Sounds Local: Mud Season fest breaks dreary winter season

  • Dave Bulley of The Dave Bulley Band, came up with the idea of hosting what would become the Mud Season music festival, in 2020. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The Hampshire County Fiddlers, the Pioneer Valley’s after-school fiddle group for kids ages 8 to 14, will be among the performers in the first hour of the Mud Season music festival. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The Jenny Burtis Band will perform at the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls on Saturday, March 18. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Tory Hanna of The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow will take the stage at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on March 17. This show will also double as his birthday bash and marks the debut of his new solo project, the Hell Yeah Boyz. DYLAN LAW OF BOTTLETREE PRODUCTIONS

For the Recorder
Published: 3/15/2023 5:15:28 PM

As I write this, the sky is dull and gray and a few mounds of snow litter the ground.

They say a significant snowstorm is coming, but right now it’s warm out and it feels like that weird time of year when we are stuck in limbo between winter and spring. It is known as mud season for those of us in New England.

You can embrace this time of year and enjoy great music at the Mud Season music festival at the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls on Saturday, March 18, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. This one-day family-friendly event will feature performances by The Jenny Burtis Band, The Dave Bulley Band, The Equalites, Love Crumbs, The Hampshire County Fiddlers, the barnRocket Imagineers and more.

The driving force behind the event is storyteller and musician David Bulley of Turners Falls, who came up with the idea to host a music festival back in 2020.

“I figured I’d get a bunch of bands that I knew together, and I thought it would be super fun,” he said.

Bulley said he thought this time of year would be perfect for holding a festival because mud season is when people need a break from the dreariness around them and a music festival provides just that.

The first festival was scheduled for March 2020, but unfortunately, we know what happened that month.

“At the time I made a controversial call to cancel it and it was right before the whole world shut down,” he said.

Bulley found it was a challenge to get a music festival off the ground over the last few years, but he persevered and in the fall of 2021, he hosted a one-day festival called Early Apple Season held at the Shutesbury Athletic Club.

“That went well, so I was encouraged, and last year we did the first Mud Season at the Shea, which was my original vision,” he said.

The first Mud Season festival featured Eric Lee, Cloudbelly, Love Crumbs and many more acts. Bulley said it went well and that working with the Shea was such a positive experience, he wanted to do it again this year.

Bulley has put together a strong lineup that features a few returning acts from last year alongside bands that play reggae, rock, blues, folk and other sounds.

“I found the bands from people I knew, advertisements and word of mouth,” Bulley said. “I met the Love Crumbs when I was putting together the lineup for the first festival. They had a Craigslist ad looking for a drummer, so I wrote to them and said, ‘I’m not a drummer, but do you want to play my show?’”

The Greenfield group, led by songwriter Michael Dubuque, said “yes” and played last year’s festival. The band is now part of this year’s lineup, too.

Bulley found Jenny Burtis when her band played before his at the Garlic and Arts Festival in Orange last year.

“She moved out here from Cambridge a couple of years ago, and she’s a terrific songwriter and singer,” he said.

Then there are bands like The Equalites and guitarist Kit Trip, who are well-known on the local scene.

“If you have ever gone out in Franklin County, you know Kit Trip is one of the great guitarists around. He is sought after to play on other people’s stuff and this is his own little three-piece project, which is going to be spectacular,” Bulley said.

Bulley’s own band, The Dave Bulley Band, which he describes as raucous, indie folk rock jammy singalong fun, is also on the bill.

“There will be great solo acts playing in the front lobby,” said Bulley. “We will be staggering these acts and during changeover times, those acts will be playing so there will always be music.”

Some artists playing on the lobby stage include Sparkie Allison, Chica Fuega and Scott Allan Savoy.

Since this is a family-friendly event, the first hour of the festival will be devoted to acts for young audiences.

