Sounds Local: Music at Greenfield’s Winter Carnival

  • HUNTER

For the Recorder
Published: 1/31/2020 8:46:46 PM

Greenfield’s Winter Carnival kicks off tomorrow and the Greenfield Recreation Department has assembled a weekend packed full of all types of activities ranging from breakfast with Olaf the cartoon character to cardboard-sled racing. Live music is also a part of  the festivities this weekend and Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center on Main Street in Greenfield is going all out on Saturday with two musical events that embody the spirit of fun that is Winter Carnival.

Let’s start by talking about “The Winter Snowball,” a dance party happening on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. featuring barbecue rockers Trailer Park and funky soul band, Soul Magnets.

“This is the band I’ve always dreamed of. This is the music that’s always in my head,” wrote guitarist  Luke Jaeger in an email exchange describing the inspiration for Soul Magnets, a talented group of local musicians who know how to shake up a dance floor. “It represents America at its best and we need to remind ourselves of that, especially right now.”

Soul Magnets, which formed around 2016, is a nine-piece outfit from Northampton that plays a mix of originals, ‘deep’ covers and dance floor favorites from classic artists like Prince and Earth Wind & Fire to contemporary acts like Beyonce and Janelle Monae. In addition to Jaeger, the group features Kaliis Smith singing lead vocals (she’s also the band’s primary songwriter), Sarah Von Harvey on vocals, Chris Fournier on bass, J.J. O’Connell on drums, Dave Trenholm on saxophone, Fred Hooven on trumpet, Jeremy Starpol on trombone and Bill McManus playing percussion.

“Kaliis, Dave, J.J. O’Connell and I were all in AstroBeast together (‘the AfroBeat orchestra that’s too big to fail’) and after that, I recruited them for this funk project,” said Jaeger, describing how the band got started “And then, somehow, it developed that there are nine of us and it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on. They are all absolute ace musicians who are passionate about getting this music right. It’s demanding stuff to play.” 

Soul Magnet has played throughout the area at New City Brewery in Easthampton, Luthier’s Co-op in Easthampton and The Stone Church in Brattleboro and the group has also appeared at various festivals including the annual Transperformance concert in Northampton.

The band has played at Hawks and Reed in the past, but this will mark the first time the group has shared a bill with Trailer Park. “I  think I was at Trailer Park's very first gig in the 1990s — but this will be our first time sharing the stage with them,” said Jaeger. 

Trailer Park, which is known for its double-sax New Orleans-influenced sound, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The quintet, which is based in Northampton, has released six albums and in the group’s lengthy time together, has played over 1,500 shows, including the opening act for Los Lobos, NRBQ, Rat Dog, WAR and Little Feat. 

Trailer Park is the perfect band for a celebration like Winter Carnival and pairing the group with Soul Magnets is a recipe for a dance explosion.

“We’ve done the winter ball for the past three years and the reason we do it and call it that is because of the Winter Carnival,” said Benjamin Goldsher, the manager of Hawks and Reed. “This is going to be a fun show and I’m excited for it.” 

I asked Jaeger how he would explain a Soul Magnets’ show to someone not familiar with the band and his answer especially applies to this show. 

“This is a chance to dance your way out of your constrictions,” he said.

Advance tickets are $15, available at hawksandreed.com. Tickets cost $20 on the day of the show. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Afternoon Jam-Boree for families 

The other Winter Carnival event that Hawks and Reed is hosting is the family oriented Jam-Boree, which will be held on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. The Jam-Boree is presented by Under the Tree Music Company, which is led by professional musician and educator Marcy Gregoire. (Under the Tree Music Company, also leads the successful Music in the Morning series held at Hawks and Reed every Tuesday morning.)

 The Jam-Boree is an  afternoon of interactive song and dance and is geared toward kids ages 1 through 8 years old and their families. There will be a full band playing and everyone is invited to join in. If you have a musical instrument that you want to bring in order to jam along, feel free to do so, or you can borrow one at the venue. The most important thing is that you come prepared to sing, dance and enjoy a great afternoon of music.

  The Jam-Boree was a huge success when it debuted at Hawks and Reed as part of last year’s Winter Carnival and this year promises to be even more fun. 

Admission is $20 per family; doors open at 2:30 p.m. 

Local Access to Valley Arts (LAVA)  Opens this Weekend 

The Local Access to Valley Arts (LAVA) Center, a new arts and incubation center in Greenfield is opening this weekend, and while not a part of Winter Carnival, the venue has a full  schedule of events that will coincide with those of the carnival. The LAVA Center, which has a goal of providing space in the downtown area that will create opportunities primarily in the performing and literary arts, is at 324 Main St. between TD Bank and the Pushkin Gallery. The LAVA Center will host a wide variety of arts events, classes and workshops. 

 According to Vanessa Query, one of the center’s co-coordinators, live music will be a part of the LAVA Center, but it will not be a traditional venue where bands are brought in.

Music is on the schedule for their grand opening weekend. The Farley String Band will be on hand for the venue’s open house, which is at Friday at 4:30 p.m. Then, on Saturday at   2 p.m., there will be a performance of Artspace’s Strings for Kids programs and on Sunday at 5 p.m., the space will host a live Irish session. For more information, visit the LAVA Center’s Facebook page. 

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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