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Sounds Local

‘We want to have a party!’

After being snowed out, Samirah Evans fundraiser set for Saturday

They say that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but Samirah Evans would probably disagree with that.

In 2005 Evans, then living in New Orleans, experienced the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. Having lost their home to the storm, she and her husband, Chris Lenois, relocated to his hometown of Brattleboro, Vt. Since then, Evans has emerged as a strong presence on the local music scene, performing regularly at venues like the Vermont Jazz Center and the Arts Block in Greenfield.

Then, on Feb. 2, tragedy struck again when a chimney fire broke out in Evans’ Brattleboro home. The good news is that Evans and her husband (and cats Bebop and Bella) escaped without harm. They are, however, currently without a home as they wait for the damaged house to undergo extensive repairs.

Evans and her band the Handsome Devils had scheduled a Mardi Gras show at the Arts Block on Feb. 9, but it was postponed due to winter storm Nemo. The rescheduled Mardi Gras party will be held on Saturday, March 2, and it will also be a benefit to help Evans and Lenois get back on their feet.

Samirah Evans and her Handsome Devils will be joined by special guests vocalists Becca Byram and Evelyn Harris and guitarist John Sheldon at the Arts Block, 289 Main St., Greenfield at 8 p.m.

“In 2005, my husband, Chris, and I got married in New Orleans by the lake that six months later would become our indoor swimming pool,” Evans said. “Now, two days before our eighth anniversary, we’re living out of suitcases again. And then we get snowed out! This time, our Mardi Gras celebration will come off without a hitch!”

“It’s been a real journey for me and my husband,” said Evans. “And I am so grateful for the support that we have received from the community. As soon as Ed (Arts Block owner Ed Wierzbowski) found out about the fire, he decided that the Mardi Gras show would be a benefit for us.”

Evans, who sings in a big, smoldering voice, performs music that ranges for gritty blues to smooth jazz. For this show, Evans and her Handsome Devils will be focusing on the swampy, soulful sounds of New Orleans. In addition to her own material, Evans plans to perform covers by the likes of Professor Long Hair, The Meters, The Neville Brothers, Marcia Ball and Irma Thomas.

While living in New Orleans, Evans was one of the city’s most popular vocalists, performing regularly at venues like Snug Harbor and the House of Blues. She also played the esteemed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for 14 consecutive years and has toured Europe, Asia and North and South America as a headliner. She has also shared stages with B.B. King, James Brown and Irma Thomas. Since relocating to New England, Evans has performed throughout the Northeast. Evans recently established “The Ladies in Jazz” series at the Arts Block. The next show in that series will feature Evans and Harris and will be held on
March 30.

The show this Saturday will be a full-out Mardi Gras celebration (even if it is a few weeks late), which means that costumes are encouraged. And, of course, you can’t celebrate New Orleans style without food, and some Southern-styled cuisine will be on hand courtesy of the Smithsonian Caterers of Hatfield. There will also be some famous New Orleans King Cake courtesy of River Valley Market of Northampton.

“I’ll go on around 8 p.m. and perform for a certain amount of time and then we’ll break and maybe have a costume contest and then we bring the guests up to do their thing with the band,” Evans said.

Don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes because the Arts Block has a huge dance floor.

“We want to have a party!” Evans said. “For me to be able to do this show and to play the music of New Orleans is a real healing force for me. I want to be able to present Mardi Gras to other people because it’s something they haven’t experienced. We want people to have a chance to be part of this New Orleans tradition and if they want to come in costume, to be W for a night, that’s all the better.”

Advance tickets are $12 and available at www.theartsblock.com, $15 at the door. All tickets for the postponed Feb. 9 show will be honored.

Other rescheduled shows

There were many shows postponed because of Nemo. Here is a rundown on the make-up dates. Tickets for the original dates are being honored at all of these shows.

■ The Mocha Maya-thon benefit show to help out Mocha Maya’s, 4 Bridge St., Shelburne Falls, was originally scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9. The new date is Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m. Performing will be the Lonesome Brothers, Brook Batteau and Robin Lane. Admission is free, but do bring some cash to spend.

■ New age musician Dan Kennedy’s CD release show for his new disc “Intuition” was originally scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, at the Arts Block in Greenfield. The new date is Friday, March 1, at 8 p.m. Guitarist Manfred Melcher will open. Advance tickets are $7 at www.theartsblock.com; $10 at the door.

■ Singer-songwriter Don White was originally scheduled to perform on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Temple Israel, 27 Pierce St., Greenfield. The new date is Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.

■ Genre-blurring rockers Donna the Buffalo was originally scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, at the Pearl Street Nightclub, 10 Pearl St., Northampton. The new date is Friday, March 8, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door.

■ Local rockers Who ‘Da Funk It and folk musician Wishbone Zoe, originally scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, at the Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton, will now perform Friday, March 29, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

■ Rapper G-Eazy was originally scheduled to perform on Friday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. at the Pearl Street Clubroom in Northampton. The new date is Friday, April 12, at 8:30 p.m. Ticket are $12.50 in advance, $15 at the door.

■ Northampton-based rock band Orange TV, originally scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9, at 10 p.m., at the Iron Horse Music Hall, has been rescheduled to Thursday, April 4, at 10 p.m. at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton. $10 in advance, $13 at the door.

Tickets for the Iron Horse and Pearl Street shows are available at the Northampton Box Office, online at www.iheg.com or charge by phone at 413-586-8686.

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 soundslocal@yahoo.com

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