On the road with ‘Transperformance’: Annual musical fundraiser lands Tuesday at Look Park

Last modified: Thursday, September 04, 2014
‘Transperformance XXIV: OFF THE MAP,” the Northampton Arts Council’s annual end-of-summer music festival to benefit local arts enrichment and schools, will celebrate its 24th season Aug. 26 with an evening of geographically inspired musical acts.

Following the theme of “Off the Map,” the show will feature local bands and musicians covering well-known groups such as “Boston,” “Little River Band,” “Traffic” and more. The show takes place from 4 to 9:30 p.m. at Pines Theater in Look Park in Florence.

“(The theme) is anything that has to do with a map or traveling or transportation or anything like that,” said Brian Foote, director of the Northampton Arts Council, the festival’s producer, in a recent phone interview. “It’s open and it allows for a lot of diversity of music.”

Funds raised from “Transperformance” will benefit each Northampton elementary school, J.F.K. Middle School and Northampton High School, as well as the Arts Council’s ArtsEZ spring grant program. Last year’s event provided $1,200 to each school, as well as $12,500 that was recently distributed to artists, schools and small art organizations through ArtsEZ grants, according to a press release.

“It’s a really heartwarming and amazing place where the community comes together and supports arts enrichment,” Foote said.

Foote said many musicians return to perform at “Transperformance” year after year, including Northampton Arts Council chairman Eric Olsson and his band. This year, they will cover “Earth, Wind & Fire.”

“ ‘Transperformance’ is a great thing,” Olsson said in a phone interview. “It’s an opportunity to take on somebody else’s music. You pick a band that you really like, but you only have to do 10 minutes. It makes it so that you can really work on it and get it really faithful and good.”

Olsson said that his 10-member band will perform three songs by “Earth, Wind & Fire,” “Got To Get You Into My Life,” “Shining Star” and “Fantasy.”

“I think I’ve done maybe 10 or 15 (‘Transperformance’ concerts). I’ve been in two different bands that have done them,” Olsson said, adding that he has covered musicians ranging from Elvis Presley to Meatloaf to Bobby Darin and more.

“We usually try to make sure we’re in costumes and make it fun,” Olsson added. “The audience should expect to dance.”

This year, “Transperformance” will feature 24 bands. Of those, six are brand-new to the event. Foote asked them to come on board after scouting musicians in the region.

One such band is The Snaz of Brattleboro, Vermont, which is one of several new all-female groups that will perform.

“We have a lot of new bands and a lot of women who are performing this year,” Foote said. “We felt like that was an underserved population that we definitely wanted to highlight.”

The Snaz will cover the popular boy band One Direction.

“We were just kind of joking about it first, but then we decided to actually do it,” said band member Dharma Ramirez, guitarist and vocalist. “We’re picking some of their songs and changing them up a little bit.” Ramirez said her band will use One Direction’s original lyrics and song structure, but will change up the tempo and probably dress up like the band members.

Foote has been involved with the Northampton Arts Council for five years, but this is his first year as the organization’s director. Previously, “Transporformance” was produced by former Arts Council director Bob Cilman, who retired last September.

“We’re sad about that, but we’re also excited,” Foote said. “We expect it to be an amazing year.” “(The audience) can expect to see an amazing diversity of local Northampton residents and musicians having a great time on a summer day.”

Tickets cost $10; $8 for seniors 65 and over; and $5 for children 12 and under. They are available online at transperformance.brownpapertickets.com and in person at State Street Fruit Store in Northampton and Cooper’s Corner in Florence. Tickets will also be available the day of the show at the gates beginning at 3 p.m. Look Park charges a $5 special events vehicle entry fee for all vehicles without season passes.

Food will be available to purchase from La Veracruzana, Bart’s Homemade and other local restaurants. No pets, coolers or beverages are allowed.

In the event of rain, “Transperformance” will be held Aug. 27. If rain is predicted for both days, the show will be held Aug. 26 at John M. Green Hall at Smith College in Northampton.