16 bands, 36 musicians take part in Good Music Makes Good Neighbors event in Montague
Published: 5/19/2018 7:09:07 PM
MONTAGUE CENTER — As rain fell outside, dozens of Montague residents huddled inside the old 1858 Town Hall, tapping their feet and enjoying jazz, soul, funk, punk and all sorts of local music.
It was the fourth annual Good Music Makes Good Neighbors event, a Montague music festival described as a “musical house tour of the porches and patios of Montague Center,” and modeled after Boston’s Porchfest.
The 16 bands and 36 musicians — at six locations across town — originally expected to be jamming outside on residents’ porches, but the weather forced them inside. Still, no amount of rain could dampen the musicians’ spirits.
“I think it’s been awesome. This town does this and it’s so great for community building,” said Noah Dowd, guitarist for Northampton’s noise-pop trio The True Jacqueline.
When The True Jacquelinet finished its booming selection of originals in the upstairs basketball court, they received a rousing ovation from the audience.
Like The True Jacqueline, all of the bands and artists who played were local.
“I feel like that’s what a music scene is about. It’s kind of faded now in the internet age,” said Dowd, who was refreshed to play for a local crowd, alongside local musicians for the second year in a row — and for fun, not for profit.
Good Music Makes Good Neighbors is the community music project of organizers Nicole Nemec and Matthew Duncan. While the event is technically free, they encourage people to leave a $10 dollar donation, all of which goes toward supporting the local acts.
The organizers say, “trust us, no one is getting rich,” and that each musician makes about $20 for the day.
However, from Orkestar Banista Trio playing at 1 Center St., to Blu-Groove playing at 28 Taylor Heights — the organizers’ home — there was a strong sense that the day was not about money or notoriety, but community.
“There’s a lot of diversity here. It’s really for everyone, the whole community,” said Blu-Groove bassist Eric Colbeck, who bounced around to watch different bands before joining his own band at 3:40 p.m. for their own eclectic soul-funk-jazz mix.
Everything from John Lentz & Friends’ “blues-based vocal tradition of American jazz music,” to World Eaters’ “polyrhythmic psych-punk with horns,” to BB Leowolf, the one-man-band and “down-home rock-and-roller” were represented at the Montague Center gatherings.
Judith Lorei, who hosts the “House C” venue each year — her own 7 North St. home — said the diversity in musical styles is what makes the event unlike a traditional concert, as well as truly reflective of western Massachusetts.
“There is something for everyone,” Lorei said. “You could literally find anything you want here.”
Change of venue
Lorei’s porch, given the weather, was not an ideal venue Saturday, so she was able to get the town to open up the 1858 Town Hall next door as a last-minute concert space.
What was important, though, was that people ignored the rain and still came, she said.
“It’s a good opportunity,” Lorei said. “Neighbors come together and share their spaces.”
Reach David McLellan at or 413-772-0261, ext. 268
Good music makes good neighbors: Montague Center couple composing village music festival
By CHRIS CURTIS
Thursday, April 9, 2015
MONTAGUE CENTER — Living on a private dirt road in the woods, isolated at this time of year behind mud puddles and frost heaves, Nicole Nemec and Matthew Duncan would seem the type to embrace the motto “Good fences make good neighbors.”
On the contrary, the couple have a plan to introduce Montague Center to itself through music. They just need more homes and more musicians.
Inspired by Boston-area porch music festivals, chamber music house concerts and the old European social tradition of parlor concerts, and with a small grant from the Montague Cultural Council for fliers and other costs, they are planning a living room music festival.
The couple moved into their Taylor Heights home in August and were surprised to hear an Irish pipe, fiddles and other instruments through the screens. With the leaves on the trees, they couldn’t see where the music was coming from but joked about wood nymphs.
“I would start, occasionally when this would happen I would pick up the accordion ... so this would be like a call and response sort of thing, and because the windows were open all the time he heard me play accordion, piano and probably other things, too,” Duncan said.
“So one day when he was out walking the dog he came up the drive and introduced himself, and that’s how we came to meet.”
From there they decided to meet everyone else through music.
“Part of the idea is that there are so many people here who are musicians, who like music, that they can get together, talk to their neighbors, meet their neighbors after the long winter and play together,” Nemec said.
They have christened the event “Good music makes good neighbors,” a play on the Robert Frost line “Good fences make good neighbors,” and picked a date of May 17.
“Somebody once referred to it as reverse caroling,” Duncan said. “The idea is to have four or five venues depending on what kind of spaces we can get, homes, and two to three musical groups per home that would alternate in 30- to 45-minute sets throughout an afternoon so people can go from home to home listening to different kinds of music from people who live nearby.”
Their home will be a stop on the tour, but for the concept to work they need other Montague Center hosts and musicians, and they hope others will share their enthusiasm for filling their living rooms with neighbors for an afternoon.
“We just moved into this space and we want to have music in here, because it’s a cool space,” Duncan said.
He feels the living room can hold 40 or 50 people. With a piano at one end of the living room, a slightly battered baritone horn with a bowler hat on the wall, a French horn in the closet and more elsewhere, the two haven’t yet settled on what they will play.