Ken Maiuri's Tuned In: Music happening this week in the Valley

  • Llama Lasagne Courtesy of Llama Lasagne/Twitter

  • Rani Arbo& daisy mayhem

  • Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds Joshua Timmermans

  • Syd Straw

  • The Commander Cody Band Courtesy of The Commander Cody Band/Facebook

Published: 12/15/2016 12:25:27 PM

Vocalist/songwriter Syd Straw only pops up in interesting places, whether it was on a record in the ‘80s with The Golden Palominos, or on TV in the ‘90s on Nickelodeon’s cult classic “The Adventures of Pete & Pete” (as memorable math teacher Miss Fingerwood).

And now Straw will bring her big voice to little Easthampton venue, the Luthiers Co-Op, Friday at 9:30 p.m.

Straw doesn’t tour regularly, and the Co-Op is a wonderfully intimate place to experience her full-hearted music, which makes her show a not-to-be-missed event for at least two reasons.

“Mystical,” “transcendent” ... those are the kind of words that get used by fans to describe her performances. “She is a true raconteur and has a golden voice,” said Winterpills frontman Philip Price, one such fan. “I'm not sure there is anyone on the planet she hasn't sung with; she probably sang all over your album and you didn't even know it. She's a special collaborator and interpreter but her own songs are completely unique and passionate.”

Straw sings from her soul with such power that the room falls away and you’re left with pure emotion. At one of her rare shows earlier this year in New York City, she performed “Chasing Vapor Trails (His Turn To Cry),” and though the song is nearly 30 years old (from her debut solo album, “Surprise”), she inhabited the words like they happened yesterday. “He will never know how hard I tried,” she sang, leaning into the word “hard,” pulling back from the mic to sing full force, her deep vibrato tugging at your heart.

She’s the kind of artist who only does what inspires her. She doesn’t bother with a website, and hasn’t released an album since 2008. She travels with her dog/manager, Carol Burnett. She does things on her terms. And luckily she’s coming back to the Valley.

Come early to see singer/songwriter Rick Murnane (7 p.m.) and acoustic trio Eavesdrop (8 p.m.)

Dredd Foole (playing his first acoustic set in some time), Matt Robidoux, Omeed Goodarzi and Jeffrey F. Gallagher perform at the latest in-store at the homey Mystery Train record shop in Amherst Saturday at 6 p.m. The quadruple bill is a free show, but donations for the bands are recommended. 

 

Llama Lasagne is the Valley’s all-star theme-based party band — “unlimited by genres, trends, or even good taste,” they proudly state — and the sprawling group (featuring members of LuxDeluxe, Outer Stylie, Rusty Belle, The Mary Jane Jones, Shokazoba and others) brings its yearly “Holiday Spectacular” to the Arts Block in Greenfield Saturday at 9 p.m. Donations for Toys for Tots will be accepted. 

 

Brooklyn-based soul-rock outfit Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds (starring frontwoman and spirited vocalist Arleigh Kincheloe) plays Gateway City Arts in Holyoke Friday at 9 p.m. Local fave The Sun Parade starts off the night.

 

The seasonal live music celebration “Flo Ho Ho” returns this holiday season with the Big Bad Bollocks, Beige, The Johnny Memphis Band and Court Etiquette at the Florence VFW Saturday at 7 p.m. 

 

Trumpeter/composer Adam O’Farrill brings along his group — tenor sax man Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, bassist Walter Stinson and drummer Zack O'Farrill — for the latest show in this season’s Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares concert series, at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

 

The Commander Cody Band has decades worth of good-time tunes to draw from — “Hod Rod Lincoln,” “Two Triple Cheese (Side Order of Fries),” “Beat Me Daddy Eight To the Bar,” “Don’t Let Go,” “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (that Cigarette)” — and it comes back to the Valley for a show at the Iron Horse in Northampton Saturday at 7 p.m. Stewart James & the Memphis Flyers opens up the show.

 

The beloved Hot Buttered Elves are on hiatus this year, but some of the group’s members and collaborators are continuing in the Elves’ merry spirit with two separate events to raise money for the Easthampton Toy Fund this weekend. The Brass Cat in Easthampton will host a Christmas cocktail party with seasonal songs Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight. (“Wear your ugliest sweater or your Christmas best,” they suggest.) And the Luthiers Co-Op will feature Jason Simon (playing solo piano), Jerry Brookman and Josh Grden, Brothers Born, Cross Tie Walkers, Wyola and Clementine Sunday from 6 to 10 p.m.

 

“Harmony and groove quartet” Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem has a new holiday album just out, “Wintersong,” which includes covers of seasonal songs by The Pretenders (“2000 Miles”), Michael Doucet (“Bonne Annee”) and others. See them play The Parlor Room Sunday at 7 p.m.




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