Summer Arts Preview 2019


Summer is a time for the arts, especially here in the Valley. From the myriad theater groups who put on their summer plays to the collection of music festivals and outside performances that grace our part of the world while the sun shines high in the sky. Without further ado, here is the Advocate’s bonafide summer arts preview — a small collection of events to check out as you’re soaking up rays.

— Dave Eisenstadter

When: June 20-23
Where: Camp Timber Trails, 1266 East Otis Road, Tolland

Unifier Campout. Courtesy photo

Located on 417 acres at the foothills of the Berkshires in Tolland, the Unifier Campout aims to inspire families and all ages through music, dance, art, and education. It’s an artistic experience, yes, but also provides opportunities to learn about permaculture and partake in organic food.

Through practicing yoga, listening to music, dancing, and partaking in the creative spirit, organizers hope that participants will help sustain the region and the world.

“We curate and facilitate events that aim to share and offer wisdom, ideas, dancing, singing, painting, story, spoken word and song, balancing our minds, our hearts, and our bodies,” according to event organizers.

That’s a lot packed into one four-day event, but a nice community-oriented sentiment to have.

— Dave Eisenstadter

When: Saturday, June 22, Film: 7 p.m. / social hour 6 p.m.
Where: Academy of Music Theatre, 274 Main St., Northampton

It’s National Pride Month in June and Out! For Reel LGBTQ Films is showing a collection of five short films with a common theme: they present common life experiences — dating, friendships, parenting, aging, and speaking your truth — all from a lesbian point of view.

Rather than showing the commonly portrayed “coming out” story, these movies show lesbians positively and authentically living in their normal lives, something Out! For Reel executive director Jaime Michaels says is “vital to counteract the deep-seated prejudice against lesbians that is still so ingrained in our society.”

“Even in 2019, I encounter people who will still lower their voice mid-sentence to say the word lesbian or opt not to say it at all and just use the word gay instead,” Michaels says.

Among the titles is Heather Has Four Moms — a play on the classic Leslea Newman children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies — about 15-year-old Heather who decides she wants to lose her virginity while her mother, her mother’s ex, and both of their current partners juggle who is going to give her “the talk.”

— Dave Eisenstadter

When: July 4 – October 6
Where: The Clark, 225 South Street, Williamstown

Variation on a Lighthouse Theme III, by Ida O’Keeffe, 1933, MFA, Boston. On display at the Clark.

Did you know that Georgia O’Keeffe had a sister who also became an artist? No? That’s possibly because Georgia O’Keeffe appears to have done quite a bit to keep her sister’s talent hidden.

Starting on July 4, the Clark in Williamstown is featuring Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow, which draws on extensive new research about the O’Keeffe family. Ida’s work explores realism and abstraction, particularly her series on lighthouses. Throughout the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, she developed a distinctive style. But sibling rivalry reared its ugly head as Georgia O’Keeffe was determined to be the only painter in the family.

A fully illustrated catalogue, which is the first dedicated to Ida O’Keeffe, accompanies the exhibition.

“The show is full of surprises — from the initial one of there being another outstanding O’Keeffe, to the artist’s ability to balance this career with her others as a teacher and a nurse often on the move, to her stylistic range and evolution,” says Robert Wiesenberger, the Clark’s curator of the exhibition.

— Dave Eisenstadter

When: July 5-7
Where: Ski Butternut, 380 State Road, Rt. 23, Great Barrington

A painting by Sidney Carter. Photo courtesy Berkshires Arts Festival

With 175 artists selected for the Berkshires Arts Festival, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get bored with the different varieties of creativity at this event. Different forms of art include ceramics, jewelry, sculptures, photos, and much more.

Included with the visual arts of the festival is live music. Classically-trained musicians Harpeth Rising will take the stage July 6 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to perform original music. These shows will require an extra ticket, but currently combo tickets are selling for $28 a piece. Kids under 12 get in free.

Alongside great art and live music, the Berkshires Arts Festival promises good food as well. What more could you ask for? Purchase tickets at berkshiresartsfestival.com, and find some unique art to take home with you July 5-7.

— Jonathan Kermah

When: July 12-14
Where: Greenfield Community College, 1 College Dr., Greenfield

Balloons illuminate Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017.

Every year Green River Fest has a packed line-up filled with a wide range of acts, from R&B to folk/Americana, hip-hop, international music, drawing talent from near and far. It’s even been listed among Rolling Stone’s 50-must see music festivals in past years. Green River Festival this year won’t disappoint.

