Voices in the Valley ❥ Local Radio

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 4, Local Radio

When I go back to Philadelphia, my hometown, there are only a few things that make me the least bit wistful for the place (besides some people, of course): the Wissahickon woods’ walking path, the vegan chili at Jonathan’s, those generous stone houses fronted by neon stands of forsythia, and WXPN’s World Café.

I may have every Live at the World Café CD ever made. I’m a very longtime member (also of WFCR and WAMC, worry not).

WXPN love is a big deal for me. I listen to the station when I’m driving around Philly and I wish it were mine, in person, in the car, not streamed. How funny since I’m so entirely delighted by my radio here at home. I mean we’ve got NPR in spades. We’ve got our own college station, where my friend, Fern, plays great music. And we’ve got WRSI.

❥ One of the crowning moments in my adult life was the day I stopped automatically turning to Morning Edition or All Things Considered if I got into the car when those shows were on. It wasn’t that long ago. I listen to the news, sure, however these days, I tend to stay with music. I am a much happier driver, now.

❥ The River—in that old-school-Valley way I still think of as RSI—has had all sorts of great folks sharing their voices over its airwaves. Its mixture: catchy songs, older songs, homegrown songs—and if you listen at the right time—you can even learn a little bit about birds.

Unlike many stations, I am glad to happen upon the radio on Saturday morning for Spare the Rock Spoil the Child’s whimsy-through-kindie music or Sunday morning’s acoustic and homey Back Porch.

During farmers’ market season, you can go say hi to Joan Holliday in the WRSI tent on Tuesdays. Year-round, there are all sorts of fun live broadcasts. The ridiculous wealth of local talent, from locals who play on the street to locals who play in small clubs, to locals that are whispered about when spotted in cities far from here, all contribute to our local radio’s awesomeness.

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Summer Music Series in the Hilltowns Features Local Musicians

Angel Park Outdoor Concert Series

Spend Thursday in Williamsburg. First stop, Burgy Thursday Market, followed by an evening concert on the lawn at Angel Park. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Williamsburg’s The Angel Park Summer Music Series begins its summer-long music series this Thursday, July 7th, showcasing the great talent that resides in Western MA on the intimate and lovely grounds of Williamsburg’s Quiet Reflections Garden (behind the Williamsburg Grange).

The series is free and all performances begin at 7pm, following the Burgy Farmers’ Market just across the street at the Meekins Library. Series coordinator, Tom Adams, writes, “I’m really happy with the lineup this year. There’s no shortage of great talent around the Pioneer Valley but to be able to gather these fine musicians for the people in town…for them to enjoy the music & relax in such a beautiful setting… it’s a real pleasure for me.”

Featured performances include:

“The word is spreading about this little musical/garden nook that has been created & maintained by the hard work of Nick Dines, Donna Baldwin and the Angel Park Committee, and this year the numbers should continue to grow, especially with the addition of Williamsburg’s Farmers’ Market, Burgy Thursday Market,” writes Adams. “It’s such a perfect combination… head to the Farmers’ Market for your fresh farm products and then stroll over to Angel Park to listen to some great music. It’s what summer’s all about!”

To find out more about the series visit www.angelparkmusic.info.

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT TICKET GIVEAWAY: Lori McKenna at the Iron Horse Music Hall

Lori McKenna at the Iron Horse Music Hall
Northampton, MA
Friday, December 10th, 2010 @ 7pm

Massachusetts native, Lori McKenna is a mother of five and tells about balancing her family and her career. An amazing singer-songwriter! Lori will be returning to the Iron Horse on December 10th. Deadline to enter to win a pair of tickets is 12/7 @ 7pm (EST).

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

This month we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pairs of tickets to see Lori McKenna on Friday, December 10th,  7pm at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA. Mark Erelli & Jake Armerding will join her as headliners.

Win the tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 12/7/10 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.


