The Beat Goes On: New Orleans jazz by way of New Hampshire at The Parlor Room, Billy Bragg, Arcadia Players and more

  • The Soggy Po’ Boys will get feet moving at The Parlor Room Oct. 7 with their New Orleans-flavored jazz. Image from Soogy Po’ Boys website

  • Singer, songwriter and activist Billy Bragg comes to the Academy of Music on Oct. 9. Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

  • Singer-songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou will open for Billy Bragg Oct. 9 at the Academy of Music. Image from Wikipedia/Schorle/common domain

  • Bohemian Rhapsody revisited: Almost Queen channels the British pop giants at the Academy of Music Sept. 30. Image from Almost Queen website

  • Veteran singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin plays the Bombyx Center in Florence Oct. 2. Image from Shawn Colvin website

  • Fiddler and vocalist Hanneke Cassel, center, brings her trio to the West Whately Chapel Oct. 12. Image from Hanneke Cassel website

  • Rock, soul, and blues: Pittsburgh belters The Commonwealth play the Drake in Amherst Oct. 6. Image from The Commonheart website

  • Valley favorites The Nields bring their folk-rock and harmonies to the Drake Oct. 8. Image from The Nields website

  • UMass Amherst graduate and baroque flute specialist Andrea LeBlanc joins the the Arcadia Players at an Oct. 2 performance at Smith College. Photo courtsy Arcadia Players

Staff Writer
Published: 9/29/2022 4:22:02 PM

You don’t usually associate New England and its long winters (well, pre-climate change winters, maybe) with the upbeat rhythms of New Orleans-flavored jazz. But if that’s the case, someone forgot to tell the Soggy Po’ Boys, a New Hampshire band that’s been channeling the sounds of the Crescent City for 10 years.

Trumpeter Zach Lange, in an interview a few years ago, had a simple explanation for why the band plays what it does: “It’s really cold where we live, so anything to help warm it up!”

The Soggy Po’ Boys, who come The Parlor Room in Northampton Oct. 7 at 7 p.m., can do just that. The seven-member band includes piano, guitar, drums, bass, a variety of horns (saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, and more recently trombone), and vocals. Their sound embraces a range of influences, from old-time jazz and ragtime to blues, soul and Caribbean tunes.

“We all have a huge love and fascination for this music on an academic level and a visceral level,” says Lange, who notes that the members have made “plenty of pilgrimages” to New Orleans over the years, leading the band not only to cover traditional New Orleans jazz but to write original tunes reflecting that musical heritage.

The group’s most recent album, “All in Favor,” done live in the studio, jumps pretty much from start to finish, with 12 covers such as “Hotter Than That,” recorded by Louis Armstrong and his band in 1927, and a funky version of Hank Williams’ “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” from 1952.

In a review of the album, Blues Blast Magazine called the band “authentic but not shackled by tradition. Not only do they breathe life and their own personal sound into these covers, the Po’ Boys write and record … their own original material inspired by their chosen aesthetic … [They] are master technicians and historians and unique artists with perspective.”

Cold Chocolate, a Boston-based acoustic duo (guitar and percussion), will open The Parlor Room show.


The Arcadia Players, like so many other classical music ensembles and choruses, found themselves shut out of live performance during the pandemic: in particular, too many wind instruments in close proximity on stage was a real problem amid the worst of COVID-19.

The Valley ensemble, which specializes in Baroque and early classical music, did hire a new artistic director, Andrew Arceci, in January, and the group returned to the stage in April with a limited performance involving just eight players.

Now, to start their 33rd season, a larger chamber group will hit the stage of Sweeney Concert Hall at Smith College Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. to perform music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Pachelbel, Arcangelo Corelli and Alessandro Piccinini.

They’ll be joined by guest musician Andrea LeBlanc on the baroque flute (traverso), who will be featured on Antonio Vivaldi’s flute concerto “La Notte” and Bach’s Orchestral Suite No.2 in B minor. LeBlanc is a graduate of the New England Conservatory and UMass Amherst.

“It’s a pleasure to kick off our first full season in over two years with this program of instrumental gems,” Arcadia Players President Jon Solins said in a statement.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at


It was almost 40 years ago that Billy Bragg came on the scene in Great Britain and began to make his mark, both as a singer-songwriter with a distinctive cockney accent and as a political activist who championed the working class and took aim at Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government.

Bragg, who performs at the Academy of Music in Northampton Oct. 9 at 7 p.m., wedded his activism to his music, creating a gritty folk-punk sound in songs such as “Between the Wars” and “The Saturday Boy” that was partly a call for socialism and musings on the vagaries of love. He also spoke out against homophobia in his bouncy cut “Sexuality” in 1991 — a groundbreaking song for its day.

These days, Bragg’s hair has turned gray — he’s approaching his 65th birthday — but he’s still fighting the good fight, lending his music to any number of grassroots causes, as well as writing and doing public speaking. And on his most recent album, last year’s “The Million Things That Never Happened,” he also reflects on what’s he learned along the way and what he might offer to a new generation of activists — or if it’s time he stepped away.

As he sings on “Mid-Century Modern,” one of a number of Americana-flavored tunes on the disc, “The kids that pull the statues down, they challenge me to see / The gap between the man I am and the man I wanna be.”

“In an age of division,” Britain’s New Musical Express says, “ ‘The Million Things That Never Happened’ is a gentle embrace of what unites us all.”

Alice Phoebe Lou, a folk/pop singer-songwriter born in South Africa and now living in Berlin, opens the show.

More music on tap


Almost Queen, which channels the music and intricate harmonies of the seminal British pop band, plays the Academy of Music tonight (Friday, Sept. 30) at 8 p.m.

Roots rockers Donna the Buffalo will play Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield Sept. 30 at 8:30 p.m.

Zikina, led by Ugandan native Gideon Ampeire, mixes Ugandan folk music with contemporary sounds like funk and jazz. They’ll be at Easthampton’s Marigold Theater Oct. 1 at 8 p.m.

The Northampton Jazz Festival, with mostly free events and one ticketed show at the Academy of Music, takes place Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in multiple venues.

Time was when singer-songwriter Shawn Covin and jazz duo Tuck & Patti were regulars at the Iron Horse Music Hall. Now they’ll appear at the Bombyx Center for Arts & Integrity in Florence, Colvin on Oct. 2 and Tuck & Patti Oct. 6; both shows are at 7 p.m.

Watermelon Wednesdays at the West Whately Chapel still has some shows to offer, including banjo master Tony Trischka and his ensemble Oct. 5 and fiddler/vocalist Hanneke Cassel and her trio Oct. 12. Both shows begin at 7:30 p.m.

The Commonheart is an eight-piece band out of Pittsburgh that one reviewer describes as “a rocking band with soul,” as they’re boosted not just by guitar, keyboards and drums but trumpet and saxophone — and the powerhouse vocals of frontman Clinton Clegg. They’ll be at the Drake in Amherst Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

Also coming to the Drake, on Oct. 8 at 8 p.m., are longtime Valley folk-rockers The Nields.

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