Sounds Local: Want to celebrate with music & dancing? Sheryl’s got you covered
You wouldn’t necessarily expect a rock guitarist to team up with a jazz singer, but that’s what will happen when John Sheldon and Samirah Evans come together for a show at the Arts Block in Greenfield on New Year’s Eve.
Evans is a jazz and blues singer whose music is steeped in the sounds of New Orleans, the city where she was a fixture until Katrina forced her to relocate to Brattleboro, Vt. Since settling in Vermont, she has been winning over area audiences with her smoky vocals and repertoire that ranges from sassy blues to smooth jazz.
Sheldon, of Amherst, is a topflight guitarist who by the age of 17 was already Van Morrison’s lead guitarist and later went on to open for acts like Linda Ronstadt. Local music fans know him as the leader of the rocking blues rock band Blue Streak, a group that’s been entertaining Pioneer Valley audiences for years. Sheldon is also an accomplished songwriter who has written hundreds of songs, including material for film and theater.
The two may not have a lot musically in common, but when they paired up for a show last New Year’s Eve at the Arts Block, magic happened.
The show was such a success that they decided to do it again. Sheldon and Blue Streak along with Evans will have you dancing your way into 2014 when they take the stage at the Arts Block, 289 Main St., on Tuesday, Dec. 31, at 8:30 p.m.
“The Arts Block floated the idea last year as they wanted two musicians that people would come out for on New Year’s Eve,” said Sheldon. “We never even met until we got together for the first rehearsal and right off we found that we really enjoyed working together.”
Sheldon admitted that they have different musical backgrounds but that has no impact on their ability to create something special together.
“We found that we relate to each other really well when we play together,” he explained. “We especially mix well on that New Orleans funk sound.”
The format of the night will be that Sheldon and Blue Streak with a guest saxophonist will come on first and do a set of its original material and then Evans will come and sing with them. They will perform a mix of Sheldon’s material with Evans’ songs, but he did stress that the music they play together will have more of a New Orleans slant. And, New Orleans music is perfect in that is a very celebratory style of music made for dancing.
Sheldon went on to say that playing a show on New Year’s Eve is really unlike any other night of the year and for him it’s important to play at the right venue; for him, that’s The Arts Block.
“I don’t want to be playing until 2 in the morning and I don’t want to see people going out into the night, having had too much to drink,” he said. “This party isn’t like that, it’s not a terribly late night, last year’s show was over around 1.”
Sheldon feels that this show is a nice alternative for those who want to enjoy some good music on New Year’s Eve but do not want to go to a club or a first night event where you have to walk from venue to venue.
“It’s not expensive, it’s really good music and The Arts Block is a nice place to be,” he said. “We will be playing for almost three hours and, after awhile, we really get going!”
Advance tickets are $18 and available at www.theartsblock.com. Tickets at the door are $20. The Smithsonian Cafe, which is located at the Arts block, will serve dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. (at additional cost.)
New Year, New Bridge!
The Arts Block show is one of many events that will take place on New Year’s Eve in Franklin County. If you are looking for something that is suitable for the entire family, you might want to head over to The Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A, in Turners Falls, where they are celebrating New Year’s Eve and the re-opening of the Gill/Turners Falls bridge.
“While most traditional New Year’s Eve events are tailored strictly for adults, or are expensive beyond the reach of many, the New Year/New Bridge! Musical celebration is family-friendly, with something exciting for all ages. To top it off, admission to the event is totally free of charge! This allows folks who might not otherwise be able to afford going to a New Year’s Eve concert and dance to join in,” wrote Daniel Kasnitz, who is producing the event, in a press release.
A host of local sponsors, including Greenfield Savings Bank and MOTU, are making this event possible.
The night will begin at 7 p.m. with a performance for young people by Bill Shontz, who is half of the children’s music duo Rosenshontz, which was wildly popular during the 1970s and 1980s. After the duo split in the early 1990s, Shontz explored various musical avenues, but always continued to make music for kids. Next up at 8 p.m., it’s trombonist Ed Byrne with Juke Joint Jazz. Byrne is a Grammy Award-winning trombonist and Juke Joint Jazz a jazz group from Amherst that plays hard-driving and melodic arrangements from a classic jazz repertoire. Bill Shontz, a virtuoso clarinetist, will join them for this jazz set. After the jazz, at 10 p.m., it’s time to dance when Shokazoba, a 10-piece afrofunk dance band. Shokazoba’s jazz/funk mix will have you shaking your booty with its infectious grooves, blazing, four-horn arrangements and overall party vibe. This is an alcohol-free event. www.theshea.org
New Year’s at The Rendezvous
If you want to celebrate New Year’s well past midnight, the place to be is the Rendezvous, 78 3rd St., in Turners Falls. The Rendezvous always hosts a New Year’s Eve party and this year it will welcome Sandy Bailey and her funky friends. Bailey, a singer-songwriter from Turners Falls, has an impressive group of friends that includes jazz vocalist Leah Randazzo, keyboard player Jeff D’Antona, drummer Sturgis Cunningham and guitarists Marc Seedorft and Zack Holmes. The group are calling this a soul-shakin’ R & B dance party, which sounds tailor made for those who want to party the night away. Music begins at 10 p.m. There will be a champagne toast at midnight. $5 at the door.
Seth Glier Dec. 27
For those of you who want to celebrate but prefer to not go out on New Year’s Eve, The Arts Block has a couple of pre New Year’s Eve shows that might be just what you are looking for.
Shelburne Falls’ own Seth Glier has spent most of the year out on the road touring in support of his acclaimed album “Things I Should Let You Know.” He is now home for the holidays and will bring his folk/pop sounds to The Arts Block on Friday, Dec. 27, at 8 p.m. Glier will be accompanied by saxophone player Joe Nearny.
“Joe and I have been touring like crazy. We’ve been traveling the country together and writing with folks in Los Angeles and Nashville. This show should feature some of the new songs,” said Glier, about his first ever show at the Arts Block “I’m also gonna throw in a few holiday songs, some that nobody has ever heard of.”
On New Year’s Eve, Glier will be part of Northampton’s massive First Night Celebration, joining area acts like the Boxcar Lilies, Heather Maloney, Winterpills, Young at Heart Chorus, and so many more. Visit www.firstnightnorthampton.org for a complete schedule of performances as well as information about purchasing First Night Buttons.
Glier also has something in mind for those of you who would love to attend one of his concerts but can’t bear the thought of leaving the comfort of home. He will hold an online concert on Monday, Dec. 30, at 8 p.m. To view, visit www.concertwindow.com/shows/2445-seth-glier.
Roger Salloom, Charles Neville, Jessica Freeman Dec. 28
Singer-songwriter Roger Salloom, sax player Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers and jazz singer Jessica Freeman will once come together for a show at the Arts Block on Saturday, Dec. 28, at 8 p.m. The music will draw from all their influences, which means you’ll hear everything from folk to jazz to a touch of New Orleans. In addition to this being an early New Year’s Eve party, it also happens to be Neville’s birthday so they are asking that fans, family, and friends come out to wish him a happy birthday. (Editor’s note: we’re told there will be cake.)
Tickets for Seth Glier are $17 in advance and are available at www.theartsblock.com; $20 at the door. Tickets for the Salloom/Neville show are $15 in advance and available at World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield or at www.rogersalloom.com/live. Please note that tickets for the Salloom/Neville show are not being sold via the Arts Block.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org