It’s a New Dawn: The Valley Music Scene
On Friday, February 2nd at 2 p.m., the Speaker Series will be presented in-person at the Senior Center and on Zoom.
Deejay, musician, and writer John Reily, aka Johnny Memphis, will talk about the evolution of the local music scene. It appears that we are on the cusp of a new era. With the rise of nonprofit venues and the imminent return of the Iron Horse Music Hall and the Calvin Theater, the times they are a-changin’.
Born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, John Reily’s life was permanently changed when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. John, age 9, immediately started buying 45 rpm records. In 1980, he moved to Northampton and was soon writing music reviews for the Daily Hampshire Gazette and playing bass in the Suburban Headswappers, where he got the stage name Johnny Memphis. He used that name at WRSI radio, where he worked as a deejay and music director for 21 years.
John wrote a weekly music column called “Backbeat” for the Gazette. He served on the boards of the Northampton Center for the Arts and the Northampton Arts Council, where in a full circle moment, he was Ed Sullivan in the first Really Big Show. After playing in bands like Check, Please! and the Big Bad Bollocks, he now leads the Johnny Memphis Band. In 2016, John released a book about the history of the Green River Festival titled Music in the Air.
John lives with his two college-age children, Chris and Maeve, in Florence, where he is the music coordinator for the Florence Summer Concert Series.