Sounds Local: New CD showcases rising stars on local music scene

  • The psychedelic funk band Shantyman is one of 12 groups with a song on “Local Honey Volume 2.” Shantyman has been together for 10 years and the CD marks its first recording. Contributed photo

  • The progressive folk band Mad Habits is one of 12 groups with a song on “Local Honey Volume 2.” Contributed photo

  • Eric Lee is one of 12 musicians and bands with a song on “Local Honey Volume 2.” Carla Racine, who runs Honey Pot Productions, says Lee is “one of the hardest working musicians out there.” Contributed photo

  • A copy of “Local Honey Volume 2,” a new CD featuring music by 12 rising local artists, will be given to each ticketholder at a release party Saturday at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield. Contributed image

  • HUNTER

For the Recorder
Published: 3/27/2019 4:50:39 PM

The Pioneer Valley is chock-full of extremely talented musicians who play some amazing original music, and Carla Racine is doing all she can to make sure everyone knows it.

Racine, a Northampton resident, has been working to showcase the local music scene since she moved to the area in the early 1990s. In an effort to help bands bring their music to an audience, she formed her own production company, Honey Pot Productions, in 2013. A year later, she launched The Buzz magazine, a free publication that includes interviews and an extensive calendar of musical events.

The latest project from The Buzz, A Honey Pot Production, is the second volume of recordings featuring 12 local solo artists and bands. “Local Honey Volume 2” will be released Saturday, and there will be a CD release party to celebrate at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, 289 Main St. in Greenfield, at 8 p.m.

The first “Local Honey” compilation was released in January 2016 and featured 12 acts whose careers were just taking off at the time, including Bella’s Bartok and The Mary Jane Jones.

Appearing on “Local Honey Volume 2” and playing at the show Saturday are Eric Lee, Workman Song, Mad Habits, Lush Honey, Phenomena 256, Shantyman and Tidwell’s Treasure. The music of Old Flame, Mamma’s Marmalade, Humble Digs, Snowhaus and The Greys is also on the disc, but they will not be performing.

With so much talent in the area, how was Racine able to choose the 12 bands that are on the disc?

“Well, the first CD included the 12 hottest acts in the area at that time, and they are 12 acts who are rising now,” said Racine, who speaks with enthusiasm about the project. “These musicians are really doing it — they are going out there and playing shows, they’re traveling. There are so many scenes out there, but these are the musicians that I feel that people should get turned onto.”

Racine spoke about a number of the featured artists on the new disc.

“Eric Lee is one of the hardest working musicians out there. He travels all over and has developed quite a name for himself,” Racine said. “Mamma’s Marmalade have been crushing it, Old Flame is really rising ... and Phenomena 256, they are probably the youngest band on the disc, and I’m digging their track. It’s very psychedelic.”

The only band to appear on both Volumes 1 and 2 is the psychedelic funk band Tidwell’s Treasure, which Racine described as “zany and fun.”

The disc captures how musically diverse the local scene is, featuring everything from the progressive folk of Mad Habits, to the bluegrass of Mamma’s Marmalade and the poetic, jazz-tinged music of The Greys.

Most of these bands have been together for quite a while, and some, like indie rockers Old Flame and Workman Song, have relatively high profiles, while others, like the psychedelic funk band Shantyman, have been simmering underneath the surface. Shantyman has been together 10 years and this is its first recording. Some of these bands got their start in the thriving DIY scene, in which they play shows in the basements and living rooms of friends to build an audience.

A copy of “Local Honey Volume 2,” which was mastered by Mark Allen Miller of Sonelab studios of Easthampton, will be included with each ticket purchased for the Saturday night show. But if you’re not able to attend, you can connect with one of the bands, as each band and artist that appears on the disc will receive 100 copies of the CD to sell or use for promotional purposes.

One of Racine’s hopes is that there will be some cross-pollination, and fans of a specific artist will be turned on to the music of others after giving the CD a listen.

“This album is going to give a birds-eye view of how strong music is in this valley,” she said. “The music scene here is rich, and I want to see the musicians make the money they deserve and want to see people also take advantage of the great recording studios and engineers we have here. It would be nice to get this scene on the map.”

A lifelong music lover, Racine continues to work hard to get the scene on the map.

“When I was a kid, I read all those rock ’n’ roll magazines, and when I moved to the area from the eastern part of the state, I felt like I had landed in a magical place where those magazines came from,” she recalled. “There were musicians everywhere! You couldn’t throw a stone down Main Street in Northampton without bonking a musician in the head.”

As soon as she settled in the area, Racine got involved in the music world. She played in a few bands over the years but never saw herself as a serious musician, and mostly found herself working behind the scenes.

Since forming Honey Pot Productions, Racine has booked shows at festivals and clubs throughout the Pioneer Valley, including Hawks & Reed, where she helped with the venue’s transition from The Arts Block. Meanwhile, The Buzz is getting set to unveil a revamped website that will include an extensive database of acts. In addition, a pocket calendar and an extensive music calendar app are in the works.

With all her projects, the goal is getting the bands out there and the fans to the bands, and she feels “Local Honey Volume 2” is a step in that direction.

“I think this CD is going to be really great for people to get a taste of the awesomeness out there,” Racine said. “What a sweet scene we have here in western Mass. We are very blessed.”

Admission to the Saturday show is $13 in advance, and tickets are available at hawksandreed.com or at World Eye Bookshop, 134 Main St. in Greenfield. Tickets are $15 day of show. For more information, call 413-774-0150.

All Cooped Up concert coming to Turners Falls

As Racine pointed out, there are many different scenes that contribute to making our area such a hotbed of original music. If you want to check out a group of Franklin County residents who primarily play acoustic music, then head to the All Cooped Up concert at the Great Falls Discovery Center, 2 Avenue A in Turners Falls, on Saturday at 7 p.m.

This show takes place every year as members of the Franklin County Musicians Cooperative provide a sneak preview of the concert series that they present every Thursday night during the summer at Greenfield’s Energy Park.

Featured performers include Jim Eagan and Dennis Avery, Austin and Elliot, Joe Graveline, Pat and Tex LaMountain, Bruce Colgrove, Sue Kranz, Charlie Conant, Kathy Sylvester, Katie Clark, the Roland Lapierre Trio, Jennie McAvoy, and Orlen, Gabriel and Avery.

A donation of $5 to $15 is suggested. For more information on the performers and for the summer schedule, visit coopconcerts.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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