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Ken Maiuri's Tuned In: Musical happenings this week in the Valley

  • Grayson Ty

  • Courtesy of the Barkada Quartet

  • Fruit Bats

  • Rhythm, Inc.

  • The Sighs


Friday, November 25, 2016

Many musicians sing the songs of others, and though that’s been a part of local vocalist/guitarist Grayson Ty’s livelihood, he’s now putting his own original songwriting into the spotlight.

The 25-year-old folk/pop/soul performer is celebrating the release of his debut EP, “Believe,” with a show at the Iron Horse in Northampton Thursday at 7 p.m. Eric Paquette of Polar Planet opens the show.

Half of the six-song mini-album was written by Ty (with help from Paquette on “Always You”) and the other half was written by Jeff Lynch (of the band Woodford Way), with whom Ty recorded the EP at Zing Studios in Westfield back in April.

Lynch and Zack Cross (from the band Mammal Dap) will join Ty at the release show.

During his college years, Ty sang tenor in the Holyoke Community College chamber choir and the UMass Amherst Recital Choir, and later spent time singing backup and playing rhythm guitar in local bands. Last summer he decided to strike out on his own, putting together a repertoire of covers and original songs.

The EP’s tunes (including “Side X Side,” “Always You” and the title track) are as commercial and catchy as anything on modern pop radio. His fans have compared him to Ed Sheeran and Ray Lamontagne.

Ty, born and raised in Williamsburg and now living in Easthampton, also works with residents at the Western Massachusetts Hospital in Westfield, providing therapy through music.

“Believe” will be available on iTunes after Dec. 1.

Old-school Valley music fans know The Sighs, who had an early ’90s zip through the big leagues when they were signed to a major label and had a push behind their catchy single “Think About Soul.” A corporate merger left them high and dry, and though the band officially broke up around 1996, members Robert LaRoche, Matt Cullen, Tommy Pluta and Tom Borawski have remained friends for life. They’ve spread out around the country, but on rare occasions when the stars align, they join forces again and play a reunion show.

The Sighs will get together for two local gigs — their first since 2009 — at The Wherehouse in Holyoke Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Ray Mason opens the first show, Ed Jackowski the second.

There’s more good news: The Sighs are putting the finishing touches on a new (as-yet-untitled) album, which was recorded at Silver Springs Studio in upstate New York back at the beginning of September. It won’t be ready in time for the Thanksgiving weekend shows (it’s due out in 2017), but the guys plan to play a number of the new songs at the gigs.

Wendell-based reggae/funk/hip-hop band Rhythm, Inc. — influenced by such artists as Steel Pulse, Nas, Parliament/Funkadelic and The Roots — will perform at The Root Cellar in Greenfield Friday at 9 p.m.

Making its live debut this week is The Big Why — a new trio of Jamie Miller, Roger Knight and Marc Couture — at a show that also features Arvella & Friends, Palace In Thunderland and Starbird Bow at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence Saturday at 9 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Epilepsy Foundation.

Chicago band Fruit Bats is the moniker for singer/songwriter Eric D. Johnson. He/they put out a long-awaited new record back in May, “Absolute Loser,” and great tracks like “Humbug Mountain Song” and the dreamy waltz “It Must Be Easy” helped make the record a 2016 standout. The music mixes together ’70s AM gold, classic rock, folk, Beatlesque pop and more, and Johnson’s unique voice makes it all glow. (His sweet and clear vocals attracted some new fans thanks to a stripped-down cover of Hall & Oates‘ “One On One” that popped up online.) Fruit Bats is/are at The Parlor Room in Northampton Sunday at 7 p.m. Mail the Horse opens the show.

The Barkada Quartet — featuring saxophonists Christopher Elchico, Shane Rathburn, Steven Lawhon and Justin Polyblank — presents David Martynuik’s Quintet #2 for Saxophone Quartet & Piano at Bezanson Recital Hall at UMass Amherst Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Free show!