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Arts Previews: Matt Stamell, AFROmation Festival, a comedy scavenger hunt

  • Folk guitarist and songwriter Matt Stamell is the featured performer at the next Song & Story Swap in Amherst March 7. Submitted photo

  • The AFROmation Festival at the Northampton Center for the Arts explores dance and the black experience with a series of events beginning Friday, March 6.


Thursday, March 05, 2020
Matt Stamell at Song & Story Swap

Matt Stamell, owner of Stamell Stringed Instruments shops in Amherst and Poughkeepsie, New York, is well known in these parts for making and restoring instruments. But he’s also a longtime guitarist and songwriter, and he’ll be the featured performer on Saturday, March 7, at 7 p.m. at the monthly Song & Story Swap at the Nacul Center in Amherst.

Stamell recently released a new CD, “Hello Old Friend,” consisting of mostly original material that spans his lifetime. He recorded it in Los Angeles with his old friend and former Valley resident Craig Eastman, the veteran fiddler and mandolinist.

The Song & Story Swap, jointly sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Folklore Society and the Nacul Center, is open to performers and listeners of all ages. The event is free, with a suggested minimum donation of $7.50 to the featured artist. At The Nacul Center, 592 Main St. in Amherst. More info at filbert.com/pvfs/.

AFROmation Festival at Northampton Center for the Arts

A dance festival and exhibit that aims to explore “the intersection between affirmation, feminism and the rhythm and movements of the African Diaspora,” as press notes put it, opens Friday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at the Northampton Center for the Arts at 33 Hawley Street.

The AFROmation Festival is a collaboration between project creators Jamila Jackson and Shakia Johnson, the Center for the Arts, Five College Dance and Northampton’s School for Contemporary Dance and Thought.

An opening reception for the accompanying exhibit, which also opens March 6, takes place Friday, March 13, from 5-8 p.m. at the Center for the Arts. Additional events are scheduled for April 11 and 21. For more information, including tickets prices, visit nohoarts.org/events.

A comedy scavenger hunt

A new start-up comedy and website in the Valley wants you to check out more comedy shows in the area and is offering an incentive to do so. Wanderjest.com, based in South Hadley, is offering $400 in cash prizes, with a grand prize of $200, in a “scavenger hunt” that people can take part in by attending shows through March.

The website, which lists information and reviews about comedy shows in the region, says you can enter the contest by attending any of those listed shows in March and then posting a photo of the performances to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, with the tag @WanderJest.

Fans can increase their odds of winning the top prize by attending more shows, says Wanderjest founder Michael Lynch. “Few Valley residents are aware of the amazing comedy performances happening in Western Mass every night of the week,” Lynch said in a statement, who added that he hoped the contest would prompt people to explore the scene.