Ken Maiuri’s Clubland: Rejoicing in summer’s sounds of music
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I miss summer already. An official calendar might show there’s two more months of it still ahead, but there should be some fine print explaining that those months move fast. Summer flies.
It’s my favorite season of the year for many reasons, but the one relevant to this column is that summer means a full calendar for Valley music fans, thanks to big yearly events (Green River Festival, Transperformance) and many a warm-weather weekly concert series (Watermelon Wednesdays, the Florence Music on the Porch series every Thursday night).
And this weekend contains one of the season’s most jam-packed days of music and community: the third annual Upper Valley Music Festival, returning to take over the town of Turners Falls on Saturday from noon to midnight.
Five venues all within walking distance of each other — the Shea Theater, The Rendezvous, Great Falls Discovery Center, Between the Uprights and the town’s VFW Hall — will feature more than 30 artists, from the brand-new to the locally legendary, each one performing a 45-minute set.
What makes the Upper Valley Music Festival unique is that it’s an all-volunteer event — that includes everyone from the stagehands to the performers — with “every penny of profit” going to the American Cancer Society.
Young bands get a good share of the spotlight at the UVMF. The Love Sprockets, an indie-folk band led by vocalists Addison Rice and Jahnavi Newsom, hails from Brattleboro, Vt., and will host the festival’s Emerging Artists Stage. June and the Bee is an Amherst folk group started by the brother/sister duo of Eli and Emma June. Paint, also from Amherst, is an indie-soul quartet that features the vocals of Odyssey Newport. Here Come the Foxes is a unique acoustic duo of Dana Osterling and Sam French. Wishbone Zoe is the sometimes-solo, sometimes-band project of Westfield singer/songwriter Saera Kochanski.
The UVMF has filled this year’s schedule with artists from all over the sonic spectrum. Curious music fans can see everything from cellist Eugene Friesen to the Northfield-based hard rock band Zamia, the Celtic Heels Irish Dancers to reggae/hip-hop band Rhythm Incorporated.
Stephen Brown, New England’s expert player of the bones (“the world’s oldest musical instrument”), was the first American to win the All-Ireland Bones Playing Championship and will do a workshop on the instrument.
The Gaslight Tinkers — featuring bassist Garrett Sawyer (of the Alchemystics), mandolin/banjo/guitar-picker Peter Siegel and fiddler Zoe Darrow — mix Afrobeat and traditional Northern Fiddle, describing their sound as “traditional-based groove from around the world.”
The UVMF will also feature regularly gigging local acts like Lux Deluxe, Sun Parade, The Ray Mason Band, John Sheldon and Wildcat O’Halloran, as well as visiting performers from Washington, D.C., (Lisa Null and Charlie Baum), Boston (Lesser Animals) and Montreal (Claire Boucher and Brad Hurley).
More information is available at www.uppervalleymusicfest.com.
Down the road
Further south that same day is FallsFest Music & Arts, a brand-new, day-long event held at the South Hadley Beachgrounds on Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. It’s free, though they’re accepting donations of nonperishable food for Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the South Hadley Food Pantry.
There will be two stages offering continuous live music, including new local singer-songwriter Katelyn Richards and such long-running Valley artists as Roger Salloom and Friends, Jose Gonzalez and Criollo Clasico, The Art Steele Blues Band, InterTrip (playing jazz) and the Conn.-based Eight To the Bar (now in its 38th year) playing swing, blues, Motown favorites and originals. Further information is available at shfallsfest.com.