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Tuned In: Jonathan Richman and more

  • Jonathan Richman. Photo by Marty Crosley

  • BALTIMORE - Musician Dan Deacon photographed in his studio November 17, 2014. Frank Hamilton

  • Diane Coffee. © cararobbins

  • Regina Spektor.



Friday, November 10, 2017

Hopelessness. It’s banging against the door like something from a horror movie. But there’s a guy with hope and heart coming back to town, and his name is Jonathan Richman. Joined as always by Tommy Larkins on the drums, he’ll play Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. We need him more than ever.

Richman comes from Boston (as he says at the beginning of his effervescent song “New England”), and he first got attention with his early-‘70s rock band The Modern Lovers, much more well known these days (it’s their joyous anthem “Roadrunner,” with its talk of Route 128, Stop & Shop and the radio on, that people have long been trying to make the official state song of Massachusetts).

Whether or not the amplified band was destined for bigger things back then, Richman ditched the volume and any attitude and chose to sing songs about the ice-cream man, the abominable snowman in the market, the rockin’ shopping center. He was not being sarcastic. 

That was over 40 years ago, and Richman still sings honest odes — like “You Can Have a Cell Phone, That’s OK (But Not Me),” in which he celebrates the freedom of being unreachable — and also makes honest attempts to communicate. “When We Refuse To Suffer” is often an uplifting live-show highlight, extended by long improvised asides that dance between comedy and poignancy.

Richman’s concerts are in-the-moment affairs (Larkins keeps a watchful eye on the frontman’s every unpredictable move). They’re purposefully bare bones — just voice, drums and nylon-string acoustic guitar (sometimes with a heavy distortion pedal for sporadic oomph) — and at times the songs get even more naked, with Richman putting aside the guitar to gyrate a bit, or simply sing. You’ll be glad you were there.

Diane Coffee (at right) is the theatrical rock band led by Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming, described by one fan as “Little Shop of Horrors meets Aladdin Sane.” The passionate group takes the stage at The Iron Horse in Northampton tonight, Friday, at 10 p.m. Peach Pit is the opening act.

Singer/songwriter Richard Shindell has a new album out called “Careless” — which, despite the title, was meticulously recorded over three years in upstate New York and Buenos Aires. He plays The Parlor Room on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Electronic music star Dan Deacon (at left) appears at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on Saturday at 8 p.m. Starting off the night is local band Giraffes? Giraffes!

Hip hop legend KRS-One will be at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Saturday at 9 p.m. Sharing the bill are LS Camp, P.SO the Earth Tone King, Tang Sauce, NickaliVocals, and DJ Boomer.

Kindling celebrates the release of their new LP/cassette/CD release “Hush” on a bill with Laika’s Orbit, Lost Film and Nanny at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence on Saturday at 8 p.m.

“Puerto Rico se levanta,” or “Puerto Rico rises up,” is the name of a day-long benefit show — all proceeds will go toward the Puerto Rican relief effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, coordinated by Americares and Global Giving — featuring performances by Mitch Chakour, The Mary Jane Jones, Joe Velez, Soultree, Rebirth, Boston-based Latin group Los Sugar Kings, Jamemurrell Stanley and the Drummers of Peace and Equality, Bomba Aqui, a hip-hop super-jam featuring members of The Alchemystics and The Problemaddicts, and more. At the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center on Sunday from 2 to 10 p.m.

Iron and Wine, the long-running project of singer/songwriter Sam Beam, put out a new record in August called “Beast Epic” and will play the Calvin Theatre on Sunday at 8 p.m. John Moreland opens.

Regina Spektor makes a rare Valley appearance with a solo performance at Smith College in Northampton on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

The always-worth-attending Music In the Noon Hour concert series continues with a performance of the Paul Hindemith Piano Quartet, featuring guest artist Paul Green on clarinet, Ron Gorevic on violin, Volcy Pelletier on cello and Judith Gordon on piano. At Sweeney Concert Hall on the Smith College campus in Northampton on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Free!

It’s a punk-rock hump-day show with out-of-towners Gnards (from Worcester) and Comrade Nixon (from upstate N.Y.) along with locals Scorpion Punch at The Basement in Northampton on Wednesday at 8 p.m. 

Lou Barlow and Eric Gaffney (onetime bandmates in Sebadoh) and Weeping Bong Band perform sets at the latest Reanimate the Bay State show at The Sierra Grille in Northampton on Thursday at 10 p.m.