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PHOTO BY JAY SANSONE
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PHOTO BY SHERVIN LAINEZ
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I was a teenage record-buying college student when I happily made the acquaintance of John Wesley Harding in 1990. The prolific singer-songwriter — real name Wesley Stace — wrote smart, funny and wordy pop songs that lived in the same neighborhood as Elvis Costello. Instant new fan.
Harding has been putting out high-quality albums ever since, but he also published his first novel in 2005 — “Misfortune,” a critically acclaimed work across the world and a best-seller in France — which started his other career, as an author.
Sometimes he sews the two worlds together into a fun Frankenstein monster of a show called the “Cabinet of Wonders,” which gets musicians, writers and other walks of life (comedians, poets, etc.) together to create a unique variety show.
Harding will play a solo concert at the Parlor Room in Northampton tonight at 7 p.m.
Sharing the bill is Eleanor Friedberger, best known as the vocalist (and most accessible element) of the unclassifiable band Fiery Furnaces. While that brother-sister group has alternately tickled and turned-off lovers of unpredictable pop music with its often dense and schizophrenic albums, Friedberger released a friendly, highly tuneful solo album, “Last Summer,” in 2011 (while still retaining her playful run-on-sentence vocal delivery). Her follow-up, “Personal Record,” is due in June.
The Equalites play reggae at Mocha Maya’s in Shelburne Falls tonight at 8 p.m.
Songwriting friends Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer recently co-arranged a group of Scottish and English folk ballads, released on their album “Child Ballads” (named after Sir Francis James Child, who put together the 1800s collection that inspired their project). They appear together for two shows at the Parlor Room on Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m.
Carolina Chocolate Drops plays the Calvin in Northampton Saturday at 8 p.m. David Wax Museum opens.
Ra Ra Riot, the spirited indie band that first visited the Valley at Flywheel in Easthampton in August 2006 — a knockout show, for an audience of 12 people — is a major headliner now and will return to the area at Pearl Street in Northampton Saturday at 9 p.m. Delicate Steve opens.
The Doug Hewitt Group plays a selection of dance-minded classic rock covers at Deja Brew in Wendell Saturday at 9 p.m.
Brooklyn-based Dirty Projectors, led by David Longstreth, creates mind-rewiring pop music, highly arranged songs full of vocal harmonies, guitar parts that skitter and roar, interlocking rhythms and constantly shifting colors. See them at Pearl Street Monday at 8 p.m. Delicate Steve opens.
Kinski, Powerblessings, Dust Witch and Lord Jeff are at the Elevens in Northampton Wednesday at 9 p.m.
Local singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Hommel celebrates the release of his debut self-titled EP at the Parlor Room Thursday at 7 p.m.
Ted’s Trio Jazz, featuring Ted Wirt, fills the room at the Arts Block in Greenfield Thursday at 7 p.m.