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The Recorder – Local Sounds: Fresh Grass Fest at MASS MoCA, Whiskey Treaty at Shea

Today is the first day of fall, and while we welcome the cooler weather and beautiful foliage, overall it’s not a popular time of year for music fans as it marks the end of outdoor music. But there is no need to despair because some events in the coming weeks will still take place in the middle of nature. And unlike last year, when there were few shows scheduled inside and some venues remained closed, the music scene is slowly returning to normal, which means plenty of great shows inside. Read on to get a glimpse of what to expect.

The Fresh Grass Festival is happening at MASS MoCA in North Adams this weekend (September 23-25), and it’s likely the last of the big festivals happening in 2022. If you’re a fan of bluegrass and roots music , it is the place to be. A quick drive down the Mohawk Trail and you can hear the sounds of TajMahal, Trampled by Turtles, Old Crow Medicine Show, Yola, Tanya Tucker, Gary Clark Jr. and many more artists. MASS MoCA is a great place to enjoy live music and this year’s lineup is solid. You can purchase weekend passes or day tickets at FreshGrass.com.

Closer to home, there will be live music at Peskeompskut Park in Turners Falls on Saturday, September 24 from 3-6 p.m. It will be a three-band event that will include local and touring musicians. The lineup consists of experimental folk-pop sounds from Ramon and Jessica, klezmer music from Myrtle St. Klezmer and jazz music from Caroline Davis. This is an opportunity to experience different musical styles that you may not have heard before. I especially encourage you to check out the Myrtle St. Klezmer group based in Greenfield and led by clarinetist Jason Ditzian. This instrumental music is part of the tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. This event is presented by River Culture and is free.

On the good news side, I’m pleased to announce that the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival will be back after a two-year hiatus. This festival will take place on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd October in Orange. Along with workshops and great garlic-infused food, there’s an awesome lineup of local music that includes KimayaDiggs, Sandy Bailey, TapRoots, Wallace Field, Rice: An American Band, ReBelle and more. Check the website for the full schedule. Tickets can be purchased online at aililandarts.org.

In the good news department, there’s a new concert series – the Sugar Shack Series – starting at the Warfield House Inn in Charlemont. The first show will feature Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Reed Foehl and will take place on Sunday, October 9 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Music will take place on the lawn next to the sugar shack, which is a perfect place to admire the beautiful views. A barbecue dinner comes with the price of a ticket. Admission will begin at 4:30 p.m., dinner and bar service will begin at 5:00 p.m., and music will begin at 6:00 p.m. Tickets can only be purchased online and are available at warfieldhouseinn.com.

A few other dates to book include Scarecrow in the Park in Bernardston on the weekend of October 15-16, and the Hallowed Bash at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 15 from 2-8 p.m. And finally, the Great Falls Festival (Pumpkinfest) in downtown Turners Falls begins Saturday, October 22. These events have yet to release their lineup, but you can expect plenty of local talent.

As for indoor shows, The 1794meetinghouse in New Salem will wrap up its summer run this weekend. They will host a concert with Green Heron on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and host Peter Blanchette on Sunday at 4 p.m. Green Heron, an acoustic group that includes Betsy Heron (formerly Green) of the Green sisters on fiddle, banjo and vocals, and Scott Heron on guitar , banjo and vocals. They mix and play selections of early music, bluegrass, folk, country and Celtic. Blanchette will perform a selection of music, including original compositions on the 11-string bowed guitar he invented. For tickets and information, including details on Meetinghouse’s COVID policy, visit 1794meetinghouse.org.

The Watermelon Wednesday acoustic music series, held in West Whately Chapel, still has a few shows scheduled for October. On Wednesday, October 5, it’s Watermelon Wednesday favourite, banjo great Tony Trischka and his band the Bandits. Expect a night of bluegrass and more when Triska and her talented band perform in the intimate venue. On Wednesday, October 12, these are the uplifting sounds of the double violin of the Hanneke Cassel Band. Sessions are at 7 p.m. and tickets are available at watermelodnwednesdays.com

The Parlor Room in Northampton is celebrating its tenth anniversary and they’ve rounded up a whole autumn range to help mark the milestone. There are many amazing local artists on this program including Jeffrey Foucault on Saturday October 15th, the Lonesome Brothers on Friday October 28th, Love Crumbs and Mikey Sweet on Wednesday November 9th, Kris Delmhorst on Friday November 18th and Tracy Grammer and Jim Henry on Sunday, November 20. There’s one show on Wednesday, November 16 that you won’t want to miss and that’s Louie Phipps. Phipps is an eleven-year-old singer-songwriter who performed at the Arcadia Folk Festival last weekend and blew the crowd away with his incredible talent. Phipps was joined on this show by JJ O’Connell on drums, Annand Nyack on guitar and Reed Sutherland on bass. These same musicians will accompany Phipps in the Parlor Room. Ben Harris will also be there. It is a spectacle not to be missed. Tickets and more information for all Parlor Room shows at signaturesoundspresents.com.

Whiskey Treatise Tour at the Shea Theater

The last column I wrote before the COVID lockdown was an interview with the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow who had just released their debut album, ‘Band Together’ and were gearing up for a big year of promotion. They were going to start with a show in their hometown at the Shea Theater, but just days before the show was to start, it was canceled. In fact, all of the scheduled shows were suddenly halted as businesses and schools also began to close. We thought this was a temporary move and soon the Whiskey Treaty show and others would be postponed. Well, it’s been rescheduled, it just took a lot longer than originally planned – a little over two years longer to be exact. Finally, the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow will play at the Shea Theater on Saturday, September 24 at 8 p.m.

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow is comprised of Western Massachusetts songwriters Tory Hanna, Billy Keane, Chris Merenda, Greg Daniel Smith and David Tanklefsky. They’ve been busy for the past two years, the band released a covers EP titled “Recovered” which was a boon for direct service workers.

The band are more than ready to bring their energetic folk-rock to the Shea Theater for this long-awaited show. For advance tickets and more information, visit www.sheatheater.org.

Sheryl Hunter is a freelance writer who resides in Easthampton. His work has appeared in various regional and national publications. She can be contacted at Soundslocal@yahoo.com.