The Beat Goes On: Jazz manouche and choro in Northampton, Pride music celebrations in Greenfield, and jazz in Amherst

Straight from Belgium: Les Violons de Bruxelles will headline a Django in June concert June 15 at Northampton’s Academy of Music.

Straight from Belgium: Les Violons de Bruxelles will headline a Django in June concert June 15 at Northampton’s Academy of Music. Image courtesy Andrew Lawrence

New York jazz clarinet standout Anat Cohen is also a big fan of Brazilian music; she’ll play ChoroNoho, a celebration of Brazil’s choro music, June 22 at Helen Hills Chapel in Northampton.

New York jazz clarinet standout Anat Cohen is also a big fan of Brazilian music; she’ll play ChoroNoho, a celebration of Brazil’s choro music, June 22 at Helen Hills Chapel in Northampton. Photo by Sherman Lainez/courtesy Andrew Lawrence

Brazilian guitarist João Camarero

Brazilian guitarist João Camarero Image courtesy Andrew Lawrence

Northampton singer-songwriter Carrie Ferguson and friends have recorded a new single to celebrate Pride Month, and the band will debut a video for the music June 14 at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield.

Northampton singer-songwriter Carrie Ferguson and friends have recorded a new single to celebrate Pride Month, and the band will debut a video for the music June 14 at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield. Photo by Glenn Koetzner

New Orleans jazz specialist Evan Arntzen and his ensemble will be at The Drake in Amherst June 14.

New Orleans jazz specialist Evan Arntzen and his ensemble will be at The Drake in Amherst June 14. Staff Photo/Dan Little

Jazz and Brazilian guitar master Freddie Bryant, an Amherst College graduate, will be the guest artist of the Northampton Jazz Workshop at The Drake June 19.

Jazz and Brazilian guitar master Freddie Bryant, an Amherst College graduate, will be the guest artist of the Northampton Jazz Workshop at The Drake June 19. Image from Freddie Bryant website

Lez Zeppelin, all-female rockers who channel the music of Led Zeppelin, will play the Iron Horse in Northampton June 16.

Lez Zeppelin, all-female rockers who channel the music of Led Zeppelin, will play the Iron Horse in Northampton June 16. Photo by Peter Mathews/Wikipedia/public domain

California alt-rockers Silversun Pickups will play Tree House Brewing in South Deerfield June 25.

California alt-rockers Silversun Pickups will play Tree House Brewing in South Deerfield June 25. Photo by Citzen Kayne Wayne/Silversun Pickups website

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 06-13-2024 2:03 PM

Modified: 06-14-2024 12:03 PM


It was 20 years ago today … Well, maybe not exactly to the day, but Django in June, the annual Northampton celebration of the music created by the legendary Belgian-French guitarist Django Reinhardt, is marking its 20th anniversary this year.

That’s no small accomplishment, considering the program began as a one-day workshop before it expanded to a weeklong fest with up to 300 students, teachers and performers, all hooked on jazz manouche, the swinging sound Reinhardt first popularized in the 1930s by wedding American jazz to European gypsy and folk guitar rhythms.

Django in June, founded by Northampton guitarist and teacher Andrew Lawrence, had to move to a reduced online format in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but it’s bounced back since.

The 2024 concerts open tonight (Friday, June 14) at Northampton’s Academy of Music at 7:30 p.m. with two acts: Brad Brose and his Bad Bros, an international ensemble led by New York guitarist Brad Bose, and French accordionist Jean-Claude Laudat, who will gig with guitarist/vocalist Jean-Yves Dubanton and other performers.

And on June 15, also at 7:30 p.m., Les Violons de Bruxelles, a fiddle-heavy group led by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Tcha Limberger, takes the stage. Lawrence says Limberger follows in Reinhardt’s footsteps in a number of ways, as he is “a Gypsy (Sinti) himself — Belgian by birth, as was Django Reinhardt — and comes from a long line of distinguished musicians.”

Also on the bill that evening is guitarist Max O’Rourke, a Vermont native who first came to “Django Camp” as a student and has now taught there for several years. O’Rourke will be joined by a number of other players, including Valley clarinetist Evan Arntzen.

