The Beat Goes On: Boston-trained musicians in Valley this week, Green River Fest is on, and concert series readies for July

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 06-22-2023 3:23 PM

Top music schools in Boston such as the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music have sent many talented players into the world, a good number specializing in rock and jazz and others making waves in acoustic music.

Some of those musicians are headed to the Valley this week, beginning with Jax Hollow, a Berklee grad in songwriting now living in Nashville who’s made her mark as a rising rock/blues guitarist and songwriter. Guitar Girl Magazine calls her a “classic shredder.”

Hollow, who plays Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield tonight (Friday, June 23) at 8 p.m., has also turned heads in recent years with her vocals and lyrics. As one critic writes, “Imagine if Taylor Swift rocked, imagine a female Eddie Van Halen, imagine songwriting chops like Liz Rose and Jerry Steel combined and you have Jax Hollow.”

She released a hard-rocking EP, “Underdog Anthems,” a few years ago that included provocative titles such as “High Class Bitch,” and she has a new full-length record out, “Only The Wild Ones,” that has a more Americana-flavored sound but still offers plenty of tasty guitar riffs.

And lyrically, Hollow stakes out some tough lines in songs like “Wolf in Sheepskin,” the album’s opening cut: “Chaos is just something I believe in… I guess you wanted some domestication / The picket fence and sweet sedation / I’m too feral for your heart.”

If you want to hear something a little softer, consider hitting The Parlor Room in Northampton on June 28 at 7:30 p.m. to hear The Ladles, a folk trio whose members got their start as students at the New England Conservatory of Music, where they were the only women in the Contemporary Improvisation program.

The group, which took its name from a misspelled bathroom door on campus — it was supposed to say “Ladies” — features Katie Martucci on guitar, Caroline Kuhn on banjo, and Lucia Pontoniere on fiddle, with all three sharing lead and harmony vocals. They all have a hand in songwriting, too.

They began gigging while still in school, then toured more extensively and released a debut album, “The Line,” in 2019. The pandemic shut things down in 2020, but the group used the time to write songs separately, then convened during an artists’ residency in western New York state to make a stripped-down new album, “Springville Sessions,” recorded over four days in a Baptist church.

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Built around sophisticated harmonies, the album offers a mix of folk and bluegrass as well as touches of pop and swing, even a bit of jazz singing. And it seems an album of its time, with the lyrics of “Nobody Knew,” for instance, speaking of disconnection: “An individual cage / Stuck inside yourself, you’re in a rage / How is anyone supposed to behave?

“If you’re inclined towards feminine mystique,” one reviewer writes, “or if you just need some sweet soulful melodies, turn to the Springville Sessions. Humanitarian, humble, yet evocative.”

Opening The Parlor Room show is local singer-songwriter Clara Stokes.

 

For almost 30 years, the New Directions Cello Festival has brought together cellists from across the globe to swap music and ideas, especially those playing outside the classical canon or who enjoy improvising.

This year the festival comes to the Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity in Florence at 7 p.m. June 23 and 24, where the musicians will take part in a range of workshops, panels and jam sessions.

There are also public performances by cellists and accompanists on both nights, with the musicians hailing from Europe, the U.S., Canada, and Argentina and Brazil, and all of them staking out unique ground.

Kely Pinheiro, for example, a native of Brazil now living in New York City, has toured with Norwegian pop singer Astrid S and played as part of the “Hadestown” musical written by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell. Pinheiro also writes and sings her own music. A Berklee music grad, she’ll play June 23 at Bombyx with her unconventional classical group, the Nebulous string quartet.

The cello festival will also be streamed and will be available for viewing for two weeks afterward. For more information, visit bombyx.live.

 

In case you’ve been living on another planet and hadn’t heard, the Green River Festival begins today at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield and runs through Sunday. We wrote about the Valley’s biggest musical bash a few weeks ago, and if tickets are still available, you can check out the lineup at greenriverfestival.com.

And Signature Sounds Presents, the festival’s producer, has a more intimate concert series coming up in July. The concerts at Black Birch Vineyard in Hatfield, to be held on Sunday evenings July 9 through 30, are dedicated to acoustic music and limited to about 250 attendees, who can watch the shows while sitting on blankets or lawn chairs.

The series started in spring a few years ago during the pandemic with more limited seating. On tap for this year’s concerts are singer-songwriters Jeffrey Foucault and Kris Delmhorst, stringband favorites Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, pop/bluegrass specialists Twisted Pine, and singer-songwriter Chris Smither.

Consider checking out Foucault and Delmhorst July 9 at 6:30 p.m. for a rare opportunity to see the Franklin County couple (who have pursued separate solo careers for years) do some performing together.

More music on tap

Formed by veteran Valley rockers such as Luke DeRoy, Ian Haas and Josh Hirst, the new band Red Loves Blue will be at the Marigold Theater in Easthampton tonight at 8:30 p.m.

All the way from North Carolina: Singer-songwriter Bryan Bielanski will be part of a four-act set, from 6 to 11 p.m June 24 at Luthiers Co-op in Easthampton, that includes Tom Shread, The Library Band, and Hard Knox. Bielanski will also be at New City Brewery in Easthampton on June 25 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Guitarist and singer June Millington plays a benefit show for her sister Jean beginning June 24 at the Northampton Elks Club at 6 p.m. Bring your instruments for a jam session during the second set.

Valley violinist and vocalist Terry Jenoure will join jazz pianist Angelica Sanchez at the Bombyx Center on June 25 at 7 p.m. as part of a project called “Secret to Life,” in which Jenoure composes music based on stories she’s heard from different women.

English indie rocker Billie Marten will be at The Parlor Room on June 27 at 7:30 p.m. Olivia Kaplan opens.

Veteran songbird Judi Collins, backed by the Boston-based Rasa String Quartet, performs her landmark 1967 album “Wildflowers” and other songs at Northampton’s Academy of Music on July 1 at 8 p.m.

Singer-songwriter and social activist Kyshona Armstrong will be at the West Whately Chapel on July 5 at 7:30 p.m. with her trio as part of Watermelon Wednesdays.

Pop veterans They Might Be Giants will be at Tree House Brewing in Deerfield on July 6 at 7 p.m.

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

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