New music series launches next weekend: Hawks & Reed to present four free Off the Common events this summer

Sen Morimoto is a Japanese-American singer/multi-instrumentalist, born in Kyoto, Japan, raised in Wendell, and now based in Chicago. He is the headliner for the first Off the Common event in downtown Greenfield, Friday June 28, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Also on the bill for the evening: The Frost Heaves and HaLeS, Eric Hnatow, and Big Destiny.

Sen Morimoto is a Japanese-American singer/multi-instrumentalist, born in Kyoto, Japan, raised in Wendell, and now based in Chicago. He is the headliner for the first Off the Common event in downtown Greenfield, Friday June 28, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Also on the bill for the evening: The Frost Heaves and HaLeS, Eric Hnatow, and Big Destiny. CONTRIBUTED

Sen Morimoto is a Japanese-American singer/multi-instrumentalist, born in Kyoto, Japan, raised in Wendell, and now based in Chicago. He is the headliner for the first Off the Common event in downtown Greenfield, Friday June 28, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Also on the bill for the evening: The Frost Heaves and HaLeS, Eric Hnatow, and Big Destiny.

Sen Morimoto is a Japanese-American singer/multi-instrumentalist, born in Kyoto, Japan, raised in Wendell, and now based in Chicago. He is the headliner for the first Off the Common event in downtown Greenfield, Friday June 28, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Also on the bill for the evening: The Frost Heaves and HaLeS, Eric Hnatow, and Big Destiny. CONTRIBUTED

By SHERYL HUNTER

For the Recorder

Published: 06-21-2024 10:24 AM

Summer in Franklin County is brimming with music, and Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield is set to make its mark with the unique Off the Common series, launching on Friday, June 28. This series features free live music and a vibrant mix of food trucks, art vendors, and other activities, all aimed at fostering community.

“Our goal with the Off the Common project is to bring something to the community that is free and reoccurring throughout the summer and filled with activities that people will look forward to,” said Ben Goldsher, manager of Hawks & Reed. “We want them to come downtown, support the restaurants, shop, and enjoy art and community.”

Off the Common will take place on the last Friday of each month from June to September and will be held in conjunction with the town of Greenfield’s monthly Arts Walk. Each event will run from 5:30 to 11 p.m.

Being held simultaneously with the Arts Walk is an essential aspect of Off the Common because, as Goldsher pointed out, one purpose of this series is to bring people downtown and encourage them to check out what else the town has to offer.

The music presented at these concerts will mix nationally known touring artists with local musicians. Musical performances will be held inside Hawks & Reed. Outside on the nearby Common will be food trucks, games, and art, providing attendees with a whole night of great entertainment and community.

Having the music held inside is a twist for a summer music series, but it logistically works out better and alleviates worry over our fickle New England weather.

“Coming up next Friday the 28th, we have it packed with an amazing lineup featuring headliner Sen Morimoto and some great local acts as well,” said Goldsher. The local acts are The Frost Heaves and HaLeS, Eric Hnatow, and Big Destiny.

“It’s awesome to have Sen on the bill because he grew up in the area,” said Goldsher, adding that Morimoto’s “career is flourishing.”

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Sen Morimoto is a Japanese-American singer/multi-instrumentalist raised in Wendell but now based in Chicago. Morimoto is the first to admit that his music, which blends many genres, is challenging to define. He’s an experimental musician who merges spoken-word rap, soft vocals, smooth melodies, and jazz with a pop/rock sensibility. The result is music that is incredibly innovative yet accessible. His sound has been labeled many things, including the term art-pop.

Now a major presence in the Chicago music scene, Morimoto is also co-owner of Sooper Records, home to many artists who take the same adventurous approach to music-making as he does.

Morimoto was born in Kyoto, Japan, but raised in Wendell. He began studying jazz saxophone at 6 years old and became involved in hip-hop and punk as he got older. He has great memories of performing his first show at John Doe Jr. on Main Street in Greenfield (now Greenfield Records).

“Growing up in Wendell impacted my development as a musician in several ways. My first ever saxophone teacher, Brian Bender, at Swift River Elementary, started me on an alternative musical path from the beginning by introducing me to improvised music right away,” Moimoto said of his early years spent in Franklin County. “Brian taught me some scales and said to play these notes in any order and see what happens, and that just got me totally hooked.”

Morimoto comes to the area as often as he can and is excited to come home for this event.

“I’m excited to be back and really happy to know folks are putting on events like this in the area,” he said.

“Sen’s been on my list of people I want to bring to Greenfield and now I’m excited to be able to do it with this series,” added Goldsher.

In addition to Morimoto, the first Off the Common event features musicians from Greenfield whose music falls under the alternative label. Eric Hnatow is known for his work with Home Body, the electronic pop duo that features his wife, Haley Morgan, but he also creates electronic music independently. Hnatow has a new EP called “Be Careful Today”; this will be his first solo performance in almost a decade.

The Frost Heaves and HaLeS, led by Daniel Hales, are an alternate rock band known for Hales’s poetic lyrics and their unique sources of inspiration, everything from Alice in Wonderland to The films of Orson Welles.

Big Destiny is a seven-piece art pop band that has frequently performed at Hawks & Reed.

The focus of the second Off the Common event, which will be held July 26, will be female singer-songwriters, with headliner Madison McFerrin (the daughter of Bobby “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” McFerrin). The third Off the Common, Aug. 30, will showcase hip-hop and will feature duo Smif-N-Wessun. The series will conclude on Sept. 27 with rock music featuring Leon Trout, a jam-influenced rock band from Boston. Apart from the headliners, other artist performing in the series include Kimaya Diggs, Tem Blessed, STL GLD, Faith Ann Band and more. Keep your eye on the schedule hawksandreed.com for updates and addition.

“Our hope is that more things will come along with this. For example, for the first [Off the Common event] there is also an event happening across the street at the Pushkin Gallery; it’s a Renaissance Revival put on by Mad House Arts,” said Goldsher. “When all these events come together, it makes it like a mini festival.”

The Renaissance Revival is a two-day art event that will reshape your understanding of the renaissance fair experience. This event, which is also free, will feature medieval and fantasy-themed artwork from local and regional artists.

And if you can’t make it to one of the Off the Common events, don’t worry: Hawks & Reed has partnered with GCTV to film each concert and air it on the station later for greater community accessibility.