Hampshire Life Spotlight: Piedmont Melody Makers at The Parlor Room; Margaret Atwood interview at Amherst Cinema

Published: 9/5/2019 5:00:47 PM
Modified: 9/5/2019 5:00:37 PM

Making no apologies

After a summer hiatus that followed their production of the Green River Festival in July, the folks at Northampton’s Parlor Room and Signature Sounds have opened the doors of the Masonic Street venue to music once again. On Monday, Sept. 9, they’ll welcome Piedmont Melody Makers, whose members say they play “old-time, country and bluegrass music and make no apologies for it.”

The quartet — guitar, banjo, fiddle and bass — draws its name from the Piedmont region of eastern North Carolina, which three of the members — Alice Gerrard, Cliff Hale and Jim Watson — call home. They refer to the group’s fourth member as “a known vagabond.”

That would be Chris Brashear, who actually lives in Amherst but spends a lot of time on the road, as his services as a guitarist, fiddle and mandolin player, and singer and songwriter are much in demand by other acoustic artists. But Brashear plays locally when he can, as he did at a show earlier this year at The Parlor Room that celebrated the music of Doc Watson.

At Monday’s show, which begins at 7 p.m., you can expect lots of close harmonies, trading of instruments, some original songs and arrangements of old bluegrass and country standards by performers such as The Carter Family. Piedmont Melody Makers recorded a 16-track, retro-sounding album a couple of years ago, “Wonderful World Outside,” that included tracks like “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “Six More Miles” and “Poor Little Orphaned Boy.” As one critic wrote of the disc, “A good song is a good song, no matter where or when it came from, and the Melody Makers treat each of these old gems with loving care.”

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Visit signaturesoundspresents.com for more information.


Read the new book - and listen to the author

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dystopian tale of a totalitarian, theocratic society that completely subjugates women, became one the late 20th century’s most celebrated books. It was later made into a movie and more recently inspired a follow-up TV series.

Now one of the most hotly anticipated literary releases of the year is Atwood’s long-awaited sequel to that novel. “The Testaments” is due in bookstores and online retailers on Tuesday, Sept. 10. But before you pick up your copy — or maybe on the same day — you might want to check out a live interview with Atwood, which can be seen at the Amherst Cinema on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Live from the stage of London’s National Theatre, Atwood, who’s now 80, will be interviewed by broadcaster and author Samira Ahmed in a conversation spanning the length of the Canadian writer’s career. The presentation will consider her diverse range of works — fiction and nonfiction, poetry, children’s books — and why she has returned to her seminal handmaid story, 34 years later. In addition, there will be selected readings from “The Testaments” by special guests.

“I am delighted that the launch of ‘The Testaments’ will take place not only in London … but also by live-streaming to over 1000 cinemas around the world,” says Atwood. “I can’t be in all the places at once in my analogue body, but I look forward to being with so many readers via the big screen.”

For tickets and additional information, visit amherstcinema.org.

— Steve Pfarrer

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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