First-ever Cat Cafe in the Pioneer Valley Coming to Northampton Next Summer
Mar20

First-ever Cat Cafe in the Pioneer Valley Coming to Northampton Next Summer

There’s a new cafe that’ll be opening in Northampton in the summer of 2019 where you’ll be able to hang out with seven or eight lounging felines while enjoying a cup of tea. It’ll be the first of its kind in the Pioneer Valley. Cat.Fe Northampton is the brainchild of Sam Williams and Keanu Patwari and the vision for the cat cafe is to house formerly homeless cats relocated from a local shelters with the option of being adopted...

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Three Decades of Music: Q&A with Cowboy Junkies vocalist Margo Timmins
Mar16

Three Decades of Music: Q&A with Cowboy Junkies vocalist Margo Timmins

Toronto-based alternative country, blues, and folk rockers, Cowboy Junkies, creates a melancholic feeling that’s combined with a mixture of genres and a collection of rock originals, cover tunes, and traditional songs. The band is best known for its critically acclaimed record, The Trinity Session, but has released more than a dozen albums over its three-decade history, and is heading to the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton on...

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Sunshine Brothers Inc. on the Valley Advocate Sessions Stage
Mar16

Sunshine Brothers Inc. on the Valley Advocate Sessions Stage

Sunshine Brothers Inc  is a funky psychedelic pop group with waves of synth and surf. Interview with Sunshine Brothers...

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Amid school walkouts, protesters in Springfield demand meeting about urban gun violence
Mar15

Amid school walkouts, protesters in Springfield demand meeting about urban gun violence

Local students want to meet with P. James Debney, CEO of Springfield-based gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, in the next 30 days to create a dialogue about ways to end urban gun violence, not just mass shootings.  Students from Springfield, Holyoke, and Boston alongside faith leaders and members of the Pioneer Valley Project rallied on March 14 at Memorial Field, across the street from Smith & Wesson’s global headquarters on...

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Turners Falls Experiencing a Renaissance
Mar13

Turners Falls Experiencing a Renaissance

It wasn’t always such a bucolic village. Turners Falls, a village in the town of Montague has undergone a renaissance during the past decade. Where there was once empty storefronts, there’s now a vibrant downtown with a plethora of restaurants, a thriving arts community, a steady growth in new businesses. As you walk through downtown Turners Falls, you might notice stores such as Nina’s Nook and LOOT found + made, which sell work by...

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Farm to Trail Ale to benefit Kestrel Land Trust conservation of Pioneer Valley farm land and forests
Mar06

Farm to Trail Ale to benefit Kestrel Land Trust conservation of Pioneer Valley farm land and forests

A limited edition craft beer called “the Farm to Trail Ale” was recently released on March 4 and celebrates the legacy of the Amherst-based Kestrel Land Trust, which has conserved more than 25,000 acres of forests and farmlands since the 1970s. The beer is a collaboration between between Kestrel and three Pioneer Valley craft beer businesses — Beerology in Northampton, which crafted the rye ale using an historic recipe, Abandoned...

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With DACA deadline passed, local undocumented immigrants demanding action
Mar05

With DACA deadline passed, local undocumented immigrants demanding action

It’s been more than six months since President Trump announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children from deportation. March 5 was set as a deadline for Congress to create new legislation to protect DACA recipients, but now that deadline has come and gone. Multiple federal judges ruled in February that the Trump administration...

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Northampton zoning proposal: If a liquor store is allowed, so is marijuana
Mar02

Northampton zoning proposal: If a liquor store is allowed, so is marijuana

It’s been nearly two years since voters across Massachusetts voted to legalize marijuana, which set state legislative officials on the long process of creating regulations for the budding legal weed retail industry. But starting July 1, the legal weed business will be blooming. Across the commonwealth, cities and towns are readying for the new industry by crafting zoning ordinances, including the city of Northampton, which voted...

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State program offering farm fresh food to SNAP recipients in jeopardy
Mar01

State program offering farm fresh food to SNAP recipients in jeopardy

For almost a year, the state of Massachusetts has been operating the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), which reimburses SNAP customers buying fruits and vegetables from local farmers’ markets. But the program has proven so popular that it’s already almost out of funding for its planned three-year run, and will end unless the state re-funds the program.  “That money was expected to last for three years, however there’s been...

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Welcome to the First Day of Gaming School: Blackjack students hopeful for MGM Springfield Casino
Feb27

Welcome to the First Day of Gaming School: Blackjack students hopeful for MGM Springfield Casino

Angel Rivera, a table games instructor and supervisor for MGM Springfield, held a stack of 20 chips, or as what they’re referred to in the gaming industry as, “checks.” and told more than half a dozen students on Feb. 26, the first ever day of classes at the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute, that by the end of their six-week blackjack course they’d be able to count 20 checks using their muscle memory. Welcome to gaming...

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Valley Advocate Q&A with Deer Tick Guitarist Ian Patrick O’Neil
Feb27

Valley Advocate Q&A with Deer Tick Guitarist Ian Patrick O’Neil

Alternative rock band Deer Tick, known for its blend of influences from grungy alternative rock, to folk, punk, blues, and country, is heading to the Academy of Music Theatre this Friday, March 2, at 7 p.m. as part of Signature Sounds’ Back Porch Festival. Ahead of the band’s performance, Valley Advocate staff writer Chris Goudreau had a chance to chat with guitarist Ian Patrick O’Neill about the band’s new records “Deer Tick Vol. 1...

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Workers rally in Greenfield in support of union rights for public employees
Feb27

Workers rally in Greenfield in support of union rights for public employees

More than two dozen workers and union rights activists rallied outside the campus entrance of Greenfield Community College (GCC) on Monday, Feb. 26, to stand in solidarity with thousands of workers from around the country during the Workers’ Day of Action. The rally, hosted by the Hampshire/ Franklin Labor Council, coincided with Supreme Court hearings regarding the Janus vs. AFSCME case, which could weaken the ability of public...

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Introducing the Valley Advocate Album Review Column: The CDs You Gave Me
Feb23

Introducing the Valley Advocate Album Review Column: The CDs You Gave Me

Welcome to the first of a new monthly column – The CDs You Gave Me – featuring reviews of new albums by Western Mass bands and solo artists. I’m a musician myself as a member of 10-piece theatrical and avant-garde pop ensemble, The Leafies You Gave Me (get it?), so I cut out the middleman and pass the savings directly onto you, dear reader. Send me your CDs, vinyl, digital downloads, or cassettes, and you might just see yourself in...

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Workers plan Greenfield rally to defend public sector union rights
Feb19

Workers plan Greenfield rally to defend public sector union rights

Unionized workers in the Pioneer Valley are rallying together to support workers rights on Monday, Feb. 26, at Greenfield Community College at 3:30 p.m. as part of a national Workers’ Day of Action in which thousands of workers across the country are expected to speak out in defense of union rights. The event is co-sponsored by the Labor Task Force of the Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR) and coincides with...

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Valley Advocate Q&A with indie folk violinist and virtuoso whistler Andrew Bird
Feb14

Valley Advocate Q&A with indie folk violinist and virtuoso whistler Andrew Bird

Indie rock and folk singer-songwriter Andrew Bird makes what he calls “three-dimensional music” – a mixture of violin, guitar, and virtuoso whistling, combined with intricate looping pedals. Bird has released more than a dozen albums since starting his solo career in the early 2000s, but is also a past member of swing revival jazz band, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and his own fronted band, Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire. Bird spoke with...

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A Sneak Peek inside MGM’s new Casino Career Training Institute in Springfield
Feb14

A Sneak Peek inside MGM’s new Casino Career Training Institute in Springfield

This summer or early fall, MGM’s $950 million resort-style casino is set to open in the heart of downtown Springfield, but before that happens the casino needs to hire 450 table game dealers, which is where the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute comes into play. The institute is a partnership between Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) to provide hands-on experience from...

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Valley Advocate sponsors scholarship for Juniper Summer Writing Institute
Feb12

Valley Advocate sponsors scholarship for Juniper Summer Writing Institute

If you’ re a poet, author of fiction, or creative nonfiction writer living in the Pioneer Valley,  you may have the opportunity to win a full scholarship to the Juniper Summer Writing Institute in Amherst,  June 17 to 24th.  The scholarship is made possible by the Valley Advocate.   The 2018 Valley Advocate Scholarship is a partnership between the Advocate and the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. The scholarship is open to...

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Western Mass Dreamers and Jewish community rally in Northampton to support DREAM Act
Feb09

Western Mass Dreamers and Jewish community rally in Northampton to support DREAM Act

Rabbi Raquel “Riqi” Kosovske of Beit Ahavah, the reform synagogue of Greater Northampton, told a crowd of more than 100 people during a frigid Feb.8 rally on the front steps on Northampton City Hall that the Jewish community in the Pioneer Valley stands with undocumented immigrants looking for a path to citizenship. “Our Jewish tradition says that we ourselves must awaken the heart of this country, of our leaders, and stand up with...

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From Homeless to Housing: Nonprofits in Holyoke lead the way in offering services for homeless
Feb08

From Homeless to Housing: Nonprofits in Holyoke lead the way in offering services for homeless

Following four years of active duty in the Army during Operation Storm and a subsequent five years in the National Guard, Michael Collazo found himself spending nearly one year in a different type of harrowing circumstance: homelessness. Collazo, 50, was recently able to find housing by connecting with the city of Holyoke’s Veterans Service Office, which in turn reached out to nonprofit Veterans, Inc., but spent nearly the...

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‘Let My People Stay’: Western Mass Jewish community to rally for DREAM Act
Feb06

‘Let My People Stay’: Western Mass Jewish community to rally for DREAM Act

Members of the Jewish community, faith leaders, immigrant rights activist groups, and local area Dreamers will join together in solidarity to support the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act on Thursday, Feb. 8, with a protest outside Northampton City Hall from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The protest is set to take place while the U.S. Senate votes on a spending bill, which could decide the fate of the hundreds of...

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Dual wellness center and recreational marijuana lounge proposed in Easthampton
Feb01

Dual wellness center and recreational marijuana lounge proposed in Easthampton

Cannabis isn’t exactly the first thing that you’d think of when the topic of holistic wellness is brought up, but a new Easthampton business called Chronic Trips hope to change some of the dialog about wellness and recreational weed. Seth Frappier, the owner and founder of Chronic Trips, said he’s planning to open a studio in downtown Easthampton that would include a recreational marijuana lounge paired with more traditional elements...

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Springfield to Boston Passenger Rail Drives Forward with New Study
Jan31

Springfield to Boston Passenger Rail Drives Forward with New Study

A passenger rail service connecting Springfield to Boston is one step closer to becoming reality. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) recently released a draft of its 2018 Rail Plan for the state, which includes a study for rail service connecting the Pioneer Valley with the Greater Boston area. State Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), the chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging...

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VIDEO: The Screaming Hearts on Valley Advocate Sessions Friday
Jan31

VIDEO: The Screaming Hearts on Valley Advocate Sessions Friday

The Screaming Hearts is edgy alternative rock with indie soul. Check out a teaser for the band’s acoustic set, which will be released in full this Friday.

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Valley Advocate Q&A with legendary blues harpist and singer James Montgomery
Jan26

Valley Advocate Q&A with legendary blues harpist and singer James Montgomery

Blues harmonica and singer James Montgomery is a blues legend. Growing up in Detroit, he learned the blues first-hands from blues harp virtuoso James Cotton, and has been a presence in blues music for decades with the James Montgomery Band. Valley Advocate Staff Writer Chris Goudreau interviewed Montgomery ahead of his Feb. 10 performance at the Iron Horse Music Hall, in which Montgomery talked about his passion for blues music, his...

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Musical Fundraiser for Charles Neville unites Pioneer Valley and New Orleans communities
Jan25

Musical Fundraiser for Charles Neville unites Pioneer Valley and New Orleans communities

Charles Neville, Grammy award winning saxophonist and member of R&B, soul, and funk group, The Neville Brothers, has been battling pancreatic cancer for the past two months. He was born and raised in New Orleans, but has called the Pioneer Valley home for the past two decades, and now both communities are coming together to show their support for Neville and his family. The Academy of Music in Northampton will host, “Celebrating...

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz to Speak in Holyoke on April 25
Jan24

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz to Speak in Holyoke on April 25

The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulin Cruz,  will visit the Pioneer Valley and make a stop on April 25 at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke to speak about the transformation of her city and Puerto Rico after the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Holyoke City Councilor Jossie Valentin, who volunteered as a relief worker in Puerto Rico for three weeks in November and organized the event, said she’ll be interviewing...

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Western Mass Dreamers Fight for Immigrant Rights in D.C.
Jan23

Western Mass Dreamers Fight for Immigrant Rights in D.C.

Eduardo Samaniego, a 25-year-old Hampshire College student and undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was one of hundreds of thousands of people to travel to Washington D.C. this past week to advocate for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Samaniego said he hopes Democrats would “continue to stay strong and represent the best values and best traditions of this country” by supporting the DREAM Act, which...

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In Uncertain Political Climate, Democratic Challengers Hope to Unseat Popular Gov. Baker
Jan22

In Uncertain Political Climate, Democratic Challengers Hope to Unseat Popular Gov. Baker

By most accounts, Gov. Charlie Baker is popular with the people of Massachusetts despite being a Republican in a state that’s known to be one of the bluest in the country. Baker’s popularity has survived his mediocre environmental record and his bill mandating state cooperation with federal immigration officers, but we have yet to see whether what looks to be a growing Democratic wave election might knock him off his perch. Three...

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Jewish Day School in Northampton to Hold First ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ Saturday
Jan18

Jewish Day School in Northampton to Hold First ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ Saturday

The Lander-Grinspoon Academy, a K-6 Jewish day school in Northampton, is celebrating the Jewish ceremony of Havdallah with music and a Drag Queen Story Hour featuring local drag queen Jenayah De Rosario this Saturday on Jan. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. “I hope that the children come away feeling like they’re more comfortable with people who are different than they are, and also to participate in Havdallah with us,” Ellen Frank, executive...

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Northampton Resident Challenges Mayor to Race Over Plastic Bag Ban
Jan17

Northampton Resident Challenges Mayor to Race Over Plastic Bag Ban

Northampton’s two-year-old plastic bag ban has an outspoken opponent in McDonald House resident John Gibney, who gets around using a cane. Gibney, who wrote the Advocate an email this week with the subject “paper bags suck,” challenged Mayor David Narkewicz and members of the City Council to a race from State Street Fruit Store to City Hall. He would use plastic bags and the officials could use paper. “I will provide the canes,” he...

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Henry Rollins on Travel, Photography, and Running for President
Jan16

Henry Rollins on Travel, Photography, and Running for President

Henry Rollins embodies the punk ethos in more ways than one — he’s well known for his role as vocalist for 1980s hardcore punk band, Black Flag, and he’s also an actor, orator, photographer, writer, television and radio host, as well as a comedian. Rollins is stopping by the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton on Jan. 19 during his Travel Slideshow tour — an intimate evening of stories showcasing photos he’s taken across the...

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OroborO’s Laughing Death is an Impact Crater of Hardcore Punk and Math Rock
Jan16

OroborO’s Laughing Death is an Impact Crater of Hardcore Punk and Math Rock

Amherst-based OroborO’s debut album, Laughing Death, is a furiously upbeat apocalyptic vision of doom metal, hardcore punk, math rock, and jazzy psychedelia with a wry dark sense of humor that’s like going for a quaint and pleasant stroll while sirens wail and mushroom cloud explosions dot the horizon. OroborO consists of Nate Kellogg (guitars and synth), Jordan Frick (drums), Emily Carter (vocals), and Spencer Gusha (bass), and plays...

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Trump Rhetoric Simmers During MLK Event
Jan15

Trump Rhetoric Simmers During MLK Event

Hundreds of the people gathered in the auditorium of the MassMutual to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his ideals to fight against racial injustice on Jan. 15 in downtown Springfield. Young musicians from the Community Music School of Springfield performed orchestral and jazz music; there were interpretive dancers from the Dramatic Reaching Everyone’s Artistic Mentality, and gospel music performed by the...

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Panhandlers Find Loophole in Holyoke Law
Jan08

Panhandlers Find Loophole in Holyoke Law

Matt LeBlanc stood near the Interstate 391 exit near High Street in Holyoke, holding a sign that read, “Homeless vet — hungry and cold” while heavy snowfall rained down in the frigid afternoon of Jan. 4. LeBlanc started panhandling at around 10:30 a.m. and by 1 p.m. had only made $1. On Nov. 21,  Holyoke City Council voted unanimously, 12-0, to adopt a state ordinance that would fine panhandlers up to $50. According to Chapter 85,...

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Editorial: Lawsuit may help recovery of those affected by opioid addiction
Jan08

Editorial: Lawsuit may help recovery of those affected by opioid addiction

Treating America’s opioid addiction crisis is, tragically, creating a growth industry that provides long-term intervention and treatment for millions of our fellow citizens. But who is going to pay the tab? Families? Insurance companies? State, local and federal governments? Big Pharma has a responsibility and will join the list, especially if many of the nation’s cities and states have their way, in court. Greenfield has become the...

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