Green River Festival lets the music play on

  • Local favorite Heather Maloney plays the main stage Friday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Low Cut Connie plays the main stage Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Children create art in the many activities for children at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Lakou Miziki plays the Deans Beans Stage Friday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Pop up acts at the Green House stage at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • People cool off in the mist of the cooling area Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Smiles everywhere on Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Lucinda Williams closed out Friday night at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Low Cut Connie plays the main stage Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Fans react to Low Cut Connie on the main stage Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Red Baraat plays the Deans Beans stage on Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Spanglish Fly plays Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Spanglish Fly at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • The Wood Brothers play the main stage on Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Angelique Kidjo plays the music of the Talking Heads Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Wood Brothers play the main stage on Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Angelique Kidjo plays the music of the Talking Heads, Saturday, at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Angelique Kidjo plays the music of the Talking Heads Saturday at the Green River Festival. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Louisa Greenlaw, 5, and her 7-year-old sister, Eleanor Greenlaw, at right, swing hula hoops at the Green River Festival Sunday afternoon, July 14, 2019. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Jess Wissemann of Sunderland's Warner Farm paints a mural at Sunday's Green RIver Festival that will be used in this year's Mike's Maze, which will be themed in honor of Woodstock music festival's 50th anniversary. July 14, 2019. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Rhiannon Giddens performs on the Green River Festival’s main stage Sunday. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo

  • Festival-goers take in the show Sunday at the Green River Festival, July 14, 2019. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Festival-goers take in the show Sunday at the Green River Festival, July 14, 2019. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Hot air balloons rise into Friday night at the Green River Festival, July 12, 2019. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Adam Benjamin of Northampton, left, and Bayla Catlin of Greenfield, right, play a game of cornhole at the Green RIver Festival Sunday, July 14, 2019. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Case Taylor of Eastern Action Sports Team performs a backflip before festival goers at the Green River Festival. —Staff Photo/David McLellan

  • Tom Knight performs his interactive show with music, puppets and dancing for children at the Green River Festival. —Staff Photo/David McLellan

  • Palmer and Eileen Willard make CBD-infused treats for dogs, cats and horses under the name Grateful Paws. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Published: 7/15/2019 12:15:18 AM

GREENFIELD — Music, art, food and fun — there was something for everyone at the Green River Festival this weekend.

In its 33rd year, the Green River Festival drew thousands of people from all over — and of all ages — who flocked to three prominent stages to see acts like Lucinda Williams, Angelique Kidjo, The Wood Brothers and The Devil Makes Three, along with more than 30 other bands and solo musicians.

Dotting the grounds of Greenfield Community College were smaller stages and features — a kids stage, an interactive art tent, community-painted murals and hammocks. Musically, the festival featured a wide variety of styles — from kids songs to the lingering and nuanced vocals of musician Rhiannon Giddens, who played on the Main Stage Sunday afternoon.

Mapache

As with prior festivals, this year’s event, which ran Friday through Sunday, focused on local community and culture while also opening its gates to artists from across the country and globe.

Mapache was one act that came from afar. The Americana duo, Clay Finch, 25, and Sam Blasucci, 24, traveled from Glendale, Calif., to play their first-ever Green River Festival. According to Finch and Blasucci, it was a memorable experience.

“It’s been a pleasure to play here,” Blasucci said. “It’s a really nice little town.”

The group’s simple formula of two people, two acoustic guitars and two harmonizing voices was a hit with those watching Mapache on the Parlor Room Stage, especially the songs they sang in Spanish.

Blasucci said, having lived in Mexico for a time and coming from southern California, Mapache is heavily influenced by Latin music genres. He noted it was thrilling to bring a little bit of the group’s home and background to Greenfield.

For Finch, playing on a grassy field in the summer was picturesque.

“It was beautiful,” Finch said. “We love playing, and playing outside — it was the best.”

Eastern Action Sports Team

On the far side of the field, Easthampton-based BMX group Eastern Action Sports Team dazzled fair-goers with flips and complex tricks.

A crowd grew steadily as the five riders, ranging from ages 8 to 34, showed off increasingly impressive tricks. The “easier” jumps they performed on their small brakeless trick bikes eventually turned into no-handers, bar-spins and backflips on an eight-feet-tall quarterpipe ramp.

“BMX is all about having fun,” said team leader Matt Still, who announced for the group as other riders performed a mid-air high-five in front of him.

One of the riders, Andre Postell, came from his shift as a Springfield firefighter to the event — the first backflip he pulled off drew raucous applause from the crowd.

“These guys are killing it out here. The louder the crowd gets, the bigger the tricks get,” Still said as another set of riders performed back-to-back backflips.

