are embracing centuries-old fraternal ideals to become the new face of the Freemasons in Boston.
“It’s not a religion, and it’s definitely not a cult,” said J.R. Roach, drummer for Sam Black Church and bassist for The Men, who also is master of the Masons’ Cambridge Amicable Lodge. “Everything is supposed to be dignified. There’s no hazing. We’re all brothers. It’s a movement for guys trying to find a deeper meaning in their lives.”
A new breed of Freemasons has surfaced locally, filling seats occupied for decades by community leaders, politicians and executives. Some join because their fathers or grandfathers were Masons. Others come for the male camaraderie or the intellectual challenge. And some simply want to get out of the house and go somewhere other than a rock club.
“It’s kind of like a history class that no one else can take,” said Dave Norton, drummer for Victory at Sea and The Men. He believes his membership in the fraternal organization will be especially rewarding when he tours Europe later this year.
“I can go anywhere in the world and find a brother,” he said.
“Some people just aren’t ready for it,” Norton said. “Any man can join. You just have to have the right reasons for it.”
Inside the Cambridge lodge, with its candelabras, velvet-covered pews, pipe organ and paintings of members past, members wear aprons indicating their level of enlightenment. Members meet monthly to discuss lodge business, which ranges from raising money for charities to electing leaders.
Gary Robley, drummer for Dashboard Jesus and J. Geils cover band Blow Your Face Out, said he joined because his father was a Mason, as are many of his friends.
“There were a bunch of musicians I knew in it,” Robley said. “It was kind of a brotherhood. Musicians have always been a part of Masonry since its inception.”
For Hank Peirce, a Unitarian minister and former roadie for hardcore band Slapshot, Masonry provided a safe haven when he went through a divorce.
“It’s important to have ‘men space,’ where we can talk about things going on in our lives,” he said. “The lodge is a sanctuary. When you’re here, you’re doing rituals that men have done for hundreds of years.”