By Sarah Marshall
In case you missed it – the Drake announced that its grand opening will be Thursday, April 28. Celebrated jazz violinist Regina Carter will kick off the first series with performances at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The following evening, Israeli artist Gili Yalo will combine Ethiopian, soul, funk psychedelic, and jazz styles, also in two shows. On Saturday, April 30, famed signer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III headlines. Fever-pop duo Home Body and Nova One will electrify the room on Sunday, May 1. Tickets available at www.thedrakeamherst.org.
On Tuesday, April 26, the Northampton Jazz Workshop will feature Gary Smulyan with the Green Street Trio at the Drake’s soft opening, a free event. The Jazz Workshop will be at the Drake every first and third Tuesday of the month, featuring a guest artist and an open jam session.
Located on the second floor of the Amherst Bank Building at 44 N Pleasant (formerly home to the High Horse), the Drake’s space has been completely transformed with state-of-the-art lighting and audio installed by Klondike Sound, and a Steinway Grand piano courtesy of Amherst College. The venue is open to all ages. For 21+ patrons there is a full service bar featuring craft cocktails, wine and beer. The venue will feature both seated and dance floor configurations and will be available to rent for private events.
The Downtown Amherst Foundation (DAF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is the driving force behind this venture, whose mission is to bring arts and culture to Downtown Amherst. The Drake will present nightly entertainment from nationally and internationally recognized performers under the purview of Laudable Productions, known for presenting successful music festivals, concerts, and other cultural events across the Pioneer Valley.
Envisioned as a true community based venture, The DAF is collaborating with the Art and Music departments of Amherst College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Amherst-Pelham Regional High School to offer students, faculty, and alumni musicians the opportunity to perform live in an intimate space. Once a month, proceeds from the new “FEED BACK LIVE” series will be donated to a local nonprofit. Many community and education forward series will be announced soon.
Founded on a vision of diversity and inclusivity for both performers and audience, and adopting its name from the original Drake, a storied Amherst bar which closed in 1985, the Drake will welcome local residents of all ages and attract visitors coming to hear top talent in an intimate and familiar space.