Valley Advocate Q&A with YouTube star and political song parodist Randy Rainbow
May04

Valley Advocate Q&A with YouTube star and political song parodist Randy Rainbow

Randy Rainbow achieved Internet stardom with his series of political spoofs and song parodies satirizing mainstream media and conservative leaders such as Donald Trump through green screened mock interviews and now he’s set to bring his unique brand of song comedy to the Calvin Theatre in Northampton on May 18. Rainbow spoke with Valley Advocate staff writer Chris Goudreau about his upcoming performance and speaking truth to power...

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Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz pledges to support protections for undocumented immigrants
May02

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz pledges to support protections for undocumented immigrants

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz pledged to stand by undocumented immigrants in his city during a May 1 press conference on the steps of Northampton City Hall and promised to support initiatives such as allowing undocumented immigrants to vote in local elections. “I will work with our City Council to try to send a ‘home rule’ style petition to the Legislature to see if we can get the ability at local elections to allow...

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From the Palace to the Parlor Room: Celtic fiddler Jamie Laval on playing for Dave Matthews, Queen Elizabeth
May01

From the Palace to the Parlor Room: Celtic fiddler Jamie Laval on playing for Dave Matthews, Queen Elizabeth

American Celtic fiddler Jamie Laval is world renowned for his unique approach to traditional Scottish music by adding virtuosity and a contemporary ear to ancient reels or jigs. Laval will be performing in Western Massachusetts on Sunday, May 13 at the Parlor Room in Northampton. Laval spoke with Valley Advocate staff writer Chris Goudreau about his passion for Celtic music, performing on a Dave Matthews record, and getting to play...

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Students continue to call for meeting with Smith & Wesson CEO to discuss urban gun violence
Apr30

Students continue to call for meeting with Smith & Wesson CEO to discuss urban gun violence

Students from Springfield and Boston gathered alongside local faith leaders and grassroots organizers held a second protest on April 27 against Springfield-based gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson after activists called on the company meet with them to create a dialogue about ways to end urban gun violence, and were met by silence. Local students want to meet with P. James Debney, CEO of Smith & Wesson, and delivered an initial...

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz to Mt. Holyoke students: ‘True leadership comes from the heart’
Apr27

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz to Mt. Holyoke students: ‘True leadership comes from the heart’

Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of San Juan, Puerto Rico spoke to students, faculty, and staff at Mount Holyoke College on April 26 recounting the tragedies the occured after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the island seven months ago, while also being optimistic in Puerto Rico’s transformation in the years to come. Yulin Cruz said she learned the value of true leadership after the hurricanes devastated her home of San Juan. After the...

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Puerto Rican families living in Western Mass could lose housing after April 20
Apr19

Puerto Rican families living in Western Mass could lose housing after April 20

For the past four and a half months, Rosa Ortiz has been living with her 14-year-old son at hotels in West Springfield after her home of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, was devastated by Hurricane Maria nearly seven months ago. But now, their temporary housing is in jeopardy and they could end up homeless.   Ortiz and other families who relocated to the Pioneer Valley after the hurricane will likely lose housing when the Federal Emergency...

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The CDs You Gave Me: ‘Hush Money’ is pure catharsis
Apr18

The CDs You Gave Me: ‘Hush Money’ is pure catharsis

Last year, I reviewed psychedelic bluesy rock band, Old Flame, with their debut extended play (EP) “Wolf in the Heather.” Now, a year later the band has released a new six-song EP called “Hush Money” continuing to create political charged art rock that takes an every-man approach mixing politics with raw emotion.   Hush Money by Old Flame Hush Money kicks off with “Hollow,” a psych rock meditation with intricate guitar riffs that...

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Massachusetts readies for legal fight over ‘Student Loan Bill of Rights’
Apr13

Massachusetts readies for legal fight over ‘Student Loan Bill of Rights’

State legislators hope to create a “Student Bill of Rights,” which passed in the state Senate on April 11 and aims at granting better protections for students in disputes with loan service companies. There’s one catch though: the federal government doesn’t want states regulating the student loan service industry and Massachusetts may have to fight for the proposed law in court. “Right when [students are] about...

