TURNERS FALLS, Mass. -- On Tuesday, Dec. 31, starting at 7 p.m., the Shea Theater will present an all-ages concert and dance in celebration of New Year’s Eve, and the reopening of the Avenue A Bridge between Turners Falls and Gill. The event is free, thanks to a unique, co-operative effort between a group of local sponsoring businesses.
"While most traditional New Year’s Eve events are tailored strictly for adults, or are expensive beyond the reach of many, the New Year/New Bridge! Musical celebration is family-friendly, with something exciting for all ages. To top it off, admission to the event is totally free of charge. This allows folks who might not otherwise be able to afford going to a New Year’s Eve concert and dance to join in," says Daniel Kasnitz, who is producing the event. He adds: "This is all thanks to the generosity and community sprit of our tremendous local musicians and our wonderful sponsors. Everyone is so glad to have the bridge re-open."
The lead sponsors for the show are Greenfield Savings Bank and MOTU musical computer products. Other sponsors include Replay Music of Greenfield, as well as Great Falls Harvest, Loot and Madison on the Avenue in Turners Falls.
The evening starts at 7 p.m., with a young people’s show by the widely renowned performer Bill Shontz. Shontz was half of the immensely popular duo Rosenshontz. From "Teddy Bear Picnics," to performances for President Bill Clinton at the White House, Shontz has brought his warm humor and deft musicality to a huge variety of audiences.
At 8 p.m., trombonist extraordinaire Ed Byrne leads a jazz set accompanied by local favorites, the jazz ensemble Juke Joint Jazz. Dr. Byrne is a Grammy Award-winning trombonist, composer, arranger, educator and author who has worked with a veritable "who’s who" of the jazz world’s leading musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Archie Shepp, Charles Mingus, Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Maynard Ferguson and Mel Tormé, to name a few. Juke Joint Jazz is a five-piece, traditional jazz ensemble that plays melodic, crowd-pleasing favorites with a sophisticated snap and spark. Clarinetist Shontz will join Ed Byrne and Juke Joint Jazz for the jazz set.
At 10 p.m., the celebration shifts gears to an all-ages dance party with Northampton-based funk/Afrobeat favorites, the 10-piece dance band Shokazoba. Infectious grooves, blazing four-horn arrangements, positive, uplifting lyrics and a cheerful, party vibe make Shokazoba the perfect choice to help usher in the New Year.
"Shokazoba blends jazz and old school funk, with a West African beat that sets the foundation for a great community vibe," says Bluebird Reviews. True to their community spirit, Shokazoba makes recordings of many of their live shows available free at www.shokazoba.com.