Sounds Local

Sounds Local: Trailer Park brings the party to Mohawk

Trailer Park

Trailer Park

For the past 20 years, Trailer Park has been the Pioneer Valley’s go-to party band, proving time and again that it can entice even the most reluctant among us to get out on the dance floor. The band utilizes two saxophones to fuel its sound, which is part rhythm and blues and part rock ’n’ roll. Think Roomful of Blues meets the Iguanas and that will give you an idea of what Trailer Park is all about. In addition to being a group of talented musicians, Trailer Park is a group of fun-loving guys who know how to entertain and make a good time even better.

When Julian Diamond, a sophomore at Mohawk High School, came across the band’s music via its website, he enjoyed it so much that he knew they would be the perfect for his independent study project: a benefit concert for the Mohawk Music Association. The fact that Trailer Park bassist and vocalist Tom Mahnken is a graduate of Mohawk made it all the more perfect.

Trailer Park will perform at Mohawk High School at 26 Ashfield Road in Buckland, on Friday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. The association it benefits provides scholarships to graduating music students, purchases instruments for school bands and supports the school’s musical and other artistic productions. Opening the show will be Mohawk’s new rock band led by music director Scott Halligan.

Mahnken, who grew up Ashfield, graduated from the Mohawk in 1986 and said that the school’s music program had a big influence on his musical development.

“I was very involved in the music program, playing in the jazz band and concert band and in the several school musicals,” Mahnken said. “I loved all my music time at Mohawk. It gave me a lot of opportunities in different types of music. A lot of exploring! I welcome the opportunity to give a little back.”

In addition to Mahnken, Trailer Park features James Robinson on guitar and vocals, Rick Page and Greg Lauzon on saxophones and Joe Fitzpatrick on drums. The group formed in 1993 after Lauzon and Mahnken had spent some time living in New Orleans. While down in the Big Easy, they spent time soaking up the sounds and were especially influenced by bands like the Radiators and Iguanas. Once back in Massachusetts, they knew they wanted to form a good-time party band that would have a heavy saxophone sound.

Trailer Park soon became a popular fixture on the local music scene and has opened shows for RatDog, NRBQ, Los Lobos and even served as Bo Diddley’s backing band when the R&B legend played the Iron Horse in Northampton.

The group took a break in 2006 and then re-formed five years later. During their time off, the group members explored other musical projects, with some of them working with the Eric Olsson Band. Since getting back together as Trailer Park, they have been frequent performers at the Arts Block and have found the audience here in Greenfield particularly receptive to the music they call “barbecue rock.”

“It was really good the last time we played there,” Mahnken said of last December’s show. “The place was absolutely packed and we’re playing there again on Valentines’ Day, which is a benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County.”

This year, Trailer Park will celebrate its 20 anniversary as a band, but it has yet to decide how it will mark this special occasion.

“We will likely do something big, but not sure where or when,” Mahnken said. “We’d like to have a CD done for whatever party we have. We’ve finally kicked into gear on that project and we’ve got six songs on their way to completion. We will be trying to wrap it all up by spring. Luckily, spring comes late around here!”

Tickets for the Mohawk benefit will be sold at the door. The suggested contribution is $10 for adults, $5 for children and free for Mohawk students.

Lou Reed tribute Thursday

If you are looking for something to do tonight, head to the Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton, at 7 p.m. and check out Ride Into the Sun: A tribute to Lou Reed. Every winter, a group of local musicians come together at the Iron Horse and pay tribute to a legendary artist. Given that Reed passed away this October, it’s fitting that this year they chose to celebrate his work. From his early days with the Velvet Underground to his lengthy solo career, Reed was a highly influential songwriter, singer and guitarist whose work had a wide-ranging influence. Casual fans may only know him for “Walk on the Wild Side,” his only top 40 hit, but as an artist who was always pushing the envelope, Reed’s impressive and varied repertoire reached far beyond that one song.

The artists participating in tonight’s show are Mark Mulcahy, Winterpills, Rusty Belle, Fancy Trash, The Lonesome Brothers, Daniel hales and the frost heaves, Lo Fine, Goldwater the Second, Rocky Roberts and Friends, The Fawns, School for the Dead and more. The participating musicians will perform material from the Velvet Underground as well as Reed’s solo material.

While it’s easy to imagine a band like Daniel hales and the frost heaves covering a Velvet Underground song (they did so as part of the annual Arts Eclective in September), for bands like The Lonesome Brothers it’s more of a stretch. I checked in with Ray Mason and he said that The Lonesome Brothers will be covering both sides of a single that Reed released in 1962 under Lewis Reed. The songs are “Your Love” and “Merry Go Round,” and Mason added that the Lonesomes will also cover “Busload of Faith” from Reed’s 1990 album “New York.” And that’s just a glimpse of what the evening promises. If you want to find out what songs everyone else will be playing, you’ll have to head to the Iron Horse. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and tickets will be sold at the door at $15. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Cancer Connection in Florence.

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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