A guaranteed good time

  • The Mary Jane Jones band. Contributed photo

  • Kurt Vile Contributed image—

  • Kurt Vile Contributed Photo

Published: 7/25/2019 11:58:57 AM

The extreme heat made this past weekend a bust for music fans who love soaking up sounds in the great outdoors. Some shows were moved inside while others forged on in spite of the sweltering heat.

The 1794 Meetinghouse in New Salem even rescheduled its weekend shows — the Mad Agnes concert will now be held on Saturday, Sept. 28 and Peter Blanchette’s show will be on Sunday, Sept. 22. But the heat has broken, and if you are anxious to get back into the summer spirit of enjoying music outdoors then there’s no time like the present.

You can start by heading up to the Cushman Library in Bernardston tonight, Thursday, at 7 p.m. and take in a free concert under the sky with The Mary Jane Jones, a nine-piece retro-soul ensemble based in Northampton. The band has been on the local scene since 2011 and is led by vocalist and songwriter Mandy Pachios and guitarist and arranger Dan Thomas.

Pachios gets solid musical backing from a group of musicians who hail from such bands at the Alchemystics, The Medicinal Purpose, Fat Bradley, Smack My Bishop and Joystick. In addition to soul, the band weaves jazz and blues into its mix to create a sound that will have you swaying away with the music. The group plays originals as well as covers by acts like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Alabama Shakes, James Brown, Leon Bridges, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone. The band released an EP called “Shake” in 2013, and while the band’s members aren’t doing a lot of shows this summer, they are busy recording another album.

“We’re really excited to play at Cushman Library,” said Pachios. “We’re just finishing up recording a follow-up tune to the self-titled single we released last spring at Caboose 2 Zion Studio in Whatley. We plan to release it with a music video and we are spending the rest of the summer laying down scratch recording for our first full-length record.”

All in all, The Mary Jane Jones is a guaranteed good time.

So pack up a picnic, grab the kids and head to the library at 28 Church St. The show will be held at the pond behind the building. In the event of rain, it will be reschediiuled to Aug. 1. At the end of the show, if the stars are visible, there will be two telescopes available for people to do a little sky gazing — a nod to the library’s summer reading theme of space.

I should mention The Mary Jane Jones is also scheduled to be one of the many bands that will be participating in the 413 Close the Camps Benefit show at the Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A in Turners Falls on Saturday.

Presented by Theater Truck, artists from throughout the region have come together to present 24 hours of performances to raise awareness of the inhumane state of customs and border protection detention centers and the cruel policy of family separation. Artists and staff members are donating their time and talents so all proceeds can benefit asylum seekers and families in the current border crisis. Proceeds of this event will go to RAICES Action Network, Immigrant Families Together and the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, organizations working in support of immigrants.

There will be music, theater, dance, yoga and family programming beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday and ending at 8 a.m. on Sunday. The Mary Jane Jones will perform at 3 p.m. Other bands that will be performing include Kalliope Jones, Old Flame, Carolyn Walker, Raspberry Jam, Eli Catlin and many more. Admission is $10 and up, whatever you can afford.

You can also catch The Mary Jane Jones at the Manna Festival, which will be held at Camp Lion Knoll in Leyden on Aug. 9.

Dinosaur Jr. and Kurt Vile and the Violators at Look Memorial Park in Florence

One of my favorite venues to hear music outdoors is the Pines Theater at Look Memorial Park in Florence. Looking back, I have heard some fantastic music there over the years including Wilco, Richard Thompson, Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan. The Pines Theater has been rather quiet in recent years, but now DSP Shows, out of Ithaca, N.Y., is bringing music back to this special place.

The venue has already hosted a sold-out show with Norah Jones, and last week held a jam band party with performers G. Love, moe (progressive rock) and Blues Traveler. This weekend on Sunday, July 28 at 6:30 p.m., there will be a fantastic double bill of Dinosaur Jr. and Kurt Vile and the Violators.

The last time Dinosaur Jr. played in the area, it was at The Root Cellar in Greenfield last year. That was a rare show in a small venue, and of course, it was a quick sellout. This show at the Pines Theater will give more of us a chance to catch these local heroes.

Dinosaur Jr. is one of the most successful and influential bands to come out of Western Massachusetts. Formed in Amherst in 1984, the group consists of guitarist and vocalist Joseph “J Mascis” Mascis, drummer, Emmett “Murph” Murphy, and bassist Lou Barlow (who currently resides in Greenfield). As part of local music lore, stories have always circulated about the band members’ early days and how they were banned from local clubs for playing too loud.

And yes, Dinosaur Jr. is loud. But the band’s sludgy guitar sound combined with melodic hooks gained it international fame and paved the way for bands like Nirvana and what came to be known as grunge rock. This original lineup only recorded three albums together before a rift between Mascis and Barlow led to Barlow’s exit from the band in 1989. Mascis led the band on without him while Barlow focused on his own projects, which included Sebadoh and folk implosion. Much to the surprise and delight of fans everywhere, the band reunited in 2005 and has toured and recorded ever since while continuing with various side projects. The latest Dinosaur Jr. album is “Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not” from 2016.

Like a lot of people, my exposure to Kurt Vile was the catchy song “Pretty Pimpin,” which received heavy airplay on 93.9 WRSI in Northampton as well as other radio stations across the country. That song made me interested in Vile, but it wasn’t until I saw him play at the Solid Sound Festival in North Adams that I became a fan.

While Kurt Vile has more of folk side to him, you can still hear the influence of bands like Dinosaur Jr. in his music — his languid drawling vocals give a nod to Mascis. Vile, who is from Philadelphia, has been making music for years but his breakthrough came in 2015 with the album “b’lieve i’m goin down,” and the aforementioned song “Pretty Pimpin.” Since then he released an album with Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett as well as his own acclaimed release “Bottle it in” which came out in October. This is a not-to-be-missed kind of show.

Other upcoming shows that DSP is bringing to the Pines Theater include country/Americana artist Lyle Lovett on Aug. 2, Australian roots-rock band The John Butler trio along with alternative-folk artists Trevor Hall on Aug. 3 and dream-pop duo Beach House on Aug. 4

Tickets for the Kurt Vile/ Dinosaur Jr. show cost $40 and are available at dspshows.com. Doors open Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

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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