The Beat Goes On: A Jeff Buckley tribute show, a slate of New Year’s weekend concerts, and more 

A Jan. 6 tribute show at the Bombyx Center in Florence will celebrate the music of the late Jeff Buckley’s one released album, 1994’s “Grace,” long a critical favorite.

A Jan. 6 tribute show at the Bombyx Center in Florence will celebrate the music of the late Jeff Buckley’s one released album, 1994’s “Grace,” long a critical favorite.

Guitarist Lucas Solórzano, known for his work in Valley favorite Bella’s Bartok, will be part of the ensemble for the Jeff Buckley tribute show Jan. 6 at the Bombyx Center.

Guitarist Lucas Solórzano, known for his work in Valley favorite Bella’s Bartok, will be part of the ensemble for the Jeff Buckley tribute show Jan. 6 at the Bombyx Center. Lucas Solórzano website

Enter the Haggis bring their danceable Celtic rock to Gateway City Arts on New Year’s Eve weekend. It will be the last show at the Holyoke center for awhile, as the owners are looking to sell the business.

Enter the Haggis bring their danceable Celtic rock to Gateway City Arts on New Year’s Eve weekend. It will be the last show at the Holyoke center for awhile, as the owners are looking to sell the business. Photo by Lee Heatherington

The Berkshire Bach Society plays a “Baroque Celebration” concert at Northampton’s Academy of Music Dec. 3o to help ring in the new year.

The Berkshire Bach Society plays a “Baroque Celebration” concert at Northampton’s Academy of Music Dec. 3o to help ring in the new year. Image from Berkshire Bach website

Shokazoba brings its Afrofunk sound to Easthampton’s Marigold Theater Dec. 29.

Shokazoba brings its Afrofunk sound to Easthampton’s Marigold Theater Dec. 29. Image from Shokazoba website

The Pamela Means Jazz Project will be at Luthiers Co-op in Easthmapton Dec. 30.

The Pamela Means Jazz Project will be at Luthiers Co-op in Easthmapton Dec. 30. Image from Pamela Means website

Soul Magnets will bring their horn-heavy R&B and soul sound to the Academy of Music as part of First Night Northampton 2024.

Soul Magnets will bring their horn-heavy R&B and soul sound to the Academy of Music as part of First Night Northampton 2024. Image from Soul Magnets website

Blues singer and visual artist Lonnie Holley and his ensemble come to The Drake Jan. 11.

Blues singer and visual artist Lonnie Holley and his ensemble come to The Drake Jan. 11. Image from The Drake website

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 01-02-2024 10:34 AM

Like father, like son: Tim Buckley and his son, Jeff, both became musicians at a young age, and both died well before their time — Tim of a heroin overdose at age 28 in 1975, and Jeff from drowning at age 30 in 1997.

Tim Buckley became a pretty well-known singer and songwriter in the late 1960s and early 1970s, first as a folk rocker before moving on to incorporate elements of jazz, psychedelia, funk and more experimental sounds in his music.

Jeff Buckley struggled a bit more to find his way into music — but the singer/songwriter’s only album, 1994’s “Grace,” has arguably had a much greater impact than anything his father ever recorded, raising Jeff from cult figure to posthumous icon.

Since its release, “Grace” has become a critics’ favorite, winning praise from David Bowie, Jimmy Page and Bob Dylan, among others, and earning 147th place on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums list. Pitchfork calls it “one of the most engaging, inspired records ever made” and says Jeff Buckley “was one of the most talented musicians of his generation.”

To mark the 30th anniversary of the album’s release, the Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity is hosting Grace—Jeff Buckley Tribute, a Jan. 6 concert that will feature a lineup of local musical stars who have all played with a variety of bands, giving them the range to handle the rock, jazz, and full-throated love songs on the album.

