Live music lineup for the fall

  • Dinosaur jr. Contributed photo

For the Recorder
Published: 9/10/2020 9:30:44 AM
Modified: 9/10/2020 9:30:33 AM

Live music has been missing from our lives since early March, but in recent months we’ve begun to see some outdoor, socially distant concerts emerge as a way for live music to continue even during a pandemic.

One of the most successful of these outdoor concert series is the Drive-In Live series held at the Cheshire Fairgrounds in Swansey, N.H., which is about an hour's drive from Greenfield. The series kicked off in July and has presented shows by acts like Guster and Aaron Lewis. These shows feature live bands not virtual performances on a screen like those that Northfield drive-in has offered. The bands perform on a large stage that is flanked by video screens for enhanced viewing. They use festival sound and lights and concertgoers can listen via their car radios if they so choose. 

Cars are parked 10 feet apart and are staggered for enhanced viewing; concertgoers can sit outside their car but are not to wander beyond their designated space.

The setup is very similar to the one employed by the short-lived Roll On In concert series that was held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds. Unfortunately, that series came to an abrupt end when Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker scaled back capacity guidelines for outdoor events. Roll On In just announced that they will return the weekend of Sept. 17, but not to Greenfield. The series is moving to Lee. Shows with Steal Your Peach Band and Rice: An American Band will kick the series off and it will continue through October.

This weekend, local heroes Dinosaur Jr. will take the stage at Drive-In Lve for a show on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m. On Friday, Sept. 11, they will play a sold-out show in Morris, Conn.

The alt-rock band features J Mascis on guitar, Lou Barlow on bass and Murph on drums.  

The group, which formed in 1984 in Amherst, is probably the most successful band to ever come out of Western Mass. The trio is known for its loud, guitar-heavy sound, which paved the way for the grunge explosion of the early nineties. The original lineup split up in 1989 but reunited in 2005 and have been steadily playing together ever since. Their most recent album is 2016’s “Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not.” Both Mascis and Barlow have various musical projects outside of the Dinosaur jr.

Like most bands, Dinosaur jr. had many cancellations to contend with this summer, including the postponement of major festivals like Boston Calling and Primavera Sound, where they were scheduled to perform. The trio also had to cancel Camp Fuzz, a rock camp the band hosts in New York state where they present workshops and performances.

I checked in with bassist Lou Barlow, who resides in Greenfield, and he confirmed that the shows this weekend are the first shows that Dinosaur jr. have played since the pandemic hit. During this time of no live music, he has stayed busy live streaming shows from his home, shows that included playing material from his band Sebadoh. He also celebrated the 15th anniversary of his first solo album, “Emoh” with a vinyl reissue and accompanying live stream performance. 

This show will be an unusual one for the band as they usually play for crowds who like to get as close to the stage as possible, whereas this show Dinosaur jr. will be playing to a sea of cars.

“I have never played to cars before. It has yet to occur to me that this will be odd, to be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time looking into audiences when I play because my hair is generally in my face and I’m focusing on my bandmates, he wrote in an email exchange. “We have played to enormous crowds opening for bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers — tens of thousands of people who had no interest in us and had no response — so it can’t be that different.“

Dinosaur jr. has completed work on the group’s next album, but Barlow said members will hold off the release date until sometime in 2021 when they can resume touring in this post-pandemic world. In the meantime, Barlow will continue to stream shows including one on Sept. 16 that will air at a drive-in in Austin, Tx.

As of this writing, there are some tickets left for the Drive-In Live show. 

Tickets for this show are sold per vehicle and there can be up to five individuals in each car. Other shows scheduled for Drive-In Live include Dark Desert Eagles on Sept. 18, Citizen Cope, Sept. 19, Chase Rich on Oct. 2 and Badfish (Sublime Tribute Act) on Oct. 9. To purchase tickets and read the guidelines, visit drive-in-live.com.

Martin Sexton at Black Birch Vineyard

In July, Signature Sounds Presents, of Northampton, launched a limited capacity acoustic music series at the beautiful Black Birch Vineyard in Hatfield. The series included shows with artists such as Rachael & Vilray and Chris Smither; it will conclude on Tuesday, Sept 15 with two shows, at 2 and 6:30 p.m. by singer-songwriter Martin Sexton. 

Sexton’s soulful voice and upbeat stage presence make him the perfect choice to close out this successful summer series. 

Having attended three shows in this series, I can attest to the fact that they are extremely relaxed affairs with people sprawled across the beautiful lawn making sure to social distance and wearing masks when walking around all while thrilled to be enjoying live music once again. The only ones happier than the crowd were the performers. For most of them, it was their first time in months playing in front of an in-the-flesh audience and not a computer.  

Bring low back chairs, pack a picnic (no outside beverages) and get your tickets now as this show will likely sell out. 

For tickets and more information visit signaturesoundspresents.com

June Millington at Mass MoCA

This is the time of year that we’d normally be heading to Mass MoCA in North Adams for the venue's annual FreshGrass festival. It’s not happening this year, but the museum of contemporary art, which has become a hot spot for concerts in recent years, has continued to present some live music this summer, including a successful show with indie rockers Yo La Tango in August.

This weekend, the venue will welcome keyboardist Marco Benevento for two sold-out shows on Saturday. Then on Saturday, Sept. 19, rocker June Millington, of Goshen, will be at the museum for two shows at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Millington is the founding member of the pioneering all-female band Fanny. She is co-founder of the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen, a rock and roll training and performing facility for young female musicians. Millington is a killer guitar player with a strong voice and dynamic personality. She is definitely worth a drive to North Adams. 

Shows are held in one of the museum’s courtyards and they have spray-painted squares on the pavement to designate where patrons can sit, the squares are six feet apart and hold about four people with larger squares for families in the back. The stage is elevated from the crowd. 

You must bring a chair and there’s a very limited amount of tickets available. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m show went on sale Sept. 9 and those for the 9:30 p.m show will go on sale Sept. 11. For tickets and more information, visit MassMoCA.org.

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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