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Russian-born undocumented immigrant gets sanctuary in Northampton church amid supportive community
Apr10

Russian-born undocumented immigrant gets sanctuary in Northampton church amid supportive community

Irida Kakhtiranova faced discrimination in her home in the Ural region of Russia due to her same-sex relationship with the woman she loved. In 2003, she left to come to the United States. Fifteen years later, she is married to U.S born man and has three children, but faces the threat of deportation due to her undocumented status. On April 6, Kakhtiranova entered into sanctuary at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence at...

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Inspection of Springfield church offering sanctuary to undocumented woman finds building habitable
Apr09

Inspection of Springfield church offering sanctuary to undocumented woman finds building habitable

South Congregational Church in Springfield, which is offering sanctuary to an undocumented Peruvian woman and her two American-born children, has passed the minimum requirements for an inspection by the city with only minor violations.  Mayor Domenic Sarno sent out an email to city officials on March 27 calling for a re-inspection of the church in response to South Congregational offering sanctuary to Gisella Collazo and her two...

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Easthampton-based singer-songwriter Seth Glier takes home three Independent Music Awards
Apr04

Easthampton-based singer-songwriter Seth Glier takes home three Independent Music Awards

Easthampton-based folk pop multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Seth Glier won three Independent Music Awards on March 31 during the 16th annual awards ceremony at Lincoln Center in New York City. Glier, an Emmy nominated musician, took home awards for best album in the folk/ singer-songwriter category for his 2017 album Birds recorded at Eastworks in Easthampton as well as best song in the same category for “Like I Do” and...

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Workers Center hoping to deliver 1,000 letters supporting undocumented immigrant Lucio Perez to ICE
Apr03

Workers Center hoping to deliver 1,000 letters supporting undocumented immigrant Lucio Perez to ICE

The Pioneer Valley Workers Center plans to hand deliver 1,000 letters from Western Massachusetts residents in support of Lucio Perez, an undocumented immigrant receiving sanctuary in Amherst, to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office in Hartford on April 9. During the April 2, Sanctuary in the Streets meeting at the Parlor Room in Northampton, organizers and volunteers with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center wrote...

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Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno calls on city to end tax exemption for church offering sanctuary
Mar28

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno calls on city to end tax exemption for church offering sanctuary

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is calling for South Congregational Church to lose its tax exemption status after church officials decided to offer sanctuary to Gisella, an undocumented immigrant from Peru who came to the country in 2001 and has two children and an American born husband. Gisella’s name was released through a Pioneer Valley Project news release, which did not disclose her last name. In a press release, Sarno said...

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The CDs You Gave Me: Rob Maher’s ‘Man of Many Misses’ hits the mark
Mar23

The CDs You Gave Me: Rob Maher’s ‘Man of Many Misses’ hits the mark

Northampton-based singer-songwriter Rob Maher’s debut 10-track album, “A Man of Many Misses,” is a an ode to the underdog and to overcoming life’s pains with a wry sense of humor and unshakable empathy.  It’s a record that blends melancholy folk with haunting alternative rock in a union that, despite sounding depressing, results in emotions that are uplifting through hard earned moments of epiphany. What’s most surprising about...

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Dar Williams Makes A Northampton Homecoming: a Q&A with the Pop Singer-Songwriter
Mar21

Dar Williams Makes A Northampton Homecoming: a Q&A with the Pop Singer-Songwriter

Folk-pop super-group Cry Cry Cry, a trio consisting of acclaimed singer-songwriters Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky, and Richard Shindell, is heading to the Calvin Theatre in Northampton on Saturday, March 31. The band made their debut in 1998 with a self-titled release and is known for its lush three part harmonies and reworkings of cover songs. Now, the group plans to release new music as part of their reunion tour. Dar Williams is no...

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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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