Sounds Local: Holiday Sampler
Happy Thanksgiving! Today is more than just a day of feasting with family and friends, it also marks the official beginning of the holiday season and the month ahead will be a busy one full of shopping and parties and, of course, lots of music.
December is packed with holiday-themed shows and with so many to choose from, I have provided you with the lowdown on six events deserving of space on your calendar.
Boxcar Lilies Dec. 1
Franklin County’s own Boxcar Lilies will take the stage at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on Sunday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. This will be the third year that the trio of Stephanie Marshall, Katie Clarke and Jenny Goodspeed brings its bluegrass Americana sound to the stage of the Northampton club. This isn’t a holiday show per se, but it is the perfect way to wrap up the long Thanksgiving weekend and ease yourself into the Christmas season.
The past year has been a good one for the Lilies as its members have received great acclaim for their disc “Sugar Shack.” This show is a full-band show as the Lilies will be joined by Jim Henry on dobro and guitar, Paul Kochanski on bass and Rick Mauran on drums. This show is extra special because Jennie MacAvoy of Greenfield will open with a set of her Celtic and Americana tunes.
“Since we released ‘Sugar Shack,’ we’ve been having a really wonderful summer and fall,” said Marshall. “We’ve been playing shows up and down the East Coast, from Vermont down to Maryland, including playing the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival as one of their Emerging Artists for 2013.”
“The new disc, ‘Sugar Shack,’ debuted on the Folk DJ charts at No. 2 and it’s been on the Roots Music Report Folk charts since May,” Marshall said. “We really look forward to playing a local show after all of our traveling this fall. We especially are looking forward to playing with our amazing full band, something we don’t get to do usually when we are out of town.”
Don’t be dissuaded because this is on a Sunday night; this is an early show. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and you can purchase dinner at that time. Tickets are general admission, so it is recommended that you get there early for a good seat. Advance tickets are $12.50 and can be purchased at the Northampton Box Office on Main Street in Northampton or online at www.iheg.com or charge by phone at 413-586-8686. Tickets at the door are $15.
Moya Brennan Dec. 5
If the idea of a Celtic Christmas appeals to you, then head to the Iron Horse Music Hall on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. for a show with Moya Brennan, vocalist of the Grammy-winning Celtic music group Clannad. Chances are you have heard Brennan’s music before as it has been used everywhere from “The Titanic” sound track to a Volkswagen commercial. Brennan is also the sister of New Age music star Enya.
For this show, she will be performing material off her CD “An Irish Christmas.” This disc was originally released in 2005 and was reissued this year with five additional songs. Backed by a full band, Brennan will offer up a selection of traditional Irish and European Christmas songs and will also include some Clannad material. As an added bonus, the Franklin County-based band Fireseed will open. Fireseed is the duo of Crystalline Ruby Muse on fiddle, vocals, Irish whistles and percussion, and Daniel Pac on piano, double bass, vocals and percussion. The couple performs Celtic, Appalachian and original music. Advance tickets are $25 or $30 at the door.
Natalie MacMaster Dec. 6
Fans of Celtic music won’t want to miss fiddle great Natalie MacMaster, who will take listeners on a holiday celebration through Cape Breton as she brings her “Christmas Time in Cape Breton” to the Latchis Theater, 40 Main St. in Brattleboro, Vt., on Friday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. MacMaster, whom the Boston Herald called “the most dynamic performer in Celtic music today,” will perform Christmas carols, traditional and contemporary Celtic melodies and include some of her own signatures tunes. Expect a lively show with amazing fiddling and step-dancing. Tickets are $27 to $59, $20 for students. Tickets are available by calling 888-757-5559 or onlilne at www.kingdomcounty.org.
‘Welcome Yule’ Dec. 13-15
The annual “Welcome Yule: A Midwinter Celebration” shows held at the Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A in Turners Falls, have become a holiday tradition here in Franklin County. “Welcome Yule” is about the custom of celebrating the return of light at the heart of winter’s darkness and has roots in various cultures. This year’s show will celebrate the Swedish tradition of Santa Lucia Day. This is a family friendly event full of music, dance, songs and stories. Welcome Yule! will be held Dec. 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and children. Children 4 and under are free.
Families of five pay just $40. Reserve tickets at 413-323-4239 or purchase in advance at Jones Library in Amherst, Broadside Books in Northampton, the World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield, or www.brattleborotix.com. For information, call 413-323-4239 or visit www.WelcomeYule.org.
Tim Eriksen Dec. 15
Tim Eriksen and the Trio de Pumpkintown will perform two holiday shows at the Montague Book Mill in Montague on Saturday, Dec. 15. The first of these shows will be held at 7 p.m. and will be a family friendly show with children under 12 admitted free. The second show will begin at 9 p.m. The Trio de Pumpkin is led by Eriksen, an accomplished teacher and performer in the field of traditional American music. Rounding out the trio is percussionist Peter Irvine, who is Eriksen’s band mate from Cordelia’s Dad, and Zoe Darrow of Zoe Darrow and the Fiddleheads on fiddle. Trio de Pumpkin performs multicultural folk songs from the fictional New England village of Pumpkintown. This holiday show will feature the trio’s interpretations of holiday standards as well as some more obscure fare culled from shape-note music and other early American sources. Advance tickets are $12 and available at the Montague Bookmill and $15 at the door. This is for both shows. Children 12 and under are free at the 7 p.m. show.
Sweetback Sisters Dec. 20
Back in 2009, the Sweetback Sisters, the honky-tonk band led by Emily Miller and Zara Bode, started its tradition of hosting country Christmas sing-alongs that featured the band’s versions of traditional Christmas songs alongside lesser-known country holiday tunes. Audience participation is a big part of these shows and what started out as one show soon evolved into a tour every December (a companion CD was released last year.) The Sweetbacks have always made a local stop and this year’s show will be bigger than ever as the band will perform at the Academy of Music, 274 Main St., Northampton, on Friday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. This is a family friendly show and lyric sheets will be provided.
Tickets are $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, $6 children and $25 for a family. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Academy of music box office or online at www.academyofmusictheatre.com. Family tickets are only available at the box office.
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