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Hot time had by all

Music propels Green River Festival

  • Recorder file photo/Beth Reynolds<br/>The Green River Festival returns for two days of live music on Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13. Pictured, dancers from a previous festival.

    Recorder file photo/Beth Reynolds
    The Green River Festival returns for two days of live music on Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13. Pictured, dancers from a previous festival.

  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>The musicians in Bright Lines come from all across Franklin County, and the band expanded its reach at the annual Green River Festival Saturday.

    Recorder/David Rainville
    The musicians in Bright Lines come from all across Franklin County, and the band expanded its reach at the annual Green River Festival Saturday.

  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>The musicians in Bright Lines come from all across Franklin County, and the band expanded its reach at the annual Green River Festival Saturday.

    Recorder/David Rainville
    The musicians in Bright Lines come from all across Franklin County, and the band expanded its reach at the annual Green River Festival Saturday.

  • Recorder file photo/Beth Reynolds<br/>The Green River Festival returns for two days of live music on Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13. Pictured, dancers from a previous festival.
  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>The musicians in Bright Lines come from all across Franklin County, and the band expanded its reach at the annual Green River Festival Saturday.
  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>The musicians in Bright Lines come from all across Franklin County, and the band expanded its reach at the annual Green River Festival Saturday.

GREENFIELD — Though the weather was hot for the Green River Festival, a little exposure wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“This was definitely the biggest crowd we’ve performed for,” said Scott Hoffman, guitarist for Bright Lines. “Especially for three in the afternoon.”

The music and hot-air-balloon festival, now in its 26th year, draws a crowd from 8,000 to 10,000 strong every summer. They come from New England and beyond and Saturday, many of them packed together under the tent to move and groove to an energetic set from Bright Lines.

“We draw on a lot of early American music,” said banjo player and lead singer Abe Loomis. “The blues, early country, and gypsy jazz as well.”

He calls the resulting sound a mix of alternative rockabilly and alternative country. Though their inspiration comes from notable musicians like Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash, their music is all their own.

“All but a couple of the songs we played today were originals,” said Loomis.

For their inspiration, they look to their experiences in Franklin County.

Band members represent all corners of the county. Loomis grew up in Conway, where guitar player Dave Chalfant now lives. Bassist Gray Maynard comes from Warwick and now lives in Greenfield. Tom Leslie, on drums and vocals, hails from Shutesbury, and Hoffman hangs his hat in Shelburne Falls.

Playing the Green River Festival was a bit of a surprise to them all.

“They reached out to us. We got an email inviting us to play, and, of course, we were thrilled,” said Loomis. It’s a great opportunity for a band that’s just a little more than a year old.

Though their set was scheduled for the hottest part of the above-90 day, and the stage lights didn’t help with the heat, the band stayed cool.

“I honestly didn’t notice the heat while we were up there,” Loomis said. “I felt hot before we went on, though.”

The heat caught back up to him once he stepped off the stage and back out into the sun, and he downed a bottle of water in short order.

Though the headliners at the main stage were the draw for many, some folks come to hear the other locals.

“I think some of the best bands are right here under this tent,” said Blue Sky of Colrain. The long-time attendee of the Green River Festival said it’s not the lineup that brings him back year after year, but the vibe of it all.

“It’s all about coming here and meeting new people,” he said.

That’s part of the reason Amanda Abramson has volunteered for five-plus years.

“I started volunteering because I wanted to get more involved in the community, meet people, and hear some great music,” she said Saturday.

She’s following in her father’s footsteps, and is the newest real estate agent with Cohn and Co., and the festival is a great place to network.

Her parents, Mark and Wendy Abramson, have volunteered for more than 20 years.

After working their hour shifts, volunteers get to ditch their red “staff” shirts, and lose themselves in the crowd. Veteran volunteers like the Abramsons get to pick their shifts.

“Everyone wants to work the first shift,” said volunteer manager Shirley Holmes of Erving.

That first shift is about 10 people each day, and Holmes manages 80 volunteers over the weekend. Even though the early shift is an hour longer than the standard three-hour tour of duty, come 2:30 p.m., their work is done, and the rest of the day is all about having fun.

There was plenty of fun to be had, whether at the main stage, the local heroes tent or the “over yonder” stage, playing catch and watching hot air balloons, or just sitting on the hillside at Greenfield Community College, which hosts the festival.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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