Green River Festival, Day 1 Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA July 14, 2017

Story by Eric Sutter and Kelly D

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Eric: The 31st Green River Festival carried on their time-honored tradition of bringing quality music to the region.  The eclectic musical diversity began Friday, July 14 with a honky-tonkin’ five-piece called Western Centuries who played songs from their Weight of the World CD.  Liquid-voiced lead singer/guitarist Cahalen Morrison sang a roguish love song “Off The Shelf” with awesome pedal steel guitar embellishments.

Next up was the female harmony of the Sweetback Sisters with their rollicking twin fiddle country swing and boogie.  Fun always happens with these sisters of twang who got it going with sonic sweetness from “King of Killing Time.” “Big Al” Anderson with the “Beehive Queen” Christine Ohlman and the Floor Models treated folks to his NRBQ hits and his Nashville songwriting country catalog.  His classic “Riding In My Car” sounded superb along with Tim McGraw’s “Cowboy In Me” and George Strait’s “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright.”  Both Big Al and Jim Chapelaine performed notable guitar solos. They surprised everyone with his band the Wildweeds’ 1967 hit, “No Good To Cry.”  “Get Rhythm” rocked the grounds silly to a smiling encore of “It Comes To Me Naturally.”

From the YouTube channel of Clem Turner:

The Mavericks proved to be unbelievably strong performers at the top of their game.  All players excelled on their instruments rockin’ a genre defying country explosion that busted loose the audience.  Malo’s Roy Orbison-influenced voice was operatic at times.  However, to every man the mystery sings a different song. . . his style changed as he moved from opener “Damned (If You Do)” from the new CD “Brand New Day” to Tex-Mex party anthems and Latin-vibed ballads which melted the audience into a river of dancing souls.  Malo has a mysterious soul quality to his voice from his Cuban descent. Covers of “Harvest Moon” and Springsteen’s “All That Heaven Will Allow” with accordion and horn accents accentuated the feeling.  They burned it down with an encore of Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.”  Keep a watch on this annual festival which in its 4th decade of growth is one for the ages!

Kelly: As a Greenfield “townie” I am fortunate to be close by to such a venerable yet always inspired event. However, until this past festival, I had only been to one- I bought a day pass in 2012 to see Arlo Guthrie celebrate his dad Woody’s 100th birthday with his family onstage. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event so I was thrilled even though I went by myself and barely saw any other acts, as I was clinging to the front row barrier most of the time to get a good view. Not this time!

I rolled into the festival this year with a weekend-pass bracelet and every intention of enjoying as much music as possible. My sister Becca came too! We immediately met up with some of our friends and decided to check out the Aliya Cycon Project, at the 4 Rivers Stage. As we strolled down the field, sipping our beverages, we passed by the tents filled with artisanal crafts till we got to the crowd in front of Cycon and her band.

Cycon plays the oud, a pear-shaped instrument that is kinda like a lute. It produces a haunting sound- it was fitting with the overcast weather. After a few songs, we walked back up the hill (some of us practicing one-handed cartwheels, because why not) and found the beer tent. Mercifully next to the row of, ahem, portable loos, the tent housed Berkshire Brewing Company and Artisan Beverage Cooperative refreshments.

We weighed our options as to who to go see next and “Big Al” Anderson unanimously won. A member of NRBQ, which has played the fest from time to time, Anderson absolutely wowed the crowd. Bringing the “Beehive Queen” Christine Ohlman up onstage with him, the more inebriated among us thought at first he had Dolly Parton up there! But no, she is a powerhouse in her own right and their set was definitely one of the best parts of the evening.

Dusk arrived. Mist descended from the sky. A few of us decided to go take shelter under 93.9 the River/Hits 94.3 radio tent and talk to/bother the DJs. There were unsuccessful bribes. There were awkward moments. There were hilarious (and deeply inappropriate) conversations. And then the Mavericks began!

Though we were way across the huge lawn, we could hear their pastiche of sound, a fun combination of rock, funk, Cuban soul, and country. We moved closer after hearing their soulful and unexpected cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” Unfortunately, the rain began to fall harder, but we didn’t care- the crowd was eating up what the band gave us and dancing along.

From the YouTube channel of Rohan Providence:

A few of us decided to bail before the encore but that was mostly to do with traffic leaving the festival. We had a busy weekend ahead of us- no time to delay!

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

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