Sounds Local

Rock them pumpkins Saturday

Plus, Beehive Queen Christine Ohlman returns for IMA benefit show

It’s that spooky time of year and one of the area’s biggest Halloween-related events will take place Saturday, Oct. 19, when the fourth annual Franklin County Pumpkinfest takes over downtown Turners Falls. In addition to celebrating pumpkins and all things autumn, the event is a great one for music fans as there will be an assortment of live music on tap, everything from cover bands to folk to hard rock.

The Pumpkinfest, which is held on Avenue A, begins at 2 p.m. and wraps up around 9 p.m. Music will be presented throughout the festival, with 14 acts performing on three stages: the Main stage at Peskeomskut Park, The Avenue A stage at Fourth Street’s Skinner Park and the River Stage located on Third Street near Unity Park.

All of the music is provided by local musicians, many of them from the Turners Falls/Montague area. Performers will include singer-songwriter Sandy Bailey, rockers Curly Fingers Dupree, psychedelic band Strange Men and an assortment of popular cover bands, including Ruby’s Complaint, Lake Side Dive and Willy and the Poor Boys, which performs the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Montague-based Radio Vendetta will have the honor of closing out the festival when it takes the main stage at 7:40 p.m. Radio Vendetta is a relatively new band that formed in 2012 from the ashes of Jen Tobey’s Alter-Ego.

“Mike (DeMento) and I still wanted to play in a band, but we wanted a different name. From there, we added Eric Colbeck on bass and Bruce Black on drums,” explained Jen Tobey, the band’s leader and a Greenfield native. “We combine older Alter-Ego songs, new songs and covers. We have been working on more covers lately. Seems like no one wants to listen to original music anymore — so we’ve added a bunch of cover tunes to our set: ‘I Love Rock ’n’ Roll’ by Joan Jett; ‘Jessie’s Girl’ by Rick Springfield are the most recent additions.”

The band describes its sound as straight-ahead rock in the tradition of Green Day and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. It is guaranteed to provide a raucous ending for the Pumpkinfest. You can stream or download Radio Vendetta’s music at

The Pumpkinfest is free. There will be free shuttle buses running from Turners Falls High School and Sheffield School.

Christine Ohlman brings Halloween show to Institute of Musical Arts in Goshen

She’s not a local musician, but “Beehive Queen” Christine Ohlman might as well be. Her visits to venues like the 1794 Meeting-house in New Salem, The Arts Block in Greenfield and The Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA) in Goshen have won her loyal fans here in western Massachusetts.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m., Ohlman and her band, Rebel Montez, will rock the night away at the IMA, a nonprofit recording, teaching and performing facility for women and girls founded by Ann Hackler and June Millington (Fanny.) These shows have become annual events and this year it’s being billed as “A Benefit Harvest Dance and Bonfire with a Beehive Costume Twist; Retro Wear Encouraged.”

The show is a benefit for IMA’s long-running summer rock ’n’ roll camp for girls.

Ohlman is the longtime vocalist for NBC’s Saturday Night Live band. She also fronts Rebel Montez and has released six CDs with them. Her lengthy and impressive resume includes recording and/or performing with musicians like Bruce Springsteen, George Harrison, Sting, Al Green and Ronnie Spector, who provided the inspiration for her beehive hairdo.

When they hit the stage in the big barn at IMA, Ohlman and her band promise to serve up a night of love-drenched stories in a style that rock critic Dave Marsh has dubbed “contemporary Rock R ’n’ B.” The Beehive Queen’s concerts are known for their solid musicianship, emotional power and her ability to get people moving on the dance floor.

I recently had a phone conversation with Ohlman, catching her when she was on break at NBC preparing for the evening’s “Saturday Night Live” broadcast. (Bruce Willis was guest hosting that night.)

Ohlman serves on IMA’s advisory board and said that this will be her fifth Halloween show for the school, which she became involved with in 2007 when Millington invited her to teach a summer workshop.

“I am a bit of a musicologist, I have a big, huge record collection ... so I ended up doing a workshop about the role of women in music and how its changed and evolved,” she said. “It really ended up being a soul workshop and it went from the earliest days of Bessie Smith up through Adele and Pink.”

Ohlman continues to teach at the summer camp each year and wishes a program like IMA had been available back when she was young.

“You always had to relate to a band of boys at the time and be the ‘chick singer,’” she said. “Now I’m the lead chick in my band of wonderful, wonderful men, but the juxtaposition of singing and interacting with other female artists is always a joy for me.”

She looks forward to visits to the institute and promises this show will be a rocking one. “We always get June up to play with us and, wow, can she shred.”

“It’s always fun,” she added, “I think IMA is the greatest place and I can’t talk it up enough. IMA is in my heart all throughout the year, but never more than for the autumn concert, when the beehives come home to roost. We don’t push the Halloween aspect all that much but it coming up so get out your costumes, folks!”

Advance tickets are $17 and available at, $20 at the door. IMA is located at 165 Cape St. (Route 112) in Goshen. For more information, 413-268-3074. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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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