Bring on the summer music and arts: Concert series and more return to Hadley and Huntington

 Multi instrumentalist, composer, and ethnomusicologist Tim Eriksen kicks off Wednesday Folk Traditions at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum on June 12.

Multi instrumentalist, composer, and ethnomusicologist Tim Eriksen kicks off Wednesday Folk Traditions at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum on June 12. Image courtesy Porter-Phelps- Huntington Museum

The Amherst Area Gospel Choir celebrates Juneteenth at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum on June 19.

The Amherst Area Gospel Choir celebrates Juneteenth at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum on June 19. Image courtesy Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum

The Talamana Trio, which blends Western, Middle Eastern, and Eastern music, will play at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum on June 26.

The Talamana Trio, which blends Western, Middle Eastern, and Eastern music, will play at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum on June 26. Image courtesy Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum

Tone Forest, a jazz ensemble with local roots — from left, Miro Spague, Marty Jaffe, and Jason Ennis — opens Huntington’s North Hall Arts Festival June 16.

Tone Forest, a jazz ensemble with local roots — from left, Miro Spague, Marty Jaffe, and Jason Ennis — opens Huntington’s North Hall Arts Festival June 16. Image courtesy North Hall Arts Festival

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 06-07-2024 12:33 PM

Summer brings outdoor music as well as any number of artistic performances, including theater, literary readings, dances and more.

And it’s not just big blowout events like the Green River Festival.

In Hadley, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum has readied its 43rd season of Wednesday Folk Traditions, a weekly series that brings a range of acoustic performances — traditional folk, blues, Latin and West African rhythms, and more — to the museum’s sunken garden.

In Huntington, meantime, the 14th year of the North Hall Arts Festival opens shortly with a concert by the jazz ensemble Tone Forest, which mixes world music with fresh improvisation. Later in the summer, roots music, Broadway tunes, and more are on tap in the historic building.

Wednesday Folk Traditions opens June 12 at 6:30 p.m. with a performance by Tim Eriksen, the Amherst multi-instrumentalist, composer and ethnomusicologist who’s a leading interpreter of older styles of American folk and roots music, from love songs to ballads to shape-note singing, both from both New England and Southern Appalachia.

Eriksen, who’s taught songwriting and music history at Dartmouth College, Amherst College, and a number of other places, has also had his music featured in a number of films and plays, and he’s performed with musicians as diverse as Kurt Cobain and Doc Watson.

To recognize Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in 1865, the Amherst Area Gospel Choir performs as part of Folk Traditions on June 19, in what will be the 12th annual Horace Clarence Boyer Memorial Gospel Concert.

The choir, whose repertoire includes songs drawn from spirituals, African diaspora, Tommy Dorsey’s Big Band hits, and original music by Horace Boyer, will also recognize the late Dr. Boyer, who was a key part of the local music community, a UMass Amherst professor, and minister of music at the Goodwin Memorial African Methodist Episcopalian Church in Amherst.

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And on June 26, the Talamana Trio, which blends Indian and Middle Eastern music with American jazz and folk, comes to Porter-Phelps (all shows there begin at 6:30 p.m.).

The group brings together some unusual instruments and backgrounds: Robert Markey plays the sitar following years of study in India; Jim Matus plays the laoutar, a lute/guitar hybrid; and vocalist and composer Laila Salins, a native of Latvia, has performed in opera and music theater and as a storyteller.

Concerts in the Hadley series later this summer will include sounds from Uganda and others parts of East Africa (Gideon Ampeire), blues, roots, and rock (StompBox Trio), and a range of Caribbean music (Jose Gonzales and Criollo Clasico).

More information on the Folk Traditions series is available at pphmuseum.org. Tickets are $12 for adults and $2 for audience members 16 years and under. In the event of rain, concerts take place at the Wesley United Methodist Church at 98 North Maple Street in Hadley.

In Huntington’s North Hall, meantime, the summer arts festival begins June 16 at 2 p.m. with Tone Forest, a trio of top jazz players with Valley roots: pianist Miro Sprague, bassist Marty Jaffe, and guitarist Jason Ennis, who now live in Los Angeles, New York, and Pittsfield, respectively.

The ensemble, first formed in 2018, draws from jazz, world music, and plenty of improvisation, creating a sound — on original compositions as well as new arrangements of other music — that’s both lyrical and grounded in a sense of groove.

On June 30, also at 2 p.m., North Hall is trying something new: The Story Cafe, which is billed as a celebration of the Valley’s crop of “enormously talented short-story authors.”

Area actors Ellen Barry, Raye Birk, Candace Barrett Birk, who combined have decades of experience in theater, will read selected work from a range of western Massachusetts writers: Jane Yolen, Stephen Billias, Joy Baglio, Rick Paar and Marisa Labozzetta, the goal being to transport the written word into new worlds of “joy, discovery and connection.”

Programs in the Huntington arts festival later this summer will include roots music, old-time jazz, and selections of opera and show tunes. More information is available at northhallhuntington.org.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.