Weeks 2 and 3 Strangecreek Battle of the Bands

Strangecreek Battle of the Bands weeks two and three

Bishop’s Lounge Northampton MA

March 17 and 20 2018


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Hell hath no fury like March in New England.  The battle of the bands night scheduled for March 13th was called off by Winter Storm FU, and was resheduled for SAT March 17th, St Patty’s Day in Northampton, MA.  That night band two bands battled for a spot in the regional finals: Up Chuck Kreek and Fiesta Melon.

Up Chuck Kreek is a quartet hailing from Milford NH.  They are definitively a jam band, but leaning a bit more toward the heavier end of things-  as if early Black Sabbath moved to Burlington or San Francisco.  They warmed up throughout their 75 minute set and have a slightly different flavor that is all their own.  The band consists of: Adam Bosse – Drums, Vocals; Will Melanson – Bass, Vocals; Stephen Silva – Guitar, Keys, Synth, Vocals; John Clarke – Guitar, Vocals.  I enjoyed their set which was mostly originals and fun.

Full set audio, use the arrows to toggle between songs:


Up next after a short break was Fiesta Melon.  This quartet features:
JUSTIN PILAT – Guitar, Vocals, Keys; KEITH VALCOURT – Bass, Vocals; RYAN ALLGROVE – Drums; and MARK FABRIZIO – Keyboards, vocals.  The band is tight and at time light in mood and feeling, with a bit of humor and levity in their material.  They are excellent musically and definitely come from a Burlington jamband feel (though they hail from Boston) with sometimes silly lyrics and a generally jaunty vibe.  The thing that I liked best was that the vocals often times were all three members singing at the same time, giving a united front and a strong feel to the material.

Since this site is often about how things go for you at a show, this is where I diverge from the Battles for a second.  One of my favorite aspects of contributing to this site is recording on my trusty Tascam DR40 audio recorder, and providing those recordings to supplement my memory and the reader’s experience of the show.  Ten minutes into the Fiesta Melon show I looked over to the ledge where I had my recorder stashed and it was not there.  I went over and looked for it, figuring it just fell.  The dude standing there (a nice guy it seems who probably got a lot of negative karmic energy from me for no reason, he was just standing there) said that it fell, that he picked it up, and somebody came up to him and took it as if they owned it, and then promptly walked out of the room, seeming he left entirely.

I looked around, talked to various people and it was gone, poof!  This put a serious damper on my evening.  It’s not the $150 that it cost, and certainly with the hundreds of hours of recordings that I have made and posted with it the machine owes me nothing.  It was more about losing that night’s sets, and losing the ability to record stuff for the next week or so that I am attending.  Once I go into this frustrated mood it’s hard for me to get out of it, frankly.

But I spoke with Force, who is both the emcee of the Alchemystics and is also a mainstay at Bishop’s.  He got up on the mic and sought out the recorder’s return and talked to some of the folks there.  Over the weekend I got a message and Rap Dad had retrieved my trusty recorder.  Super Rap Dad!  Alas I did not get the Fiesta Melon set, but my recorder was returned and my mood lifted!  Huzzah!

Week number two completed, I hereby declare that the winner of the Strangecreek Battle that round is…    Fiesta Melon!  Both bands were great and certainly deserving of your attention.

Check out the week 1 Battle summary including audio here.  The bands were Breakfast Lunch and Dinner, Squires of Soul, and Yookeroo.

Just a few days later, a regularly scheduled Tuesday night battle hit Bishop’s, March 20th.  On tab that night:  Djeck, Long Arm Rex, and the Diamondstones.

Djeck got things going, and while typically a three piece band there seems to have been some sort of mutiny and only the bass player singer was there.  He valiantly plowed through, the show must go on and he sure did.  He did his best to inject tone into his bass lines and sing the songs and was supported by the crowd.  Clearly this was a very difficult situation for him, but he persevered.  Good job Corey, a truly brave effort.

Up next from Boston, Long Arm Rex.  The band consists of: Vocals – Caroline Crawford; Guitar – Aaron Darter; Bass – Alexa Stamison; Percussion – Jeff Pezzone; Keys – James Peter Allen.  Various members shine at different times in the band and several audience members were especially impressed with Alexa Stamison on bass and vocals.  The band’s sound is a mostly progressive reggae jam sound, with a bit of ska and jam and rock thrown in for good measure.  The surprise for me was the reggae rock cover of No Diggity, the frequently covered song by Blackstreet.  It was a logical turn for sure.

The energy supplied by the band coming off of stage was excellent and their ability to change vibes and feel from song to song despite being rooted in one particular sound and genre.  The song that followed No Diggity was a clear illustration, it sounded nothing like the rest of the set and the lengthy contemplative introduction was a glimpse into the band’s stretchier material and ability.  After the introduction the song headed into familiar territory with a “Rise Up” vocal theme and motif that is classic for this genre.

Full set audio of Long Arm Rex, use the arrows to toggle between songs.

Up next is a local band that I love, the Diamondstones.  My band has played with them a bunch of times, and I’ve seen them probably 5-6 times in the last 2 years.  They are a great groove jam band with strong skills on all of their instruments.  Chris Ball of the Alchemystics and Medicinal Purpose was subbing that night on bass and he added a strong bottom to their rhythm section.

They opened the show with Cannonball and set up a slow rolling boil that they maintained for the whole show.  Ashton on lead guitar is a slayer and front man Ben Popowich can also hold down some leads and sings.  Matt on keys is an excellent player with great feel and approach and Ben’s brother Nick on drums holds it down.  They set down a strong set of original music that was probably the best set I had seen by them so far.

Full show audio, use arrows to toggle between the songs.

In the end it was a tough decision but the feedback I drew from the various players involved helped, for sure.  Long Arm Rex will be battling next week along with Yookeroo and Fiesta Melon for Northampton supremacy and to see who goes to the finals in Greenfield MA on April 7th for the Strangecreek Battle of the Bands.

Stay tuned here for more Battle news!

Check out the week 1 Battle summary including audio here.  The bands were Breakfast Lunch and Dinner, Squires of Soul, and Yookeroo.


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

To submit an article an article or review, or to just say hello hit us at lmnandr@gmail.com