Once June came around, I realized that this year, more than any other year, has flown by in a blink of an eye. I hadn’t even had a chance to make summer plans yet, but at the same time I was anxious for those summer plans I would come up with on a whim. In my opinion, those best plans on a whim in the summer always involve live music.
Scroll through your Facebook feed, or go online and the events are all over. This year will be the first year since COVID where some major festivals and rescheduled concerts will come to life once again.
Below is a collection of just some of the many musical events you can plan on this summer. There is definitely something for everyone.
I previewed Geraldine’s “Thursday Summer Concert Series Outside Bike Night” in my last story in April’s Advocate. They will be continuing the bike nights every other Thursday night until Aug. 25. On June 30, there will be a Motley Crue tribute band, then on July 14 a Zac Brown tribute band; Poprocks on July 28; Back in Black, an AC/DC cover band, on Aug. 11, and then to end the series for the year on Aug. 25 there will be Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams tribute bands. All these shows run 5-9 p.m.
There is also the “Destination Bike Night” which travels to different venues on the alternating Thursday nights. On July 7 at the Polish American Club in Agawam will be King Kuel; July 21 at AmVet Post 12 in Chicopee will be General Gist; Aug. 4 at Polish American Club in Agawam will be Raise Your Hand (a Bon Jovi tribute); Aug. 18 at AmVet Post 12 in Chicopee will be Night Moves. The shows run 6-9 p.m. at the venues described.Pines Theater at Look Park
The summer lineup at Pines Theater at Look Park in Florence is loaded with big names. Regina Spektor kicks it off on July 26, then two days later on July 28, Ani DiFranco graces the stage. Both women are such iconic indie rock goddesses, especially if you were growing up in the 90s and early 00s, you had them on repeat on your playlists, and they helped you deal with your emotions, lyrically.
Continuing in August, southern jam band Gov’t Mule will be there on the 10th, country folk artist Mary Chapin Carpenter on the 13th, new wave pop/punk icon Elvis Costello on the 15th, then the folk duo Indigo Girls on the 24th. Definitely something for everyone this year at the Pines.
I didn’t see any word on Transperformance this year, one of my favorite Valley musical events, so here’s hoping that next year it will return.
Race Street Live in Holyoke
As a piece to the Gateway City Arts puzzle, the Race Street Live venue will host some awesome shows this summer. Oh He Dead will be there on July 17. I’m not going to lie, I’ve never heard of them until I was writing this story, and I came across the name and was intrigued to hear them. I instantly fell in love. They are an indie soul group based out of D.C., that seems to give off great live show vibes from what I gathered upon deep investigation on my YouTube rabbit hole.
Rock/punk/folk party band Deer Tick will be there on July 29; country singer/songwriter Ruston Kelly on Aug. 5; folk duo Shovels & Rope on Aug. 16; rock band Bully on Aug. 29 and so many more shows scattered throughout the summer.
Hero and the Horror
Springfield-based rock/hardcorists Hero and the Horror first birthed their band in 2017, and since then have had plenty of shows in the area and produced a handful of singles. They have a music video for one of their singles, “Another World,” available to check out on YouTube. Their sound reminds me of the classic Western Mass rock/hardcore bands from back in the day that we would flock to go see at Fat Cats in Springfield. Melodic vocals with the gut wrenching screams and heavy riffs to bang your head to.
In the coming months they have a new single to release as well as beginning prep for upcoming material, possibly an EP. You’ll be able to catch them live throughout the summer on various dates. June 30 at Geraldines in Chicopee with local rock band Gaiah and Rubikon; July 22 at The Tank in Agawam with Sepsis and Odds of Eden; Aug. 5 back at Geraldines; Aug. 26 at The O’s in Sunderland with Inverter; then back at Geraldines on Aug. 28 with Barbarian Thieves and Kings and Liars.
Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival 8/12 — 8/13
Another beloved festival that is coming back this year since the pandemic is the Springfield Jazz and Roots Fest. This year the location will be in the streets surrounding Stearns Square. Both Worthington Street and Bridge Street will be closed making it into a walking festival loaded with music, food, arts and crafts vendors, and more.
“This internationally heralded festival has become a powerful expression of civic pride, uniting our region’s diverse cultural communities through music, art, education, and revelry,” their Facebook mission statement stated.
The festival will kick off at Wood Museum of Springfield History. Ticket holders will have access to “Horn Man: The Life and Musical Legacy of Charles Neville” exhibit, then will be inviting to join in a parade to walk down to the stage to the opening performance.
This family-friendly event is always free, but this year due to COVID protocols, they are requiring to RSVP to capacity limitations. You can do so at springfieldjazzfest.com.Charlemont Reggae Festival 8/20
Presented by Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield, the Charlemont Reggae Festival will be back this year for the first time since 2019. The festival has been an accumulation of the best reggae and Caribbean artists in Western Mass since 1985. Tying it all together with food, art, community and good vibes.
Their slogan, “Rooted in Love and Positivity,” is inviting enough. In a world filled with so much more negativity and hate lately, it would be nice to step into a safe zone and zone out to some soulful music. The event starts at 2 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m. at the Charlemont Fairgrounds in Charlemont.
RPM Fest 9/2-9/4
As a kiss goodbye to summer, the RPM Fest is also making a comeback this year. On Labor Day weekend, there will be three full days of heavy music, food trucks, craft brewing, outdoor activities, vendors of all sorts of creative goodies and camping. Although, you don’t have to camp, you can go for a single day or all three and not have to camp. rpmfest.org has all the info.
Produced by Promotorhead Entertainment, PDP Productions and Robo Sound, this fest is like a weekend retreat for the metal head or punk. One year I went with a tote bag, with just a few things in it. I left with it filled with goodies I bought from the vendors and did some early holiday shopping. It’s also housed at the Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club in Montague which is in the middle of a forest, so you can get your nature cleansing on while shopping for comic books and punking out. Full lineup and vendor list is on their website.