Annual Transperformance draws 1,000, raises $25,000 for school arts

  • Rikk Desgres of Donut Kings performs as Screaming Lord Sutch during "Transperformance 27: Rock N Roll Heaven Revisited," Tuesday in Pines Theater at Look Park. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rikk Desgres, of Donut Kings, performs as Screaming Lord Sutch. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kelsey Flynn performs as Jack LaLanne during "Transperformance 27: Rock N Roll Heaven Revisited," Tuesday in Pines Theater at Look Park. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jerks on the Loose members Christine Andrews, from left, Kay McKinstry and Katy Schneider perform as The Roches during "Transperformance 27: Rock N Roll Heaven Revisited," Tuesday in Pines Theater at Look Park. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Brad Thayer, left, and Neal Robinson of Glad Machine perform as Stone Temple Pilots during "Transperformance 27: Rock N Roll Heaven Revisited," Tuesday in Pines Theater at Look Park. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jon Carroll and BraveSoul perform as Robert Palmer during “Transperformance 27: Rock N Roll Heaven Revisited,” Tuesday at Pines Theater at Look Park in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Steve Sanderson performs as Leon Russell while Joan Holliday performs as Mae West during "Transperformance 27: Rock N Roll Heaven Revisited," Tuesday in Pines Theater at Look Park. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tom Dworkin and Sarah Wilson, of Amherst, move to the music of Jon Carroll and BraveSoul performing as Robert Palmer during “Transperformance 27: Rock N Roll Heaven Revisited,” Tuesday at Pines Theater at Look Park. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amita and Judah (last names withheld) play with soap bubbles during "Transperformance 27: Rock N Roll Heaven Revisited," Tuesday in Pines Theater at Look Park. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

@amandadrane
Published: 8/22/2017 11:26:26 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Pleather or the real thing? It’s all the same at Transperformance.

Over a thousand people turned out for head-banging on Tuesday as local pros screamed out rock covers, decked out in wigs with a whole lot of party in the back.

The annual event raises funds for arts in the Northampton public schools. Brian Foote, director for the Northampton Arts Council, estimated this year’s event raised about $25,000.

To mark its 27th year — “the death age,” as arts council producer Steve Sanderson put it — organizers fittingly chose to pay homage to rockers no longer with us. But that in no way cast a somber glow on the evening.

A little girl in a tutu swayed to the stylings of George Harrison, performed by the Winterpills. A kid wearing a unicorn head danced in the front row, his rainbow-hued mask bopping to the beat as Zip Cody wailed.

“Long live J. Scott Brandon!” Scott Lawson Pomeroy yelled of the late Drunk Stuntmen bassist who died in June, before leading a call and response of “long live rock ’n’ roll.”

Blue-green lights colored towering pine trees behind the stage. Glow sticks and necklaces splashed rainbow on the crowd as Alex Johnson belted out a killer Steve Ray Vaughan.

“I love being able to contribute to Northampton arts,” said attendee Cindy Kassell, of Williamsburg. “It’s a good cause to get out and be silly.”

Even while all this great music was happening, some in the crowd were preoccupied with other things. Asked what the favorite part of the night was, Charlotte Shimpach, 9, of Northampton, answered: “the ice cream.”

Joan Sellers and Carole Collins, both of Northampton, said Transperformance is an annual tradition they’re sure not to miss.

Sellers laughed as she recalled her worry the music would be too loud for the kids before she attended for the first time. She nodded in the direction of two happy, dancing children.

“It’s a good way to end the summer,” Sellers said.

Collins said she first fell in love with the event when, years ago, she saw Young at Heart Chorus belting out, “you can’t always get — what you want!”

“We lost our minds,” Collins said, laughing delightedly. “It was the best thing ever.”

Mayor David Narkewicz smiled as he watched Soul Magnets take the stage to perform Earth Wind and Fire.

“The best part is all the incredible music,” he said. “And it’s all to support arts in the public schools.”

Backstage, local musicians said events like this give them a chance to stretch beyond their musical comfort zone and do something good for the community.

“You come to something like this and you remember just how special it is, and how lucky we are,” said guitarist Greg Saulmon.

The event is organized each year by the Northampton Arts Council, the city of Northampton and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Among others, the event is also sponsored by Lathrop Communities, Gravity Switch, Florence Bank, WHMP and The River.

Foote said a lot of musical skill went into Tuesday’s performance.

“A lot of the bands put in a lot of effort,” he said. “They’re really tight.”

Rain began spitting down on Outer Stylie’s uncanny take on Soundgarden near show’s end, and people began to pack up.

“These are professional musicians that show up to do this,” said Hank Ross, of the arts council, adding people drive distances for the show. “It’s a really great thing.”

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@gazettenet.com. 




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