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Upper Valley Music Festival relaxed in return to Greenfield

  • Trin Cheile plays in the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield on Saturday as part of the Upper Valley Music Festival.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Trin Cheile plays in the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield on Saturday as part of the Upper Valley Music Festival.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • The band Span of Sunshine plays in 'The Alley' stage of the Upper Valley Music Festival in Greenfield on Saturday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    The band Span of Sunshine plays in 'The Alley' stage of the Upper Valley Music Festival in Greenfield on Saturday.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jamie Kent and the Options play in the Greenfield Energy Park on Saturday as part of the Upper Valley Music Festival. Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Jamie Kent and the Options play in the Greenfield Energy Park on Saturday as part of the Upper Valley Music Festival. Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • An Upper Valley Music Festival artist jams out on the Greenfield Town Common Saturday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    An Upper Valley Music Festival artist jams out on the Greenfield Town Common Saturday.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Trin Cheile plays in the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield on Saturday as part of the Upper Valley Music Festival.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • The band Span of Sunshine plays in 'The Alley' stage of the Upper Valley Music Festival in Greenfield on Saturday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Jamie Kent and the Options play in the Greenfield Energy Park on Saturday as part of the Upper Valley Music Festival. Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • An Upper Valley Music Festival artist jams out on the Greenfield Town Common Saturday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

GREENFIELD — The Upper Valley Music Festival spread out around the Town Common and the main intersection Saturday, fitting easily back into Greenfield after two years in neighboring Turners Falls.

The festival stages multiple performers in multiple venues throughout the afternoon and evening, all within walking distance of each other and the rest of downtown, whichever downtown it is.

At 2:20 p.m., the festival had been underway for two hours and 20 minutes, and Westfield couple Dave Carlsen and Joanne Quirk were breaking for lunch in the Smithsonian Chowder House, adjoining one of the eight stages.

“I’ve actually already seen four bands, including that guy who just walked by, who I haven’t seen in 25 years and is still going strong,” Carlsen said, indicating blues musician Wildcat O’Halloran. “Also Katelyn Richards who was on after him, who I saw a couple of weeks ago at the Green River Festival. She was fantastic, she’s going to go big.”

Carlsen and Quirk heard of this festival at the Green River Festival and decided to check it out.

“We like the area and we thought this would be a good way to spend the day up here, popping in and out of music venues, looking around the town to get the feel for it,” Carlsen said. “I like the fact that you can, as much as we love the music, you can get away from it. There are galleries, you can go to The People’s Pint, something like that then get back into it so it’s kind of like you can recharge your batteries a little bit.”

Organizer Tommy Byrnes of Sovereignty Music Services in Bernardston began the show in Greenfield in 2011 after plans for his birthday party got a little out of hand. Turners Falls businesses and institutions hosted the shows in 2012 and 2013, and Byrnes said a scheduling conflict brought the festival back to Greenfield. “I wish things had worked out in Turners, but being here is really awesome,” he said.

Looking forward, the festival isn’t anchored. “Our hopes are that within the next couple of years, we’ll be in more than one town,” Byrnes said. “Multiple days in multiple towns.”

The festival raises funds for the American Cancer Society, running on a shoestring budget with no one getting paid. Byrnes didn’t have a figure off the top of his head, but said they donated “thousands and thousands of dollars” over the first three years. Byrnes also describes the festival as an opportunity for musicians to network and strengthen the music scene in the upper Pioneer Valley.

Waiting to play in the Replay Annex venue, behind the Pushkin building, Brattleboro singer-songwriter and guitarist Larry Allen Brown said he’s performed in the festival for three years because he moved to the area three years ago and needed the exposure. It seemed to be working Sunday.

“I picked up a gig here for October,” he said. “I haven’t even played yet.”

Garrett Sawyer, bassist for valley band the Gaslight Tinkers, was performing for his fourth year Saturday before the bands leaves for a tour as far afield as North Carolina. “It’s a great way to connect with the local community and walking around I always see friends from other bands I haven’t met up with in a while, so much of the Pioneer Valley music scene is here today,” Sawyer said. “Also, Tommy’s awesome, the organiser. I support whatever he does.”

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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