Progression Brew in Northampton MA host Long Arm Rex on Friday January 10, 2020

So the Northampton music scene has been pretty solid the last several decades with the majority of shows happening in certain places: Pearl Street and the Iron Horse for most national touring acts, the Parlor for more eclectic folk and americana, Bishop’s for up and coming bands and the bigger shows at the Calvin, the Academy of Music and even the local colleges. So a change in that paradigm comes along once in a while but rarely makes a ripple in the local music scene.

Progression Brewing Company appeared recently in the nightclub district of this college town in New England and started doing shows. I had wandered through a few times for the local music festival, Strong and Pleasant- but this was the first time I came for a dedicated music show with a single band, Long Arm Rex. There was no cover charge and a nice crowd of people, likely around sixty folks when I got there.

Long Arm Rex was on the cozy stage and were playing at a volume very appropriate for the room- so if you wanted to rock out right in front of them you could but if you wanted to chill on the couches in the back and have a conversation you could do that, too. The room is large, and could likely accommodate a couple of hundred people. It’s lit brewery bright, brighter than a nightclub like Bishops or the Iron Horse, but not like an operating room or anything. The menu is upscale brewery fare, and the libations menu is quite extensive and from my sips of my wife’s choices, they are quite good.

Long Arm Rex get better every time I see them. They are refining their sound which is an amalgam of modern reggae, rock and jam. They are not part of the progressive Cali reggae movement like Roots of Creation or the Movement or any of the Slightly Stoopid flock; theirs is a sound more rooted in tradition, but definitely mongrelized with rock and jamband influences. Their original material is satisfying and they spill out a cover or two here and there, including Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff.

Ferris Electric jumped up with some original raps on several songs, including the new song “The Creek” which is a clear nod to Strangecreek and Wormtown festivals in nearby Greenfield, MA. “Strangecreek you saved my life… Wormtown you saved my life.”

People were getting down and the band was very responsive. They are still at a great stage as a band, taking huge amounts of joy from everyone’s responses. Every new song for them is like a new birth, and the band bounces off of the energy of each member and the crowd. It’s exciting to see a band so excited!

And the venue is an interesting fit into the local scene. Unlike the other venues (aside from early shows at the Horse), it’s a relatively early start. You can go to dinner, and see a couple of hours of a show there, and still be home long before midnight if you choose. For live music fans, it’s an opportunity to enjoy music in a setting that isn’t entrenched in the nightclub vibe- it’s very clean, it’s a good yet tolerable volume, it’s a smidge upscale, but it’s still very much live music. And for the live music addict, you can start your night there as an appetizer and move on to the other clubs and catch full shows with your musical appetite whetted from a good start at Progression. I will be seeing more shows there in the future I’m sure!

Photo by Angel Simon

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