Mad Habits on the Valley Advocate Sessions Stage
Oct29

Mad Habits on the Valley Advocate Sessions Stage

Mad Habits is a  jazz-tinged progressive folk trio from Holyoke with vocal harmonies and strings. Check out the band’s complete Valley Advocate Sessions performance in the video below. Interview with Mad...

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Bizarro Briefs: Singing Locusts
Oct11

Bizarro Briefs: Singing Locusts

An opera about locusts in the Rocky Mountains? You bet. Locust: The Opera premiered on Sept. 28 at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. The piece tells the tale of the lost Rocky Mountain locust through arias and recitatives. Locusts disappeared in the Rockies during the early 20th century and no one’s 100 percent why. For decades, the insect could be found by the trillions. During the 19th century, they were...

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Longmeadow artist Max Rudolph wants you to draw in his community-wide giant coloring book project
Oct09

Longmeadow artist Max Rudolph wants you to draw in his community-wide giant coloring book project

Every Tuesday during open mic night at Bishop’s Lounge in Northampton, Longmeadow artist Max Rudolph rolls out dozens of pages of artwork—each spanning more than 10 feet long—across the tables in back and asks people to pick up a crayon or marker and draw whatever comes to mind. For more than a year, Rudolph, 49, has been working on a collaborative art project in the form of a giant coloring book, which weighs more than 60 pounds and...

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Bizarro Briefs: Welcome to Jurassic … Er? Hotel
Oct09

Bizarro Briefs: Welcome to Jurassic … Er? Hotel

A hotel in Japan has a very weird and niche schtick, and that’s saying a lot considering Japan is known for many things wonderfully weird. This hotel has a reception desk manned by robot dinosaurs. Whether you speak Japanese, English, Chinese or Korean, the pair of robo-dinos are more than happy to assist their customers at the east Tokyo hotel through the use of a tablet system. The hotel belongs to the Henn na (weird in English)...

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Bizarro Briefs: A Mammoth Hat
Aug31

Bizarro Briefs: A Mammoth Hat

If you suddenly came into possession of a bag of woolly mammoth hair, the first thing to come to mind likely wouldn’t be a hat. A man in Yakutsk, the capital of one of Russia’s eastern provinces, created a traditional style hat, usually reserved for horse hair, from woolly mammoth hairs. The bag of ancient fur had been sold to the man from a relative in need of funds after it was discovered on a permafrost melt hunt. Now, the man is...

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Student-led group SALT brings alternative music to UMass Amherst
Aug29

Student-led group SALT brings alternative music to UMass Amherst

For the past four years, students at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst have been bringing alternative DIY local and regional music to the college through a student organization called Students For Alternative Music (SALT). Whether it’s heady math rock, cool indie rock, intense hardcore music, experimental bands, or psychedelic rock, students involved with SALT have developed hands-on skills for booking and hosting local...

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O Cannabis: Swapping bongs to benefit the Holyoke Creative Arts Center
Jul26

O Cannabis: Swapping bongs to benefit the Holyoke Creative Arts Center

The Great New England Marijuana Accessories Swap Meet will be “like an Antique’s Roadshow for bongs.” According to Jeff Bianchine, director of the Holyoke Creative Arts Center, which will benefit from the fundraiser event, potentially hundreds of people swapping, selling, or purchasing marijuana accessories and two appraisers of marijuana accessories available to buyers or sellers. The bong swap is slated for Aug. 26...

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Expressing a love for humanity through cutting hair in Amherst
Jul24

Expressing a love for humanity through cutting hair in Amherst

You can pretty much get any hair cut or styling that you could think of from around the world at Global Cuts International World of Barber Styling in Amherst, whether that’s highly stylized facial or hair cuts or something out of the ordinary. Khayyam Mahdi, owner of Global Cuts, said he’s seen everything under the sun when it comes to his professional experience as a barber and hair stylist. Everything old becomes new again in terms...

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Pick of the Day 7/20: Valley Music Showcase
Jul19

Pick of the Day 7/20: Valley Music Showcase

This Friday, the Valley Music Showcase will feature original local bands live onstage in a variety of genres as they compete for prizes such as recording time or a slot on our own Valley Advocate Sessions. The special guest for the evening is Advocate Sessions alumnus, psych blues rock group Old Flame. Contestants include indie pop band Moxie, alt country group Matchstick Architects, alternative rock band Auguste and Alden,...

