As a member of Northampton's celebrated Young@Heart Chorus, Fred Knittle served as an inspiration for senior citizens the world over. He was proof positive that it truly is never too late to follow one's dreams ... and that preconceived societal stereotypes of what a rock star or anyone else should look or sound like are meaningless.
Now, more than a year after his passing, Knittle will be enabling a new generation to reach its maximum potential courtesy of a new scholarship that has been set up in his honor by his son, Bill Knittle.
"I had an idea to put something together for dad a few months before he passed," Bill Knittle recalls, "and although his death had been long expected, the end was very sudden and I just couldn't get that together. So it was suggested that a scholarship be set up for a graduating senior at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public High School (PVPA), and the idea just kind of grew from there."
As a means of feeding the newly created fund, Bill Knittle puts on a concert this Saturday, Oct. 2 at the VFW Post in Florence. Affectionately nicknamed "Fred Fest," the multi-band benefit will feature longtime Y@H collaborators Drunk Stuntmen as well as The Mike Hooker Experience and Bill Knittle's own Bum Steers.
"In more ways than one, Dad really was the Bum Steers' biggest fan," Bill recalls. "In fact, one year, for his birthday, we had the chance to record one of his favorite songs, "Ghost Riders in the Sky," with him, and that whole experience remains a lifetime highlight."
Suggested admission for the first annual Fred Fest is $10. However, true to the spirit and style of Knittle senior, no one will be turned away.
For more information on the show or how to contribute to the fund, e-mail Bill Knittle at email@example.com.
Also on Saturday, Oct. 2, guitarist Chris Regan celebrates his birthday with a little help from his Fear Nuttin' Band and friends Danny Pease and The Regulators and The Raft at Maximum Capacity.
"We haven't done a hometown show with DPR in a long time," "Christafari" says of his "Birthday Boomblaze." "And I'm vibin' with what the Raft is doing, so this one should be killer."
For more info on this proverbial sonic slaughter/celebration, visit newmaximumcapcity.com.
Meanwhile, over at the Pearl Street Ballroom, journeyman singer/songwriter Peter Yorn is back on Oct. 4 with a freshly-released CD he made with the help of one Frank Black.
"Frank Black is one of my heroes," he explains. "I grew up a big fan of his work, so I was like, 'Well, I've got to do that' [Let Black produce an album]. I just felt there was no way I could not take advantage of the opportunity."
Yorn can also be seen on the Sept. 30 Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Fallon Live Oct. 7.
In other news, for those of you who don't want to wait until the Oct. 9 Maximum Capacity bash to see a bonafide Grand Band Slam winner in action—you don't have to. Brian Chicoine and The Truck Stop Troubadours—2010 victors in the country category—pull into the Lighthouse in Ludlow this Saturday, Oct. 2, with special guest opener Katie Richter in tow.
Last up, a fond farewell to George N. Parks, who passed away on Thursday, Sept. 16 at the age of 57. Parks, who had served as the director of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Marching Band for 33 years, died suddenly while traveling with the band in Ohio.
"George's devotion to excellence, his creativity and his passion for teaching inspired us all and shaped the lives of thousands of students," Chancellor Robert C. Holub wrote in a prepared statement. "Truly, he represented the best of UMass."
At press time, plans for a campus tribute were still being developed.
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