The Advocate Guide to Open Mics in the Pioneer Valley!
Nov20

The Advocate Guide to Open Mics in the Pioneer Valley!

The Pioneer Valley is home not only to a bountiful music scene, but to dozens of open mics where artistic communities blossom. Open mics are places where the generational lines between artists blur while they’re jamming out to a bluesy ballad or talking about their favorite Beatles album. Open mics can be a mixed bag at times — you might hear a jaw dropping original song followed by one of worst renditions of your favorite song. But...

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Having a Slice in the Pie-oneer Valley
Nov20

Having a Slice in the Pie-oneer Valley

A flaky crust, delicious filling, and a bite of nostalgia make pie the dessert of choice for many. Whether it’s pie with a damn fine cup of coffee or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, you’ll instantly be transported to sweet comfort heaven with just a bite … if it’s good pie, that is. At its worst, bad pie can be like a slap across the face, whether it’s nasty ass chemical pie (we’re looking at you McDonald’s) or pie that tastes like...

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Klar’s ‘Paradise’ is Poetic and Fiery
Nov13

Klar’s ‘Paradise’ is Poetic and Fiery

Northampton-based singer-songwriter Jake Klar has undergone a metamorphosis from an acoustic driven folk artist to an alternative rock-poet who fuses psychedelic instrumentation with his knack for lyrical storytelling on his newest record, Until the Wild Fire Become Paradise, released on Oct. 20. Klar’s newest album sounds like all the best parts of The Basement Tapes era Bob Dylan, shoegaze rock a la Mazzy Star, and the alt-country...

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Inside Art IV Review
Nov06

Inside Art IV Review

Many say that art is therapeutic; that it helps the artist reflect on their thoughts, actions and the world in which they live. But how does art impact someone who is incarcerated? “Inside Art IV,” now on display at Art Space in Greenfield displays photography and poetry by people incarcerated at the Franklin County Jail. This is the fourth year that Joan O’Beirne, a professor of photography at Greenfield Community College, has taught...

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Southern Vermont Fatal House Fire Now Looks Like Double Homicide
Nov01

Southern Vermont Fatal House Fire Now Looks Like Double Homicide

Justin Orwat, 46 of Springfield, has been charged with aggravated murder and first degree arson as a result of a previously reported house fire on the morning of Oct. 27 in Townshend, Vermont. Orwat is currently being held at the Hampden County Jail in Ludlow for unrelated criminal charges. The Vermont State Police and the Windham County State Attorney’s Office obtained an arrest warrant for Orwat after the Office of the Chief...

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Will Western Mass Ever Get High-Speed Rail?
Oct23

Will Western Mass Ever Get High-Speed Rail?

Jim Emerson, 53, wakes up at 5 a.m. three or four days out of the work week to make the commute from his home in Wilbraham to Boston. He’s typically out the door around 5:45 a.m. and is on the road driving east on the Massachusetts Turnpike for 50 minutes in his 2016 Ford Fusion Hybrid to catch an hour-and-a-half-long train ride from Worcester. “I’ve traveled for work nationally and internationally. I’ve seen rail systems and transit...

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Progressive Candidates Storm Greenfield
Oct16

Progressive Candidates Storm Greenfield

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a comment from Precinct 8 candidate Kelly Dixon. Following the failure over the summer of a safe city ordinance in Greenfield, which would have offered additional support and protection to residents regardless of immigration status, progressive Democratic candidates are making a run at the town council. If they sweep the Nov. 7 election, meaning candidates are elected to two...

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LuxDeluxe’s Let’s Do Lunch is a bite of pure nostalgia
Oct16

LuxDeluxe’s Let’s Do Lunch is a bite of pure nostalgia

Northampton-based indie rock band LuxDeluxe’s newest 12-track record, Let’s Do Lunch, is a meditation on crafting the perfect two to three minute pop song. The group draws its influence from classic bands like the Beatles, NRBQ, and the Rolling Stones, and excels at crafting songs that sound like they’re off a late 1960s rock record that has just been unearthed from a time capsule. LuxDeluxe consists of lead singer Ned King, Jacob...

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AmeRican Migration: Fleeing Devastation, Many Puerto Ricans Expected In Western Mass
Oct09

AmeRican Migration: Fleeing Devastation, Many Puerto Ricans Expected In Western Mass

These weren’t the circumstances in which Holyoke resident Israel Rivera had imagined he would be meeting his nieces — ages 13 and 17 — for the first time. Rivera, who is of Puerto Rican descent, recently agreed to house his sister’s children after his sister Amarilis De Léom and her family endured devastation from Hurricane Maria on the island. They arrived on a flight to Teterboro, N.J., on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The trip down and back...

