Holiday One Drop: Reggae Dance Party and Toy Drive

Original article published in Greenfield Recorder By Sheryl Hunter

The holiday season is all about giving and helping out those in need, and that’s what Dave Noonan, the leader of the band Green Island had in mind when he, with help from his wife Cheli Mennella, organized “Holiday One Drop: Reggae Dance Party and Toy Drive,” at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Friday, Dec. 17, at 8 p.m.

“We did a show like this in 2019 that helped out the United Way of Franklin County and it was a success,” said Noonan, of Shelburne Falls, in a recent phone conversation. “The idea is to help people and to also have a celebration.”

This year, the beneficiary for the toy drive is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, a group that provides mentorship for young people.

Noonan said they are asking those that are attending the show to bring an unwrapped toy in new/good condition. That’s all you have to do to help make someone’s Christmas brighter. So now that you are clear on the helping part, let’s talk about the music.

Of course, one of the bands playing is Noonan’s Green Island, a collaborative group founded by drummer Noonan and featuring some of the finest musicians in the Pioneer Valley. The group has a bit of a revolving lineup and for this show will be nine-piece ensemble along with some special guests.

With so many musicians coming from such wide-ranging backgrounds, you know you are going to get a mixed bag of sounds. The band’s repertoire includes everything from Marley to Marvin and ballads to banghra. While Green Island goes heavy on the reggae and ska, you hear funk, jazz and soul in the mix. This is an accomplished group of musicians who know how to keep the dance floor shaking.

This show marks Green Island’s first time playing together since 2019. The pandemic of course factored into this, but with this busy group of musicians, scheduling was also an issue.

“Everyone in this group gets busy because they also play in other bands, so it’s hard to get everyone together,” said Noonan, who is looking forward to once again playing with this band. “We’ll see how this goes and then see what’s next,” he said when asked about the band’s future plans.

Noonan is also excited that the one and only Alchemystics, one of the leaders in the area’s reggae scene, agreed to be part of the show. “Any show that involves The Alchemystics is going to be a good time,” he said.

Like Green Island, the musicians who make up The Alchemystics all have diverse musical histories and as result their music consists of politically infused hip-hop, gritty soul, hard-driving rock and pulsing Jamaican, Cuban and Trinidadian rhythms. You can always count on their frontman to keep the fire going at The Alchemystics show.

Rounding out the lineup is DJ Camilo I-Ganic, who will be spinning everything from roots reggae to contemporary tunes. “He’s been regularly keeping the reggae vibes going at Bishop’s Lounge, events at Hawks & Reed and elsewhere all through the pandemic,” Noonan said. “It’s an honor to have him there celebrating with us.”

So grab a toy and pick up your tickets for what Noonan promises will be “a great night of music.”

Doors open at 7 p.m, show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who is a native of Greenfield and currently resides in Easthampton. She can be reached at