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Tuned In

  • The Curtis Brothers

  • Lucky Chops

  • Lula Wiles Louise Bichan 

  • The Manhattans


Friday, June 16, 2017

Even the most basic brass band can liven a crowd with the bold, bright, punchy sound of harmonizing horns.

So what happens when there’s a brass band with the eye-popping energy of a hyper aerobics class on serious caffeine? You get Lucky Chops, an athletic combo of sax, sousaphone, trumpet, trombone and drum set that honed its skills (and grew its audience) in the NYC subways. They’ll take the stage at the Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Friday, tonight, at 8:30 p.m.

The members met long ago at Laguardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan (where “Fame” was set), but their popularity jumped when videos of their colorful, always-in-motion subway performances — sort of like the Red Hot Chili Peppers of brass bands — went viral, bringing them to the attention of NPR and eventually big stages around the world.

Lucky Chops play covers (“Funkytown,” “I Feel Good,” “Stand By Me,” “Helter Skelter”) and also original compositions, one of the best of which is the infectious “Danza,” with its catchy melody and rich chords swelling underneath.

The current lineup is Josh Holcomb (trombone), Daro Behroozi (tenor sax, bass clarinet, alto sax), Raphael Buyo (sousaphone), Joshua Gawel (trumpet) and Charles Sams (drums), and band members often use the words “joyful” and “healing” in interviews, as they attempt to put some positive vibes into the world.

Their outgoing performances, full of both musical and physical skill, have inspired young brass players to follow in their spirited footsteps, as evidenced by cover versions of Lucky Chops’ stuff all over YouTube. 

Mamma’s Marmalade (playing “new grass with old-time class”), singer/songwriter Carrie Ferguson and EMMA JUNE (“folk ballads howled without apology”) are among the local acts teaming up for a fundraiser concert for TheatreTruck, “a roving collaborative” and “the Valley’s newest professional theatre company,” at the 1794 Meetinghouse in New Salem on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Get there early for the BYO picnic with the musicians on the New Salem town common at 6 p.m. 

The Valley’s top pop combo The Ray Mason Band (9:30 p.m.), instrumental rock/surf/spy/twang guitar masters The Weisstronauts (8 p.m.) and Rick Murnane’s newest band The Town Council (7 p.m.) make up the great triple-bill at the Luthier’s Co-op on Friday. No cover, but tips are appreciated. 

Downtown Boys are a powerhouse of a political punk band (with a horn section!), and they’ll play the Ashfield Lake House on Friday at 9 p.m.

The Leafies You Gave Me (10-piece avant-garde music/theater ensemble, self-described as “high school drama club meets Mr. Bungle”), Eyes, Lucas Brode (from Hannibal Montana and Monsoon In Bloom) and Pocket Vinyl play this month’s entry in the “House of Leafies” all-ages summer concert series at The Perch (the 4th floor of the Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center) in Greenfield on Friday at 7 p.m. 

The Manhattans (at left) gave ’70s radio some of its sweetest soft soul (“Shining Star,” “Kiss and Say Goodbye”), and they’ll play two shows at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee on Saturday at 6 and 10 p.m. Must be 21 and older to attend. Springfield’s own Just Us Band are also featured. Nikki Carr hosts.

Winterpills, in their full five-piece band formation, play the magical Dream Away Lodge in Becket on Saturday at 8 p.m. Never been to the tucked-away venue? This is the perfect opportunity to make the drive and experience its unique vibe.

The Curtis Brothers Quartet — Zacchai Curtis (piano), Luques Curtis (bass), Richie Barshay, (drums) and Reinaldo De Jesus (congas) — play the final show of this season’s Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares concert series at the Community Music School of Springfield on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Boston’s indie-folk trio Lula Wiles (at right) is on a special mini-tour with Americana sister duo (and fellow Bostonians) Ari & Mia, “who we’ve known since our days as Maine Fiddle Camp tweens,” say the excited Wiles women. The friend-filled double-bill is at The Parlor Room in Northampton, Tuesday at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)