Green River Festival sold to DSP Shows

Cha Wa plays the Dean’s Beans Stage at the Green River Festival at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in 2022. After 36 years of involvement with organizing the Green River Festival, Director Jim Olsen announced Thursday that he and Signature Sounds Presents will be passing the event onto new ownership.

Cha Wa plays the Dean’s Beans Stage at the Green River Festival at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in 2022. After 36 years of involvement with organizing the Green River Festival, Director Jim Olsen announced Thursday that he and Signature Sounds Presents will be passing the event onto new ownership. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Allison Russell plays the Main Stage at the Green River Festival at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in 2022. After 36 years of involvement with organizing the Green River Festival, Director Jim Olsen announced Thursday that he and Signature Sounds Presents will be passing the event onto new ownership.

Allison Russell plays the Main Stage at the Green River Festival at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in 2022. After 36 years of involvement with organizing the Green River Festival, Director Jim Olsen announced Thursday that he and Signature Sounds Presents will be passing the event onto new ownership. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Ani DiFranco plays the Main Stage at the Green River Festival at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in 2021. After 36 years of involvement with organizing the Green River Festival, Director Jim Olsen announced Thursday that he and Signature Sounds Presents will be passing the event onto new ownership.

Ani DiFranco plays the Main Stage at the Green River Festival at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in 2021. After 36 years of involvement with organizing the Green River Festival, Director Jim Olsen announced Thursday that he and Signature Sounds Presents will be passing the event onto new ownership. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer

Published: 10-13-2023 5:00 PM

GREENFIELD — After 36 years of involvement with organizing the Green River Festival, Director Jim Olsen announced Thursday that he and Signature Sounds Presents will be passing the event onto new ownership.

DSP Shows, which Olsen touted as a “leading western Massachusetts concert promoter,” has purchased the festival for an undisclosed amount. In their announcement Thursday, Olsen and DSP Shows Talent Buyer John Sanders voiced a mutual commitment to ensuring a smooth transition between owners.

“The Green River Festival is the premier live music event in western Mass. and we are honored to be entrusted with ensuring it continues for many years to come,” Sanders said in a statement. “I’ve known Jim for over 20 years and have great respect for what he has done for live music in the Pioneer Valley ... [and] I’m excited to now get to work with him as we plan for the next Green River Festival in 2024.”

“I think John Sanders and the DSP Shows team are the perfect choice to lead the Green River Festival into the future,” Olsen added, noting that Signature Sounds will remain one of the music festival’s key sponsors. “John has attended the festival many times over the years and understands our unique culture and important place in the valley community.”

Olsen, who has served as festival director since 2013, said it has been a “pleasure to be involved with the festival since its inception in 1986.” Since then, Olsen said the event has seen “tremendous growth,” attracting about 14,000 attendees this year. The Green River Festival was also named one of “50 essential summer music festivals” by The New York Times in 2015.

“We’ve had a great time with the fest … but we felt it was time to pass it onto a new team with a slightly younger perspective,” Olsen explained in a phone interview.

Sanders said DSP Shows, which, like Signature Sounds, operates out of Northampton, as well as Ithaca, New York, has “literally booked thousands of shows” across western Massachusetts, including at the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls and Tree House Brewing Co. in Northampton. Olsen said Sanders, who has attended the festival since 2001, was the ideal buyer due to his longtime immersion in the festival and the region’s music scene as a whole. He expects the talent buyer’s familiarity with the festival to inspire care as ownership transitions.

“The goal here is to really have it be seamless. We’re not looking to change the vibe or the culture,” Sanders said in a phone interview, adding that any change in music curation would simply involve the potential of landing bigger acts. Past performers include Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Lucinda Williams, Mavis Staples, Arlo Guthrie, Steve Earle, The Avett Brothers, Deer Tick, CAKE, Old Crow Medicine Show and Michael Franti & Spearhead, to name a few.

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DSP Shows has signed a five-year lease to keep the festival at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, according to Signature Sounds Presents. Although the festival was formerly held at Greenfield Community College, it moved to the fairgrounds in 2021. Sanders said DSP Shows intends for the Franklin County Fairgrounds to remain the festival’s host location for the foreseeable future.

The 37th annual Green River Festival will be held Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 23, 2024. Specially priced three-day passes are on sale now at greenriverfestival.com.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.