Totally jammin’: Live music comes to multiple Amherst venues as part of Jamherst!

  • Jamherst! brings together multiple bands, in four different venues, in Amherst this Friday and Saturday. Image courtesy of Amherst BID

  • Bluegrass/folk singer-songwriter, fiddler, and guitarist Eric Lee will be performing at the Black Sheep Deli on Friday as part of Jamherst! Photo by Julian Parker-Burns/Facebook photo 

  • Psychedelic rockers Carinae will perform on Saturday at the Amherst Pub as part of Jamherst!  Photo by Benjamin Goldsher/Facebook photo

  • Local band Humble Digs, which performs psych-pop and folk funk, plays Friday night at the High Horse UpBar as part of Jamherst! Facebook photo

Staff Writer 
Published: 3/20/2019 4:27:54 PM

Amherst doesn’t have as many music venues compared with nearby Northampton, but that doesn’t mean the town can’t throw its own free mini-winter festival — one featuring close to a dozen local bands at venues across the community, and set to take place for the second year across two nights this Friday and Saturday. 

“Jamherst!” brings something new to the table this year with a collaboration between the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) and a student-led group at the University of Massachusetts Amherst — Students For Alternative Music (SALT) — which was responsible for booking acts for the event. 

Ann Tweedy, marketing and promotion manager for the Amherst BID, said she thinks Amherst needs more live music, of all styles and for a wide range of different ages, on a consistent basis. She said one means to bring that about was to start Jamherst! 

“There’s some business owners and staff at businesses that want to see [more live music in Amherst], and they’ll make it happen,” Tweedy explained. “We don’t have the dedicated performance space yet, but there’s always hope. I think there’s a lot of older folks in town who would like to see a [weekly live music] space here.” 

Mike Hanson, an organizer with SALT and a 21-year-old senior at UMass Amherst, was in charge of booking acts for Jamherst! He says the festival is all ages, which is something that was a priority for the event to allow students in the college town to attend shows at all four different venues: the Black Sheep Deli, the Amherst Pub, the High Horse UpBar and Quigley Hall/Knights of Columbus. 

“If we could do collaborations in the greater Valley area, it would make the Valley more accessible for students,” he said. “We know we’ve done our job when people go to Flywheel [in Easthampton] on the regular and you feel like that’s a hop away and worth it. There’s really good acts that run through Flywheel and they’re getting reached by students because of bus transportation. It’s really cool to see students get out, especially for underclassmen.” 

The lineup for Jamherst! is diverse and ranges from acoustic-driven folk music to improvised electronic music on synths to rock n’ roll, and even pop-up Classical performances. 

On Friday, the lineup for Jamherst! includes folk/bluegrass and American fiddler, guitarist and singer-songwriter Eric Lee at the Black Sheep for a bluegrass jam at 7 p.m. Later that evening, starting at 9 p.m, the High Horse offers a rock show, featuring math rock band Hot Dirt, jazzy indie band Straight Sex, post-punk group Where’s Walden?, Prog-rock trio Electrio, and psychedelic pop and folk funk band Humble Digs. 

Lee says he’ll be joined by friends in a bluegrass band configuration, though not playing bluegrass exclusively. He’ll be performing covers and originals, new songs and those off his past album, “Heartache Town,” such as the uplifting, folky sing-along “Help My Neighbor On.” 

“I’ll play guitar, fiddle, and sing,” Lee said. “My friend Sean Davis [of local bluegrass band Mamma’s Marmalade] will also play guitar. A gentleman I just met from Boston, who is a great banjo player, he just moved out here, his name is Chris Boucher” will also join in.

Lee added that he’ll likely also be joined on mandolin by a friend coming up from Philadelphia, Matt Hiller, who plays with Lee in another band, Man About A Horse. 

Lee said he’s happy to be playing at the Black Sheep as part of Jamherst! After all, he noted, he used to work there and has hosted bluegrass jams at the deli in the past. 

“I’m glad that Amherst is focusing on doing these types of events,” he said. “It’s really surprising to me that for being in the center of all these colleges that it doesn’t really have an established music venue, outside of the [UMass] Fine Arts Center or the college spaces.”

On Saturday night, the Amherst Pub features a lineup of indie psychedelic-infused rock with Sun Parade and Carinae; the lineup also includes other rock acts such as Grey Heron and the all-women rock, blues, jazz and country band She Said.

And starting at 9 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus’ Quigley Hall, the acts include progressive rock synthesizer artist John Trudeau, DJ Lindsey Musielak and DJ III Teteka.

In addition, there will be pop-up performances around town on Friday and Saturday by UMass string music students playing various works by J.S. Bach as part of the program known as “Bach in the Subways,” first introduced in Amherst in 2015 as part of a Bach Festival at UMass. 

Chris Goudreau can be reached at 

For more information about Jamherst! visit

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