The Beat Goes On: Live music in the Valley over next 2 weeks features singer-songwriter Mark Erelli, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, more

  • Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mark Erelli will play cuts from his newest album, “Blindsided,” at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield Oct. 15. Courtesy Signature Sounds

  • Jazz guitarist and composer Bill Frisell brings his trio to Gateway City Arts, Sunday. DSP Productions

  • Northampton native and singer-songwriter Jamie Kent returns to play the Iron Horse Oct. 29. Valley favorite Roger Salloom opens the show. CONTRIBUTED/JASON MYERS

  • Singer-songwriters Patti Griffin and Gregory Alan Isakov play co-headling shows at the Academy of Music Oct. 19. Image from Academy of Music

  • Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real rock the Academy of Music Oct. 20 with their new album, “A Few Stars Apart.”  CONTRIBUTED/ALYSSE GAFKJEN

  • British opo-rock icon Robyn Hitchcock come the Iron Horse Oct. 21. Image from Iron Horse Entertainment Group

  • Valley singer-songwriter Frank Manzi plays cuts from his debut album, “Whatever My Heart Allows,” Oct. 28 at Hawks & Reed. Photo by Taylor Thompson

Staff Writer
Published: 10/14/2021 3:26:05 PM

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mark Erelli has been a familiar face in these parts for years, ever since he came to the Valley in the late 1990s to get a master’s degree in evolutionary biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Even then, Erelli had one foot in the music world, having signed a contract with Northampton’s Signature Sounds; he released his debut album in 1999.

Born in Reading and now living in Somerville, Erelli has gone on to forge both a solo career and one involving partnerships with a number of other players and groups, including as a touring accompanist with Stoughton native Lori McKenna, the red-hot Nashville songwriter who earlier this year won her third Grammy Award, this time for the co-written tune “Crowded Table.”

On Friday, Oct. 15, Erelli comes to Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield at 7 p.m. for a band-backed gig at which he’ll play tunes from his most recent album, “Blindsided,” which came out in March 2020, just as the pandemic arrived — meaning, of course, he’s only recently begun performing most of these cuts live.

Recorded in Nashville with a full band, “Blindsided” is winning Erelli some of the best reviews of his career, with critics noting both its driving, folk-rock sound (there’s a nod to Tom Petty in particular) and lyrics in which Erelli looks both at his own life and America’s fractured political and social landscape.

As No Depression puts it, “‘Blindsided’ is a bit of Americana alchemy, a concoction that can only be served up by someone who knows the rules inside and out — enough to break them when needed.”

Opening the show is Brooklyn-based songwriter, singer and guitarist Mary-Elaine Jenkins, who Bust Magazine names as one of the “5 Up-And-Coming Women Musicians You Should Know About.”

Bill Frisell Trio, Gateway City Arts, Holyoke. Oct. 17, 8 p.m. — Jazz guitarist and composer Bill Frisell has been something of a Renaissance man in the American music world in a career spanning over 40 years, from being a key figure in the New York City jazz scene, to recording versions of songs by artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Madonna to Aaron Copland, to composing music for film and television.

In the course of releasing close to 40 albums, he’s also incorporated sounds as diverse as bluegrass and country in his playing and in general has “earned a reputation for teasing out thematic connections with his music,” says the New York Times. “There’s a reason that Jazz at Lincoln Center had him program a series called Roots of Americana.”

Another critic, in a review of the artist’s most recent album, 2020’s “Valentine,” said Frisell’s music “would seem almost creepy if it were not so beautiful. The guitarist can conjure up personal and cultural memories out of a melding of six strings and a fervid imagination like nobody else.”

Frisell appears at Gateway with bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen.

Jamie Kent, Calvin Theatre, Oct. 29, 7 p.m. — Like so many musicians, Northampton native Jamie Kent, who moved to Nashville in 2014, has had to navigate the pandemic in different ways. He’s spent part of the last 18-plus months working with a coalition of musicians, public health partners and businesses trying to get Tennessee to go smoke-free inside music venues and bars.

But Kent has also used shut-in time to work on a new album, coordinating remotely with players and producer Marti Frederiksen (Faith Hill, Mick Jagger, Aerosmith) to make what the singer-songwriter, in an email, called the “really big rock n roll record I’ve always wanted to make. ... It’s one part Springsteen, one part Petty, but still very me.”

For his return to Northampton — a show originally set for April 2020 — Kent will be playing solo acoustic, though he says he’ll also be joined by “a few special guests.” He’s planning to debut a single, “One Last Tango,” from the album.

Opening the show will be Valley singer-songwriter Roger Salloom, an early supporter of Kent’s music who also inspired him when he was growing up near Look Park’s Pines Theater.

“[Salloom’s] free concerts at the Pines were a huge part of my musical journey as a kid, so it feels pretty full circle,” says Kent, who notes that he’s also been producing a new album for Salloom over the last couple of months. “Roger’s songs have always been both timely and timeless. It’s a true honor to work with him.”

More music on tap

Veteran singer-songwriter Jonathan Edwards, whose long string of hit songs include “Shanty,” “Sunshine (Go Away Today),” and “Honky Tonk Stardust Cowboy,” has been playing the Iron Horse for years, and he returns there Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.

More singer-songwriters: Gregory Alan Isakov and Patty Griffin will play separate, co-headlining shows at Northampton’s Academy of Music Oct. 19 beginning at 8 p.m. Isakov, born in South Africa, works on his Colorado farm when he’s not touring; Griffin has won two Grammy awards and has been nominated for several others during a 25-year career.

Country rockers Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, who have backed up Neil Young for several years but have earned plenty of acclaim for their own music, have a new album out, “A Few Stars Apart,” and play the Academy Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. Oh, and Lukas Nelson? His dad is a guy named Willie Nelson.

British popster Robyn Hitchcock, who’s been blending folk and psychedelia with a bit of wry British nihilism for over 45 years, was to play the Iron Horse Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. That show has just been shifted to the Calvin Theatre. also at 7 p.m.

Valley favs Lonesome Brothers bring their swampy country-rock sound to The Luthiers Co-op in Easthampton on Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. Also on the bill that night are The Sons of Hachaliah Bailey at 7 p.m. and Tanner T. Ogle at 9:30 p.m.

Valley singer-songwriter Jake Manzi, who released his debut album, “Whatever My Heart Allows,” this summer, comes to Hawks & Reed Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. to play cuts from the record. He’ll be backed by a band that includes Caleb and Jacob Rosazza of LuxDeluxe and singer Kimaya Diggs. Manzi has also released a new video for one of the songs, “No Place is Home.”

Chris Marlon Jennings of Sun Parade opens the show.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at

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