The Beat Goes On: Big-throated blues in Amherst, classical music in Hadley and Florence, and more

Canadian bluesman Matt Andersen brings his strong vocals and impressive hair to The Drake in Amherst Oct. 25.

Canadian bluesman Matt Andersen brings his strong vocals and impressive hair to The Drake in Amherst Oct. 25. Photo from Matt Andersen website

Robinson Pyle will play a baroque trumpet — no valves — when he joins Arcadia Players for an Oct. 21 concert at the Wesley United Methodist Chirch in Hadley.

Robinson Pyle will play a baroque trumpet — no valves — when he joins Arcadia Players for an Oct. 21 concert at the Wesley United Methodist Chirch in Hadley. Photo from Robinson Pyle website

The young musicians of the Viano Quartet, who have already played in several different countries, come to the Bombyx Center in Florence Oct. 22.

The young musicians of the Viano Quartet, who have already played in several different countries, come to the Bombyx Center in Florence Oct. 22. Photo from the Viano Quartet website

New York pianist and composer Michele Rosewoman will lead her 11-member ensemble in a concert featuring jazz and Cuban folkloric music at the Community Music School in Springfield Oct. 24.

New York pianist and composer Michele Rosewoman will lead her 11-member ensemble in a concert featuring jazz and Cuban folkloric music at the Community Music School in Springfield Oct. 24. Image courtesy Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares

Valley roots rockers Original Cowards, joined by some guest musicians, play an album release party Oct. 20 at The Divine Theater at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke.

Valley roots rockers Original Cowards, joined by some guest musicians, play an album release party Oct. 20 at The Divine Theater at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke. Photo by Virginia Crand/courtesy John Crand

Tito Puente, Jr. carries on in the footsteps of his father, the noted Latin jazz and mambo composer and band leader, at an Oct. 21 show at Northampton’s Academy of Music.

Tito Puente, Jr. carries on in the footsteps of his father, the noted Latin jazz and mambo composer and band leader, at an Oct. 21 show at Northampton’s Academy of Music. Image from Academy of Music website

Bruce Cockburn brings his stellar fingerstyle guitar playing and extensive songbook to the Academy of Music Oct. 25.

Bruce Cockburn brings his stellar fingerstyle guitar playing and extensive songbook to the Academy of Music Oct. 25. Image from Bruce Cockburn website

Singer-songwriter Louie Phipps of Northampton, now 12 years old, will get a little help from his friends when he plays The Parlor Room in Northampton Oct. 27.

Singer-songwriter Louie Phipps of Northampton, now 12 years old, will get a little help from his friends when he plays The Parlor Room in Northampton Oct. 27. Image from Signature Sounds website

Misty Blues, led by singer Gina Coleman, will be at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls Oct. 27.

Misty Blues, led by singer Gina Coleman, will be at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls Oct. 27. Image from Misty Blues website

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 10-19-2023 3:30 PM

Matt Andersen may not be a household name in the U.S., but he’s plenty well known in our big neighbor to the north. The New Brunswick native has won a slew of Maple Blues Awards, Canada’s biggest blues honor, while also earning nominations for the Juno Award, the country’s top musical prize.

And Andersen, who comes to The Drake in Amherst on Oct. 25 at 8 p.m., has gotten increasing attention in blues and roots music circles in the U.S. and Europe over the years, winning additional awards for his prolific songwriting, crisp work on rhythm guitar, and especially his soulful vocals: The man can really belt out a song as well as channel deep emotion.

No Depression, writing about Andersen’s most recent album, “The Big Bottle of Joy,” says he knows “just how to make a joyful noise without succumbing to mawkishness. This is music that spurs elation, songs that reinforce the love of listening and living.”

The new record, for which Andersen brought in several other musicians, has a full range of sound — piano and Hammond organ, buoyant guitar and drums, a gospel-fueled backing chorus — and Andersen delivers the vocal goods on tunes like the bluesy rocker “Let It Slide” and the slower “Golden,” on which he swings from a lower register on the verses to a powerhouse delivery on the chorus.

But he also closes the record with a solo tune, the folky “Shoes,” picked on acoustic guitar. It’s a testament to abiding love that weathers separation: “We drift on like ships out on the ocean / But one of these nights / We’re going to find a moment to ourselves … We’re dancing in the shoes we’ve got on.”

Andersen has shared stages and toured with a whole line of blues and roots music luminaries — Marty Stuart, Greg Allman, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jonny Lang — but he does pretty well on his own. He also might remind you a bit of a guy with a similar name — Big Al Anderson — during the latter’s early days as the long-haired, bearded guitar slinger for NRBQ.

