Sounds Local: Hats off to Signature Sounds!
Trombone Shorty performs Saturday night, July 12, under a full moon with the hot air balloons on the lower field at Green River Festival. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »
Green River Festival 2014 is over and what a festival it was. The festivities got off to a strong start when it was announced last Wednesday that for the first time in its 28 years, the entire weekend had sold out in advance. This was a giant feather in the cap for Signature Sounds Recordings of Northampton, which took over the running of the festival from the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce this year. It also left many people scrambling to find tickets on Facebook and Craigslist.
The changes that Signature Sounds implemented (the selling of beer, no rolling coolers, etc.) seemed to go off without a hitch and changes like the elimination of the dance tent in favor of a second open stage were definitely moves for the better.
In terms of music, this was one of the strongest lineups in years and was no doubt a big factor in the sellout. The biggest problem was that it was impossible to take it all in.
Included in the many highlights were dancing on the lawn to the brass heavy sounds of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which brought a heavy dose of New Orleans to the festival. Hearing Puss N Boots, the country trio of Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper, play material off its just released album, “No Fools, No Fun,” including a memorable version of Neil Young’s “Down By the River.” The delightful indie pop music of Lucius featured singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, who won the festival fashion award for their matching orange mini dresses. The duo and their tight band also score points for injecting a snippet of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” into their own retro sounding, “Turn It Around.” Over at the Poet’s Seat tent, the Gaslight Tinkers incited a dancing frenzy, all while having huge grins on their faces. It was also a thrill to see Phil and Dave Alvin on stage together after 35 years apart. The brothers not only sounded great, but seemed genuinely happy to be playing together again. Their version of the Blasters’ “Marie Marie” practically blew the roof off the Main Stage. Also memorable was singing along to Barnstar’s bluegrass version of The Faces classic “Stay With Me.” Hearing the highly original Lady Lamb the Beekeeper for the first time was also notable. And finally, wrapping it all up, came standing in the rain while watching Josh Ritter, with his ever present smile on his face, tear through his catalog of great songs. It was a fitting end to a wonderful weekend.
Music coming up
The local acts that were on hand at the Green River Festival all delivered strong sets and won over a host of new fans in the process. If you missed out or if you simply want to see some of these area performers again you’ll have the chance to do so.
∎ The Snaz and The Gaslight Tinkers are among the many bands that will perform at the Upper Valley Music Festival next Saturday, July 25, in downtown Greenfield. Tickets are $15 and available at www.uppervalleyfest.com.
∎ The Snaz and Belle Amie will be at the Greenfield Energy Park on Sunday, July 26, at 6.
∎ The Heath Fair, Aug. 15 to 17, will welcome both Bright Lines and the Gaslight Tinkers to its always impressive musical lineup. There will also have performances by Parsonfield (formerly Poor Old Shine) who were at Green River Festival this year, as well as past River Festival performers the Boxcar Lilies. For more information, visit www.HeathFair.org.
∎ Abe Loomis, the leader of Bright Lines, will appear at the People’s Pint, 24 Federal St., Greenfield, on Sunday, July 20, at 2 p.m. He has a new album out called “The Early Treasuries.” This is a free show.
∎ Heather Maloney and Darlingside will appear at the West Whately Chapel on Conway Road in Whately on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 7:30 p.m. This is part of the Watermelon Wednesday series. Tickets are $18 and available at www.watermelonwednesday.com
Trailer Park to celebrate 20th anniversary July 25
The year 1994 wasn’t the greatest for music: it was the year Kurt Cobain died, the year that a band called Ace of Base (who?) had the number one selling song and the year that Justin Bieber was born. But it was also the year that local band Trailer Park formed, which that alone is enough to offset the arrival of Bieber.
Trailer Park, which features Tom Mahnken on vocals and bass, James Robinson on guitar and vocals, Rick Page and Greg Lauzon on saxophones and Joe “Jopey” Fitzpatrick on drums, formed after Mahnken and Lauzon spent some time in New Orleans. They realized that most joyous occasions were built around saxophones and dancing
So, finding inspiration from bands like the Iguanas (Which was at the Green River Festival on Sunday), they formed Trailer Park and quickly became the local go-to band for a good time.
One of the longest working bands in the Pioneer Valley, Trailer Park has have played over a 1,000 shows in all types of venues.
In recent years, the group has become favorites at the Arts Block in Greenfield. So, when the band realized that this year marked its 20th anniversary, it decided to formally celebrate the occasion with a show at the Arts Block, 289 Main St., next Friday, July 25, at 8:30 p.m.
“The Arts Block is a fun place for us to play with a nice dance floor and all, so we figured that was a good place for a party,” said Mahnken. “We think for the rest of the year, we’ll keep saying, ‘we’re almost 21!”
And while the band isn’t doing anything particularly special to mark the occasion, Mahnken did note that Trailer Park has recently been digging into its back catalog and playing some songs that haven’t been played in awhile. This is mostly going to be a celebration that revolves around lots of dancing! The Arts Block will clear out the tables and chairs to make sure there is plenty of room to move, so put on your dancing shoes and come wish Trailer Park a happy anniversary!
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