Sounds Local: Raw, honest music
The Greenfield-based The Stone Coyotes will play a rare, mostly acoustic show at The Parlor Room in Northampton Saturday.
The Suitcase Junket is the one-man-band project of Matt Lorenz of Amherst, who is also a member of the band Rusty Belle. He will be at Mocha Maya’s Friday.
These words are from “Bone,” a lovely waltz-like song performed by The Suitcase Junket: “This song is a bone that I found in the woods/ It was buried alone, but I’ve done what I could/ to breathe life into something which it had fled.” And breathing life into something is exactly what The Suitcase Junket does, he breathes life into old objects and transforms them into musical instruments used to create raw, honest music.
The Suitcase Junket is the one-man-band project of Matt Lorenz of Amherst, who is also a member of the band Rusty Belle. When you think a one-man-band, the image of a cartoonish character playing cymbals with his knees and honking horns strapped on his wrist might come to mind. The Suitcase Junket is nothing like that.
Lorenz sits on an old suitcase and plays a beat-up guitar and uses the suitcase as a bass drum that he plays with his heel. In addition to that, he plays a hi-hat with his feet and has has assembled a variety of objects on which he plays percussion, including a tea kettle, a gas can and — a recent addition — a cage of bones. He manages to bang away on all these while playing slide guitar guitar and singing. And he doesn’t just sing, Lorenz is a self-taught throat singer, which is a method of singing in which you keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth to create an eerie droning sound.
If you are wondering what this sounds and looks like, The Suitcase Junket will perform at Mocha Maya’s, 47 Bridge St., Shelburne Falls, on Friday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. Jenee Halstead and Audrey Ryan will open.
Lorenz launched The Suitcase Junket in 2009.
“I started playing a homemade box drum with my feet pretty early on with Rusty Belle, so part of The Suitcase Junket setup blossomed directly from that,” said Lorenz. “I also just had too many songs coming to use them all in Rusty Belle and I wanted to see how big of a sound I could make with just me playing.”
He can create a very big sound and it all started with an old guitar.
“The Junket guitar was found in a dumpster and was filled with mold and missing a few pieces. I fixed it up with what I had on hand, cleaned the mold out, tuned it to itself and started pulling songs out of it,” said Lorenz. “At some point in there, I had the idea of using a suitcase instead of a box drum and building foot drums that would fit inside the suitcase.”
He has recently came across an extra-wide suitcase and can now fit a gas-can foot drum, cook-pot-soupcan-tambourine foot drum, a saw-blade bell, hi-hat cymbals and all the drum pedals into the one box.
Lorenz has released two Suitcase Junket albums, “Sever and Lift” and “Knock it Down.” His songs have a sense of beauty about them and are delivered with such forceful sound you can’t believe you aren’t listening to a full band. Instead of struggling to describe this music, I left the task to Lorenz.
“Roots-rock junk-folk is a genre Rusty Belle came up with to describe itself and The Suitcase Junket is probably in that same scene, but it’s a little heavier and bluesier and stranger with the throat singing and the buzz-filled guitar,” he said. “Genres are hard to fit into, but it’s deeply American music.”
The Suitcase Junket is a one-of-a-kind musical experience that you have to see to fully appreciate, so head to Mocha Maya’s tomorrow night.
This show is free, but tips for the performers are encouraged. For more information visit www.mochamayas.com or call 413-625-6292.
Stone Coyotes sold out at the Parlor Room Saturday
When you think of The Stone Coyotes, you think loud rock music. The trio from Greenfield — guitarist/vocalist Barbara Keith, husband Doug Tibbles on drums and his song John on bass — don’t play many local shows as John Tibbles is living in Los Angles. But when they do get together, it’s all crackling guitar and thundering drum and bass as the band tears into some of its classic songs, like “First Lady of Rock” and “I Want to Rock.” But when the trio takes the stage at the Parlor Room at Signature Sounds, 22 Center St., in Northampton, on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m., it will have to take it down a notch.
The bad news is that if you don’t already have tickets, that show is already sold out.
The Parlor Room is a small listening room that seats about 60 and primarily hosts acoustic shows. According to Keith, the band has performed a few quieter shows in the past (including All Souls Church in Greenfield).
“This show will be an acoustic first set, then a more plugged in second set, but not full force, “amp-on-10” by any means,” said Keith. “We have practiced this new style to allow the songs to take center stage with minimal frills. Doug is even going to play with brushes, which is unusual for him.”
Since forming in the late ’90s, the band has released 11 albums and while it has cut back on performing, it continues to be busy and is hard at work on a new album that it hopes to release in the spring. It is also working out the details for some of its songs to be used in the soundtrack for a recently completed film. Called “San Patricios” and produced by Heath Ryan for Pace Pictures, it stars Beau Bridges and Kris Kristofferson and is due for spring release. Over the years, the band’s music has cropped up all over, from inspiring Elmore Leonard’s novel “Be Cool,” to being used heavily in the TV show “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” The band’s latest fan is Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin, who has played a couple of its songs on his Sirius radio show, “America Roots Radio.” Goes to show, you never know where you might hear a Stone Coyotes song.
It will be a rare treat to see the band in a cozy setting like the Parlor Room. The word was that no additional show will be scheduled, but you can check it out for yourself at www.parlorroommusic.com. www.stonecoyotes.com
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 email@example.com