That’s not all Lawrence has up his sleeve. For the third straight year, and the fourth since 2019, he’s organized workshops and a concert centered on choro, traditional Brazilian music that incorporates elements of Portuguese/European classical music with Afro-Brazilian rhythms.

What he calls Choro NoHo takes place June 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Helen Hills Hills Chapel of Smith College, where musicians on a range of instruments — guitar, flute, clarinet, accordion, percussion, mandolin and more — will perform.

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Lawrence says registration for “Choro Camp” is up substantially his year, with participants coming “from France, Taiwan and all over North America — so it feels like we’re hitting our post-pandemic stride!” And he’s excited about the teachers who will be performing June 22, such as Brazilian guitarist João Camarero, who he says is making “a very rare [U.S.] appearance.”

 

To mark Franklin County Pride Month, Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield is throwing a big party tonight, starting at 8:30 p.m., that will feature live music, a fashion show, and the debut of a video of a new song by Carrie Ferguson, “The Many I Am,” that celebrates gender diversity.

Ferguson, a nonbinary and queer singer-songwriter and pianist/guitarist from Northampton, pulled together some good friends, such as Pamela Means, J.J. O’Connell, Garrett Sawyer and Samara Sawyer to record “The Many I Am,” an instantly catchy pop/dance tune with rich harmonies and horns — or “a gender queer disco rock dance party anthem,” as Ferguson call it.

Ferguson, who’s written music for children and adults, has aimed this new song at a broad audience as well, with a chorus that encourages people to be who they are and not feel bound by traditional societal definitions: “We are kings and we are queens / We are neither plus both and /Where are the words / For the many I am.”

The video for the song, filmed in various spots in Turners Falls, features trans, nonbinary, and queer dancers from all over New England.

Ferguson and their band will also play live at Hawks & Reed tonight, along with Wilder Ayres and Sir Real. And on June 15, Pride Month events continue at Hawks & Reed, including a Ska and Punk Pride Party at 7 p.m. with multiple bands such as headliners Burly Girlies, a feminist punk band from Vermont.

 

While the jazz manouche players do their thing in Northampton this weekend, The Drake in Amherst is featuring some more traditional jazz over the next few days, starting tonight at 7 p.m. with the Evan Arntzen Group, led by Arntzen, the Valley clarinetist, saxophonist and vocalist who’s also gigging at Django in June.

Arntzen’s ensemble will be dedicated to a range of styles but centered on the music that’s central to his approach, New Orleans jazz. Formerly living in New York, where he performed at venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center and Birdland, Arntzen has since become a regular in Valley forums such as the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival and the Northampton Jazz Festival.

And on June 19 at 7:30 p.m., New York jazz guitarist and Amherst College alum Freddie Bryant comes to The Drake, where he’ll be the featured artist with the Green Street Trio as part of the monthly Northampton Jazz Workshop.

Bryant, who’s gigged in the Valley before, also earned a master’s in classical guitar from the Yale School of Music, and he’s become an in-demand player of Brazilian music, too. He’s a noted composer as well, and at The Drake he’ll play cuts from “Upper West Side Love Story,” his song cycle inspired by the neighborhood made famous in Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.”

More music on tap

The Wolff Sisters — Rebecca, Rachael, and Kat — bring their mix of Americana and rock to The Parlor Room in Northampton tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Lez Zeppelin, an all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band that’s won acclaim for their work covering the seminal hard rockers — Spin magazine called them “the most powerful all-female band in rock history” — plays the Iron Horse in Northampton June 16 at 7 p.m.

Easthampton’s Marigold Theater features a Queer Country Show June 16 at 7 p.m. with Eli Conley, Hen in the Foxhouse, and Julia Circa & The Wake.

The Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts will stage its spring concert June 16 at 12:30 p.m. at the Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity in Florence.

Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares closes its 2023-2024 season with a 7:30 p.m. June 20 concert at Holyoke Media by aRT, a trio on drums, bass and reeds.

In case you somehow forgot, or you’ve been living under a rock, the Green River Festival returns to the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield June 21-23.

The Splendid Nobodies, the Ray Mason Band, and Eyrie House Ruins play Luthiers Co-op in Easthampton June 22 starting at 7 p.m.

California alt-rockers Silversun Pickups come to Tree House Brewing’s big Summer Stage in South Deerfield June 25 at 7 p.m.

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