Opening the Drake show is another eastern Canadian singer and songwriter, Adam Baldwin, who hails from Nova Scotia.

 

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Music in the sky: Summit House Sunset Concert Series returns to its 173-year-old home
Knitters’ paradise: Webs, ‘America’s Yarn Store’ and a mainstay for Valley crafters for generations, turns 50
Easthampton to lose Pepin school gymnasium as public recreation space
Easthampton’s 11 Ferry St. project promises affordable five-story, 96-unit complex
Taylor Haas takes the reins as new executive director at Three County Fairgrounds
Sunderland receives $195K grant to study, design multi-use trail from Whately to Amherst

It’s a busy weekend for classical music, as Arcadia Players, the Valley-based ensemble specializing in baroque and early classical music performances, open their season, as does Valley Classical Concerts.

On Oct. 21 at 7 p.m., Arcadia Players come to Wesley United Methodist Church in Hadley at 7 p.m. for what Jon Solins, the group’s president, calls “a program of baroque treasures”: music by Henry Purcell (England), Georg Philipp Telemann (Germany), and Giuseppe Torelli (Italy).

Joining the concert, which will be led by Arcadia’s artistic director, Andrew Arceci, will be baroque trumpet specialist Robinson Pyle, a versatile player from the greater Boston area whose resume includes lots of work with jazz ensembles.

Solins says Pyle wowed the audience with his solos at Arcadia’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” last December and is set to do so again this weekend: “He will once again show what musical acrobatics can be achieved on the baroque trumpet — without valves.”

Meanwhile, the long-running Valley Classical Concerts series presents its first show of the 2023-2024 season Oct. 22 when the Viano Quartet comes to the Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity in Florence at 3 p.m.

The members of the string ensemble — two violins, viola and cello — are in their mid-20s but have already performed around the world, including in New York, London, Berlin, Paris, Beijing, Vancouver and Los Angeles. They’re a cross-border outfit as well, with two players from Canada and two from the U.S.

They’re also part of a three-year residency program at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for talented young players.

The quartet’s Bombyx Center program, “Memoirs,” includes short works by Schubert, Dvorak, Florence Price, and Krzysztof Penderecki, followed by Smetana’s Quartet No. 1, “From My Life.”

 

Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares (PVJS) typically features concerts with small ensembles, but on Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m., the member-supported series will bring a much bigger group to the Community Music School of Springfield: Michele Rosewoman & New Yor-Uba.

The 11-member ensemble is led by Rosewoman, a veteran New York pianist and composer whose program is billed as “A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America,” a mix of contemporary jazz and Cuban folkloric music.

According to PVJS, the term “New Yor-Uba” honors the musical journey of “ancient Yoruba culture from Nigeria, through Cuba to present day New York, reflecting its contemporary manifestations.”

To capture that sound, Rosewoman’s ensemble includes key Cuban percussion elements — three bata and conga drummers — as well as brass, horns, piano, bass and vocals.

The show, free for PVJS members, costs $15 for non-members.

More music on tap

Valley indie rockers Original Cowards will play an album release show for their new record, “Country Club Creeps,” tonight (Friday, Oct. 20) at 8 p.m. at The Divine Theater at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke. The Lucky Shots open the evening.

A busy musical week is ahead at Northampton’s Academy of Music. On Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m., Tito Puente Jr., son of the legendary Latin jazz and mambo composer and bandleader, brings his father’s music and his own to Northampton.

Puente Jr. will be followed at the Academy by the venerable roots rockers The Jayhawks on Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. (pop-folk veteran Freedy Johnston opens the show). Another Canadian legend, guitarist and singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn, plays Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. (he released a new album this spring).

Singer-songwriter Laura Wetzler of Cummington will be joined by guitarist Joe Belmont of Northampton for a Oct. 22 show at 3 p.m. at the Chesterfield Community Center.

Oct. 27 will be a packed musical day, starting with:

Young singer-songwriter Louie Phipps of Northampton, who attracted media attention a few years ago when he made an album at age 9 with the help of some noted adult musicians. He’ll play The Parlor Room in Northampton with local favorites like Jim Armenti, J.J. O’Connell, and Anand Nayak.

Got folk if you want it: Livingston Taylor plays the Bombyx Center at 7 p.m.

Misty Blues, the Berkshire band that plays a range of traditional and original blues, comes to the Shea Theater in Turners Falls at 8 p.m. for a “Halloween show.” Blues tunes about ghosts and witches, maybe?

And at Race Street Live at Gateway City Arts, Hiss Golden Messenger, the folk band led by singer-songwriter M.C. Taylor, plays an 8 p.m. show. Special guest Sylvie opens.

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