Bring on the music: Signature Sounds hosts a virtual and radio-based Green River Festival this weekend

  • Lake Street Dive at the Green River Festival in 2019. They’re one of the bands that can be seen on the web or heard on the radio at the Green River Festival on Air, which takes place July 10-12. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • This year’s Green River Festival has been canceled due to the pandemic, but a radio- and web-based version will be offered July 10-12, the dates for the 2020 show. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Thursday, July 09, 2020

Locally, you might call it the day the music died: the announcement in late April that the region’s seminal music event, the Green River Festival, would not take place this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Signature Sounds, the Northampton record label and production company behind the longstanding festival, is now offering an alternative.

“Green River Festival on Air,” scheduled for July 10 to 12 — the same days Green River 2020 was to take place — will offer a dual radio and webcast show featuring live sets from past Green River festivals, and they’ll be aired during the same hours when this year’s performances would have been staged.

The radio segments will air on 93.9 The River/WRSI-FM, and the webcasts can be viewed through the station’s website (wrsi.com). The music will air from 6 to 11 p.m. on July 10, noon to 11 p.m. on July 11, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition to the music, the program — subtitled “A Dream River Fantasy Festival” — will include select interviews with artists and fans, some backstage performances and other material.

The lineup includes national acts and veterans such as Lucinda Williams, Lake Street Dive, NRBQ and Old Crow Medicine Show as well as groups and artists with Valley ties, including Heather Maloney, The Suitcase Junket and Josh Ritter.

Jim Olsen, president of Signature Sounds and the lead producer of the Green River Festival, said the company is heartened that the vast majority of ticket holders — 84 percent — for this year’s live festival held onto their tickets for next year, preventing Signature from having to give refunds during a tough economic time.

“We want people to be able to sit outside in their backyards and listen to the kind of music they would have heard at this year’s festival,” he said. “It’s really our way of saying ‘thank you’ for the support we’ve received.”

The upcoming show is free, Olsen noted, thanks to its sponsors: Greenfield Savings Bank, Dean’s Beans Coffee, Maple Mama’s beverages and Cowl’s Building Supply.

The live shows to be broadcast date back as far as 10 years but will generally be more recent that that, he said; some artists have also submitted tapes of their live shows from some other venues.

“The idea is to create a fantasy lineup of our favorite artists from over the years,” Olsen noted.

The full lineup and links for buying merchandise can be seen at greenriverfestival.com.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.