Bring on the music: Signature Sounds, Academy of Music will host virtual concerts in early July

  • Lake Street Dive at the Green River Festival in 2019. They’re one of the bands that can be seen on the web or on the radio at the Green River Festival on Air, which takes place July 10 to 12. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • This year’s Green River Festival has been canceled due to the pandemic, but a radio- and web-based version will be offered July 10 to 12, the dates for the 2020 show. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/26/2020 7:33:57 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Locally, you might call it the day the music died: the announcement in late April that the region’s seminal music event, the Green River Festival, would not take place this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Signature Sounds, the Northampton record label and production company behind the longstanding festival, is now offering an alternative.

“Green River Festival on Air,” scheduled for July 10 to 12 — the same days Green River 2020 was to take place — will offer a dual radio and webcast show featuring live sets from past Green River festivals, and they’ll be aired during the same hours when this year’s performances would have been staged.

The radio segments will air on 93.9 The River/WRSI-FM, and the webcasts can be viewed through the station’s website ( The music will air from 6 to 11 p.m. on July 10, noon to 11 p.m. on July 11, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition to the music, the program — subtitled “A Dream River Fantasy Festival” — will include select interviews with artists and fans, some backstage performances and other material.

And before this reconfigured festival gets rolling, Northampton’s Academy of Music will host a virtual concert, “Summer Songs,” on July 1 featuring 11 regional artists (and another, Dar Williams, with strong ties here), in a show that’s designed to raise some needed funds for the 129-year-old theater, which has been shuttered since March 12.

Between the two separate events, music from some 40 artists and bands will be presented, including some of the area’s most well-known acoustic performers — The Suitcase Junket, Martin Sexton, Heather Maloney, Kris Delmhorst and Jeffrey Foucault — as well as music veterans such as Lucinda Williams, Lake Street Dive, NRBQ and Old Crow Medicine Show.

Jim Olsen, president of Signature Sounds and the lead producer of the Green River Festival, said the company is heartened that the vast majority of ticket holders for this year’s festival held onto their tickets for next year, preventing Signature from having to give refunds during a tough economic time.

The upcoming show is free, he noted, thanks to its sponsors: Greenfield Savings Bank, Dean’s Beans Coffee, Maple Mama’s beverages and Cowl’s Building Supply.

“We want people to be able to sit outside in their backyards and listen to the kind of music they would have heard at this year’s festival,” he said.

The live shows to be broadcast date back as far as 10 years but will generally be more recent that that, he said; some artists have also submitted tapes of their live shows from some other venues.

“The idea is to create a fantasy lineup of our favorite artists from over the years,” Olsen noted.

The full lineup and links for buying merchandise can be seen at

At the Academy of Music, meanwhile, Executive Director Debra J’Anthony says the historic theater has worked with its main music promoter, Dan Smalls Presents, to arrange the July 1 virtual show.

“Summer Songs” begins at 8 p.m. and can be viewed at the Academy’s Facebook site and its Youtube channel. Donations to the Academy can be made through Facebook and at its website (

“We’re really excited about this,” said J’Anthony. “It’s the first show we’re presenting in over three months, even if we can’t be there in person.” She’s also grateful to the 12 artists in the show, who she says will all be performing for free.

J’Anthony estimates the Academy has probably lost close to $100,000 since March; the theater was forced to furlough most staff, even as planning continues for an eventual reopening.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at






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