The Alchemystics

Greenfield, MA

August 5, 2016

by Stephanie (Conrod) Janicedottir

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The Root Cellar is a new music venue in Greenfield, Massachusetts and while they have only been open a scant two maybe three weeks, already they’ve had some of the Pioneer Valley’s favorite bands and musical personalities grace their stage as well as many others local to the New England scene.  And while each show has been well attended, last Friday night The Alchemystics brought the party to The Root Cellar to what would be a sell out crowd.

The Alchemystics have been a “family”, as Force would say, since 2003.  While their line up has gone through many changes, and they recently suffered a tragedy with the untimely death of their drummer last summer, they are still moving forward with their modern-day roots music, which has a universal appeal and sound bringing light and love to the audience.

I have seen bits and pieces of some sets by The Alchemystic over the years at StrangeCreek and Wormtown;  I’ve even seen a mashup of  them and other local musicians in “The Alchemysfits” at the Old 78 Farm Fall Festival many years ago, but this is the first time I’ve had the privilege to see an entire show.  I was not disappointed.

They played two sets of original songs inspired from a wide range of musical styles – reggae, hip-hop, rock, funk, R&B.  The three vocalists, including Ian I (also on guitar) and Ilana, work off of each other to create a lyrical pallet as Force’s rapping flows around and between them.  They were supported by the very capable Matteo on percussion, Chris on bass, John on keys, and Freddie, a great drummer from NYC was behind the kit for this show.   Their music is positive and highly danceable.  So danceable in fact, that by the second set the floor was packed.  

Some song highlights include “Amazing,”  a song they’ve played for many years and appears on their second studio album release, “For the Future”.  It speaks of the love a person feels from his/her woman and the desire to be worthy of that love.  Another song Force wrote and rapped speaks about the consequences “if” anyone were to hurt his daughters.  Even though this may seem like a threatening song, it speaks to the dedication and love of a father and his hopes of a worthy and honest partner to love and cherish his treasured offspring.  “Thinkin Bout You” is another song with an Island flavor about love, but unlike “Amazing,” this song is more about the passion and the heat a lover feels for their beloved.  

During the second set, The Alchemystics sang a song called “Brother,” dedicated to Demse, a founding member of the group, and Budzy, their friend and long time roadie, whose lives were cut short last Summer in a car accident.  Force alluded that they will be returning to the studio soon with “Brother” appearing on it.

The Alchemystic’s “Family”, which Force mentioned – young, old, men, women, black, white- all enjoy the universal appeal that The Alchemystics’ music has on people.  It was clear that many people at this show have been following the band for as long as they’ve been playing, and there were new fans who were just as excited to hear the music.  Towards the end of the show, a wedding party showed up and by the time the last song was played the bride was dancing on stage with the band.  So add one more fledgling family to the Alchemystic’s one.

While all of the music was playing, a shout out has to go to the bar staff of The Root Cellar.  As I said before, this was perhaps the first sell out crowd Wendell and his staff encountered, with all the rewards and challenges that a crowd that size (~130 patrons) can bring.  Two broken glasses on the dance floor, keeping up with cleaning and filling glasses, people waiting patiently, but not having to wait 2-3 patrons deep at the bar.  Bar order after bar order just kept coming for the exquisite cocktail menu using local and homemade ingredients, as well as a draft beer menu featuring 5-6 local breweries. One can even get non-alcoholic cold brewed coffee on tap sweetened with local maple syrup.  The staff was certainly doing yeoman’s work, rose to the challenge, and the tip jar reflected their efforts.  

Music in the Pioneer Valley is a unique and eclectic experience and it is great to see established bands play in new venues.  I look forward to seeing The Alchemystics again and I wish The Root Cellar all the best.  

Upcoming Alchemystics tour dates:

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Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.