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Pick of the Day 7/19: The Beggar’s Opera Cabaret
Jul19

Pick of the Day 7/19: The Beggar’s Opera Cabaret

Tonight at Eastworks in Easthampton is Gina Kaufmann’s intimate adaptation of a comedy from 1728. The production is a retelling of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, which satirizes operatic conventions, gender, and class with a three-woman cast. The production runs from July 19 to 21 at 7 p.m. at 116 Pleasant St., in the west end event space at Eastworks in Easthampton....

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Out of the spotlight: Sexual assault lurks in the Pioneer Valley local music scene
Jul17

Out of the spotlight: Sexual assault lurks in the Pioneer Valley local music scene

Author’s note: This article discusses sexual assault and trauma and includes personal stories from victims of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. The Pioneer Valley is unique for its thriving and diverse music scene with dozens of venues and hundreds of local musicians. Groups like the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., and Staind all got their start in the area in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2015 online music magazine Pitchfork declared that...

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9/11 memorial made from Twin Towers I-beam to be unveiled in Springfield
Jul11

9/11 memorial made from Twin Towers I-beam to be unveiled in Springfield

A memorial to first responders who gave their lives saving others on Sept. 11, 2001, that includes a large section of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center in New York City will be a installed at the soon to be renovated Riverfront Park on West Columbus Avenue in Springfield by Sept. 11. A special preview of the monument was given to local elected officials, police and fire department heads, media, and others on July 10 at...

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A chat with medieval folk rocker Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night
Jul10

A chat with medieval folk rocker Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night

For more than two decades medieval folk rock duo Blackmore’s Night has been performing its unique blend of rock meets medieval folk on authentic period instruments. The band is led by husband and wife duo Ritchie Blackmore (formerly of Deep Purple and Rainbow), who plays guitar and an assortment of medieval stringed instruments and lead vocalist Candice Night, who also performs woodwind instruments. Ahead of the band’s upcoming...

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Wellness: Harnessing the Power of Communication
Jul05

Wellness: Harnessing the Power of Communication

The goal of speech-language pathology is to give patients back the power of communication, which can be empowering not only for adults, but for children as well. “They’re incredibly empowered,” said Rick Carpenter, a Northampton-based speech-language pathologist who has been treating children ages 2 to 10 years old for the past 26 years. “Contrary to that, when you don’t have that ability it creates anxiety and ultimately a feeling of...

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Pick of the Day 7/1: Klezperanto at Hawks & Reed
Jun29

Pick of the Day 7/1: Klezperanto at Hawks & Reed

Boston-based Klezperanto takes traditional klezmer music and adds its own twist, introducing a variety of genres  to the mix such as Colombian big band music, funk, surf rock, and covers of TV theme songs from 1970s cop shows. I had the opportunity to speak with band leader/clarinetist Ilene Stahl and she sold me on going to her show at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center on Sunday. The melange of influences should get you...

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Pick of the Day 6/30: Cajun Dance Night at the Root Cellar
Jun29

Pick of the Day 6/30: Cajun Dance Night at the Root Cellar

The Root Cellar is hosting a cajun dance night this month featuring two local bands. The first is Les Taiusts from Western Mass and southern Vermont, an old school electric Cajun dance hall band, followed by fiddle due drive group Terrible Mountain String Band. The Root Cellar is at 10 Fiske Avenue in Greenfield. Doors open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 8. $10.

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The CDs You Gave Me: Colorway’s ‘These Are The Days’ will give you hope for humanity
Jun28

The CDs You Gave Me: Colorway’s ‘These Are The Days’ will give you hope for humanity

Northampton-based pop rock trio Colorway embodies the spirit of summer on its new nine-track record, “These Are The Days,” with inventive shredding guitar solos and catchy earworm melodies that for better or for worse promotes a simple message of peace, love, and understanding. These Are The Days by Colorway The album opens with the title track, an upbeat rock tune with an XTC-ish drumming intro from Riley Godleski (drums/vocals)...

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O Cannabis: From stigmatized weed pipe maker to artisanal marijuana glass blower
Jun27

O Cannabis: From stigmatized weed pipe maker to artisanal marijuana glass blower

Chris Hubbard has been crafting artisanal glass pipes for marijuana smokers with his Florence-based business Akame Glass for more than a decade and thinks the stigma against weed-related glassblowing is shifting, and his industry is starting to be legitimized by the larger art world. “Before the world considered us artists, we were drug paraphernalia makers,” he said. “Now that weed is legal. They’re like, ‘Oh, you’re an artist.’ I’ve...

