Tuned in: What's happening in the Valley this weekend
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PHOTO COURTESY OF IHEG
Jonathan Richman Purchase photo reprints »
Jonathan Richman often gets described as “childlike” because of his unadorned songs with a big heart on their sleeve, whether he’s singing about the magic of “Vincent Van Gogh” or “The Lonely Little Thrift Store.”
But a better description of Richman is “honest,” because he’s always been direct, both musically and lyrically. He started off loud and electric in the early e_SSRq70s with The Modern Lovers but threw away the amps and attitude for acoustic guitars and joy, then pared things down further, playing a classical nylon string guitar with only the silent, solid drummer Tommy Larkins by his side.
With the nylon string guitar came a quieter, more Latin style of playing, and more meditative song subjects for Richman, now 62. “When We Refuse To Suffer,” “As My Mother Lay Lying” (in the nursing home bed) ... it’s a long way from “Rockin’ Shoppin’ Center” and “My Jeans.”
As another newer Richman song says, “Time Has Gone By So Fast,” yet the Natick native isn’t weighed down by middle-aged melancholy. His shows are still full of wonder, humor and unpredictability — the magnetic Richman has been known to remove the guitar and just sing a cappella and dance when the mood strikes.
Each time I’ve seen him play in town, it’s been a favorite show of the year. Don’t miss Richman and Larkins at Pearl Street in Northampton Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
A Severe Joy is the dance-pop alter ego (and anagram) of José Ayerve, onetime local musician and frontman of the defunct rock band Spouse. Now performing in a theatrical mask, makeup and costume, with dance moves and a light show, Ayerve’s creative streak continues: He’s in the middle of a huge project, releasing lo-fi, lathe-cut, plexi-disc singles featuring two new songs, one single for each letter of his name. The first five singles were recently compiled on the CD “Cinematesque.” See A Severe Joy with opening act Hi Tiger at The Basement in Northampton tonight at 8 p.m.
Sprawling local bands AstroBeast (afro-beat mash-ups) and Something Else (dance-minded improvisation with horns) play the American Legion in Florence tonight at 9 p.m.
Carolyn Walker (7 p.m.), The Rogues (8 p.m.) and Jose Gonzalez and Criollo Clasico Trio (9:30 p.m.) make up the diverse triple-bill at the Luthiers Co-op in Easthampton Saturday.
Diane Cluck is an underground singer/songwriter with high profile fans, like Antony Hegarty (from Antony & the Johnsons), who knows a thing or two about amazing voices. He described her as “a virtuosic talent with an emotionality that feels at once ancient and alien. Her mastery of her voice as an ecstatic instrument is so compelling.” See Cluck make a rare area appearance at the intimate Montague Bookmill Saturday at 8 p.m. She will be joined by cellist Isabel Castellvi.
The Boxcar Lilies celebrates the release of its second CD “Sugar Shack” with a show at the Arts Block in Greenfield Saturday at 8 p.m. The band will include man-of-all-instruments Jim Henry, bassist Paul Kochanski, drummer Rick Mauran and special guests.
Cheap Time (e_SSRq70s-influenced glam-punk from Nashville, on In The Red Records), Imaginary Pants (featuring Rose Melberg from countless beloved indie bands of the e_SSRq90s, including Tiger Trap, The Softies, Go Sailor) and Longings (a new band from members of Ampere, Siamese Twins and more) at Flywheel in Easthampton Monday at 8 p.m.
Fancy Trash continues its month-long Tuesday night residency at Mocha Maya’s in Shelburne Falls with another appearance, this time with special guest Wishbone Zoe. Tuesday at 7:30.
Potty Mouth, Nude Beach (from NYC) and new local act Beach Honey (featuring members of The Novels) will be at the Sierra Grille in Northampton Thursday at 10 p.m.