For the past few years, restaurant Sierra Grille has been known for its Thursday night rock shows, which featured a bevy of local and natioanl indie rock bands.
Recently, Valley residents Candace Clement and Tessa Simonds took over booking responsibilities. I caught up with them via electronic mail to get the low-down on what they’re bringing to Thursdays at the Sierra Grille.
What is your prior experience with the music scene in Western Mass?
Simonds: I’ve been booking shows at Flywheel for around a year, after getting my start throwing together a few bills for Sierra Grille nights for some of my Boston and Western Mass friends. I helped book Ladyfest Easthampton, and I’m also a huge fan of the local scene and going to shows — depending on the week, sometimes I attend 3 – 4 in Western Mass and Boston. I come from a DIY/underground/basement/all-ages background, and co-write a little zine about ones happening in Western Mass.
Clement: My experience in the western Mass music scene comes mostly from playing shows in my band Bunny’s A Swine, but I’ve also been going to shows here since I first moved to the Valley in 2003. I love the music and the people making it around here, which is a huge contributing factor to starting a (very small) record label called TinyRadars. The label puts out small runs of western MA bands and only does a few releases a year (vinyl and downloads only), but we also like to host shows and find creative ways to get people participating in the local music community.
What are you bringing to booking at Sierra Grille that’s new and exciting? What makes the shows you’re booking unique?
Simonds: I think what makes our shows unique in the local music scene is that we’re focused on cultivating the night — that is, showcasing the best local and regional unsigned/DIY bands across genres. You can always expect something interesting and different at Sierra. Because there’s only one show a week, we can do that effectively. We’re also doing custom art flyers every week from local artists, and are generally obsessed with making each show specifically awesome. I think the cultivated approach is something you don’t really see at other clubs/spaces in the area in part because they have to do shows all week long. Sierra’s a special situation, and that really appeals to Candace and me.
Clement: I think Tess said it best as to what we are trying to do with the night that is different/unique. We both care about building community and creating the kind of place that nurtures collaboration as well. So much great stuff is happening around here right now and it’s thrilling to be able to highlight some of the best of it while also bringing in touring acts to see what Northampton is all about and make connections to other local music scenes from all over the country.
Pick an upcoming show to plug:
Simonds: One show I’m really excited about: 1) Is the Tunabunny show happening 2/2, with The True Jacquine and Missing Data. Tunabunny put out a great record recently and I think they’re doing perfect fuzz pop. I can’t stop listening to them, and I’m so excited they are coming to Sierra.
Clement: On Jan 26th “Vs.” (VERSUS) will return to the Sierra Grille. Vs. is an improvisational music battle hosted by former western MA troublemaker Scott Alden. The battle takes twelve musicians, randomly assigns them to teams and then each team has to perform a song on the spot with only the song title to serve as inspiration. This Vs. will be “Homes Vs. Bones.” There really is nothing quite like Vs. so come out, pick a team to root for and enjoy brand new music that no one has ever heard before (or likely will ever again).
For more info on the new look Sierra Grille Thursdays go here