Performing Live at Tavern on the Hill in Easthampton MA on March 31 2019

by Jimm OD

This afternoon’s show is the first in a series at Tavern on the Hill- hence the name, “BBQ Sundays Kick-Off.”  The weather weren’t so cooperative today; they had to put the band inside.  The sun came out by the end, though- of course- which is kinda odd, right? to walk outside after two full sets and see any kind of daylight at all.  But it’s an afternoon thing, perfect for a Sunday.

Perfect for this kinda gig, too, the band: Tune Raiders.  Just the FM rock side of a Roots band, this is good music for ‘Q.  The couple-few dozen people stuffing the place are all of a similar mind, it seems.  They’re diggin’ it, making it easy for the band and a little tough for the wait-staff.  From a consumer perspective, though, the food is well worth a wee bit of bother.  It’s good ‘Q.

And  now, hallelujiah!  This did NOT turn out to be one of those times when I had to do a whole lotta work just to get a server’s half-attention.  All’s I did was plant my butt down assertively at one of the big family-type tables, cast one little glance at a staffer who was already busy -but not TOO- and then point to the item of my choice on the menu (the smoked ‘everything’ platter).

Next thing I know the drummer is calling me out and I find myself picking up my ribs & brisket & pulled pork platter with four sides and cornbread, and I  move it on over to make way for the guy’s whole fam-damly.  LOL it’s all good. The only tricky part, really, was to make the move entirely of my own volition and decision while they all graciously encouraged me to stay put, and then settle in at the next table over without making anyone uncomfortable- you know, like they’d “made me” move.  Likewise at the new spot- all good, no probs.  Damn, man, I’m gettin’ pretty good at this gettin’ along stuff.

Now, this Tavern on the Hill is casual dining, but t’ain’t no roadhouse or road-side watering hole.  It’s a bona-fide ‘establishment.’  I don’t know as they’ve ever had live music here before.  And the music of Tune Raiders, well… they’ve been playing out for a couple of years now, but ya wouldn’t call them a wedding band for the stars.   It’s jammy, and it’s made up of good ol’ local boys.  Which is fine, you know; but the host/house never can be sure who-all (or what-all) is like to bomb the scene when ya got half-a-dozen local yokels and their joker friends.

As it turns out, though… no sweat here.  The guys in the band have tightened up their act in every way from their humble and casual beginnings.  The crowd they brung with ’em is a good-time crew for sure, but they’re all just a fun bunch of homies at heart.  And these folks are just the kind that an establishment hopes to pull in.  They drink their fair share, they loosen up the atmosphere, and they hang with the whole house in community.  They eat, too-  and this is some good ‘Q- real good!

As for the others around the dining room, one can’t tell if they knew ahead that the house was gonna be rockin’ or not.  Meaning, nobody seems to mind.  Their dining goes on unhindered with nary a cross look for all the hoots ‘n’ hollers and volume.  Pretty sure I saw some heads bobbing in time, too.

And the music… how was the music?  Perfect- ask anyone here!  One thing I noticed was four out of five guys singing various songs, with all the others on bgv’s, with no affect on the ‘feel’ or consistency of the repertoire and without detracting or distracting from the conventional format of having one guy up front with a guitar.  That feller’s dry voice is unique enough to fill the role of a ‘lead’ singer for maybe half the time, and the variety of vocals from the others makes for an engaging dynamic. 

After a few shifts in personnel, these Tune Raiders have accomplished something significant- they have arrived at their sound.  They appear to have established an identity.  Not forgetting the loose nature of the consortium, however: their self-proclaimed genre is, “everything we can cover.”

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I get around New England and Eastern New York to see a lot of live music, and I write about it. I’ll relate my observations, thoughts, and feelings, speaking from my own experience only; but I don’t ‘review’ performances. I’m a lover, not a critic- of music that is. These musings are expressed purely from my own viewpoint for enjoyment (mine and yours). Other ramblings may creep in here and there as I share these “memoiryviews” as I like to call them. Maybe I take myself a bit too seriously (some may say), but I really am having fun- and it took me a long time to come to this point….