The Beat Goes On: Ringing in 2022 with music

  • Indie-pop favorites Rubblebucket play Dec. 30-31 at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Celtic rockers Enter the Haggis bring their energetic music to Northampton’s Calvin Theatre Dec. 30 and 31. Enter the Haggis website

  • They look bored, but they’ve been known to play some high-voltage sets: Alt rockers Deer Tick play Gateway City Arts in Holyoke Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Deer Tick website

  • The Pangeans are part of the busy lineup at First Night Northampton 2022. Their sound incorporates Latin jazz, samba, calypso, soca, reggae, funk and Afro­Beat.  Gazette file photo

  • Folk-rock singer-songwriter (and Northampton native) Amy Fairchild plays Luthier’s Co-op in Easthampton Dec. 31. Photo by Thom Adorney/Amy Fairchild website

  • The Bamboo Steamers are one-third of a three-part lineup playing at Luthier’s Co-op on New Year’s Eve. Photo by Julian Parker Burns-Gazette file photo

  • Christmas cowpokes: Byron Ricketts Jr. and Shirley Stevens are seen here in a  clip from the upcoming Young@Heart Chorus virtual holiday concert, filmed at Gateway City Arts.  Image courtesy Young@Heart Chorus

Staff Writer
Published: 12/24/2021 11:11:17 AM

Editor’s note:Northampton’s cancellation of all indoor events for First Night (see story, A1) means most First Night shows noted in this article will be livestreamed instead to social media and public access TV — Comcast cable channels 12, 15 and 23. A full schedule will be available at FirstNightNorthampton.org.

Editor’s update: Gateway City Arts has also just canceled its New Year’s Eve show with Deer Tick and Katy Kirby because of Covid concerns. Gateway will also be closed for all events until mid-January.

New Year’s Eve is just a week away, and maybe you’ve already made plans for how you want to celebrate (assuming you want to celebrate: a second year of COVID-19 kind of puts a damper on a lot of things).

But if you’re still looking for some party options, live music is a good one: There is no shortage of local shows on tap to help ring in the new year. Here’s a look at them.

 

Rubblebucket, Dec. 30-31, 9 p.m., Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, Greenfield — If you want to start celebrating a little early, consider catching the Dec. 30 Hawks & Reed show by Rubblebucket, the energetic indie-pop band from Brooklyn, New York that’s been a regular visitor to the Valley for years. Or see them on New Year’s Eve.

Formed in 2008 by vocalist/saxophonist Kalmia Traver and trumpet player Alex Toth, Rubblebucket has earned high marks for its live shows, which have included plenty of art-pop flourishes and colorful stage sets. Some years back, the band even had 15-foot-high robot puppets bouncing through the crowds at outdoor festivals.

In 2019, Paste magazine called Rubblebucket one of the top 20 live music acts of the decade, saying the band “is a breath of fresh air … delivering life-affirming performances that augment their recorded music rather than simply replicating it.”

 

Enter the Haggis, Dec. 30-31, Calvin Theatre, Northampton — Another two-night entertainment option is Enter the Haggis, the venerable Celtic rockers who for more than 20 years have combined fiddles, bagpipes, guitar, bass and drums to attract a loyal (some might say fanatical) following, whose members are known as “Haggis Heads.”

The Toronto-based group, which has won praise both for its songwriting and expansive live shows, has also made regular appearances in Northampton, and for the closing days of 2021, they’ll perform three separate shows: 7 p.m. on Dec. 30, and 7 and 10 p.m. on Dec. 31.

 

Deer Tick, Dec. 31-Jan. 1, 8 p.m., Gateway City Arts, Holyoke — Alt rock? Roots rock? Folk rock? If it’s hard to find a convenient label for Deer Tick, you could say the Providence, Rhode Island band is most know for the raspy vocals of lead singer and songwriter John McCauley, a mix of electric and acoustic guitars, and a pretty straightforward rock sound that makes good use of its rough edges.

There have been plenty of rough edges over the years for the band, which became a four-piece unit in 2008 and toured and partied hard; on their 2013 album, “Negativity,” McCauley wrote about his problems with drugs and drinking and his effort to get sober, a subject he also touched on in a 2016 documentary about the band, “Straight Into a Storm.”

Pitchfork, in a review of the band’s 2017 double album, “Deer Tick Vol. 1” and “Deer Tick Vol. 2” (one is acoustic, the other electric), said McCauley, in cleaning up his act, had still found interesting things to write about: “His outlook, though more settled, still exudes the same uncertainty and fragility that, in a sense, rescued Deer Tick from themselves. … with Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, McCauley solidifies his status as a modern-day barstool poet.”

Katy Kirby, a Texas-based indie-pop songwriter, opens both Deer Tick shows.

 

First Night Northampton 2022 has too many performances to list here, but music that will get you moving at the New Year’s Eve fest includes the mix of jazz, funk, ska and Afro­Beat of The Pangeans (7 p.m., Unitarian Society); reggae-rock with The Equalites (9:15 p.m., Unitarian Society); the horn-heavy funk and R&B of Soul Magnets (9:15 p.m., 33 Hawley); and rock and pop with NRBQ (Academy of Music, 9:30 p.m.).

 Luthier’s Co-op in Easthampton, which will close for the first 10 days of January, will finish 2021 with three acts with deep Valley links: alt-country songwriter Matt Herbert, twangy rockers The Bamboo Steamers, and singer-songwriter Amy Fairchild. The music runs from 7 to 11 p.m.

Hebert, who played with The Ware River Club and Haunt in the Valley in the early 2000s, moved to Texas several years ago but makes periodic trips back to the region. Fairchild, a Northampton native who now lives in Boston, got her musical start in the Valley in the mid-1990s and has continued to release albums that showcase her strong vocals and folk-rock arrangements.

And The Bamboo Steamers played a memorable set at Luthier’s in early 2020, at which the band revealed one member had been battling cancer while another had had serious heart surgery. “We weren’t sure this [a live gig] would ever happen again,” frontman Don Singleman told the audience that night. Yet here they are, set to ring in 2022.

 

For a quieter New Year’s Eve concert, consider the Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity in Florence, where archguitarist Peter Blanchette will be joined by Spanish guitarist Mané Larregla and Philip Price, the lead singer and songwriter of the chamber-pop group Winterpills. The show begins at 7 p.m.

 

A New Year’s Eve warmup: The Young@Heart Chorus will deliver its last online show of 2021 on Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m., a concert that will feature music by P!nk, The Zombies, Dolly Parton, The Lonesome Brothers, a mashup of David Byrne/Cab Calloway and more (including some unusual holiday tunes). It will also have a near-live vibe: The show was filmed at the new Divine Theater at Gateway City Arts, an Art Deco-styled space that’s been created to host a range of events.

Bob Cilman, Young@Heart’s longtime director, says the concert, called “Get the Party Started,” has the overall look “of a Sonny and Cher special from the early ’70s.”

The concert will also double as a fundraiser: It’s free, but Y@H is hoping to raise $15,000 to allow the group go forward in 2022, hopefully in person. Visit youngatheartchorus.com to register and to show the senior singers some love.

 

New Year’s Eve followup: If you don’t overdo it on the last night of 2021, consider going to Northampton’s Academy of Music on the second day of 2022 to hear Bach at New Year’s Live! A collaboration between the Berkshire Bach Society and New England Public Media, this 3 p.m. show features the Berkshire Bach Ensemble performing the six “Brandenburg” Concerti by J.S. Bach.

The performance, led by Bach Society Music Director and soloist Eugene Drucker, a nine-time Grammy award winner, is dedicated to the late Berkshire Bach music director emeritus, Kenneth Cooper, who established this popular holiday tradition in 1993.


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