The Beat Goes On: A musical tribute to Kate Lorenz, a potpourri of sounds at the Bombyx Center, and more


Staff Writer

Published: 05-15-2023 11:17 AM

The Valley’s music scene lost a well-known and well-liked voice last July when Kate Lorenz unexpectedly died of heart failure. Lorenz, who lived in Belchertown, had originally been part of the Amherst folk-rock band Rusty Belle in the early 2000s with her brother Matt Lorenz and their friend Zac Trojano.

The band members later moved on to solo projects — Matt Lorenz is better known as the one-man band The Suitcase Junket — though Matt and Kate regularly worked with each other, and Kate brought her powerful vocals and songwriting to a couple of other projects, including fronting her band The Constellations.

On May 20 at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls, many of Kate’s musical friends and collaborators will pay tribute to her at “Sparkletown,” a memorial show featuring her original songs as well as the work of other artists who were part of her orbit.

Along with brother Matt and Zac Trojano, the performers include Chris Smither, Peter Mulvey, Kris Delmhorst, Jeffrey Foucault, Caitlin Canty, and several others. Some are coming from a good distance, like former Valley resident David “Goody” Goodrich, who now lives in Texas; he’s produced several of Smither’s albums and has also toured with Smither and Trojano.

The show, at 7 p.m., comes just a couple weeks after the release of “Light of Knoxville,” a country-flavored tune Kate was working on for an EP at the time she died. Matt Lorenz contributes guitar and background vocals to the song, which includes bass, drums, and pedal steel guitar and features Kate Lorenz on guitar and lead vocals.

“Kate’s voice has this depth of tenderness and maturity about it that’s incredibly moving,” Matt Lorenz said in a statement. He plans to produce his sister’s other songs with some of the musicians who will be part of the May 20 show.

“Sparkletown,” produced by Kate Lorenz’s family and Signature Sounds Presents, is also a fundraiser for the Kate Lorenz Community Fund, which supports causes that were important to her, including women’s rights, the arts, and children and early literacy (she was an early education teacher). More information is available at


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Now here’s some attention-grabbing copy: “Call the fire department, because this one is going to be HOT.”

That’s how the Bombyx Center in Florence has previewed Collider! Fest, their musical showcase this weekend (May 12-13) of eclectic sounds that include Afrobeat, rumba, merengue, joropo, Ethiopian groove and more. Events begin at 5:30 p.m. May 12 and at 10:30 a.m on May 13.

Music (and music workshops) also will be staged in different spaces in the center, a record fair takes place May 13, and food, craft beers and ciders will be available. So the idea, as Bombyx puts it, is to “Come early and stay late” to take part in what’s designed to be “an immersive experience.”

One headliner is Duke Amayo, the former longtime lead vocalist for the New York-based Afrobeat band Antibalas. Now pursuing a solo career, Amayo blends Nigerian musical traditions and rhythms with his work on keyboards and percussion, and his band features guitar, bass, flute, horns, violin and a variety of drums and percussion.

Amayo was the lead composer and arranger of the 2020 Grammy-nominated Antibalas album “Fu Chronicles,” which reflects his interest in and practice of martial arts and Asian philosophies. With that in mind, you can expect to be moving at Amayo’s 8:45 p.m. show on May 12.

Also on May 12, there are two performances, at 8 and 10 p.m., of dragonchild and Sunken Cages, the performance names, respectively, of DA Mekonnen and Ravish Mornin. Mekonnen is a saxophonist who mixes Ethiopian music with sampling and other sounds, while Mornin, an Indian-born drummer and electronic music producer, uses live looping to blend Indian folk, Angolan Kuduro, South African G’com, and more.

The varied lineup continues May 13 with Dominican guitarist and composer Yasser Tejada, Puerto Rican singer and composer Xenia Rubinos, and Mafer Bandola, a Venezuelan bandola player and vocalist/composer.

More information on the Collider! Fest lineup, music workshops, and ticket options is available at


The Mill District in North Amherst is offering its own fest May 13, a “SpringFest” that includes kids’ games and crafts, some book signings, and a free concert by kids’ songwriter and performer MISTER G, otherwise known as Ben Gundersheimer of Whately.

Back on the road after the pandemic limited his live appearances for a few years, Gundersheimer, a Latin Grammy-winning artist who’s released 12 albums and sings in English and Spanish, will perform beginning at 10 a.m.

But that’s not all. Gundersheimer, a former elementary school music teacher, is also the author of a number of children’s books, and he has two new ones out this year: “We’ll Make Things Better Together,” a tale about teamwork and cooperation, and a counting book, “How Many Squirrels Are in the World?” He’ll be signing those and his older titles after his show.

Weather permitting, Gundersheimer also will lead a singing tour along the Mill River Story Walk.

More music on tap

If you can’t make it to Collider! Fest, check out Easthampton’s Marigold Theater May 12, where you can dance to the funk/psychedelic sounds of Shantytown and Guess Method. Also part of the lineup is multi-instrumentalist James Bird.

Want to keep moving? New City Brewery in Easthampton on May 13 features the “Alchemical Jazz Rock Opera” ensemble Satyrdagg and the “hip-hop/funk/groove band” Stattic, beginning at 7 p.m.

Buffalo Rose is a six-piece band out of Pittsburgh that blends elements of folk and pop, mixes that with tight harmonies and traditional instruments like guitar, dobro, and mandolin, and comes up with a unique acoustic sound. They’ll be at The Parlor Room in Northampton May 13. Folk duo The Moon Shells opens the 7:30 p.m. show.

Zydeco Connection offers a dance lesson and its lively music at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield May 14 beginning at 3 p.m.

Saxophonist and composer Felipe Salles, who teaches music at UMass Amherst, will bring his mix of jazz and Brazilian music to The Drake in Amherst May 18 at 8 p.m., where his sextet will be joined by Australian trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis, who now lives in New York, and trombonist Natalie Cressman.

Also at The Drake: The Iguanas, the venerable New Orleans band that serves up a rich gumbo of R&B, rock, and Caribbean and Mexican rhythms, will play the downtown club May 19 at 8 p.m.

It’s another three-for-one night at Luthiers Co-op in Easthampton May 19, beginning at 7 p.m., with multi-instrumentalist Matthew Thorton, keyboard stylist Jon Carroll, and jazz-flavored singer and songwriter Pamela Means playing in that order.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at