Arts Briefs: Asparagus Festival in Hadley, new exhibit at Forbes Library, free concert in Springfield, and more

Published: 06-02-2023 9:17 AM

Time to celebrate Hadley grass

HADLEY — New England Public Media’s Asparagus Festival, now in its ninth season, returns to the Hadley town common June 3 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., offering a variety of family-friendly events such as music and games, as well as local food and drink.

Over 100 local food, crafts, cultural, nonprofit and agricultural vendors will be represented at the festival’s Farmers & Makers Market. Local breweries will pour beer, wine and cider in the Beers & Spears tent, and more than a dozen local food trucks will serve up everything from fried asparagus to ice cream.

Live music, curated by Northampton’s Signature Sounds, will feature bluegrass specialists Poor Monroe — nominated for a New England Music Award — funk and soul veterans Soul Magnets, and the folk-rock sounds of The Wolff Sisters.

For younger listeners, there’s the bilingual artist and author MISTER G, aka Ben Gundersheimer, as well as the Global Citizen Ensemble, led by Marcos Carreras, director of music at the Springfield Conservatory of the Arts Magnet School.

Meantime, Monte Belmonte and Kaliis Smith will do a live broadcast of their new NEPM program, “The Fabulous 413,” on site.

The festival is designed to celebrate the area’s nickname as “the asparagus capital of the world,” where hundreds of working farms continue to produce a variety of crops.

The event is free, with a suggested donation of $5 per person or $20 per family to support public media in western Massachusetts.

Three at Forbes

NORTHAMPTON — Hosmer Gallery at Forbes Library is hosting the work of three painters this month, each with a distinctive style and different levels of experience, but all of whom have an eye for color.

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William Sharp, who’s now 80, says he’s been inspired in part by Greek mythology and primitive art and has used some of his more recent works to explore “color contrasts to create movement” and to express what he hears from the natural and spiritual worlds.

Michelle Vigeant, by contrast, uses a variety of media to paint expressive scenes of animals, and of late has been trying to capture not just color and light but also a sense of sound in her paintings.

And Alice Saxe, who began painting bottles with abstract patterns over 20 years ago, now mixes faces and abstract elements on bottles or other vessels; she calls them “Glass Souls” because they evoke “the individual and unique expression within all of us.”

The Hosmer exhibit runs through June 29.


Roll out the watermelons

WHATELY — Watermelon Wednesdays is set to begin its 24th season June 7 at the West Whately Chapel, the “Carnegie Hall of downtown West Whately.”

Kicking off the newest season of the acoustic music series will be The Jacob Jolliff Band, a string ensemble led by Jolliff, an ace mandolin player who was previously a key player in another acoustic group, Joy Kills Sorrow. Jolliff has also toured with Béla Fleck and a number of other acclaimed musicians.

The June 7 show begins at 7:30 p.m. More information is available at


Pop-up art for sale

EASTHAMPTON — Twenty artists from up and down the Valley will have work for sale at CitySpace on June 8 during the city’s next Art Walk, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The pop-up market, which will be held in the Blue Room at Old Town Hall, will feature clothing, cards, prints, paintings, pottery, photography, books and more.

The artists, who hail from Springfield, Easthampton, Greenfield and points in between, include Annaleah Moon Studios, Beth Maciorowski, Deborah Yaffe Mixed Media Art, Jennifer Ablard Photography, and Blue Monday Studio.

The pop-up market has been made possible through funding from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the Mass Cultural Council.


Party in (jazz) style

GOSHEN — To celebrate the end of the 2022-2023 season, Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares, the member-supported music series, will host a party June 15 at the Institute for the Musical Arts, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Over a dinner provided by PVJS from La Veracruzana in Northampton, members can discuss the just-finished 11th season and get a look at what’s in store for next year.

At 7:30 p.m., there will be a concert led by bassist William Parker and his band Mayan Space Nation (Ava Mendoza on electric guitar, Gerald Cleaver on drums), with special guests Mixashawn on mandolin and gabby fluke-mogul on violin. The band, as one critic has noted, “draws as much from heavy rock and psychedelia as it does from the jazz and blues tradition.” The show is free if you purchase a PVJS Season 12 share, otherwise the fee is $15.


Celebrating Juneteenth

SPRINGFIELD — To mark the holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in 1865, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will stage its inaugural Juneteenth concert at 3 p.m. on June 19 at Springfield Symphony Hall.

The free concert will feature many voices from the community, including the Springfield Symphony Chorus, the Avery Sharpe Quartet, and Springfield’s Extended Family Choir.

Conducting the concert will be Kevin Scott, who led the SSO at its “Audacity of Hope” concert during the 2022-23 season, an event that honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Scott, an African-American conductor, composer and native New Yorker, has led various orchestras, choruses and bands throughout the greater New York area and in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Bulgaria.

The Extended Family Choir is a group of more than 20 singers, founded by Avery Sharpe, the Valley jazz bassist and composer, and now led by his brother, fellow musician Kevin Sharpe. Featured soloists will include Vanessa Ford, Sofia Rivera, Heshima Moja and Kevin Sharpe.

The Avery Sharpe Quartet includes Avery Sharpe on double bass and electric bass; Zaccai Curtis, piano; Charles Langford, soprano and tenor saxophones; and Yoron Israel, drums.

Tickets are free and can be reserved on the Springfield Symphony Orchestra website,, or by calling the SSO Box Office at (413) 733-2291.

Compiled by Steve Pfarrer