Ringing in the new year with local music

  • Richard Chase, of Wendell, is playing at Starry Starry Night in Orange, which is happening this New Year's Eve. Contributed photo

  • Badfish: The Sublime Tribute Band is playing at Hawks & Reed on New Year's Eve. Contributed photo

  • Old Flame will be playing at Last Night Franklin County at Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls. Contributed photo

  • She Said will be playing at Last Night Franklin County at Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls. Contributed photo

Published: 12/25/2019 9:36:38 PM

Now that Christmas is behind us, it is time to start focusing on your New Year’s Eve plans. Ringing in 2020 will be especially exciting this year because Last Night Franklin County is making its inaugural debut at the Shea Theater Arts Center at 71 Avenue A in Turners Falls. 

This is a full-blown New Year’s Eve celebration that will feature eight hours of music — beginning at 5 p.m. and continuing past the arrival of 2020. 

Emma Ayres, program coordinator at the Shea Theater, says she is looking forward to the theater launching this exciting new event, one that she hopes will become an annual tradition in the town. 

“All the music will be taking place at the Shea Theater,” said Ayres, alluding to similar types of New Year’s celebrations that feature multiple venues. “We aren’t trying to be like First Night Northampton. We are trying to make this our own.” 

“It would be great if, eventually, it became a town-wide thing. But because this is our first year, we are trying it out on a smaller scale,” added Ayres. “I’m really excited.” 

Last Night Franklin County will host eight bands playing on the main stage of the Shea Theater and two singer-songwriters performing in the lobby. 

“One thing we made sure of is that all the bands are from Franklin County, as we wanted to showcase the talent we have here,” said Ayres about the artists that will be playing. “We also wanted to make sure that it was a multigenerational lineup.”

The scheduled performers represent a nice cross-section of styles and offer a little something for everyone. 

“It’s an amazing lineup —  we have bands like the Leafies You Gave Me, (which) just had a successful CD release show in Northampton,” said Ayres. “We also have Full Spectrum Dominance — they are like this super-group that features Kara Wolf, who is one of the singers from Eavesdrop, along with organ player Darby Wolf (Rubblebucket) and drummer Ted Sullivan. They play a highly danceable funk, hip-hop and neo-soul. They are amazing and I can’t believe we have them.”

And there’s so much more. Also in the lineup is Ayres’ own band, psychedelic indie rockers Old Flame, which released its debut album “Young and In Debt” this past year. 

The complete lineup is as follows: 

5 p.m.: The Tommy Filiault Band, blues rock.

6 p.m.: She Said, rock.

7 p.m.: Old Flame, indie rock.

8 p.m.: Josh LeVangie and the Pistoleros, outlaw country

9 p.m.: Sister Jawbone, soulful rock.

10 p.m.: AfterGlo, classic rock cover band.

11 p.m.: Full Spectrum Dominance, hip-hop and funk.

 12 a.m.: The Leafies You Gave Me, theatrical avant-garde/pop/experimental/punk/free jazz.

One of the goals of Last Night Franklin County is to keep it affordable and make this a welcoming event for all members of the community. Tickets are $12 and patrons will be able to go in and out throughout the evening. An important aspect of the event that Ayres wanted people to know is that a portion of the ticket proceeds will be donated to Eliza's Watch, a piece of technology that’s currently in development to help in the battle against opioid addiction. For more information see elizaswatch.com.

“Another thing that I want to stress is that there is going to be a dance floor. There will be seats available, but this isn’t really going to be a sit down kind of thing,” Ayres said. “This is going to be a party.”

Advance tickets are $12 and available at sheatheater.org or at the door. Admission for kids is $8 at the door (not online). Beer/wine and non-alcoholic beverages will be sold. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. 

More New Year’s Eve celebrations 

Elsewhere, there are other options to help ring in the New Year. The biggest celebration in Western Massachuetts is First Night Northampton. This noon-to-midnight event features all types of family-friendly fun as hundreds of acts perform in over 20 downtown venues. There will be theater, fireworks, shows for kids of all ages and the biggest lineup of local music that you’ll find all year.

All types of music will be featured at First Night — everything from classical to funk to blues to salsa. The Lonesome Brothers, Kalliope Jones, Moxie, Wildcat O’Halloran, Austin and Elliott, Ray Mason, Opal Canyon, Soul Magnets, Kimaya Diggs, Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem — the list goes on and on. (The lineup would fill this entire page.)  Keep in mind that all events are alcohol-free. 

Another aspect of First Night that I like is that you can purchase a daytime-only button to cover admission to all events up until 6 p.m.  For those of you who don’t like being out on New Year’s Eve night, this is a nice way to enjoy some excellent music and still be settled in at home long before the clock strikes midnight. For the full schedule and to purchase buttons online visit firstnightnorthampton.org. First Night Buttons will get you into all events that are available at a number of spots throughout the Pioneer Valley, including the World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield and all Greenfield Savings Bank offices. Prices range $8 to $20 and kids 2 to 10 years old are free.

Starry Starry Night in Orange is like a smaller scaled version of First Night Northampton.

This celebration, presented by the Orange Revitalization Partnership, runs from 6 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. and takes place at multiple venues in downtown Orange. In addition to being family-friendly, what makes this event so great is that it’s entirely volunteer-run and free. Between taking in a parade of stars, fireworks and ice sculptures, you’ll find plenty of music. For instance, you can dance away to the reggae music of the Equalities, soak up the sweet acoustic sounds of Sweet Euphoria, enjoy the music of singer-songwriter Richard Chase and delight in storyteller and folksinger Tim Van Egmond. Each 45-minute performance occurs twice from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free? For more information visit starrystarrynight.org

For a lot of people, New Year’s Eve is all about dancing and partying through the midnight hour. If that’s how you want to ring in the new year, I suggest that you head to Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield. The night begins with popular local cover band Jimmy Just Quit and then Badfish: the Sublime Tribute band will keep the party going. Doors open at 8 p.m. and music begins at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are $30 and available at the hawksandreed.com. Tickets are $35 on the day of the show. 

The Os’ Music Bar in Sunderland will have DJ Shorty in the house beginning at 9 p.m. This is a 21-and-over show with no cover charge. The Rendezvous in Turner Falls will host the Time Travelers Ball beginning at 8 p.m. and going until 2 a.m. Be prepared to dance the Caveman Stomp through the Jetson’s Strut. There will be a kids countdown at 8 p.m., costume contests for kids and adults and more. This event is free. 

Patrick Battleship and John McGuigan will be playing time-traveling hits as DJ Superman II.

Not all New Year’s Eve parties are on Dec. 31. If you need a respite from the holidays before welcoming in 2020, 10 Forward in Greenfield has just what you are looking for. The Fiske Avenue venue will be hosting their new year’s eve simulation party on Friday, Jan 3, at  9 p.m. It will be just like any other New Year’s party complete with a champagne toast and a countdown to midnight. DJs Lucie Rosenfeld and Mary Jester Spinning will be on hand to keep the dance floor moving. Elegant dress is encouraged.

Boxcar Lilies rescheduled

Another option for those who prefer to avoid the hoopla of New Year’s Eve by celebrating beforehand, take note. In early December, I told you about the Boxcar Lilies’ 10th​​​​​​-anniversary show that was going to be held at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton. Unfortunately, that show was canceled due to illness. The rescheduled date is this Saturday, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m. All tickets for the original show will be honored. If you need tickets, you can purchase them at iheg.com, via phone at 413-586-8686 or at the Northampton Box Office at 76 Main St. 

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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