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Pioneer Valley Project and Stop & Shop union partner to host job fair for Puerto Rican families displaced by hurricanes
Jun27

Pioneer Valley Project and Stop & Shop union partner to host job fair for Puerto Rican families displaced by hurricanes

A partnership between grassroots activism group, the Pioneer Valley Project, and UFCW Local 1459, a union that represents workers with regional grocery chain Stop & Shop, yielded potential job opportunities for local Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria during a job fair at the Clarion Hotel in West Springfield on June 26. “[UFCW Local 1459] is a member of the Pioneer Valley Project and we brought up the issue of a...

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Valley Advocate Q&A with Klezperanto – klezmer, surf, funk, Columbia big band music, and cop show themes all in one
Jun26

Valley Advocate Q&A with Klezperanto – klezmer, surf, funk, Columbia big band music, and cop show themes all in one

Klezmer music is by its nature a joyous high energy form of music, but what do you get when you add in Mediterranean melodies, Romanian surf tunes, covers of cop show theme songs, and a funk groove? You get Boston-based band Klezperanto.  They’re set to play Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Sunday, July 1 at 7:30 p.m. Virtuoso clarinetist Ilene Stahl, who founded the group in 1998 with accordionist Evan...

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In bid for seventh term, Mass. Secretary of State William Galvin clarifies his history of support for same-day and automatic voting
Jun22

In bid for seventh term, Mass. Secretary of State William Galvin clarifies his history of support for same-day and automatic voting

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who is running for his seventh term in office after serving in the position for more than two decades, is facing a challenge from Boston City Councilor and Democratic opponent Josh Zakim, pushed back on the notion that he has been slow to embrace expansive voting policies such as same-day registration and automatic voter registration during a visit to Amherst on Thursday, June 21....

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Fresh off Democratic endorsement, Secretary of State challenger Josh Zakim visits Northampton
Jun19

Fresh off Democratic endorsement, Secretary of State challenger Josh Zakim visits Northampton

Josh Zakim, a Boston City Councilor and a Democratic candidate for Massachusetts Secretary of State, visited the Northampton farmers’ market this afternoon alongside Mayor David Narkewicz, speaking with customers and vendors about how he plans to implement progressive changes to the election system in Massachusetts if elected. Zakim, who said he considers himself a progressive, was endorsed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as well as...

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New mixed use building at North Square coming to Amherst Mill District next year
Jun15

New mixed use building at North Square coming to Amherst Mill District next year

By the summer of 2019, Amherst will have a new mixed-use development of 130 low to moderate income apartments and eight to 10 new spaces for businesses at North Square in the community’s Mill District. A groundbreaking ceremony for the development took place with local and state officials on June 14, including a rare visit from Gov. Charlie Baker, who said funding for the project was partially made possible by MassHousing Partnership...

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North, South, East, West: More rail coming to Springfield
Jun13

North, South, East, West: More rail coming to Springfield

Tuesday afternoon at Union Station in Springfield, Gov. Charlie Baker announced increased rail connectivity in the city’s future. Going north and south, there will be a pilot program beginning in 2019 for passenger rail service that would run twice a day from Greenfield and make stops in Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield and connecting with Connecticut rail services to go to New York City and back in a single day. As for...

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Gov. Baker announces expanded Western Mass north-south rail service, money for east-west rail study
Jun12

Gov. Baker announces expanded Western Mass north-south rail service, money for east-west rail study

Tuesday afternoon at Union Station in Springfield, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a pilot program beginning in 2019 for north to south passenger rail service that would run twice a day from Greenfield and make stops in Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield and connecting with Connecticut rail services to go to New York City in a single day. “We’ve reached a deal with Connecticut to expand the passenger rail service on a...

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Pick of the Day 6/12: David Keenan at the Iron Horse
Jun12

Pick of the Day 6/12: David Keenan at the Iron Horse

David Keenan is a 23-year-old Irish folk songwriter with poetic lyrics who has been described as “not just another lad with an acoustic guitar; the sound of Tim Buckley and Brendan Behan arguing over a few jars, while Kavanagh deals Dylan a suspicious hand of cards, and Anthony Cronin and Jack Kerouac furiously try to scribble it all down.” If you like your folk music symbolically imbued with spiritualism with a dash of poetic...