A singer-songwriter from the suburbs of Boston, Lori McKenna spent the first decade of her career toiling on the roots-music circuit, playing folk and country originals on albums such as 2000’s Pieces of Me and 2004’s The Kitchen Tapes and Bittertown. In 2005, McKenna’s career received a huge boost when Faith Hill recorded four of her songs for Fireflies, and then brought her on tour with Hill and singer Tim McGraw. Soon after, McKenna signed a major-label deal, which spawned the album called Unglamorous. In this segment, McKenna talks about balancing her family and her career, as well as why a self-described happy person writes so many songs about unhappy relationships.


Your chance to win a pairs of tickets to see Lori McKenna on Friday, December 10th,  7pm at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA. is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. HELP CO-CREATE A COMMUNITY PLAYLIST AND RECOMMEND A SONG BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Tuesday, 12/7/10 @ 7pm (EST)

If you don’t win you should still go. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

Amber’s 2010 Spring Picks: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

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Amber’s 2010 Spring Picks
Playlist by Amber Bodnar of Boston Children’s Music

Amber has put together a list of her and her son’s top 12 songs from this past spring of musicians who perform in MA, chiefly in the Boston area, with many who have performed here in Western MA too.

Visit both Amber’s site, Boston Children’s Music (Eastern MA) and check here on Hilltown Families (Western MA) for recommended family concerts, music and ticket giveaways.  Between the two we’re bridging the state to let families all throughout MA know about great concerts for families!

Featured Video: “Willy Won’t” by Debbie and Friends
This is a new song from the new Debbie and Friends CD. It’s a song about Debbie’s nephew Will, who makes silly faces when his picture is being taken. See how many famous places Willy visits and learn “why” he does what he does in pictures!

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
June  26th & 27th, 2010
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

listen NOW | listen on WXOJ | archived shows/podcasts request a song | subscribe to free podcast | contests & giveaways | myspace | facebook | twitter


  • “Two Mommies” by Alastair Moock [A Cow Says Moock]

Alastair released his first children’s album, A Cow Says Moock, last year and it’s amazing. He has a sort of folk/blues sound and covers some cool old songs, like “Fishin’ Blues” and “Spaghetti in My Shoe.” He does a lot of shows at Club Passim in Harvard Square and always sells out.

  • “A Frog Named Sam” by Ben Rudnick & Friends [A Frog Named Sam]

BR&F released their newest CD, A Frog Named Sam, in 2009. This is their fifth CD and even though we love all of them, I would say this newest one is probably our favorite. BR&F have an American roots/bluegrass style that is just so family friendly and I love that they always include a nice instrumental or two on each album. They perform all over Mass and are Arlington favorites.

  • “So, So Happy” by Debbie & Friends [More Story Songs & Sing Alongs]

This song is off of D&F’s newest CD, More Story Songs & Sing Alongs, released earlier this year. D&F’s have a wonderful way of taking familiar stories and nursery rhymes and turning them into something new and exciting. Ivan has always loved their “Three Little Pigs” song, but I think “So, So Happy” is his new favorite. D&F also have a really cool animator who has been creating fun videos for their songs (you can see them here: http://debbieandfriends.net/fun.php). D&F play all over Mass. Their shows are very interactive and perfect for young kids who have never been to a full band show before.

  • “Shake!” by the Flannery Brothers [Wake Up Songs]

The Flannery Brothers are from Maine and they are making quite a splash in the children’s music scene. Their newest album, Wake Up Songs, just came out this year and it is a short, six-song CD intended to help get your kids out of bed in the morning. We really do listen to this CD every morning! Their shows are super energetic and that energy is contagious. They’ve been playing more and more shows in Mass and they’re getting to be very popular. They’re working on a new CD set to release later this year.

