It’s winter in the cold North but there are some chiming, jangling guitars on the horizon, ready to transport you to the warm South of Athens, Ga., the birthplace of R.E.M.
The quartet of Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe — compelling college rockers who came together in 1980, matured into international megastars of MTV, broke up in 2011 and have become regulars on “classic rock” stations — is the subject of this year’s Iron Horse tribute show.
With proceeds benefitting the Cancer Connection in Northampton, local musicians will take to the stage to play their favorite R.E.M. songs. Maybe some of the band’s energetic early tunes with Byrds-ish guitar hooks (perfect for the new-wave dancing of your choice) like “Radio Free Europe” and “Driver 8,” maybe some of the moodier later hits featuring mandolin, string sections and sweeping arrangements (“Losing My Religion,” “Everybody Hurts”). Some might be faithful to the recordings, some might recast them in their own style, but R.E.M.’s strong tunes will be the stars of the night.
On the bill are Mark Mulcahy, Winterpills, Rusty Belle, The Lonesome Brothers, Golden Bloom, Rocky Roberts and Friends, Orange Crush, Heather Maloney, Goldwater the Second, Spanish for Hitchhiking, The Fawns and more. At the Iron Horse in Northampton Thursday at 7 p.m.
Bluegrass man Frank Solivan plays mandolin, guitar and violin — and sometimes cooks a mean dish, since you can hire him for a house concert where, besides performing with his band Dirty Kitchen, he’ll cook for you and the audience (“Frank’s Pasta Bowl” is this reporter’s menu pick). Solivan and Dirty Kitchen will appear at the Parlor Room at Signature Sounds in Northampton tonight at 7 p.m.
Valley jazz singer Ethel Lee, who counts Nancy Wilson and Nat King Cole among her influences, brings her quartet to the Loft Lounge at the Clarion Hotel in Northampton tonight at 7 p.m. Free show.
Masters of the Groovaverse gets funky with its unique lineup of guitar, drums and tuba at The Rendezvous in Turners Falls on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. Free show.
Tom McClung, onetime Valley-based jazz pianist known internationally for his work with Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, Yusef Lateef, Stephen McCraven and others, returns to the area for a solo piano concert at the First Congregational Church in Amherst Sunday at 2 p.m.
Prolific Zimbabwe vocalist/guitarist Oliver Mtukudzi has been recording for more than 35 years, but it was his 1999 release on the popular Putumayo label, “Tuku Music,” that first brought him to the attention of U.S. audiences. He’s since been to the Valley on many a tour and he returns with his group Black Spirits for a show at the Iron Horse Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Amherst quartet The Mary Jane Jones plays its jazz/blues/soul mix on a double bill with Rusty Belle at the Sierra Grille in Northampton on Thursday at 10 p.m.