Ken Maiuri’s Tuned In

Last modified: Thursday, February 27, 2014

Talking Heads. The Police. XTC was a brilliant British new-wave band that ran in that pack during the late-’70s/early-’80s and could have possibly reached similar heights. But in 1982, at the peak of the band’s popularity, vocalist/guitarist/frontman Andy Partridge, exhausted from the pressure and stress of constant touring, had a nervous breakdown on stage. He walked off after singing a few lines and never came back.

Two things happened. XTC largely stopped its agitated amphetamine rock (“Radios In Motion,” “Respectable Street”) to pursue more pastoral, orchestral pop, inspired by the Kinks, Beach Boys and Beatles (“Dear God,” “The Mayor of Simpleton”); and except for an acoustic radio tour in 1989 and a handful of short TV appearances, it never performed live again. The band broke up quietly in 2006.

Which makes this weekend’s local XTC tribute — “This is Pop!” — a unique thing. Many of the band’s songs that will be performed by area musicians were never played live by the band itself. Among those participating are Alottle, Captain Luke Cavagnac, Colorway, Hassle Cats, Steve Koziol, Brian Marchese, Mark Alan Miller, Rick Murnane, Original Cowards, School for the Dead, Matt Silberstein, Jack Simons, Jeff Steblea and more (including this writer).

Hear the herky-jerky quirky pop music of XTC (as well as clever tunes it released as its psychedelic alter-ego band, The Dukes of Stratosphear) played by their biggest Valley fans at The Elevens in Northampton on Saturday at 9 p.m.

Drummer Art Blakey spent four decades spotlighting some of the best and brightest young jazz players/composers in his various legendary lineups of his band the Jazz Messengers. Bobby Timmons, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Horace Silver and many more passed through the ranks and inspired many a musician — including local quintet Secondary Messengers, a group dedicated to playing the music of Blakey and his Jazz Messengers. The Valley all-star ensemble (Dick Poccia on sax, Dave Bilodeau on trumpet, Ken Forfia on piano, Mark Dunlap on bass and Bill Matthews on drums) headlines a triple bill of local jazz at the Luthiers Co-Op in Easthampton tonight at 9:30 p.m. The show also features Jazz Trip (8 p.m.) and the Bifocal Jazz Trio (7 p.m.).

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards — a trio in which singer/songwriter/fiddler Cortese is joined by cellist/vocalist Valerie Thompson and fiddler/vocalist Mariel Vandersteel for a mix of pop, Appalachian tunes, murder ballads and more — plays the Parlor Room in Northampton tonight at 8 p.m.

Vocalist/keyboardist Patty Carpenter brings her band (Jeremy Gold on violin, Jon Weeks on percussion and woodwinds and Texas Wheeler on guitar) to the Rendezvous in Turners Falls tonight at 8 p.m. Verandah Porche will add spoken word and poetry to the evening.

All-star local trio Surly Temple — guitarist Jim Henry, bassist Guy Devito and drummer Doug Plavin — share lead vocals and play a mix of originals and covers (Nick Lowe, Los Lobos, Richard Thompson and more) at the Parlor Room on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Mal Devisa is the moniker for the solo work of Who’da Funk It member Deja Rene Carr. Last fall she wowed a sold-out crowd while opening for Lady Lamb the Beekeeper with just her soulful voice and an electric bass, and this month she takes her act on the road with fellow one-person band Honeyfitz (aka Elihu Jones). The two performers will be joined by Home Body for a triple bill at Flywheel in Easthampton on Sunday at 8 p.m.

Singer-songwriter Damien Jurado has a new album out, “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son,” once again recorded with producer Richard Swift, who calls the LP “groovy, weird, interesting; you can sing along to it, you can dance to it.” The spacey record takes Jurado’s always-arresting voice, puts it in a retro-futuristic pod and shoots it through a universe of psychedelia and the dub side of reggae. See Jurado at the Iron Horse in Northampton on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. Courtney Marie Andrews opens.

Power trios are everywhere, but local guitarist/vocalist Tom Pappalardo and drummer Sturgis Cunningham are a power duo called The Demographic. Loud’n’shouty with six-string thunder, The Demographic joins forces with upstate New York band Soft Powers for a show at The Elevens on Thursday at 9 p.m. To see a video of The Demographic performing, click on this story at


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