Nightcrawler: A Taste of Budding Talent

It may be the Taste of Amherst, but when it comes to the concert series that coincides with the annual event on the town green, attendees can partake of a sonic sampler that features acts from the region over.

The Taste kicks off this Thursday, June 19, with a dash of nutmeg—Nutmeg State that is, with Hartford’s Ladyhips and West End Blend rounding out a bill that also includes homegrown talent The Radio On Mute.

Friday, June 20, Vermonters Snaz set the table for Colorway and Shokazoba’s “Afrofunk dance party.”

Female rock pioneer June Millington joins Pioneer Valley faves Jim Kaminski and Who’da Funk It. Noho notables Carrie Ferguson and Primate Fiasco close things out on Sunday, June 22. For a complete schedule of bands and times, visit the site of soundstage sponsor at Admission to all live performances is free.


Also in Amherst this weekend, award-winning family music favorite Bari Koral brings her patented amalgam of music, movement and kids’ yoga to an all-ages show at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art June 21.

In addition to being a recording artist, Koral is a music, movement and kids’ yoga educator. Her songs are widely used in kids’ yoga classes and preschool classrooms and she was recently tapped to host of the world’s first yoga-based, movement-and-music TV show for kids on cable’s Viera Living Network. Tix to see the Bari Koral Family Rock Band are $8 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under. This show starts at 11 a.m.

In other news… after a somewhat delayed start, Peter Newlin has announced that the 15th annual Watermelon Wednesdays in West Whately concert series at the West Whately Chapel will kick off this Wednesday, June 18. Tim Kliphuis and Dan Stiernberg get the opening honors for that one.

The series continues Thursday, June 26 with the bluegrass-tinged Boxcars. Other highlights include the Chiara String Quartet (July 2), Heather Maloney & Darlingside (Aug. 20) and Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem (Sept. 10). For the full schedule, pricing and more, visit Geez, what were the odds of that URL being available?


Last but not least… many people know Joe Whalen by name or face. In addition to being a lifelong friend and often the bandmate of the Crawler, the upbeat bassist is a scene staple who has held the bottom down for the C# Charlie Blues Band, Souled Out and The Brigade, to name a choice few.

What is far less common knowledge is that Joe “Van” Whalen was born with a heart disease, a circumstance that’s little known in part because he rarely if ever discusses it.

In fact, the only way the Crawler found out about it was that sometimes, when he left a Strawberries or Tower Records store with Whalen as a teenager, the alarm would go off. A security guard would invariably come over to check things out, and Joe would fish around in his wallet and produce a card that seemed to remedy the situation.

“What the hell do you have, a license to steal?” I finally asked.

“Not quite,” he demurred, handing me the medical document that indicated he had a pacemaker. “I’m the bionic man.”

Apparently, the condition had taken a drastic turn for the worse by 1998, when Whalen developed viral cardiomyopathy. By 2013—three surgeries later—it was determined that Whalen was in need of the a new heart altogether.

After a 13-month wait, his prayers were answered on April 17 of this year in the form of a successful surgery at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“Now is our chance to help Joe and his family know how wonderful they are and make their situation better,” says sister Michelle Whalen of the fundraising page she created at (search “Whalen”) to help lighten the two-pronged financial burden her brother is saddled with between not being able to work and needing costly medication. “You should consider becoming an organ donor, too,” she adds, “because without the amazing family who gifted Joe his heart, he would not be able to watch his girls grow up, spend time with his wife, play golf, get back on his bike and of course… play music!”•

Send correspondence to Nightcrawler, P.O. Box 427, Somers, CT 06071; fax to (860) 394-4262 or email

Author: Gary Carra

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