Franklin County Fair's Community Stage puts spotlight on local talent

Story by Kathleen McKiernan Photos by Micky Bedell
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
(Published in print: Thursday, August 28, 2014)

On a typical Saturday night on Avenue A, dozens of local residents, friends and music enthusiasts gather at the sports pub Between The Uprights to drink beer and dance to the old 1990s pop-rock songs of the millennial generation.

At the center of it all is Jimmy Just Quit, one of the up-and-coming cover bands in Franklin County.

On stage at The Extra Point Nightclub, the dance-floor section of the bar, singer Danny Hescock of Gill encourages the crowd before him as he cracks a joke between sets. With his signature long, ginger-colored beard, Adam Kelley of Greenfield jams out on bass. Paul “Chuck” Tacy of Ashfield plays his guitar and Ryan Behan of Greenfield beats the drums energetically, all whilst wearing his characteristic smile.

This is a band that plays a variety of modern songs, from Weezer to Dr. Dre to Top 40 hits from the 1990s, inspiring fans to sing-along to covers of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl,” Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time” and Sublime’s “What I Got.”

“We’re trying to cater to people our age,” Tacy said.

“The entire point of this band has been to have fun and throw parties,” Hescock said.

“We’ve all been in other bands where there is animosity at the end because you’re trying to get big,” Behan said. “Now, we just want to have fun with our friends. This is such a release. It’s insanely fun.”

This fall, the four-member cover band will take its music from Turners Falls to the rest of Franklin County when it performs on the community stage — dubbed the WHAI Bear Country Stage — at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 8:30 p.m.

The community stage is moving this year to an open space adjacent to the baby barn and opposite the Roundhouse. The move is designed to bring the fair crowd closer to the local acts, which in the past played at the infield, an area set off from the rest of the fair.

“We have great local acts there,” said Steven Dejoy of Northfield, who organizes entertainment at the community stage. “I want all these local acts to have the audience they deserve.”

The community stage will host performances on all four days of the fair, including comedy shows, dance, music and martial arts demonstrations. The musical offerings will conclude Sunday with a 6:30 p.m. performance by Michael Nix and Annie Patterson, who will perform folk songs from the songbook “Rise Up Singing” and from the upcoming new collection “Rise Again” (Patterson is co-creator of these songbooks along with her husband, Peter Blood).

This is a change in the schedule as Lorre Wyatt was earlier scheduled to perform with Nix.

Nix is a well-known Pioneer Valley musician performing on guitar, banjo and mandolin. Patterson performs as a jazz singer and folk musician playing old timey banjo and guitar.

As for Jimmy Just Quit, it was only a year and a half ago that the band first took the stage at BTU. Since then, its popularity has grown, allowing it to book gigs that also include Lefty’s Fest, a beer festival hosted by Lefty’s Brewing Co. at the fairgrounds on Sept. 27, and at Turners Falls’ Pumpkinfest on Oct. 18. On Oct. 31, Jimmy Just Quit will play at BTU’s annual Halloween party. The band’s costumes, however, are top secret.

Since that first BTU show, Jimmy Just Quit has undergone a few changes. In addition to creating four to five sets with 30 songs each, the band added Kelley, a local bassist known for playing in WrenchNeck and Murder Among Crows, two local metal bands for which Behan has played drums. Kelley continues to play bass for Deadman’s Dossier, another metal band.

On Jimmy Just Quit, Kelley replaced former bassist Jared Weeks, who left the band this winter to pursue Girl Cat Adams, a band that performs original songs. “I joined for a few reasons,” said Kelley. “Mostly because Ryan and I had played together so much that I’m really familiar with his drumming and because they were playing the songs I grew up with and loved.”

“And they’re cool, easy-going guys at the same point in their music career as I am,” he added.

“Adam brought with him some really good song selections,” Behan said.

“We all have a respect for really good bands and cheesy songs,” Kelley laughed.

Knowledgeable about many popular songs, the band often takes requests on the spot and, while it plays covers, it does improvise. “Seventy-five percent of songs we have no idea how it’ll end. But we always get it right,” Behan said.

“We don’t really have tight constrictions. We like to enjoy the music. There are points where you have the staples, but then there’s songs that you can do your own thing,” Hescock said.

