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  • Bent Knee. Photo by Eric Freeman

  • Heloise and the Savoir Faire

  • Anja Schütz Photography & Art

  • Left, Tracy Bonham; right, Blake Morgan



Friday, June 01, 2018

I know firsthand the good cheer that can be generated by The Sweetback Sisters, the harmonizing honky-tonkin’ Brooklyn band led by vocalists Emily Miller and Zara Bode. They headline at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Eavesdropis the opening act.

I spent a month on the road earlier this year, in a tour van with my friends, a band that included a married couple, their two kids (aged 10 and 6), and five other musicians. We were an extended family spending hours together on the highway every day. The youngest kid had a favorite tune, which quickly became the tour’s theme song: The Sweetback Sisters’ perky, nimble, maniacally catchy “Gotta Get A-Goin’.” 

She’d ask for it to be played on the speakers, and again, and again — sometimes five times in a row. It didn’t take long before we all sang along in happy four-part harmony as we were, indeed, getting going — past Utah buttes, down the anxiety-inducing snowy mountain passes of Washington state, along the calming beachside highways of central California. The Sweetback Sisters were a great soundtrack for the optimistic, energetic travel.

Miller and Bode front what they call a “renegade retro band,” and The Sweetback Sisters’ material has a timeless spirit. Their latest album is “King of Killing Time,” which features the above classic as well as the rollicking twang-gospel of “I’m Gonna Cry” and the chipper “It’s All Your Fault.” And they can tug at the heartstrings with waltzes like “One Day At a Time” and “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will).” 

The Mary Jane Jones, the local soulful ensemble led by singer/songwriter Mandy Pachios, appears at Gateway City Arts on Friday at 8 p.m. Snack Attack starts off the night.

Local literary magazine Meat for Tea celebrates the release of its “Lotus Blossom” issue with a multimedia party entitled Le Cirque de la Bete de Givre. It features live music from The frost heaves and hales., and Beasthampton, with art on exhibit, film, spoken word and more. At Sonelab in Easthampton on Saturday at 7 p.m.

NYC electro-pop powerhouse Heloise and the Savoir Faire (whose influences include new-wave, Italo disco, funk, post-punk and more) appear at the Ashfield Lake House on Saturday at 9 p.m. Hosted by Karen from HR.

Boston indie band Bent Knee plays The Iron Horse on Saturday at 10 p.m. Gatherers and OroborO are the opening acts.

Pianist Meg Kelsey Wright, flautist Sue Kurian, bassist Lynn Lovell and drummer Billy Arnold perform Claude Bolling’s famous classical/jazz “Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio” at a “Concert on the Canal” at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on Sunday at 3 p.m. Free!

Austin soul/blues band Greyhounds has a unique lineup based around keyboardist Anthony Farrell and guitarist Andrew Trube (they were two of the members of JJ Grey & Mofro for about a decade before leaving the band to pursue their own group full time). Greyhounds play the Parlor Room on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

It’s a special evening with singer/songwriters Tracy Bonham and Blake Morgan at The Parlor Room on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Lez Zeppelin, the long-running all-female Zep tribute band, comes back to the area for a show at Hawks & Reed in Greenfield at 8 p.m. Starting off the night is She Said, an all-female sextet from Shelburne Falls. 

Prince mega-fan Roger Knight (drummer and frontman extraordinaire) joins forces with Robert Robinson’s Acorns in the Blender productions to celebrate the late great Purple majesty’s 60th birthday with a multi-band tribute show at The Sierra Grille on Thursday at 10 p.m. At press time, the lineup was scheduled to include The Big Why, The Fawns, Science Fight, The Original Cowards, and The X True Demographic, all playing their favorite Prince songs.