Photo Courtesy of Shera Cohen
The U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland and Jazz Band plays the first of three free military band concerts at the Springfield Armory this Saturday, June 11.
The way things are going, you may need a home equity loan to fill up your gas tank this summer. Once it's topped off, though, there are at least two occasions on tap this very weekend that afford the opportunity to hear some world-class music without touching your wallet.
The first may technically bill itself as West Side's Taste of The Valley (westsidetaset.com), but as entertainment chair Stella Kalamarkis explains, there is some great audio nestled into the four-day ode to the regions' top edibles. While milling around the 2011 installment—slated for June 9-12 on the West Springfield Town Common—Taste-goers can soak in the sounds of everyone from Merrick Section (June 9) and Blues Head (June 10) to John Brandoli and Elton John-emulators Bennie & The Jets (both June 11) whilst nibbling on Millie's pierogis or sliders from Samuel's Sports Bar.
"We've accumulated a list of nearly 100 performers who want to be a part of Taste of The Valley," Kalamarkis revealed. "And who wouldn't want to be involved with it, quite frankly? With free admission and all of the food, we have a built-in audience for them, not to mention [giving] them the chance to perform on a beautiful outside green."
While dedicated to amassing a diverse live lineup that offers something for fans of all genres, and giving up-and-comers like the aforementioned Merrick Section and Blues Head a turn, Kalamarkis concedes that, in other instances, she is an ardent subscriber to the "if it ain't broke" school of thought.
"Friday has sort of unofficially turned into 'rock' night, for example, so we decided to bring back Aquanett even though they have played here before," she says. "It's just a perfect fit."
Speaking of perfect fits, the powers that be at the Springfield Armory (nps.gov/spar) have announced that they will roll out three free military band concerts this summer. The U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland and Jazz Band has the honor of kicking the series off this Saturday, June 11. The New London, Connecticut-based sextet is slated to perform from 6 to 8 p.m.
The proverbial musical reinforcements drop in Saturday, July 9 in the form of the U.S. Navy Northeast Pops Band—tackling classics and chestnuts in all genres—between the hours of 8:30 and 10 p.m.
The U.S. 94th Army Rock Band mounts the final audio attack from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27, pulling from a catalogue that consist of nearly every Top 10 hit of the past three decades.
All concerts will take place at the Armory on Federal Street in Springfield unless it rains, in which case the festivities move to the gym at Springfield Technical Community College. Picnicking is encouraged.
In other news, The Nields' (nields.com) 20th anniversary show, scheduled for the Iron Horse this Saturday, June 11, may be sold out, but fans of the veteran folk-rock duo will have at least four other chances to celebrate with the hometown heroes throughout the weekend. The first of which, an open mic at Thornes Marketplace Friday, June 10, offers those who sign up in advance (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) a shot at not only performing their favorite Nields tune, but doing so with Nerissa Nields or Dave Chalfant upon request.
Saturday, June 11 finds both a 10:30 a.m. Nields family show at the Center for the Arts and a 1 p.m. downtown Northampton scavenger hunt prior to the big Iron Horse show.
Nields Weekend comes full circle Sunday, June 12, as it concludes back at Thornes with a gospel brunch at 10 a.m.
Last but not least, TT The Bear's in Cambridge will play host to The Friends of Charlie Chesterman (charliechesterman.com) on Sunday, June 12. Among the confirmed artists for the day-long benefit are The Raging Teens, The Roy Sludge Trio and the Valley's own Ray Mason Band—not to mention Chesterman's own Chaz & The Motorbikes and members of his former Scruffy The Cat. Chesterman, a bona fide Beantown-based punk rock icon, is currently battling cancer.
Send correspondence to Nightcrawler, PO Box 427, Somers, CT 06071; fax to (860) 394-4262 or email Garycarra@aol.com.