Behind much of Jimmy Just Quit’s young history is Lew Collins, the owner of BTU and the first business owner to offer his stage to the band. At many shows, Collins offers raffles and giveaway tickets to help promote their shows, many of which are free to attend. Saturday nights at BTU have become the band’s main stage.

“The fun part is seeing the same people come out to the club, encouraging our song selection and having new friends come out and help us throw a party,” Hescock said.

Fair details

The gates open for this year’s 166th annual Franklin County Fair on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 3 p.m. A parade — starting on Federal Street, continuing through downtown and onto the fairgrounds — officially kicks off the fair at 5 p.m. General admission to the fair, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 7, costs $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $8 for youths age 9 to 17 and free for children under 8. Pre-fair tickets, which are cheaper, are available through Friday, Aug. 29. Additionally, Thursday, Sept. 4, has a special admission of $5.

One of the community stage’s main acts will be Franklin County’s Got Talent, a local talent show that debuts this year on Friday, Sept. 5, at 6 p.m. It has two categories: 13 and younger and 14 and older. The top 10 performers in each category will compete in front of a panel of judges at the fair.

One of the most frequent acts is the Wright Brothers Comedy Troupe, which will provide many half-hours of humor. The Wright Brothers, in its various forms, has performed on many stages in years past, including Lincoln Center in New York City and at the International Mime and Clown Festival at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

The Franklin County Community Chorus is performing for the first time at the fair. It is newly formed group based in Greenfield under the direction of retired Greenfield High School Music Director Paul J. Calcari. The chorus will sing a variety of music, from classical to show tunes on Sunday, Sept. 7, at 3:30 p.m at the community stage.

The Community Stage is just one of many entertainment options at the fair.

Engines will rev for the Stoney Robert’s Demolition Derby on Sunday, Sept. 7, at 5:30 p.m. General admission is $5 and preferred seating is $10. Tickets are pre-sold at the Fair Office at 89 Wisdom Way. Tickets are still available but typically sell out fast.

The infield will be home to many original acts, such as the Flying High Frisbee Dogs, the Robinson Racing Pigs and the North Quabbin Carvers.

Community Stage schedule

Here is the schedule that was most recently available at press time.

Thursday, Sept. 4.

5:30 p.m., Green River Aikido

7 p.m., Fire Pond, a folk-music duo featuring Eveline MacDougall and Douglas Reid

8:30 p.m., Wildcat O’Halloran Band, “not your father’s blues band”

Friday, Sept. 5

1:30 p.m., the Wright Brothers Comedy Troupe

4 p.m., Shakin’ All Over, an oldies band, will play for the senior day at the fair

6 p.m., Franklin County’s Got Talent

9 p.m., Intonition, a band from Greenfield that play original work

Sunday, Sept. 6

10:30 a.m., Greenfield Tae Kwan Do

11:30 a.m., D.J. Bobby C from WHAI

1 p.m., North County Line Dancers

1:45 p.m., Wright Brothers Comedy Troupe

2:30 p.m., Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance

3:30 p.m., Wright Brothers Comedy Troupe

4 p.m., Greenfield Tae Kwan Do

5:30 p.m., Ja’Duke Center for the Performing Arts

6:30 p.m., Wright Brothers Comedy Troupe

7 p.m., Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance

8:30 p.m., Jimmy Just Quit

Sunday, Sept. 7.

11:30 a.m., D.J. Bobby C

12:30 p.m., the first-ever apple pie eating contest starts

1:30 p.m., Wright Brothers Comedy Troupe

2 p.m., Greenfield Military Band

3 p.m., Wright Brothers Comedy Troupe

3:30 p.m., Franklin County Community Chorus

4:30 p.m., Wright Brothers Comedy Troupe

5 p.m., Matt Kim’s Rock Shop, a summer rock music program for children

6:30 p.m., Michael Nix and Annie Patterson

Staff reporter Kathleen McKiernan has worked at The Recorder since 2012. She covers education and health and human services. She can be reached at or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.

Staff photographer Micky Bedell started at The Recorder in 2014. She can be reached at or 413-772-0261, ext. 273.

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