Tuned in: Ken Maiuri on Valley Music

  • Ensoleil

  • Jerry Brookman

  • Sarah S. Kilborne

  • Two Man Guy

  • Sarah Jarosz

  • Peter Asher and Albert Lee

Published: 6/23/2016 4:20:57 PM

“Trad is rad” has been an oft-used phrase in the folk world, a way of letting people know that just because a tune has been around a long time doesn’t mean it’s quaint, stale, or ho-hum. Inspired musicians are always breathing new life into handed-down songs. 

Ensoleil is one of those young energized bands using traditional songs as a launching pad: a quartet of women who are composers, students and graduates of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. 

Currently on a summer tour, the band will celebrate the release of its debut album “Farmers Market” (named after the kind of venue in which it got its start) with a show at the intimate Montague Bookmill on Friday at 8 p.m.

Annika Socolofsky (fiddle & voice), Christine Hedden (fiddle), Nadine Dyskant-Miller (flute & feet) and Tanner Porter (cello, guitar & voice) come from all over the map — Connecticut, California, the Appalachians and the east coast of Scotland — and their repertoire is similarly diverse. They play traditional and contemporary Scottish, Irish, Quebecois and New England tunes, along with original material.

“Farewell to Miltown / Spinning Song / The Wren” is a good example of Ensoleil’s dynamics and passionate playing. The four-minute medley starts with a barely audible drone rising from the cello. Soon the flute joins in for a jaunty melody, and suddenly the string parts fan out into different ranges and colors, laying into the rhythm. By the end of the medley (which includes Hedden’s original reel “Spinning Song”), the string players are digging in with glee while Dyskant-Miller stomps the galloping rhythm with her feet. 

The homey Bookmill, with its cozy space and lived-in couches, is the perfect spot to hang out and enjoy Ensoleil’s musicianship, from the hushed vocal tunes to the fiery instrumental climaxes. If you can’t make it to the show (or want to check out their music in advance), “Farmers Market” is available now on the band’s Bandcamp page, ensoleil.bandcamp.com.


The Luthier’s Co-op in Easthampton on Friday features a cavalcade of Valley talent, both old-school and new. The show begins with singer/songwriter (and Haunt frontman) Matt Hebert (6 p.m.), followed by singer/songwriter (and member of Storm the Ohio) Jerry Brookman (7 p.m.). Then it’s acoustic trio Eavesdrop (8 p.m.) and longtime hellraisers Angry Johnny & the Killbillies (9:30 p.m.) 


Author/activist/vocalist and “modern cabaret performer” Sarah S. Kilborne brings her one-woman show “The Lavender Blues: A Showcase of Queer Music before WWII” to the Wistariahurst in Holyoke on Friday at 7 p.m.


Northampton bands Mammal Dap (funky instrumental rock/electronic fusion) and Colorway (power trio with heartfelt songs and flying-finger guitar solos) team up for a show at the Ashfield Lake House on Friday at 9 p.m.


Multi-instrumentalist Larry Dulong brings his group Random Sighting to the Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton on Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m.


Two Man Guy is the duo of onetime bandmates and forever friends Scott Hall (piano) and F. Alex Johnson (guitar), who get together periodically to play songs from each of their oeuvres, as well as a song from Billy Joel’s 1977 LP “The Stranger.” This time out, they’re bravely charging up that album’s Everest, the epic “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” (with just their usual piano, guitar and vocals, of course). See the twosome at the Luthier’s Co-op in Easthampton on Saturday at 7 p.m.


Americana/bluegrass/folk singer/songwriter Sarah Jarosz just released her latest album, “Undercurrent,” and she’ll take the stage at the Iron Horse on Sunday at 7 p.m. The Brother Brothers start off the night.


Peter Asher (of Peter & Gordon fame) and guitarist Albert Lee reminisce with stories, and they sing songs from both of their careers (as well as some of their favorite covers) at the Iron Horse on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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