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Sun Parade’s newest record an instant classic with local roots
Oct09

Sun Parade’s newest record an instant classic with local roots

Northampton-based psychedelic pop and garage grunge quintet, Sun Parade, delivers a hard rocking album that doesn’t skimp on delivering quiet moments of poignancy on its 12-track record, Shuggy Mtn. Breakdown, released on Oct. 12. Sun Parade consists of Chris Marlon Jennings (vocals, guitar), Jeff Lewis (vocals, guitar), Max Wareham (bass, vocals), Karl Helander (drums, vocals), and Eli Salus-Kleiner (keyboard). The band has its...

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Zapping Depression
Oct02

Zapping Depression

Armené Margosian, 52, of Greenfield, sat waiting in a medical chair at Achieve TMS East’s Northampton office on Pleasant Street, her hands holding a pillow alongside her car keys. Her head was covered in a dark blue cap, while strapped into a metal, robotic-looking helmet. A magnetic pulse the machine delivered 36 times over the span of two seconds caused her right eye to twitch, but didn’t cause her any pain. Margosian is...

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Between the Lines: Honoring Beloved Activist Jafet Robles
Sep25

Between the Lines: Honoring Beloved Activist Jafet Robles

At St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield more than 200 people mourned the loss of well-known and beloved activist and community leader Jafet Robles. Robles, 33, was involved with Neighbor to Neighbor and other groups with initiatives to end mass incarceration. For close to two hours the line of people stretching out the door was nearly constant as people made their way to the open casket with tears in their eyes. Robles was...

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Mama’s Marmalade’s Goodbye, Black Velvet Reviewed
Sep25

Mama’s Marmalade’s Goodbye, Black Velvet Reviewed

Mama’s Marmalade is a burst of sunshine that makes dark clouds dissipate with the band’s lush vocal harmonies and jammy acoustic newgrass blend of mandolin, banjo, violin, bass, and guitar. On June 2, the Northampton-based bluegrass quintet released its debut 10-track album, Goodbye, Black Velvet, which evokes the feeling of a Sunday drive on a warm summer evening. The band consists of Rich Hennessy on banjo/vocals, Lily Sexton on...

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Interview: Peter Wolf of J. Geils Band On Music, Art School, And Playing Western Mass
Sep13

Interview: Peter Wolf of J. Geils Band On Music, Art School, And Playing Western Mass

Peter Wolf, the dynamic rock and blue-eyed soul frontman singer for the J. Geils Band, who co-wrote some of the band’s most popular songs such as “Love Stinks,” and “Must Of Got Lost,” is gearing up to play the Academy of Music in Northampton on Oct. 13. Valley Advocate Staff Writer Chris Goudreau interviewed Wolf about his upcoming performance in Northampton, his early days as an art student in Boston, past performances in Western...

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Between The Lines: Massachusetts Reps Should Get With Arnold to Terminate Gerrymandering
Sep11

Between The Lines: Massachusetts Reps Should Get With Arnold to Terminate Gerrymandering

Not in a million years would I have predicted the Governator would be the one to kickstart a campaign to stop the legal election-rigging scheme used to weaken the voting power of one political power over another, aka gerrymandering, but here we are. I am less surprised that Massachusetts has yet to get on board with tearing down this cynical barrier to democracy. After all, the Bay State gave birth to gerrymandering. I’ll try to...

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Interview: The Pixies On Music, Reuniting, And Annoying The Neighbors
Sep05

Interview: The Pixies On Music, Reuniting, And Annoying The Neighbors

There’s no band quite like the Pixies with its blend of dissonant noise pop, psychedelic hard rock, surf-drenched reverb, punk rock-ish DIY leanings, and surreal lyrics that cover bizarre topics from extraterrestrials to biblical violence. Since the band’s 1986 formation at UMass Amherst, the Pixies have played thousands of shows across the world and on Sept. 20, the band returns to Western Mass to play Smith College’s John Greene...

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Tundrastomper’s Psychedelic, Math Rocking ‘O’ Reviewed
Sep05

Tundrastomper’s Psychedelic, Math Rocking ‘O’ Reviewed

Easthampton-based basement rock band Tundrastomper is an experimental psychedelia mutant grown from a vat of math rock that explodes into a storm with manic ferocity. There’s more than a glob of progressive rock stylings thrown into the mixer with the band’s new album, “O,” released on July 7. Tundrastomper is a four piece group comprised of Sam Brivic on guitar, Max Goldstein on drums, Andrew Jones on bass, and Skyler Lloyd on guitar...

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Local Marijuana Entrepreneurs Ready To Roll, Just Waiting For The Green Light
Aug28

Local Marijuana Entrepreneurs Ready To Roll, Just Waiting For The Green Light

At age 45, marijuana-grower Anscomb says it’s time for him to go legit. He’s been illegally raising and harvesting weed for 13 years in an underground capacity (here’s a guide to how to grow your own), but now that recreational marijuana is legal, Anscomb is getting ready to apply for a cannabis cultivation license and get his business on the books. Anscomb is a science teacher living in Northampton. He’s got a wife and children...

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Between the Lines: UMass,  Adopt A Rape Survivors Bill of Rights
Aug21

Between the Lines: UMass, Adopt A Rape Survivors Bill of Rights

While interviewing organizers of student-led college activist groups at UMass Amherst, Smith College, and Amherst College, I learned about the Coalition to End Rape Culture (CERC) at UMass , a campus group founded by survivors of sexual assault that is calling on the university to implement better policies to support victims of intimate violence. The Coalition to End Rape, alongside other groups such as Carry That Weight, Know Your...

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Western Mass Immigrant Rights Activists Burn Baker On ICE Bill
Aug10

Western Mass Immigrant Rights Activists Burn Baker On ICE Bill

Local immigrant rights groups aren’t happy with Gov. Charlie Baker and his proposed legislation that would mandate state and local law enforcement to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests. A group of more than 50 people affiliated with Western Massachusetts immigrants rights groups  protested outside the state office in Springfield calling on Baker to withdraw his bill. Some of leading groups...

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Is There Really A Western Mass Energy Crisis?
Aug07

Is There Really A Western Mass Energy Crisis?

Barry Roberts has heard Massachusetts is facing an energy crisis, but he doesn’t buy it. Roberts is a commercial landlord who owns several buildings in Amherst including the Amherst Cinema building and the block where Amherst Ice Cream is located, as well as properties in Hadley. He and some of his clients have had to cut back on business expansion due to the moratorium Berkshire Gas placed on new gas hookups in 2015, Roberts said....

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State Police Spending a Lot of Days at the Park …
Aug07

State Police Spending a Lot of Days at the Park …

The barricade is a small wooden cabin-like structure modeled off the one 1800s transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau built near Walden Pond. A life guard chair stands directly in front of a fence set up by Tennessee Gas where onlookers can view the 100-foot wide path of cleared forest, now mostly dirt. On a recent afternoon two private security personnel sat in an off road vehicle watching silently on the other side of the barricade...

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Expanding Solar’s Reach to Low-Income Individuals
Jul31

Expanding Solar’s Reach to Low-Income Individuals

A federal grant is powering an effort to bring solar energy into more local low-income homes. Rays the Valley, a partnership between local organizations that aims on making solar array subscriptions affordable for everyone, received $60,000 from the federal Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity. The partnership is made up of Co-op Power, Climate Action Now, Mothers Out...

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Review: The Blues in Bloom, Lexi Weege’s New Album
Jul24

Review: The Blues in Bloom, Lexi Weege’s New Album

Lexi Weege is the type of performer who draws you in immediately. She’s a blues and jazz songstress with a voice that combines intimate and heartbreaking cabaret singing, in the vein of French chanteuse Edith Piaf, with 1960s boisterous rock n’ roll frontwoman stylings ala Janis Joplin. She follows in the footsteps of trailblazing blues and jazz singers  — Big Mama Thornton, Bessie Smith, and Ma Rainey — to name a few, while putting...

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Introducing the Quaffle to a New Generation: UMass Quidditch Team Starts Summer Camp
Jul17

Introducing the Quaffle to a New Generation: UMass Quidditch Team Starts Summer Camp

The Harry Potter books and films have inspired many real world spillovers, including real-life wizarding schools and online quizzes that determine your magical house. But among the more surprisingly widespread are the leagues that have sprouted up to play the magical sport quidditch, which takes elements of handball, lacrosse, rugby, and dodgeball and brews them together with magical maneuvers on a flying broomstick. The University of...

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Between the Lines: Peacefully Resisting ICE Raids
Jul17

Between the Lines: Peacefully Resisting ICE Raids

Western Massachusetts advocacy groups know that there are many in immigrant communities living in fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and arrests, and over the course of this year have been working to do something about it — particularly in light of President Donald Trump’s stances on immigration. Groups including the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and Jobs with Justice have begun training people to be part of a...

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UMass Quidditch Team Hopes to Attract Harry Potter Fans and Athletes Alike with Summer Camp
Jul13

UMass Quidditch Team Hopes to Attract Harry Potter Fans and Athletes Alike with Summer Camp

The Harry Potter books and films have inspired many real world spillovers, including real-life wizarding schools and online quizzes that determine your magical house. But among the more surprisingly widespread are the leagues that have sprouted up to play the magical sport quidditch, which takes elements of handball, lacrosse, rugby, and dodgeball and brews them together with magical maneuvers on a flying broomstick. The University of...

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Northampton Activists Demands ICE Release Former Florence Resident
Jul11

Northampton Activists Demands ICE Release Former Florence Resident

When he was 15 years old in 1976, Niberd Abdalla immigrated to the United States from Iraq fleeing persecution due to his family’s Kurdish heritage and democratic activism. He’s lived as an undocumented person in the United States for the past 41 years and has complied with biannual immigration enforcement check-ins for the past seven years. On the morning of June 8, when Niberd, a former Florence resident who now lives in...

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Behind The Music: The People and Promoters Going Beyond IHEG
Jul10

Behind The Music: The People and Promoters Going Beyond IHEG

For years the Iron Horse Entertainment Group with its quintet of venues — Pearl Street Nightclub, The Calvin, The Basement, The Iron Horse Music Hall, and Mountain Park — reigned over the Pioneer Valley music scene. IHEG’s rule has irked some people. Frustration with the entertainment group boiled over recently leading to a guerilla campaign against IHEG owner Eric Suher, and two widely circulated news stories about crumby conditions...

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Between the Lines: Frances Crowe Has The Right Idea
Jul10

Between the Lines: Frances Crowe Has The Right Idea

In the small Berkshire County town of Sandisfield, there’s a battle being waged over public lands and environmental concerns stemming from a natural gas pipeline being installed in Otis State Forest. More than 30 protesters have been arrested this year for trespassing on an easement granted to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, for construction of its $93 million Connecticut Expansion Project that would run...

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Near-Centenarian Frances Crowe Says Pipeline Threatens Life On Earth
Jul03

Near-Centenarian Frances Crowe Says Pipeline Threatens Life On Earth

Ninety-eight-year-old peace activist Frances Crowe of Northampton is thinking about the future. That’s why she was arrested last month along with seven other people protesting Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s $93 million 13-mile tri-state Connecticut Expansion Project in Sandisfield’s Otis State Forest on June 24. The group, including Crowe, is set to appear in Southern Berkshire District Court for civil violations of trespassing on July 18....

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Protesters want Baystate Medical Center to stop killing pigs for surgical training
Jun29

Protesters want Baystate Medical Center to stop killing pigs for surgical training

Over the last 20 years, medical education institutions across the nation have been phasing out the practicing of surgical procedures on live animals, but Baystate Medical Center in Springfield is bucking the trend and keeping it old school. The protest on June 29 outside Baystate was organized by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to rail against the hospital’s practice of using live pigs to train the next generation of...

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A Review Of Sodada’s “Sunshine EP”
Jun26

A Review Of Sodada’s “Sunshine EP”

What do you get when you combine Pink Floyd’s brand of jazzy progressive rock; the bittersweet melodies of The Beatles; soulful R&B a la Stevie Wonder; and a punk rock attitude? You find a band like Sodada, which succeeds in being much more than the sum of its parts. The local quartet, which was recently featured on the Advocate Sessions stage, released a new seven-song extended play (EP) called Sunshine EP on April 1 that...

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Springfield Church To Offer Physical Sanctuary to Undocumented Immigrants
Jun19

Springfield Church To Offer Physical Sanctuary to Undocumented Immigrants

Faith leaders from six churches in Springfield have formed a “sanctuary network,” to provide shelter to undocumented immigrants in response to increasingly aggressive deportation tactics from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), including waiting outside court rooms and schools. South Congregational Church, 45 Maple St., would lead the network and provide housing for the undocumented. The other churches — Holy...

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How To Cut Unemployment — No, Really
Jun19

How To Cut Unemployment — No, Really

Whether you’re a 20-something fresh out of college looking for work or near retirement age and can’t find a job at your skill level, the trials and tribulations of unemployment are very real. It’s an issue that most people face in their adult lives and an age old problem without an easy solutions. Finding a job can be especially challenging if you have a criminal record. In the city of Holyoke, a local advocacy group, Neighbor to...

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