Concert Review: Koite and Mahlasela

Habib Koite and Vusi Mahlasela and their band performed an excellent concert at the Academy of Music in Northampton April 10. Koite lives in the west African nation of Mali, where he is from. Mahlasela lives in South Africa, where he is from. The venue appeared to be almost sold out. The applause was loud and long after every song. Many people danced in the aisles.

Koite and Mahlasela Concert April 10

Habib Koite and Vusi Mahlasela will perform a concert in Northampton on April 10 at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be at the Academy of Music. Koite (pronounced KWA-tee) lives in the west African nation of Mali. Mahlasela lives in South Africa. They will perform at prestigious concert halls in New York City and Los Angeles in the coming weeks.

Workers Win

Thanks to thousands of people who marched and went to rallies, the minimum wage for all workers in California and the vast majority of workers in New York state will be $15 an hour. A march and rally in Boston on April 14 has the same goal for Massachusetts.

The Boston event starts at 3:30 p.m. at the statehouse, which is at 24 Beacon Street. Details are at www.WageAction.org. Free bus or carpool rides from the Valley are available. Contact WageAction@wmjwj.org or call Jon Weissman at the Jobs With Justice office at (413) 314-3095 or on his cell phone: (413) 250-5267.

Four Day March to Stop Pipeline Starts March 17

A four day march to stop a proposed fracked gas pipeline starts March 17. The march will start about 30 miles west of Northampton, in Windsor, Massachusetts. It ends near Greenfield in Northfield, Massachusetts. The public is invited to attend part or all of the 53 mile march. Organizers are offering free food and places to sleep for the marchers. They are also seeking donations.

The march has been endorsed by www.350.org. More information about the pipeline is at www.NoFrackedGasInMass.org.

As of February 23, the march Facebook page said 37 people were planning to attend:

March to Stop Climate Change

To fight climate change, activists are organizing a march and rally in Northampton and a march in Amherst. Both are on November 29. The march starts at 5:30 p.m. at Northampton high school and goes to city hall, where a rally starts at 6 p.m. The Amherst rally will be at 6 p.m. at the town common.

More information is available at www.350.org. Phone and e-mail contact info is at:

http://350mass.betterfutureproject.org/contact_us

Rallies Soon

Rallies for the environment and equality are planned. On October 15 in Springfield, there will be a 4 p.m. rally outside a Price Rite store that is paying its workers low wages while the chain's owner gets rich. On October 18 in Plainfield, Massachusetts, near Northampton, there will be a noon rally against a proposed fracked gas pipeline. Fracked gas causes climate change.

There is a Facebook event page for the Springfield event, which will be at 633 Boston Road:

www.facebook.com/events/1623745281223305

Blues Concert Review

Luther Johnson and the Magic Rockers performed an excellent, public concert in Northampton on July 25. The Iron Horse Music Hall appeared to be almost sold out. The audience applauded enthusiastically after all the songs. Johnson sang, "She said, 'Luther, you don't have to be a superstar, I love you just the way you are.'"

A highlight was Johnson's version of the Jeannie Cheatham song "Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On."

350 Workers Will Go on Strike Starting July 22

More than 350 workers, most of whom live in the Valley, are set to go on strike starting July 22. Stephanie Agnew is one of them. She lives in Northampton. “We want better pay and benefits,” she told the Valley Post on July 17. “We're not trying to get rich. We want a living wage. Also, our bosses are trying to get us to see more clients per week. It is already difficult to deal with the number of clients we have."

Protest Against Ben and Jerry's Is June 20

There will be a rally to protest Ben and Jerry's in Deerfield, Massachusetts on June 20 at 11:30 a.m. Deerfield is near Northampton and Greenfield. The rally will be at the Ben and Jerry's store in Deerfield.

Rally organizers say many of the workers at the farms where the milk used by Ben and Jerry's is from are paid below minimum wage. Ben and Jerry's is owned by Unilever Corporation, which also owns Dove soap, Vaseline, “I Can't Believe It's Not Butter,” and other companies. The CEO of Unilever was paid $11.4 million last year.

A Way to Cut Taxes

On June 5, a local group announced it has permanently protected from development 46 acres of open space in Hadley, Massachusetts, near Northampton. Saving open space lowers taxes and creates jobs, according to studies by the Vermont Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land.

Towns with the most protected land have the lowest property taxes. That's according to:

www.vlt.org/images/0_PDFs/Conservation_and_Property_Taxes.pdf

In Massachusetts in 2013, outdoor recreation created about 90,000 jobs for workers at hotels, restaurants and other businesses, according to: