Since opening 10 years ago, The Parlor Room has become the Valley’s go-to venue for Americana, folk, bluegrass, and other acoustic music — American music, for the most part. But next week, the cozy hall of Northampton will welcome foreign artists, and very great artists.
On November 3 at 7 p.m., the Franco-Algerian guitarist Pierre Bensusan, considered one of the finest fingerstyle guitarists, is coming to the Valley as part of an extensive North American tour. Nicknamed “Mister DADGAD”, in reference to the turning guitar he uses, he was voted the world’s best music guitarist in a Guitar Player magazine poll.
Bensusan’s playing goes beyond instrumental virtuosity. Born in Algeria to Spanish Jewish parents and raised in France, he has absorbed a myriad of musical influences over the years, from Irish fiddle tunes to French piano compositions to Bob Dylan songs. His playing can flow melodically like water, or offer simultaneous up and down lines and complex tempo changes.
As he told NPR in an interview a few years ago, “In music, I feel like a sponge…And I think that’s a good sign to feel at home anywhere, to feel that you belong where you are, when you are.
On his latest album, “Azwan,” Bensusan leans towards jazz, with an improvisational style that includes violin accompaniment and some of his occasional scat singing. According to Acoustic Guitar magazine, Bensusan’s overall approach is to “envision his guitar as an orchestra capable of delivering melody, bass, chords and counterpoint all at once.”
“Azwan”, says the magazine, is “an album where each track is startlingly different, each telling its own story and each pursuing a different kind of delicate, indescribable beauty”.
One night before Bensusan arrives in town, The Parlor Room will host two Irish singer-songwriters who have themselves earned good reviews. The concert, which begins at 7 p.m., will highlight Mick Flannery, who had four No. 1 albums in Ireland; his debut album, “Evening Train,” has been turned into a musical that will debut in North America next year.
The opening of the November 2 show will be provided by an Irish-born songwriter based in New York Niall Connolly, who has toured the United States and Europe and is the founder of the Big City Folk Collective in New York. The Chicago Tribune calls Connolly’s music “disarmingly crafted and beautifully crafted folk-pop.” (He) is a witty storyteller and can’t-miss songwriter.
In 2010, the Muswell Hillbillies, an ad hoc group of teenage and older musicians in Hadley, got together to play a show dedicated to songs from the 1971 album of the same name by The Kinks. It was supposed to be a one-off kind of gig…but instead, the band found themselves playing sold-out gigs at the Iron Horse Music Hall, with shows in New York and Boston as well.
Over the years the Hillbillies have continued, reuniting periodically to play the music of Neil Young, The Police and Tom Petty (and more The Kinks) at other Iron Horse shows. Now, inspired by Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” documentary, the band are set to recreate the famous Beatles rooftop concert in London in January 1969 that concluded the film.
The show, which takes place Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. at The Drake in Amherst, will include songs like “Get Back” and “Don’t Let Me Down” that the Beatles performed live, as well as songs they were working on. . the studio at the time, such as “Old Brown Shoe”, or which they had released a few months earlier, such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.
Guitarist/singer Dave Simons, who started Muswell Hillbillies, said the band will also play some past Beatles tunes on the show, their first gig at the downtown Amherst club.
“It happened after a bunch of us saw ‘Get Back’ and started thinking, ‘Hey, maybe this could be our next gig,'” Simons said. “I’m really impressed with the way the young players have leaned into the Beatles catalog, just like they have with the other bands. Their enthusiasm is what makes it all possible.
Simons, who is in his 60s, notes that these young players, most of whom were students at Hopkins Academy when the group formed, are now in their late 20s and early 30s, with jobs and marriages, and in some cases, children. Not all of the original members are in the band yet, but a hard core remains on vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass and drums.
And some of them are back in Hadley after leaving the area, which made rehearsals, mostly in a studio in the basement of Simons’ Hadley home, much easier.
Playlist choice is also more democratic these days, Simons said with a laugh. “Before, it was me saying, ‘This is what we’re going to work on. Not anymore. We are all adults, on the same footing.
You hear a lot of guitar and fiddle in bluegrass and Celtic music. But what about Bach and Vivaldi, or tango music?
Fire & Grace is made up of guitarist William Coulter and violinist Edwin Huizinga, who combine on music ranging from classical to waltzes and Bulgarian folk tunes; they are coming to the Bombyx Center for Arts & Integrity in Florence on October 29 at 3 p.m.
Both are top notch instrumentalists on their own. Huizinga has performed with artists ranging from Yo-Yo Ma to Stevie Wonder to Canadian indie rock band The Wooden Sky, while Coulter is a Grammy-winning classical guitarist.
Together they forged a unique sound. Listen to their version of the prelude to Bach’s famous Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, with Huizinga carrying the melody and Coulter adding a range of guitar textures, from arpeggios to single-note leads to rhythmic strumming tight, and you’ll hear what it’s all about.
Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple fame joins singer Candice Night in Blackmore’s Night, which mixes folk, rock and Renaissance music. They play at the Northampton Academy of Music on October 28 at 8 p.m. Sorcerer’s Consort open the show.
Get ready to swing when The Gaslight Handymen will play at the Shea Theater in Montague on October 29 at 8 p.m. The DiTrani Brothers will open.
Luthier’s Co-op in Easthampton features three acts on October 29, starting at 7 p.m. with the songwriter Lou Lamothe toggle tracking donut kings and Mark Schwaber and we don’t know yet.
The First Church of Deerfield continues its musical series on October 30 at 3 p.m. with the violinist Sirena Huang and pianist Pi-Hsun Shih. The concert is a fundraiser for the church, with a suggested donation of $10-$20.
Indie rockers tiger jaw play Race Street Live in Holyoke on Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. heart attack man and Glittering.
Lloyd Cole rose to pop fame in Britain in the 1980s with his band The Commotions and carved out a steady solo career as a singer-songwriter since the 1990s. Resident of Easthampton for over 20 years , Cole makes a rare local appearance November 5 at CitySpace in Easthampton as part of a fundraiser for the restoration of the Old Town Hall. The show is from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., with food and drink part of the ticket price; visit cityspaceeasthampton.org/presents.