On vocals at the 7 p.m. show will be singer/songwriter Tony Bernardo, who “grew up listening to Jeff Buckley nonstop,” according to program notes. Drummer Jon Fisher has gigged with the late Charles Neville and the Green Street Trio, and bassist and multi-instrumentalist Josh Hirst works with The Mary Jane Jones and Lexi Weege, among others.

Rounding out the group is lead guitarist Lucas Solórzano of Bella’s Bartok, the good-time Valley band that merges klezmer, Balkan folk tunes, rock, vaudeville and a few other things.

Opening the Bombyx Center show will be James Bird, a singer, poet, and multi-instrumentalist from Shelburne Falls.

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One of the great party bands of all time, NRBQ, has unfortunately sold out both its shows this weekend at The Drake in Amherst. But at press time, it looked like you could still catch Enter the Haggis, who are playing two New Year’s weekend shows at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke.

The band, long celebrated for its danceable mix of fiddle, bagpipes, guitar, bass and drums, has long had a presence in the Valley; they were regular New Year’s Eve performers at the Iron Horse Music Hall for a time.

On Dec. 30, they’ll play Race Street Live at Gateway at 8 p.m., and on Dec. 31, they’ll shift over to Gateway’s Divine Theater for an 8:30 p.m. show.

The band has an ultra-loyal fan base, known as Haggis Heads, who helped the group stay afloat during the worst of the pandemic in 2020 by tuning into their online shows, which generated $15,000 in revenue, according to Brian Buchanan, a guitarist, fiddler and singer with the group.

Enter the Haggis had just completed a new album, “The Archer’s Parade,” earlier that year but couldn’t perform the songs live. As Buchanan noted then, the money the band earned from its online presentations was a godsend: “Fans who had the means to donate were able to do so knowing that they were supporting us directly.”

Buchanan and his wife, Rose Baldino, a fiddler and singer in the band, also perform in an acoustic trio, “House of Hamill,” and their sold-out show in March at The Parlor Room in Northampton was a blast. Their full band will probably be even better.

 

To ring in the new year with some different music, consider heading to Northampton’s Academy of Music on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m., where the Berkshire Bach Society will present its annual Bach at New Year’s: A Very Baroque Celebration.

The show is part of a series of concerts the Bach Society has presented since 1993 at the turn of the year. They’re led by violinist Eugene Drucker, the group’s veteran music director and a nine-time Grammy Award winner who’s also a co-founder of the noted Emerson String Quartet.

Bach will certainly be on the Dec. 30 program, but so will the music of Biber, Corelli, Handel, and Telemann.

More music on tap

There will be plenty to dance to at Easthampton’s Marigold Theater tonight (Friday, Dec. 29) when Shokazoba, the popular Valley Afrofunk ensemble, and Kae Sharp, who offers booming drum and bass mixes, play a dual show; doors open at 7 p.m.

Luthiers Co-op is closing down for about 10 days of vacation, but you catch their last show Dec. 30, beginning at 7 p.m. with singer/songwriter Helen Hummel, followed by the Pamela Means Jazz Project and singer/songwriter Matthew Thorton.

At 8 p.m. on Dec. 30 at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls, Wolfman Jack plays the music of the early Grateful Dead, while Jatoba offers what it calls “groovegrass” (a combination of bluegrass and newgrass).

There are too many shows at First Night Northampton 2024 to list here, but you can visit firstnightnorthampton.org to see for yourself. A couple of recommendations: Tracy Grammer & Jim Henry and Soul Magnets.

The A.R.H.S. Cabaret at The Drake in Amherst, a 7:30 p.m. show on Jan. 6, features skits and small-group musical performances by students from Amherst Regional High School.

And for younger audiences, Carrie Ferguson and Liam Hurley will play a kids’ musical show at The Parlor Room on Jan. 7 at 10 a.m.

Blues singer and visual artist Lonnie Holley — the Guardian has called him one of 30 artists that “you should see live before you die” — will be backed up by the Afrofuturist collective Mourning [A] BLKstar at The Drake on Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. It’s part of the Secret Planet music series.