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You’re up next: Western Mass open mic scene heats up post-pandemic
04-18-2024 7:14 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

Not so long ago, there was a general lament sometimes heard among Valley musicians: “There aren’t enough places to play around here.”That might have been true for professional players who wanted to be paid — and maybe, despite the opening of new local...

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Rattling those musical bones: Folk/blues veteran Chris Smither releases his 20th album ahead of 80th birthday
05-28-2024 10:48 AM

By STEVE PFARRER

When Chris Smither found his live gigs shut down during the worst months of COVID-19, he figured it might at least be a good opportunity to write some new songs — something the veteran folk/blues singer and guitarist admits is not the easiest process...


Come Together: New album by Valley musical ensemble TapRoots draws on a wide range of contrib
04-20-2023 3:22 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

Like millions of other Americans, Matthew King spent much of 2020-2021 in lockdown after COVID-19 arrived on the scene.But like other artists, King, of Amherst, also used that downtime to keep busy with his music, writing a number of new songs and...


Short stories from a long road: James McMurtry delivers a standout show at The Drake
03-31-2023 8:32 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

He’s been hailed as one of the best songwriters around, a troubadour of small-town America and the hardscrabble lives of its citizens.But James McMurtry has always taken a low-key approach to his music, and he did it again last week when he played a...


Two roads converge: Academic and musician Florence Dore mines connections between her passions
03-23-2023 7:36 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

Who says you can’t merge a Ph.D. and rock and roll?    As Florence Dore explains, she spent a long time traveling on seemingly disparate tracks. On one hand she was the professor who’d devoted years to studying American literature and teaching...


Book Bag: ‘Sun on the Muddy’ by Jim Armenti; ‘Common Place’ by Thomas E. Johnson, Jr.; ‘The Adventures of Robo-Kid’ by Diane deGroat
02-01-2023 8:55 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

Sun on The MuddyPoems by Jim Armenti; photos by Dave Madeloni; edited by Dan Lombardo; Levellers PressJim Armenti is well known in these parts for the varied roles he’s had in the regional music scene. The multi-instrumentalist — guitar, bass,...

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