Valley Music Showcase returns Friday … on a screen near you

  • Country artist Cayline Lee will be performing as a trio as part of the Valley Music Showcase.  Photo courtesy of Caylin Lee

  • Indie-folk/Americana band The Moon Shells is another contestant as part of the event.  Photo courtesy of The Moon Shells

  • Alternative blues/jazz-pop band Lemon Street.  Photo courtesy of Lemon Street

Staff Writer
Published: 9/29/2020 10:52:46 AM

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit western Massachusetts, the Valley Music Showcase hosted an annual music competition concert series throughout the year featuring bands and artists across western New England. But since March, the music showcase has been on pause. Now, the series will continue in a hybrid model of prerecorded performances set to air for free on Zoom and Facebook Live this Friday from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Mark Sherry, founder of the Valley Music Showcase and executive director of the New Music Alliance, an organization that promotes the region as a destination for live music, said part of the challenge in bringing back the music showcase was finding the right model for its return amid the pandemic.

“The one thing that I think everybody misses now is going out to a real music event like a festival over the summer … I’m just thinking that having a live event would be really cool if we could somehow pull that off where people would really feel when they were watching that they were really at a live event,” Sherry said.

He added that he found inspiration in the long-running British music television series, “Later … with Jools Holland,” featuring multiple artists and bands across genres performing on different stages in each episode.

“I’m thinking, ‘Can this concept really work?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that does seem to work well,’” Sherry said, noting that this incarnation of the Valley Music Showcase won’t have a live audience. Musicians performed using only their own musical instruments and gear and were socially distanced from the other bands and the Holyoke Media filming crew on site at Glendale Ridge Vineyards in Southampton.

Turners Falls resident and blues/rock/Americana singer-songwriter Sandy Bailey will be the event’s opening act.

Contestants include Easthampton/New Haven-based indie-folk/Americana band The Moon Shells, Shutesbury country artist Caylin Lee, Springfield-based alternative blues/jazz-pop band Lemon Street, heavy progressive rock band Shagohod from Springfield and Hartford, and Williamstown youth blues band Born IV Blues. Each act has a 30-minute set.

There will be a 20-minute interactive online Q&A session with bands after the event, which will be followed by an award ceremony juried by three guest judges, Sherry said.

“All the participants watching with Zoom, they’ll be able to ask questions,” Sherry said. “We’re going to have someone monitoring the Facebook Live feed as well, so we’ll be able to grab a couple of questions. Having this Q&A with the bands is just another way that we can have the crowd have some connection with the event.”

Caylin Lee, who performed as part of a country trio with guitar, vocals, banjo and upright bass, said she’s excited to be back with her band after giving birth to a son in June; she and her band had stopped rehearsing due to concerns around COVID-19.

“I’m so excited to be a part of the Valley Music Showcase because it seems like they really had our safety in mind and were very considerate of that,” she said. “I’m just so gracious of being able to share my music, no matter what and no matter where.”

For more information about the Valley Music Showcase visit, facebook.com/valleymusicshowcase. The online event via Zoom can be found at us02web.zoom.us/j/86277003957.

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com.


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