Sounds Local

Sounds Local: The Dire Honey’s

It starts off with the simple strumming of a mandolin, then a voice, sweet yet with an edge of anger, sings,. “ Well lay lay lay me down my friends/Hush hush hush you wounded men/My father he done left when I was ten/ so lay lay lay me down my friends.” Then, at the beginning of the second chorus, “Daddy better take that plea/ Cause you ain’t seen the last of me,” another female voice chimes in along with a slight touch of banjo, further luring listeners in to this song of a daughter seeking justice.

The song is called “Lay Lay” and listening to it conjures up images of the distant past, of a time when you might find women sitting on an old porch spilling their secrets in a song. But the reality is this is not some old song resurrected from the American songbook. This song was written by The Dire Honeys, three young women from Northampton who are making a stir on the local music scene with their rootsy, old-timey music.

The Dire Honeys will perform at the Montague Bookmill, 440 Greenfield Road on Friday, May 24, at 8 p.m. Catfox and Wes Buckley will open. The trio will also appear at the WGBY Asparagus Festival, which will be held at the Seven Sisters Market and Long Hollow Bison Farm on Route 9 in Hadley on Sunday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Dire Honeys will appear at 4:30 p.m.

The Dire Honeys consists of Lena Schmid on rhythm guitar, Mia Valentini on vocals/mandolin and Vanessa Chatwood Kerby on vocals/tenor banjo. All three women, who are natives of Hampshire County, are songwriters.

“We started playing together about a year and a half ago, originally as an excuse to have a social gathering. We would drink some wine, learn some tunes, discover new sounds we could create with our instruments, laugh and sing,” Kerby said.

At a certain point, they realized this was something they wanted to get serious about and so they decided to form a band. The Dire Honeys played its first show at the Elevens in Northampton in August of 2012 and has been performing throughout the Pioneer Valley ever since. In October, it released a three-song EP available as a download on

“There is a directness and simplicity that comes from old-timey, roots and Americana music. The melodies stay with you, the lyrics ring true and the harmonies provided an unabashed, raw quality to the songs,” said Kerby about what drew the band to this music. “In creating our own music, we try to emulate this authenticity, creating a sound that is timeless.”

The Dire Honeys have indeed succeed in creating a timeless sound. What stands out in The Dire Honeys’ music is how simplistic the instrumentation is, which allows their voices to flourish and never be hampered by the music. The result is honest, raw music full of harmonies and lyrics that evoke a bygone era.

We’ll be hearing a lot more from The Dire Honeys in the near future as the group has a five-song EP coming out later this summer and then will begin work on a full-length recording. In the meantime, consider getting out to one of these live shows.

Tickets for the Montague Bookmill show are $6. Do get there early is as this is a small room, with limited seating. Tickets can be reserved by calling 413-367-9206 or purchase at the door. The WGBY Asparagus Festival is free; for more information, visit

Fancy Trash Tuesdays in June

Fancy Trash has been making its mark on the local music scene for over a decade and, in the process, challenging listeners view on acoustic music.

The band, which consists of Dave Houghton on guitar, Jason Smith on drums and Paul Kochanski on stand-up bass, weaves elements of folk and country into music that can best be described as indie rock. The trio is best known for its intense live performances, which can be downright frenzied at time. The group’s most recent album, “As Is,” which clocks in at only 28 minutes, does a great job of capturing the full spectrum of the band’s sound with songs that range from the soft ballad “Company Lonely” to “Keep the Shame,” which finds the band indulging its rock leanings.

Fancy Trash will perform at the Luthier’s Co-Op, 108 Cottage St., Easthampton, on Saturday, May 25. The music begins at 7 p.m. with Ray Mason and Baltic Sun. Fancy Trash will close out the evening, coming on at 9:30 p.m. On Tuesday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m., the band will launch a month-long residency at Mocha Maya’s, 47 Bridge St. in Shelburne Falls. These shows are being billed as Fancy Trash Tuesdays. The band will play every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. throughout June. Pedal-steel player Katy Schneider will be joining it.

I recently caught up with Fancy Trash frontman Dave Houghton and discovered that since releasing “As Is” last November, Houghton has been doing some serious songwriting.

“I have written about 24 songs in six months,” he said. “I’d like to get together with the band for the month of June and work out all these ideas in my head.”

He added that Smith has been working on the arrangement and the plan is that they will play about half of this new material during these shows.

In addition to providing listeners with a chance to check out new tunes, the Tuesday shows will each have a special opening act. The guests will be Matt Hebert on June 4, Zak Trojano (Rusty Belle) on June 11, Wishbone Zoe on June 18 and The Sun Parade on June 25. With this kind of talent on board, there is bound to be some mixing it up and Houghton confirmed that Hebert (Haunt, Ware River Club) will be sitting in with Fancy Trash for the June 4 show.

“It’s a great way to keep the band busy in June and it can help out Mocha Maya’s,” said Houghton about the Tuesday shows. “It’s win-win. I cam really lucky we can do this.

There is no cover charge for Fancy Trash Tuesdays but tips are encouraged. For more information, call 412-625-6292 or visit There is no cover charge for music at Luthier’s Co-Op. For more information, call 413-527-6627 or visit

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at

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