Candice Chouinard: Embarrassed at way artist was treated

Published: 8/5/2022 4:27:08 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 4:24:02 PM

Northampton recently hosted musician Ani DiFranco, a big name in music, at the stunning Pines Theater at Look Memorial Park.

    Anyone who has ever been to Pines knows how magnificent the tall conifer trees look behind the lit-up stone stage. DiFranco has included Northampton as a tour stop for years, and I’m proud that our little pocket can hold such grace. But this year, for the first time, I was embarrassed.

A storm delayed the concert’s 7 p.m. start. DiFranco’s show went on at around 8:20, and at one point the artist said, “I heard about you, I know you” insinuating how lovely of a place we really have here.

This show was exactly what everyone needed until 10 p.m. neared. DiFranco mentioned that “they were strict on the noise ordinance” and the crowd booed, as we only had an hour show at this point. She followed up with, “we will play until they turn the electricity off.”

I don’t think she thought that they would cut the electricity. The two played one amazing song, “Binary,” with the chorus “where are my brothers, where are my sisters, where are my people who take care of each other.” As a song ended the crowd, two men appeared at the sound booth and pulled the plug on the show. The house light came on at 9:50 p.m.

The audience was shocked. DiFranco didn’t get to take her bow, or recite the three-minute poem that she ends every show with. “How rude,” my friend from the Berkshires says to me and how uncomfortable I felt for DiFranco. Of the 50 shows of hers I have been to, I never have seen her leave the stage upset.

How important is three minutes to us as a community to insult such a beautiful performer? With big names filling the Pines, we need to rethink how we treat them. I respect and appreciate the noise ordinance in Northampton. I am not up to date on my zoning ordinances, but I don’t think that anyone within earshot of this show would be offended if had the artist finished the set.

I’m sending this letter as an apology to an amazing artist, but as a reminder that our ordinances are meant to keep us safe and comfortable and to provide our community with a modicum of decency — not the other way around.

Candice Chouinard



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