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Sounds Local

Sounds Local: What’s a headbanger to do?

Rub Wrongways Records, a record label in Northampton run by musician Henning Ohlenbusch. Ohlenbusch established the label in 2002 and, to date, it has released 13 full-length albums, five EPs and three singles. It plans to release five albums in 2013.

Rub Wrongways Records will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a show at the Iron Horse Music Hall,
20 Center St. in Northampton on Saturday,
Jan. 12, at
10 p.m. Performing at this show will be some of the musicians who record on the label — School for the Dead, Salvation Alley String Band, Goldwater, Sitting Next to Brian, The Aloha Steamtrain and The Fawns. Ohlenbusch said that there might be a couple of surprises as well.

This quite the impressive lineup and the musicians involved in these bands make up a who’s who in the local music world. In addition to Ohlenbusch, members of these bands include Lord Russ, Brian Marchese, Lesa Bezo, Ken Mauiri, Max Germer, Thane Thomson and others.

Ohlenbusch is actually hesitant to call Rub Wrongways a label as he sees it more as a collection of friends and collaborators who love to make music. It’s true that there is plenty of cross pollination between the musicians who have released albums on Rub Wrongways. Ohlenbusch alone performs with his own band, School for the Dead, plays guitar for The Fawns, is the lead guitarist for Sitting Next To Brian, and the bass player in Goldwater. There there is the Rub Wrongways Caravan of Stars, a local super group of sorts that forms when a group of the label’s musicians get together and perform each other’s songs.

Rub Wrongways doesn’t record any specific genre, choosing instead to keep the focus on recording solid, interesting songs. However, there is a strong pop basis to a lot of the music that comes out of this label. You will also find country, psychedelia and anti-folk in the mix.

We should also mention that this show is a dual celebration in that The Fawns, a pop band fronted by Lesa Bezo, is also celebrating its
10th anniversary. The Fawns have only released two albums in its long tenure (look for a new album this year) but, last year, a wide-ranging group of local musicians — everyone from Mark Mulcahy to the Young at Heart Chorus — recorded a tribute album called “Friends: A Celebration of the Music of Lesa Bezo” that featured 29 of Bezo’s compositions.

So this show promises to be a night of celebration and getting all these musicians together under one roof will make for a one-of-a-kind event. In addition to all this music, Ohlenbusch said the show will include some trivia and a few surprises.

Advance tickets are $8 and available at the Northampton Box Office, Main Street, Northampton, online at or charge by phone at 413-586-8686.

Now that Winterland is closed, what’s a headbanger to do?

Area music fans were delivered a blow when the Winterland Club at 72 Hope St. in Greenfield abruptly announced it would close its doors for good as of New Year’s Day.

Winterland was owned by Joseph A Poirier Jr. and John “Trip” O’Gorman.

The club featured live music every weekend, presented by the Primer Showcase, a music production company led by drummer and audio engineer Paul Interlande of Turners Falls. Interlande booked the bands, ran the sound and lighting and, from time to time, even jumped on stage with his band Despite the Ruin. He started Primer Showcase with his partner musician Josh Smith in 2010. The business was briefly housed at the French King Bowling Center in Erving, but moved to Winterland in the spring of 2011. Smith left the business in 2012 to concentrate on his own music. Interlande’s wife, Dianne, a photographer, was also a key player in helping to operate Primer Showcase.

Interlande said that when Primer Showcase teamed up with Winterland, their goal was to provide the kind of performance platform that would allow musicians to easily connect with each other and their audience.

“We wanted a place where music lovers could enjoy a musical experience, hopefully a cut above the normal expectation of venues in our area,” said Interlande.

Through the use of professional staging, lighting and sound, Primer Showcase was able to accomplish this goal.

In the year and a half that Primer Showcase reigned at Winterland, it brought in a host of local and national touring acts like Wrenchneck, Lake Street Drive, Demolition Squad, The Fear Nuttin’ Band, Crawdad Creek, Dark City Drive, Lentner, Milton Gabor, The Hollow Glow and many others.

Primer specialized in presenting heavy metal shows, but had been working hard to diversify its offerings, presenting shows from bands like Zydeco Connection and the reggae group the Headband. Primer also presented all-ages shows on a monthly basis. The these were held during daytime hours to better accommodate the young audiences.

Interlande is saddened by the closing, but not surprised considering the current economic climate. “To have Primer Showcase and Winterland in our backyard was a jem that will be missed, We have met incredible people and musicians from all over and that is the connection!” said Interlande. “That’s what keeps you going. The financial end of the music becomes quite secondary to us but, unfortunately that does not pay the bills. Musicians and the arts is mostly about passion for it. At least Winterland and it’s owners shared that passion for live music.”

And for fans who have that passion for live music, especially metal music, the closing of Winterland has left a big void. Easy Street Nightclub, which was located on Miles Street in Greenfield and also presented heavy music, closed its doors in the spring of 2012.

So, what’s a headbanger to do?

PDP Productions of Greenfield continues to present shows in various locales throughout Franklin County. And if you don’t mind the drive, Silk City Tap Room, located at 99 Main St. in Florence, regularly hosts metal shows.

It’s unfortunate when music venues close but, as we have seen over the years, the stages may change but the music will always keep going.

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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