Artist, tinkerer, tunesmith, Swamp Yankee — The Suitcase Junket is a one-man salvage specialist with an unorthodox approach to his craft: singing into the hollow of a Dumpster guitar and railing on a box of twisted forks and bones. He belts out mountain ballads ‘til the house sings back. On Saturday, June 25, at 8pm, FreshGrass Presents The Suitcase Junket in his MASS MoCA debut.
Pulling his moniker from the luggage he sits on to perform, The Suitcase Junket’s (given name: Matt Lorenz) music spans from soft folk-rock to punk-infused blues, while his knack for soaring throat-singing contrasts with his aggressive strumming and baby-shoe kick drum. With raw, lo-fi instrumentation yielding an impressively large result, his sound is an achievement — you’d never imagine the music coming from just one player. Lorenz’s songs form a colorful sonic palette that serves as an exemplar of innovation in the folk genre — what FreshGrass looks for in its performers. His songwriting is “crafted and honed, not strewn about” with “a tinge of Waits and a hint of Dylan, in both vocal styling and social consciousness” (No Depression).
The Suitcase Junket already has three studio albums to his name — Sever and Lift (2009), Knock It Down (2011), and Make Time (2015) — along with a recently released EP Dying Star (March 2016), out on Northampton, Mass.-based Signature Sounds. Lorenz has shared the stage with Los Lobos, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, and Jackie Greene, and has toured extensively throughout the U.S. as The Suitcase Junket, winning hearts wherever he rolls into town. He’s also played and toured as a member of Easthampton-based roots-rock trio Rusty Belle and proudly calls Western Massachusetts home.
FreshGrass Presents brings innovative, stand-out bluegrass and roots music to MASS MoCA throughout the year. The series highlights nuanced, genre-pushing artists by giving them a stage for the night — whether it’s their first time at MASS MoCA or they’re returning for a victory lap after a rollicking FreshGrass festival set in the fall. Past FreshGrass Presents artists include Old Crow Medicine Show, The Lone Bellow, and Birds of Chicago.
The Suitcase Junket plays on the Dré Pavilion (or inside MASS MoCA’s Club B10, if it rains) on Saturday, June 25, at 8pm. Dinner is available from Lickety Split before and during the show. A full bar serves Bright Ideas Brewing beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits. Tickets are $12 students + advance, $18 day of, and $24 preferred. Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open 11am – 5pm Wednesdays through Mondays; closed Tuesdays through June 25. Starting June 26, the box office will be open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during box office hours or purchased online at massmoca.org. All events are held rain or shine.