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Longmeadow native follows ‘Northstar’ home

Date: 7/11/2011

July 11, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW — Matthew Szlachetka is finally coming home again.

The Longmeadow native who has spent the better part of the past decade in Southern California is returning to the Northeast with his band, The Northstar Session, for two shows in Western Massachusetts this month.

Szlachetka and his band mates Kane McGee and Dave Basaraba will play the Silk City Tap Room in Florence on July 14 and The Sky Box in Southwick on July 19. Both shows are slated for 7:30 p.m.

“It’s really important, especially for me,” Szlachetka told Reminder Publications when asked about the band expanding its tour schedule beyond the West Coast. “I love Los Angeles, but I miss home a lot. Growing up in Western Mass., and New England, it’s one of those things where you can’t wait to get out, but when you are away you realize how big a part of you it is. Western Mass. has huge part of my heart because my family is there and I still have a ton of friends there.”

Szlachetka, who serves as a guitarist, singer and songwriter for the musical trio, called the brief return – his first since 2005 and first ever with The Northstar Session, a “warm-up” for a longer Northeast swing planned for later this year with stops including Mohegan Sun Casino.

Szlachetka said he hoped the two shows in July, which will be acoustic sets, would help boost interest in the band on the East Coast and help them secure more venues.

The group, which Szlachetka describes as a “rootsy folk-rock band,” has been playing together for nearly four years and is now touring in support of their third album, entitled “Late Bloomer,” which was released in April.

“Late Bloomer” is marked by a couple of firsts for the band. First of all, it was the first time the band recorded the basic tracks live.

“The drums, bass and guitar were all cut live,” Szlachetka said. “We stress our live shows and wanted to give the album that same kind of feel.”

Secondly, the band looked for outside help in producing the record, tapping the skills of George Johnsen and Joe Napolitano.

“George has worked with Pink Floyd and John Fogerty and a lot of other great musicians,” Szlachetka said. “Joe is a little younger and has worked with the Henry Clay People and the Parson Redheads, and we were able to fuse both influences and it was a real pleasure to work with both of them.”

Szlachetka started out in San Diego after graduating college in 2002, but decided to make the move to Los Angeles when he met McGee, a drummer and native of the city.

“I was doing a lot of session work and gigs and I met Kane through one of those sessions and we hit it off,” Szlachetka said. “I was looking to move because I had hit a wall with the guys I had been playing with and felt I needed to regroup. Kane and I started writing together and things just clicked for us.”

Shortly after, Basaraba, from Portland, Ore., filled the band’s need for a keyboard, connecting with Szlachetka and McGee while playing with a mutual friend.

Since then, the band has achieved a great deal of notoriety on the West Coast and was televised nationally on NBC’s show “Parenthood.”

“Being on ‘Parenthood’ was a big deal for us because it can help get a lot of press, which can lead to better shows with better guarantees,” Szlachetka said. “It is sort of like instant street cred.”

Szlachetka said that while capturing gigs at larger venues is the ultimate goal, playing smaller shows such as the ones scheduled in the area this month can offer a pleasurable experience to both the audience and the performers.

“Playing a smaller venue, it is really as intimate a concert as you can get,” Szlachetka said. “With larger venues there can be a disconnect between the stage and the audience. The one goal is to connect with the audience and create moments and I think sometimes it’s easier to do that with an intimate venue.”

For more information on The Northstar Session, visit their Web site, or their Facebook page at!/thenorthstarsession.

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