“Last year, RiverCulture gave us a grant and suggested we have an hour of children’s programming, so you take good ideas and run with it,” Bulley said of Mud Season’s decision to have shows especially for children. “We did it last year and are doing it again this year. I have a really amazing lineup for kids that is going to be so much fun.”

This lineup includes The Hampshire County Fiddlers, the Pioneer Valley’s afterschool fiddle group for kids ages 8 to 14 that plays tunes from America, Ireland, Scotland, Quebec and beyond.

One of the acts Bulley is most excited about is the barnRocket Imagineers, who will play John Lennon’s 1971 “Imagine” album in its entirety. This group of musicians was assembled for this occasion by Peter Nubit.

“Peter is one the best musicians I know. He has been a sound engineer in the valley for a gazillion years. He knows everybody who is anybody as far as music goes,” Bulley said. “He puts together different variations of the barnRockets for whatever project he is working on.”

The barnRockets played last year’s Mud Season but performed all original songs. For this show, a group of local musicians has assembled to provide their interpretation of Lennon’s best-known solo album.

“‘Imagine’ is a desert island record for me,” Nubit said. “It was the second album I bought with my own money, and its music and messages still resonate today. Rather than copying the record, this time we’re recreating the tunes in our own voice with more vocal arrangements and an opportunity for the musicians to stretch out and improvise. It’s a bigger ensemble and harder to coordinate rehearsals, but I’m really excited. Everybody who’s on board is there because they loved the idea of doing this record. I’m ready to hear what ‘Re-Imagine’ sounds like live on stage.”

“It is going to be a showstopper,” said Bulley regarding the barnRockets’ planned set. “If people had any idea of how awesome this is going to be, I would have sold out of tickets. Actually, I’m excited about all the bands. All of this music is really great, like right down the line.”

Tickets are $20 and are available at the or at the door. Children are admitted for free.

For more information, visit

St Patrick’s Day celebrations

Tory Hanna of The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow will be celebrating more than St. Patrick’s Day when he takes the stage at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Friday, March 17, at 8 p.m. This show will also double as his birthday bash and marks the debut of his new solo project, the Hell Yeah Boyz. The group, which features Josh Chaplan on guitar and keyboard, Marc Seedorf on bass and Monte Arnstam on drums will mostly play Hanna’s solo original material. They are also starting to write some songs together as a band. In honor of the holiday, they will host a Leprechaun Look costume contest, with the winner receiving $150 in cash. Doors open at 7:30 p.m

Irish troubadour and local favorite JT McKenna with the Great Craic Blackguards will lead the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Deja Brew Café and Pub in Wendell. Come listen, dance and sing along to McKenna on banjo and vocals, bassist Lou O’Reilly and guitarist Fingers Finbar on guitar. Music begins at 8 p.m.

Ragged Blue, which is John Rough on banjo, Corki Demers on fiddle and mandolin, Joe Blumenthal on bass and Terry Atkinson on guitar, will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by playing at The Brewery at Four Star Farms in Northfield from 6 to 8:30 p.m. If you can’t catch them on the actual holiday, they’ll be at Hitchcock Brewing Co. in Bernardston on Saturday, March 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. Ragged Blue’s music is bluegrass-based with a touch of Celtic, swing, country and re-imaginings of popular songs. And because of the holiday, they will be ramping up the Celtic in their repertoire with jigs, ballads and fiddle tunes.

Also on Saturday it’s Rosemary Caine and the Wilde Irish Shenanigans at Hawks & Reed for a special matinee show at 2 p.m. Harpest Caine, a native of Ireland who now resides in Greenfield, can always be counted on for a special, spectacular St. Patrick’s Day show. She promises that this one will take listeners to Ireland. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.

The mood will shift come nighttime when party band Jimmy Just Quit returns to Hawks & Reed to provide the music to a rousing St. Patty’s Day party. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

The tickets for the Hawks & Reed shows are available at

Sheryl Hunter is a freelance writer who resides in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national publications. She can be reached at


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy