That time Noam Chomsky scared the bejesus out of me
Apr14

That time Noam Chomsky scared the bejesus out of me

I had never read Noam Chomsky before or seen him speak, but I’d definitely heard about him over the years. Most recently when watching the movie “Captain Fantastic,” when the main characters — a super smart, back-to-the-land family — all celebrate “Chomsky Day” as if it was Christmas. There was a lot of hype for his talk at the UMass Amherst Mullins Center on Thursday night and the line to get in stretched well down the...

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LuxDeluxe Delivers with New Album “Let’s Do Lunch”
Apr07

LuxDeluxe Delivers with New Album “Let’s Do Lunch”

LuxDeluxe Let’s Do Lunch (Spirithouse) Release date: 5/5/17 The latest release from these Northampton rockers is a pretty straightforward affair. In fact, the album’s opening track, “Intro,” even welcomes listeners and lists each band member’s name in succession. Ned King, Jacob Rosazza, Gabriel Bernini, Caleb Rosazza and Jake Edwards, have seen their collective profile rise over the past few years playing sold out shows, earning the...

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Say Yes to Expanded Elliott Smith “Either/ Or” Reissue
Mar10

Say Yes to Expanded Elliott Smith “Either/ Or” Reissue

Elliott Smith Either/ Or: Expanded Edition (Kill Rock Stars) Release date: 3/10/17 Either you are an Elliott Smith fan, or you are not. For some, Smith is the singer and songwriter who contributed a handful of heart-rending songs to the soundtrack of the film “Good Will Hunting,” including the Oscar-nominated number “Miss Misery.” For others, he remains a cult-figure, known equally for his delicate artistry and his sudden death in...

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Stagestruck: Defying God … and Trump
Jan09

Stagestruck: Defying God … and Trump

Partway through last Friday’s performance at West Springfield’s Majestic Theater, something unscripted, overdue, and quite wonderful happened. The show was Peter Shaffer’s brilliant examination of genius and envy, Amadeus. The title refers to Mozart, but the protagonist, if we can call him that, is Antonio Salieri, a man blessed by fortune but despised, as he sees it, by God. Court composer to Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, he is the...

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Northeast Underground Turns Six
Jan10

Northeast Underground Turns Six

Another year, another milestone. As of today, this blog is six years old. But what is there to make of this anniversary? Benchmarks of five years or 10 feel more momentous than just another notch added to the belt during the intervening period. And make no mistake this blog has slowed down some over the long haul. For proof, look no further than last year’s birthday post. Longtime readers will even note that last year Northeast...

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Opioid addiction in Western Massachusetts: an Advocate Chat
Jan06

Opioid addiction in Western Massachusetts: an Advocate Chat

Each week, the Advocate staff assembles for an AdvoChat, where we bat around thoughts on a subject in the news. The chat is lightly edited. dave.eisen (Dave Eisenstadter, web editor): Kristin, you’re working on a piece on addiction, so we thought we would take that on as a topic. kristinpalpini (Kristin Palpini, editor): It’s a biggie. dave.eisen: Do you want to say something about what direction you’re taking on the...

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Dinosaur Jr. Roars Again on New Album
Aug05

Dinosaur Jr. Roars Again on New Album

Dinosaur Jr. Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not (Jagjaguwar) Release date: 8/5/16 Break out the ear plugs. Western Massachusetts’ own alt-rock power trio, Dinosaur Jr., is back. New album Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not marks the fourth release by the band since the acclaimed 2005 reunion of the group’s original line-up – J Mascis (guitar, vocals), Lou Barlow (bass, vocals) and Murph (drums). In fact, this current incarnation of Dinosaur...

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Indian Oven Cooks Up Full-Length Album Full of Surprises
Aug12

Indian Oven Cooks Up Full-Length Album Full of Surprises

Indian Oven Tenderness (Self-release/ DIY) Release date: 8/12/16 In a 2013 interview, the members of the Western Massachusetts indie rock band Indian Oven – Sam Carpenter (vocals, guitar, bass) and Griffin Bazzeghin (drums, percussion, harmonica, backup vocals) – mentioned exciting plans of starting work on a full-length album. Now, three years later, the duo has emerged with the finished product. With a name like Tenderness,...

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And The Kids near indie rock graduation on new album “Friends Share Lovers”
Jun04

And The Kids near indie rock graduation on new album “Friends Share Lovers”

And The Kids Friends Share Lovers (Signature Sounds) Release date: 6/3/16 In the midst of graduation season in Western Mass, it’s easy to forget that graduation itself is about more than caps and gowns. Students, who four years ago were mere freshmen in high school or college, are now readying for their respective commencement days, which will launch them into the next stages of their lives. Many are a bundle of nerves. Others are...

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My Porch or Yours? Montague Music Festival Marks Second Year
May10

My Porch or Yours? Montague Music Festival Marks Second Year

House shows have always been an important part of the DIY music scene. Whether it’s some garage rockers providing the soundtrack to a backyard party, a punk rock band playing a concert in a basement or even some indie folk musicians holding court in a living room, the result is the same – people getting the opportunity to listen to live music in an alternative, sometimes more comfortable setting, rather than in a bar or club. Last...

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Five Years Gone – Knock on Wood
Jan10

Five Years Gone – Knock on Wood

It’s been written before that five years is a long time. And after five years of Northeast Underground blog posts (over 200 articles and counting!), few could imagine just how much has been covered, discussed and critiqued on this little slice of the Internet. So on the occasion of the Northeast Underground’s fifth birthday, as a friendly reminder, let’s take a trip down memory lane. In 2011 Northeast Underground… Posted...

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What’s that big glowing building on I-91?
Dec14

What’s that big glowing building on I-91?

Like many local drivers, I take Interstate 91 up and down the Valley several nights a week. So I have had plenty of opportunity to wonder: what in the intergalactic hell is going on near exit 24? Drive south for a mile and a half past the Whately Diner, look to the right, and the sight you see is otherworldly: a roughly 45,000 square foot facility with semi-transparent walls that emit a flood of bright, violet light. The building...

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Album Superlatives 2015
Dec15

Album Superlatives 2015

This isn’t your parents’ best of list. To paraphrase Jimmy Fallon, “You know those awards they give out in high school yearbooks? Awards like Most Likely to Succeed, Class Clown, stuff like that?” Well, Northeast Underground is handing out its own superlatives this year to deserving albums released in 2015. Enjoy the list below, and feel free to contribute some of your own album superlatives in the comment section. Most Obvious Smash:...

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Blue Jean Committee Sails Again with Catalina Breeze
Nov20

Blue Jean Committee Sails Again with Catalina Breeze

Blue Jean Committee Catalina Breeze (Drag City) Release date: 11/20/15 In November of 2011, the national entertainment spotlight turned its eyes towards Northampton, Mass. The reason for the attention was a sketch on Saturday Night Live. Featuring actor Jason Segel and then cast member Fred Armisen, the bit was a send-up of a “local” band called the Blue Jean Committee. All long hair and denim attire, the group got some laughs in the...

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Does Cosby really buy 10,000 lobsters for UMass every Halloween?
Oct26

Does Cosby really buy 10,000 lobsters for UMass every Halloween?

After my colleague Hunter Styles dispelled the myth that the characters in the Scooby Doo TV series were based on the academic personalities of the Valley’s Five Colleges, my attention should have immediately turned to another legend passed on to me when I was a wee freshman at UMass Amherst: that alumnus Bill Cosby foots the bill for the annual Halloween lobster feast in the student dining halls. But it didn’t. It wasn’t until I said...

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The Uncanny Valley: Do Ghosts Haunt Spoleto?
Oct07

The Uncanny Valley: Do Ghosts Haunt Spoleto?

by Hunter Styles Staff writer Amanda Drane has worked in the local food industry for 10 years, and she’s shared with us some truly great stories of her time in the kitchen, including a couple about the haunted room at Spoleto, an Italian restaurant in Northampton. One night, about three years ago, at shift’s end, a deathly pale busboy slowly ascended the steps from the small dining room in the basement, where the eatery seats a few...

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The Uncanny Valley: Why do some fast food fries cost more than burgers?
Sep08

The Uncanny Valley: Why do some fast food fries cost more than burgers?

Why is it that a cheeseburger costs $1.22 at Burger King, while a small order of fries costs $1.70? Isn’t beef supposed to be more expensive than potatoes? Thanks for writing in, anonymous reader, with your puzzling — and discomforting — question. To figure out why you can get a burger with cheese, a bun, ketchup, mustard, and pickles for less than a bag of fried spuds, I turned to UMass Amherst professor emeritus Richard Rogers, who...

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Game for a Throne: Northampton’s Jesse French Dreams Big as King of Nowhere

Jesse French is not your average gardener. Though by day, the Hampshire College graduate works for the Trustees of Reservations in Holyoke, Mass. doing landscaping and maintenance, by night the musician inside French comes out to play. From jobs doing live sound at local clubs to his membership in Pioneer Valley bands like Young Tricksters, Ex Temper and The Hampshire College Grateful Dead Historical Society, French has found no...

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The Uncanny Valley: Why are there ads on Springfield buses asking, ‘Do you know who murdered me’?
Jul28

The Uncanny Valley: Why are there ads on Springfield buses asking, ‘Do you know who murdered me’?

Buses are big and so are the advertisements they often host — that’s no surprise. What is jolting, however, is when the typical music or beverage ad is replaced with a giant placard offering a $50,000 reward for information regarding an unsolved murder from 2013. According to the Hampden County District Attorney’s office, there are more than 60 unsolved Hampden County murders dating back to 2000. Some victims on this list will likely...

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The Uncanny Valley: WTF, Whose happy place is this?
Jul14

The Uncanny Valley: WTF, Whose happy place is this?

My curiosity is piqued by a recent Facebook post by fellow Advocate writer Yana Tallon-Hicks in which she documented a creepy, abandoned house complete with a puzzling sign that read, “This is my happy place.” So, I head past the rolling greens of the Amherst Golf Club and down the narrow paved road that leads to South Pleasant Street in search of said bizzaro sign. The outline of a large house peeks through an overgrown grove of...

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The Uncanny Valley: WTF, Are roadside signs offering to buy homes in ‘any condition’ a scam?
Jun30

The Uncanny Valley: WTF, Are roadside signs offering to buy homes in ‘any condition’ a scam?

You’ve probably seen the signs — “Fast $$ for Houses,” “We Buy Ugly Homes” — tacked onto telephone poles or scrawled onto yard signs by the side of a main road. The advertising doesn’t inspire confidence. The hand-scrawled, occasionally misspelled signs scream scam. Who would call one of these up? Well, me. A yellow yard sign on the West Springfield I-91 south off-ramp says in black Sharpee “I Buy Houses Any Condition.” I called...

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Three for Crowds: Trio of Music Festivals Bringing Family Atmosphere to Western Mass

The music festival, once a haven for the young, rebellious and sometimes nude, has become a family affair. Forget Coachella, forget Bonnaroo, and forget Lollapalooza. This summer Western Massachusetts plays host to three different music festivals, all billed as prime destinations for the traveling music fan, and all organized to be as family friendly as possible. Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival sets up shop at Mass MoCA in North Adams...

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The Arts: Nominations for the Advocate Grand Band Slam are Open
Jun09
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WTF: Why does it say ‘Quota’ at the corner of Route 5 and Hampden Street in Holyoke?
Jun10

WTF: Why does it say ‘Quota’ at the corner of Route 5 and Hampden Street in Holyoke?

For more than a decade, the island at the corner of Hampton Street and Route 5 in Holyoke has borne the word “Quota” — spelled out in flowers in the warm weather and black plastic edging in the cold. On my ride home from work down Route 5 south, I often wondered about, my own personal Jamestown mystery. Is it a statement akin to Shepard Fairey’s Andre the Giant “Obey” art? A call to everyone to pull their own weight? A cryptic nod to...

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The Uncanny Valley: Jumpin’ Black Flash, A Cape Cod boogeyman
May27

The Uncanny Valley: Jumpin’ Black Flash, A Cape Cod boogeyman

Spring-Heeled Jack, in addition to being the best-named apparition since the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, was a frequent haunter of Victorian London and, eventually, other parts of Great Britain. He was known and feared for his habits of sudden attack via tearing with metal claws and breathing blue fire, and the black-caped scoundrel often left the scene of a crime via inhuman leaps. There’s an odd echo of Spring-Heeled Jack in the pantheon...

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The Uncanny Valley: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
May27

The Uncanny Valley: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

Behind the scenes at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke in the 1990s, Stephen Petegorsky made a delightful discovery: “hundreds of taxidermed animal specimens — most of them really ratty — stuffed in a storage closet.” He borrowed some stuffed animals for photo shoots, and used front screen projections to set the tattered taxidermed birds and mammals against evocative background scenes. Titles like “Fish,” “Bat,” and “Baby Crocodile”...

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My Favorite Walk: An Occasional Pilgrimage to St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Springfield
May27

My Favorite Walk: An Occasional Pilgrimage to St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Springfield

On occasion, to keep up my health, I take a walk. Nearby my home in West Springfield is a mile-long stretch of sidewalk with no hills, few cars, and even fewer people outside. The homes are densely packed, and I wonder about the people who live inside. Over time, I’ve made up background stories for the places I most like: the house with the pink honey-bee “Welcome” flag flying above the front door; the squat, one story home with the...

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Freaky whales in the sky, I guess
May20

Freaky whales in the sky, I guess

Reporter Amanda Drane recently turned me on to this weird phenomenon that’s been recorded around the world. Out of nowhere, in the day or night, in the city or in the woods people have recorded the incredibly loud sound I can only describe as a giant sky whale or a mammoth train grinding to a halt while blowing a fog horn and banging on a gong. You’ve got to hear this for yourself. What do you think this is? Ever hear it...

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Between the Lines: Advocate Grand Band Slam Is Back, now with more slam!
May12

Between the Lines: Advocate Grand Band Slam Is Back, now with more slam!

Back in the final year of the 1900s, I stood, guitar in hand, on the steps of Northampton’s old courthouse at the main intersection. The occasion was the (then new) Valley Advocate Grand Band Slam. My bandmates and I had won top honors in the “experimental/progressive” category. The proceedings were festive, and they were modest in a small-town way. I didn’t work at the Advocate then, but I was intrigued to meet some of the staff,...

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A Sad Moment for Valley Music
May12

A Sad Moment for Valley Music

Usually, it’s a happy occasion that puts a band in the paper. This week, it’s tragic news. As you may have heard, The Alchemystics recently lost two of their circle. Drummer Demse Zullo and his longtime friend Brian White were killed when the van they were travelling in rolled over on the Mass Pike. The Alchemystics have brought their blend of reggae and hip-hop to audiences all over the region since 2004, and they’ve gained a lot of...

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The Uncanny Valley: UFO sightings
May12

The Uncanny Valley: UFO sightings

On the evening of March 17, a driver in South Hadley reported seeing a strange triangular craft in the sky with lights on each of its three visible points. After following the craft for a couple of miles, the driver pulled into the Village Commons parking lot and exited the vehicle for a better look. Something was flying slowly and “unlike a common aircraft.” It made no noise. After a moment the triangle “made a complete 180 and...

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Safe to Swim? When sanitation stations overflow, the CT River flushes the waste away
Apr28

Safe to Swim? When sanitation stations overflow, the CT River flushes the waste away

Summer is just around the bend and the Connecticut River — the region’s longest body of running water — remains largely unswimmable due to high levels of fecal bacteria in the water. The river has come a long way since its days nicknamed “America’s most beautiful sewer,” but considering the Clean Water Act of 1974 demanded the country’s rivers be swimmable, fishable, and boatable by 1984, have we come far enough? Andrea Donlon, river...

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The Uncanny Valley: WTF? And Other Head-Scratchers, Road to Nowhere
Apr28

The Uncanny Valley: WTF? And Other Head-Scratchers, Road to Nowhere

“Curiouser and curiouser!” exclaimed Alice as she took her first steps into Wonderland. If she were making a trek through the Valley instead, we think she would say the same thing. Our little corner of the globe is chock full of odd people, secret places, and mysterious markers of stories hidden just beneath the surface of everyday life. Plus, a bunch of stuff that just makes us go, WTF? Seriously. Did you know there’s a toilet paper...

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@Work: The Musher, Hilltown Wilderness Adventures
Apr07

@Work: The Musher, Hilltown Wilderness Adventures

Marla Brodsky’s boots crunch on the snowy path. In the dog yard behind her house, 18 pairs of ears perk up at the sound. As she approaches, her four litters of Alaskan Husky sled dogs start to stir. Some dogs lift their heads and howl. Some strain at their leashes. Some avert their eyes, looking bashful. Others lie on top of their small wooden houses, quietly resting. An untrained eye would have trouble telling these canines apart —...

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Get Out and Stay Out! 12 of the Pioneer Valley’s best outdoor spaces
Apr01

Get Out and Stay Out! 12 of the Pioneer Valley’s best outdoor spaces

Canalside Rail Trail, Turners Falls A handful of beautiful sights crop up along the four miles of this short, scenic bike path, which runs from Deerfield up into Montague along old railroad beds. But the short northern stretch where wooded areas gives way to the industrial mill landscape along the canal in Turners Falls is noteworthy as well. The old, wet brick smell the buildings expel is palpable no matter what season you pass them....

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