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Tuned In: Big Thief and more

  • Eilen Jewell. Otto Kitsinger

  • Big Thief. Photo by Shervin Lainez

  • Matthew Sweet. Photo by Evan Carter

  • Tom Rainey Trio. Photo by Peter Ganushkin


Friday, September 08, 2017

The first song on a mix tape is meant to set a mood, get your attention. And when a friend recently started hers with “Masterpiece” by Big Thief, I was caught in the spell.

Electric chords circle around hypnotically under vocalist/guitarist Adrianne Lenker’s voice, shaking and strong. “Old friends, old mothers, dogs and brothers / There’s only so much letting go you can ask someone to do / So I keep you by my side, I will not give you to the tide / I’ll even walk you in my stride, Marie.” The steady groove put down by bassist Max Oleartchik and drummer James Krivchenia gets met by the wilder, emotional guitar soloing of Buck Meek; even without words, the Brooklyn band tells a story.

Big Thief plays Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Lucy Dacus and Twain are the two opening acts.

“Paul” is another song from their debut album that sticks in the heart, with guitars twinkling like desert stars as Lenker and Meek harmonize on the chorus: “I'll be your morning bright goodnight shadow machine / I’ll be your record player baby if you know what I mean / I’ll be your real tough cookie with the whiskey breath / I’ll be a killer and a thriller and the cause of our death.”

The band released their new album “Capacity” a few months back, another critically acclaimed collection, and their live shows are passionate things, with moments that hush a room quiet and others that explode, as Lenker and Meek trade off on unpredictably raw guitar solos. See Big Thief before they move onto even bigger stages.

Eilen Jewell (above) celebrates the release of her album “Down Hearted Blues” with a show at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls tonight at 7 p.m. Starting off the night is Conway-based singer/songwriter Abe Loomis, who just released a single entitled “Refugees Are Welcome Here,” available at his Bandcamp page.

MarKamusic — the Amherst-based Latin/Andean funk-jazz-pop band — performs at a benefit show for the Northampton Survival Center at Glendale Ridge Vineyard in Southampton on Saturday at 5 p.m. Food trucks will be on site and children 12 and under can attend for free.

Singer/songwriter/producer/activist Erin McKeown is on tour behind her latest EP, “Mirrors Break Back,” and will play The Parlor Room in Northampton on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Cabin Project opens.

Vimana, Heirofante and The Big Why make up the local band triple-bill at The Montague Bookmill on Saturday at 8 p.m.

It’s an all-day live music extravaganza featuring Sunburned Hand of the Man, Allysen Callery, Frank Hurricane, Mozzaleum, Frozen Corn, Pigeons, Noise Nomads, Gracious Calamity, Scratch Ticket, Viewer Project, Mazozma, Liz Durette, Bridge of Flowers, Dusty Miller and more, all playing short 15-20 minute sets on the Amherst Common on Sunday starting at noon. It’s free, though donations are welcome for the traveling musicians.

Matthew Sweet (pictured below, left) filled the ’90s airwaves with catchy guitar-driven pop songs (“Girlfriend,” “I’ve Been Waiting,” “Sick of Myself,” “We’re the Same,” “Get Older”). His new album “Together Forever” hearkens back to that era with some new gems full of jangle and crunch (the stomping “Circle” is a current favorite). Sweet appears at The Iron Horse on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Tommy Keene opens.

Mark Schwaber plays Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton on Thursday at 5 p.m.

The Tom Rainey Trio (pictured at right) — an all-star group of Ingrid Laubrock on sax, Mary Halvorson on guitar and Rainey on drums — starts off the sixth season of the Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares concert series with a show at the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.