  • “Panther Stamps Pants” by Gustafer Yellowgold [Mellow Fever]

Gustafer Yellowgold is the creation of Morgan Taylor, a multi-talented artist who writes, sings, and animates all at once! Each Gustafer song is accompanied by an animated video and the live performances are really spectacular as the band plays in front of a large screen displaying the characters. The songs follow Gustafer and his friends on their adventures that vary from the absurd to the inspirational. Morgan’s music is mellow and light and accessible to both kids and adults. He and his band are from New York but they have been coming up for regular shows at Club Passim in Harvard Square. Their newest album, Mellow Fever, is a must hear and there’s rumor that we can expect a new Gustafer album by early 2011.

  • “Owl Hootenany” by Vanessa Trien [Carnival Day]

Vanessa Trien is as sweet in person as she is on her albums. She’s the real deal! Vanessa is talented and full of energy, which is really saying something when you consider she’s also a mom to two young children. Her newest CD, Carnival Day, just came out last year and it is a must have. Owl Hootenany is probably my favorite song on the CD. Vanessa performs all around Mass, but mostly in the Boston metro area. She plays both big theaters and little charity events. Don’t miss out on one of her shows!

  • “Finger Puppets” by Little Groove [Building Blocks]

Little Groove, headed by lead singer Sara Wheeler, is another regular around town. Little Groove has put on big shows at TCAN in Natick and the Coolidge in Brookline as well as lots of smaller library shows. Sara’s style is almost celtic and very melodic. The music is mostly acoustic and kids just love her ladybug costume! Their CD, Building Blocks, was released in 2008. We love to listen to it in the afternoons when Ivan needs to calm down after a long day at school.

  • “Friends are on their Way” by Joe’s Backyard Band [Kick Up a Breeze]

JBB is from Rhode Island and their music is just beautiful. They play in a kind of folk rock style with lots of instrumentation, from harmonica to saxophone and everything in between. They’re really quite a sight when seen live. Most of their songs are about enjoying life and friends and that’s an important message for anyone! Their album, Kick Up a Breeze, came out last year.

  • “Yucky” by Judy Pancoast [Weird Things are Everywhere]

Judy, a musician from New Hampshire, has a way of making everything silly. Her shows are so much fun for kids as she gets them to pretend they are swimming through jello or meeting aliens. Her newest CD, Weird Things are Everywhere, came out last year and is a story told in both spoken word and song about a trip across the USA. As she travels across the country Judy talks about the books that have been written about each state. Judy is a big supporter of literacy programs and you can often find her performing at local libraries in Mass.

  • “I Came Out Backwards” by Leeny And Tamara [Sharing The Same Stars]

L&T are just fun. Most of their songs attempt to teach kids something valuable, but in an entertaining way, which is no easy feat! But L&T really do pull it off. Their shows are fun and super interactive – they encourage kids to come on stage and help them sing in the microphone. Their CD, Sharing The Same Stars, came out last year and has already won a Parent’s Choice Award. They’re from Gloucester and perform all over Mass.

  • “Pájaro Carpintero (Woodpecker)” by Mariana Iranzi [Aventura Collage]

Mariana is originally from Argentina and sings all her songs in Spanish. She has a delightfully rich voice and many of her songs remind me of the bosanova style. Her songs are playful and skillfully arranged. It’s hard to believe that Aventura Collage is her first CD! She’s both a music teacher and performer in the greater Boston area and she performs regularly at the Children’s Museum.

  • “Elephant Hide and Seek” by SteveSongs [Marvelous Day]

SteveSongs is such a staple of children’s music in New England and he’s become a big star now that he’s on PBS as Mr Steve! Marvelous Day is his fifth CD and the Elephant Song is just such a classic! Steve is one of those vocalists who is simply astounding and I love the silliness he injects in every song. Plus his back up singers, the Sensational Sillies, are phenomenal! And they’re little girls! Steve’s been doing fewer live shows lately and he also tours the country quite a bit, but you can still catch him back on his home turf now and then. But his shows almost always sell out so get your tickets fast when he’s here!

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