Sounds Local: Live thrives, from county fair to folk festival

  • John Sheldon’s Blue Streak will be performing Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Early Apple Fest at the Shutesbury Athletic Club. CONTRIBUTED

For the Gazette
Published: 9/9/2021 5:11:13 PM

There will be plenty of music at the Franklin County Fairgrounds over the next several days at the Franklin County Fair, which kicked off on Thursday and runs through Sunday. All of the music you hear at the fair is provided by local musicians with a heavy emphasis on acts that play some of your favorite covers.

Tracy and the Valley Revival, led by Tracy Odle, will play Friday at 2 p.m. The group, which opened the fair on Thursday, has a great repertoire to draw from and will be playing some of your favorite rock and Southern rock tunes.

Then at 4 p.m. on Friday, it will be Opal Canyon, the folk-rock group led by vocalist Debra DeMuth and guitarist Dave Houghton. The band is a Valley super-group that also includes Ray Mason on bass and Jason Smith on drums, along with multi-instrumentalist Bob Hennessy. Their recent scheduled appearance at the Heath Fair was canceled due to Tropical Storm Henri and the band is currently working on a new album, a follow-up to 2019’s “Beauty and Loss.”

Friday night will feature the music of Alana & DUH Band, who will play popular tunes from the ’60s to the ’90s at 7 p.m.

The music starts early on the weekend with music by the band Decades starting Saturday off at 11 a.m. They will be playing all the hits from the ’50s and ’60s. Then it’s the roots rockin’ country music of Bill Knittle and the Flying Sparks at 2 p.m., followed by the ’60s Experience and their faithful renditions of songs from that seminal decade at 4 p.m. The music will wind down on Saturday with the classic rock sounds of Chickenwire at 7 p.m.

Sunday starts off with the Americana sounds of Opel (not to be confused with Opal Canyon) at 11 a.m. and will be followed by the popular bluegrass band Seven Mile Line at 1 p.m. Scott Kuzmeskus and friends will bring their own brand of soft rock and folk music to the stage at 4 p.m. The weekend of music wraps up at 6 p.m. with the always enjoyable classic country and honky-tonk music of Rosie Porter and the Neon Moons.

The music is free with the fair admission. Advance tickets are on sale now and available at

Coming shows

Now that Labor Day is behind us, it’s time to talk about some of the shows on the horizon for fall. While concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and the tightening of protocols for indoor shows have impacted the music scene, you will still find plenty of live music happening in the months ahead.

We are winding down on outdoor events, but there are still a few that should be on your radar.

On Saturday, it’s the Early Apple Fest at the Shutesbury Athletic Club. This is a one-day music festival “celebrating life, music and the ability to celebrate in person.” The music kicks off at noon with a set from The Yasu Suzuki Method, a quartet from Western Mass that play J-pop influenced acoustic rock.

The lineup also includes Spacebar, Electric Button Band, The Dave Bulley Bar, Petey’s barnRocket Racketeers playing the Raconteurs “Help Us Stranger” album, and Reverend Dan and the Dirty Catechism. The night will conclude with John Sheldon’s Blue Streak. The band are longtime local favorites, thanks to Sheldon’s stellar songwriting and guitar work. After a 10-year hiatus, Blue Streak reunited for a sold-out show at Hawks and Reed in January 2020. Now they are back to rock the Early Apple Fest.

For tickets and more information:

The Arcadia Folk Festival will be held at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton on Sunday, Sept. 19. Suzanne Vega, who is known for songs including “Tom’s Diner” and “Luka,” will be the headliner. She will be joined by singer-songwriters Chris Smither and Lori McKenna, the bluegrass band Barnstar and others. Local acts the Green Sisters, Love Crumbs and Little Roots will also be there. Don’t miss out; tickets are available at

The Parlor Room in Northampton is a small room that has been closed since March 2020 and was slated to reopen this fall, but rising COVID cases caused Signature Sounds, which presents the shows there, to realize that it wasn’t safe to reopen at this time. They had already booked a full roster of shows and hated to cancel them so they moved the shows to a larger space: Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield.

This is good news for both venues, which have experienced the hardship of being closed for over a year, and it’s great news for Greenfield music fans — the lineup that’s coming is a fantastic one.

We don’t have room to list the full schedule but will talk about some of the highlights. Session Americana will take the stage on Friday, Oct. 1. This group from Boston put on raucous live shows that have a “you never know what will happen” feel. The group plays everything from originals to classic Americana songs to weird covers.

Speaking of highly entertaining, singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks will be in the house on Friday, Oct. 22. Fulks can be hilarious at times and always puts on a great show.

Mary Gauthier will appear on Friday, Oct. 29. Gauthier has released 10 acclaimed albums including “Rifles & Rosary Beads,” which is a collection of songs she wrote with wounded veterans. The album was nominated for a 2019 Grammy in best folk album category. Gauthier recently released the book “Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting.”

Mark Erelli, Slaid Cleaves, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, and Mile Twelve are just a few of the other many acts that will be part of this Signature Sounds Presents at the Hawks & Reed series. Tickets are available at

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at

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