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Confronting Childhood Abuse as an Adult Writer
Jun11

Confronting Childhood Abuse as an Adult Writer

When Lisa Zarcone was 11 or 12 years old, she came home to find her home a hot 90 degrees and her mother smoking on the sofa. She turned down the thermostat and her mother attacked her with a meat tenderizer, violently hitting her more than 20 times. She had bruises on her back that lasted for more than a month. Now, Zarcone, a 52-year-old Springfield resident, is the Massachusetts national ambassador for the National Association of...

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Folk and blues legend Chris Smither on songwriting, Chuck Berry, and living in the Pioneer Valley
Jun11

Folk and blues legend Chris Smither on songwriting, Chuck Berry, and living in the Pioneer Valley

Over the course of his more than 40 year career folk and blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Chris Smither has released dozens of albums and hundreds of songs.  He was a part of the Cambridge folk music scene in the 1960s where he first got his start and is also a local celebrity now residing in Amherst. Smither will return to the 2018 Green River Festival in Greenfield this summer on Sunday, July 15 and also recently released his...

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Activists protest ICE office in Springfield in response to 1,500 lost in ICE custody
Jun06

Activists protest ICE office in Springfield in response to 1,500 lost in ICE custody

A group of more than 30 activists affiliated with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and Mass Jobs with Justice protested outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office at 1550 Main St. in Springfield on June 6 in response to children being separated from their parents through deportation. The group marched seven times around the building, an action known as a Jericho Walk, which is inspired by the Biblical tradition...

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O Cannabis: Local cannabis start-up Treeworks aims to have something for everyone
May31

O Cannabis: Local cannabis start-up Treeworks aims to have something for everyone

A new start-up cannabis business called Treeworks is taking a grassroots approach to the burgeoning legalized marijuana industry in Massachusetts by working out of a home kitchen to develop a line of locally sourced products, including cannabis oils, edibles such as gummies, tinctures, topicals, and cannabinoid infused Kombucha. Treeworks is the brainchild of three Pioneer Valley residents in their mid-to-late 20s – Timothy...

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The CDs You Gave Me: Uncluttering the genre tropes with magic realism and psychedelia
May30

The CDs You Gave Me: Uncluttering the genre tropes with magic realism and psychedelia

When you think of a psychedelic rock band, you don’t tend to think about uncluttering the gutter spouts or other mundane tasks , but Greenfield-based alternative psych-folk band, The frost heaves and hales, does just that — marrying everyday tasks with a dash of magic realism. The band’s newest six-song extended play (EP), Uncluttering the Gutter Spouts, released on May 12 brings together an eclectic mix of genres from a classic rock...

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Gardening the Community to open first ever farm stand in Springfield this Saturday
May29

Gardening the Community to open first ever farm stand in Springfield this Saturday

Springfield-based nonprofit, Gardening the Community, which practices urban gardening in the Mason Square neighborhood and hosts programs teaching youth about urban agriculture, will host a grand opening for its first ever farm stand at 200 Walnut Street this Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Ibrahim Ali, co-director for youth and programs with Gardening the Community, told the Valley Advocate the farm stand has been four years...

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Nonprofit art space, Looky Here, to have art thrift shop, lectures, music, and workshops in Greenfield
May25

Nonprofit art space, Looky Here, to have art thrift shop, lectures, music, and workshops in Greenfield

A nonprofit art space called Looky Here at 28 Chapman St. in Greenfield will feature everything from tarot card readings to instrument building classes as well as a thrift shop for art supplies. Looky Here is slated to have its grand opening on June 24 at 9 a.m. Hannah Brookman, president of Looky Here, told the Valley Advocate the nonprofit’s mission is firstly to serve as a community-oriented creative reuse store offering art...

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Cummington resident Jasper Gardner awarded Valley Advocate scholarship for Juniper Summer Writing Institute
May23

Cummington resident Jasper Gardner awarded Valley Advocate scholarship for Juniper Summer Writing Institute

Jasper Gardner, a 35-year-old Cummington resident who has worked as a farmer and carpenter in the Pioneer Valley, was recently awarded the 2018 Valley Advocate scholarship to the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for his creative nonfiction writing. The Juniper Summer Writing Institute takes place from June 17 to 24 and brings together more than 100 poets and writers to learn, write, and share...

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Blame Cadence on the Valley Advocate Sessions Stage
May18

Blame Cadence on the Valley Advocate Sessions Stage

Blame Cadence is a one woman chorus of looped soulful a cappella pop. Watch Blame Cadence’s full Valley Advocate Sessions performance in the video below. Interview with Blame...

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