“This is like a video game, but in video games there are also crashes,” he added, warning the crowd not to attempt the feats of riders like Postell, Case Taylor, Aaron Simone, group-oldest Dan Todd, 34, and the youngest rider, 8-year-old Zachary Still.

“This is one of the best festivals I’ve been to in a long time,” said Still, mentioning the group normally performs at anti-bullying and anti-drug school assemblies, setting up their customized ramps in gymnasiums.

Tom Knight

For younger audience members, Northampton-based puppeteer and singer Tom Knight, who occasionally performs at the Yankee Candle Village Kid’s Stage, played songs on guitar with puppet characters in an interactive show.

“Alligator jump, Alligator slide,” Knight sang as children in front of him performed the “jump” and the “slide” on rhythm with the music, using “shaker eggs” to add their own percussion to Knight’s animal-themed songs.

“This is my first time playing here,” Knight said after the show.

Having been a puppeteer since 1986, Knight noted that it’s not just children who enjoy his performances.

“I’ve noticed it draws people in to have a visual element and also characters, not just a person with a guitar,” Knight said. “Especially for young people, but for the parents too, the characters catch their attention. There are different elements — there’s the music element, but also the moving, dancing and the puppet element.”

CBD now for pets

One of the most unique booths at Green River Festival was Grateful Paws, a Connecticut-based company that makes Cannabidiol (CBD) medicinal pet treats.

The company is run by Palmer and Eileen Willard. When he was working as a dog groomer, Palmer Willard says he was troubled by how other groomers and veterinarians used sedatives when working with dogs. The dogs would become disoriented and wouldn’t act like themselves, he explained.

“It wasn’t natural,” Willard said. He began researching dog behavior, hoping to find an alternative.

At the time, in 2016, Willard says cannabis regulation were starting to loosen up in New England. A friend of his told him that he had been using CBD oil to alleviate pain suffered by his black Labrador, who was then 15 years old and suffering from arthritis. The results spoke for themselves: the dog recently died at 19 years old — “almost unheard of” for a dog, Willard said.

“It sounded like it was too good to be true,” he said

At the recommendation of their friend, the Willards began giving their own two dogs CBD in the form of oil-infused biscuits. For their older dog, who is 13, Willard says the CBD alleviates his arthritis.

“He acts like a three-year-old sometimes now,” Eileen Willard said. Their younger dog used to have anxiety attacks when he heard loud noises like fireworks. A thunder shirt and a calming collar didn’t help, but CBD did.

Through their company, Grateful Paws, the Willards make and sell various CBD-infused treats for dogs, cats and horses. They also have a line of products for humans.

Mike’s Maze unveils this year’s theme

The theme of Mike’s Maze, an eight-acre corn maze in Sunderland, was announced earlier-than-usual this year — by way of an art display at Green River Festival.

The maze’s creative director and designer, Jess Wisseman, stood on a ladder at the festival painting 1960s-era rock posters: bright, monochromatic images of musicians in a screenprint-style with distorted, flowing lettering.

The theme for this year’s maze is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, she said between brush strokes.

Mike’s Maze is designed according to a different theme every year. In 2015 was “Alice in Sunderland” in honor of the 150th anniversary of “Alice in Wonderland.” In 2018, it was a pirate theme for Blackbeard, commemorating the 300th anniversary of his death.

Normally, the theme is kept secret until a few weeks before the September opening, when it’s is publicized with aerial photos of the maze.

But this year’s theme fit too well with Green River Festival to pass up, Wissemann said.

“We knew this crowd would really appreciate it,” she said. “It’s got a really similar vibe.”

The design of the maze isn’t finalized yet, Wissemann said. The maze will be cut later this month. More information will come after aerial photos are taken in August.

Mike’s Maze opens the weekend after Labor Day.

Take the business out of the music business

One particular booth in the nonprofit section this weekend was a special draw for musicians: Community Recording Services, a nonprofit recording studio in Tolland, Ct.

“We’re trying to take the business out the music business,” said Producer and Engineer Michael Yorgensen.

He described the studio as providing professional-quality recording and production services for people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them, typically for financial reasons. Funding mostly comes from donations and music sales, Yorgensen said.

In terms of instrumentation, the studio typically focuses on the “organic side” of real instruments rather than synthesized sounds, Yorgensen said, and so most of its productions fit into folk and traditional styles of music.

Yet the kinds of projects produced by Community Recording Services are wide-ranging. For example, the studio recently produced an album by an 86-year old woman named Sophia Clark Thompkins. She sang and played piano and the studio provided musicians to accompany on drums, violin and upright bass.

Another recent production involved musicians from a Windham, Ct. camp for people with psychological developmental disabilities. Arthur Bergenn, who works at the studio as a coach and music teacher, taught music lessons to people with autism for three years. The album was recorded in February.

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268. Max Marcus can be reached at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.




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