Thursday, February 13, 2014
Lou Reed passed away on Oct. 27, 2013, and though sadness and shock filled the instantaneous Internet and the independent airwaves, so too did a celebration of his music.
At the forefront were “Sweet Jane” and “Rock and Roll” and “Walk on the Wild Side” — Velvet Underground and solo songs that have become iconic, whether they burned up the charts at the time or not. Reed’s more-than-50-year career contained worlds of personal and diverse music, and each symphony of feedback or synthesized ditty or delicate ballad struck a nerve with someone, and there it was on the airwaves and being shared between friends.
Like one of his earliest recorded songs, the totally infectious teen twist “Merry Go ’Round” from way back in 1962.
Or the wild was-this-recorded-in-a-gymnasium tongue-in-cheek dance craze song “The Ostrich” (full of hilarious shrieking and the line, “Awright, everybody get down on your face, man”), also from his pre-Velvet Underground days.
Or VU’s instrumental version of “Guess I’m Falling In Love,” the coolest speaker-destroying chooglin’ groove ever recorded.
Or the three chords and a cowbell classic rock song “Vicious.” The all-worked-up hyper lounge-rock of 1979’s “Stupid Man.” Poppy should’ve-been-bigger-hits like “I Love You, Suzanne” and “No Money Down.” Powerful spoken-sung story-songs like “Coney Island Baby” and “Dirty Blvd.”
Every January the Iron Horse in Northampton dedicates a tribute night to an inspiring artist, and this year it’s Lou Reed. “Ride Into the Sun: a Tribute to Lou Reed” will feature Mark Mulcahy, Winterpills, Violet Clark, Rusty Belle, Fancy Trash, The Lonesome Brothers, Lo Fine, Goldwater The Second, Rocky Roberts & Friends, The Fawns, School for the Dead and more playing music from the man, Thursday at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the event will benefit Cancer Connection.
Bluegrass quintet Barnstar! features Mark Erelli on guitar, Charlie Rose on banjo, Zack Hickman on upright bass, Jake Armerding on fiddle and his dad, Taylor Armerding, on mandolin. The everyone-sings band has a way with cover songs, adding its own spirit to tunes as varied as Neil Young’s “Cowgirl In the Sand,” Paul Simon’s “Boy In the Bubble,” Tommy James and the Shondells’ bubblegum hit “I Think We’re Alone Now” and Dawes’ “When My Time Comes.” The first show (7 p.m.) is sold out, but at press time, there were still tickets left for the second show at the Parlor Room in Northampton, Friday at 9 p.m.
Amherst jam/folk/post-rock trio Mass Air Flow, jazzy blues-funk-pop quartet The Mary Jane Jones and the indescribable Ben the Sax Guy (who plays multiple instruments at his one-man show, thanks to the modern wonder of the “looping pedal”) team up for a triple bill at The Elevens in Northampton Friday at 10 p.m.
Local guitar great Jim Kaminski (a member of ’70s Valley faves Fat and his own Jim K & Co.) performs at the Luthiers Co-Op in Easthampton Saturday at 7 p.m.; singer-songwriter Melanie Sroka-Chaunce, celebrating the release of a new CD (“Light”), follows at 8 p.m.
There aren’t a lot of singer-songwriters out there accompanying themselves on the harp. Joanna Newsom has long been the most known, but there’s also Mikaela Davis, the Rochester, N.Y.-based artist who’s gotten YouTube attention for her covers of songs by indie faves Elliott Smith and Sufjan Stevens among others. Davis writes original material as well (as heard on her self-titled LP and its follow-up EP “Fortune Teller”) and she’ll play the Parlor Room in Northampton Wednesday at 7 p.m.