Valley Rising to Showcase Top Local Music Talent
Valley Rising Compilation Album Release Party: Joshua Meltzer, Dave Dersham, Wolfman Conspiracy, Doug Ratner and The Watchmen, The Raft, Sandy Bailey, Infinite August, Lux Deluxe, Jamie Kent & The Options, The Sun Parade, Darlingside. Iron Horse Music Hall, 16 Center Street, Sunday Dec. 11, 7 p.m.; $15 at the door..
NORTHAMPTON— “Hey, that t-shirt’s a collector’s item!”
I was dancing to The Lonesome Brothers at The Florence Civic Center last summer, when the venerable Lobros’ bassist Ray Mason noted my well-worn 1999 Northampton Music Festival T-shirt.
On the back of the tee was a list of bands, among them The Aloha Steamtrain, Ware River Club, Playtopia, King Radio, Claudia Malibu, and yes, the Lobros.
Some remain. Some have gone. Many of those who remain are spouting grey hair.
Much has changed besides performer hair color since I got that t-shirt, as the brave new world of the Internet has transformed the music business.
But one thing’s for sure — there will always be new talent rising up through the club scene. The challenge lies in finding ways for talented up-and-coming musicians to gain national recognition.
Marketing Regional Talent: Valley Rising
Northampton musician and entrepreneur Jamie Kent has a vision for promoting the best regional talent emerging from western Massachusetts. It’s called Valley Rising.
Kent has collected 12 tracks from emerging artists, produced a CD, and lined up the bands for a show at the Iron Horse this Sunday.
“On the road our best shows are always the ones that we share with other bands. So I thought, if we’re joining forces with awesome bands on the road, why not do it where we live?”
His hope is that the Valley Rising project will give a boost to musicians who are on the verge of breaking through to the next level.
Doug Ratner and his band The Watchmen have already had a taste of that world. “We recently played at the Warped Tour in Long Island, at Pearl Street in Northampton a couple months back, and at The Springfield Civic Center in front of 2,500 people,” he wrote.
Video: Doug Ratner plays acoustic
He describes his sound as “down and dirty rock ‘n’ roll; Guns N’ Roses- The Who-style intensity” which makes him a bit of an aberration in a scene full of arty singer-songwriter types.
“To be honest, we’re not like a lot of the bands around here. We often feel a little rebellious and like outcasts. But all in all, it’s very cool to live here knowing that so many different types of music exist all at once.”
Sandy Bailey represents the other side of the Valley’s musical spectrum. She grew up singing gospel music in church, and describes her contribution to Valley Rising as laid-back folk and gospel.
She seems a bit more comfortable in the community’s musical milieu. “I do think it’s great that I don’t have to look far to find world-class musicians to play with. There’s just such a great support system here, and I don’t feel like I could do what I’m doing living in any other place.”
The Raft is an eclectic six-piece ensemble from Westfield with roots in Rock & Roll, Reggae, Jazz, Funk and African rhythms. They formed in 2009 and are currently recording their first full-length album due this fall.
Their guitarist, Alex Drenga, is amazed at the musical diversity you can find in Noho. “You can go into Northampton and find anything from bluegrass to hip-hop (or a mixture of the two) on any given night. I also am so impressed with the amount of talent in the area.”
Darlingside is a string quintet whose unique sound falls somewhere between indie folk, chamber pop, classical, and rock. Cellist and vocalist Harris Paseltiner appreciates the region’s willingness to embrace originality.
“When we first moved to the Valley, we played mainly guitar-based acoustic folk-rock. Now, after two years, we’ll write a song with a high-speed electro beat, a violin played with a guitar pick, a cello gliding through an amplifier, a skittering delay trail peeling off an electric guitar, and barbershop vocal harmonies. It is the open-mindedness of both artists and listeners in the Valley that has given us the freedom to stumble upon our unique sound.”
All artists will be present at the CD release show, and rocking, writes Kent.
-Dave Madeloni, 2011