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

  • Gary Higgins

  • The Prozacs

  • The Amherst Jazz Orchestra

  • Asa Morris and the Mess

  • The Big Mean Sound Machine Jeffrrey Foote

Published: 1/12/2017 1:40:33 PM

The more the merrier, and the Big Mean Sound Machine might have as many as 10 people onstage while they whip up a churning Afrobeat-inspired groove. They play The Root Cellar in Greenfield Saturday at 9 p.m. (Doors open at 8 p.m.)

The band hails from Ithaca, New York, and includes a three-piece horn section, multiple Moog synthesizers, piles of percussion — whatever room in their touring vehicle isn’t taken up by the band members themselves is surely packed to the gills with gear.

And they make use of all those instruments on original songs like “Triple Bacon,” which builds up a dizzying rhythm and piles it high with colorful stuff to tickle your ear and move your feet: full-spectrum horns (the deep honk of a baritone sax, a bright punchy trumpet), stuttering drums, wood and metal percussion, dub frequency bass, spacey clavinet. Another standout is the percolating “Contraband,” where skittering electric guitar and a bouncy bass line take center stage on a groove that won’t quit.

Big Mean Sound Machine started in 2009 and recently added to its catalog of releases by putting out a 7-inch single on the local Peace & Rhythm record label (a split single with the group Super Hi-Fi).

The band played The Root Cellar back in September and plans to heat up the cold January night when it returns with another concert full of originals (and when the mood strikes, the musicians have been known to cover a song by legendary Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke).

DJ Bongohead (of the Peace & Rhythm label) will spin funk, Afrobeat and tropical vinyl before the show and between sets.

To see a video of Big Mean Sound Machine performing “Contraband,” visit this story at

Experimental duo Jenifer Gelineau & Willie Gussin, fresh quartet Ginger Cooky (Lauri McNamara, Mia Friedman, Kate Lee and Ted Lee), and new group Night School (featuring Bob Fay, Jim Bliss and Andy Goulet) join forces for a show at The Brick House Community Resource Center in Turners Falls Friday at 8 p.m.

Multi-instrumentalist Larry Dulong and his band Random Sighting perform at Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton Saturday from 3 - 6 p.m.

Gary Higgins, Pigeons, Sunburned Hand of the Man and Frozen Corn play The Brick House Community Resource Center Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m., brought to you by Mystery Train and Mystra Records.

Power duos! A night of tough twosomes is headed your way: Boy Harsher (dark electronics), Wydyde (“basement fire” from western Mass.) and Hammer & Snake all play at the Arts Block in Greenfield Saturday at 9 p.m.

Pocketful of Sexchange brings you improvisational insanity — led by poet and room-commander Connolly Ryan and featuring Mike Flood, Kurt Fedora and special guests — at Brew Practitioners in Florence Saturday at 9 p.m. It’s two hours, no holds barred and no cover. (Though they may attempt some covers.)

The Amherst Jazz Orchestra, started by trombonist and musical director Dave Sporny back in 1996, plays the Union Station Grand Ballroom in Northampton on the first and third Monday of every month. For the next show. the orchestra will be joined by special guest vocalist Ethel Lee. At the Union Station Grand Ballroom Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Indie-rockers Asa Morris and The Mess (from Glens Falls, New York) and the band Bren (from Plattsburgh, New York), two groups that recently released EPs, are on an eight-day tour that will take them to Bishop’s Lounge in Northampton for a show Monday at 9 p.m.

The Threesies is a local collective that only plays songs that are in 3/4 time (or 6/8, etc.). The group will welcome fiddler/guitarist Chris Brashear back into the lineup and unveil some new tunes in its growing repertoire (at press time, the possibilities included Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” and Randy Newman’s “Marie”) at The Parlor Room in Northampton Thursday at 7 p.m.

Westfield’s poppy punky Prozacs play a final show at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence Thursday at 8 p.m. Sharing the bill are Sparkeater and Sham Life.

Ken Maiuri can be reached at


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