On Friday, the headliner act is rock, blues, and country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, who will be playing the entirety of her breakthrough 1998 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Also performing that day are local heroes such as folk singer-songwriter Heather Maloney, meditative jazz ensemble Mtali Shaka Banda & Oneness Project as well as other acts, including folk rockers Parsonsfield, Haitian rara, rap, and roots collective Lakou Mizik, folk/bluegrass sextet Upstate, and Latin alternative and all woman quartet Ladama.

There’s also the annual Next Wave Stage that night (with anyone 19 years and under having free admission that day), which features local up-and-coming teen bands such as 1960s pop-influenced indie rock group Moving Day, country artist Dez Roy, alternative folk-rock trio Zoki, and Born IV Blues.

Meanwhile, there’s a plethora of other bands and artists to listen to, including synth fever pop duo Home Body, one man band The Suitcase Junket, bluegrass/Americana group The Devil Makes Three, old-timey/blues musician Rhiannon Gidden, founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and many more.

Also, why not take a hot air balloon ride, try your hand at family-friendly arts and crafts, or enjoy the many food trucks and pop up eateries at the festival as well? There’s plenty to do at Green River Festival and you’ll be wishing you have Hermonie Granger’s time-turner from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, so you can catch it all.

— Chris Goudreau

When: July 17 at 7 p.m.
Where: Amherst Cinema, 28 Amity St., Amherst

Amherst Cinema will screen Éthiopiques: Revolt of the Soul as part of its Sound & Vision film series focused on music in cinema this summer. The 70-minute 2018 documentary film in English and Amharic (with subtitles), was directed by Maciej Bochniak and focuses on the rich musical history of Ethiopia. In 1997, the Western world was first introduced to the country’s musical lineage and culture through the Éthiopiques CD series, created in a collaboration between French music journalist Francis Falceto and producer Amha Eshete who between 1969 and 1975 made 120 singles and 14 albums of Ethiopian musicians. The music was created by Eshete during a period of less repressive times when Emperor Haile Selassie tolerated African music influenced by Western genres such as soul, funk, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz.

But that all changed with a military coup in 1974, which lasted until 1991, according to the film’s synopsis on Amherst Cinema’s website. Eshete, who lived in exile in the United States for many years, speaks about the music of Ethiopia on the Éthiopiques CD series as does Ethiopian musician Girma Beyene, pianist and arranger for the Walias Band, and others. The film features animations, live performances, and recordings for Mistakes on Purpose, the 30th album in the CD series.

— Chris Goudreau

When: July 18-21
Where: Downtown Brattleboro, Vermont

The annual Southern Vermont Dance Festival returns for its seventh year next month featuring a packed lineup of individual dance performances, classes, gala concerts, and community events. The four-day festival will include more than 90 dance classes, dozens of free community events, and five ticketed concerts at venues throughout downtown Brattleboro such as the Latchis Theatre, the Stone Church. One standout performance during the festival will be a return of the Midsummer Night’s Picnic and Promenade Dance Performance, the most popular event in past years, which according to the event’s website is expected to sell out.

The festival, founded in 2012 with a mission to use the arts as a catalyst for economic growth in Brattleboro, features the work of dance educators, choreographers and performers throughout the country paired with community events such as raffles, site specific performances, workshops, and live music hosted by local downtown businesses. Not that great a dancer yourself? Not to worry. The festival prides itself on being accessible to everyone from the most novice of stare-at-your feet dancers to professionals looking to be surrounded by their peers in a bucolic New England summer setting.

— Chris Goudreau

When: July 20 – October 14
Where: Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, 21 Edwards Street, Springfield

Put your face in a van Gogh. Photo Courtesy Springfield Museums.

OK, come on, you know you’ve always dreamed of putting yourself inside a famous painting. Now is your chance with the Van Gogh for All exhibit at the d’Armour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield. The exhibit literally immerses visitors in van Gogh’s works, with opportunities to manipulate a 12-foot-wide interactive version of the famous painting Starry Night, get behind the shutters of van Gogh’s yellow house, and, yes, become part of one of van Gogh’s famous landscapes.

While van Gogh was decidedly an artist of the 19th century, Van Gogh for All is designed to engage the people of the 21st-century with modern technology and participatory learning. It’s not all sweet-smelling irises, however. Not only does the exhibition give a glimpse into the famed artist’s genius, but also some of his madness and personal struggles.

The exhibition is paired with a companion exhibit, Van Gogh and Japanese Prints, which explores the Dutch artist’s fascination with Japanese culture. He collected and copied Japanese woodblock prints, and took artistic inspiration from their colors and compositions. This exhibit displays those connections between reproductions of van Gogh’s work and authentic Japanese prints from the D’Amour’s own collection.

— Dave Eisenstadter

When: July 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m., July 28 at 2 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. August 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. August 4 at 2 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m.
Where: The West End at Eastworks, 116 Pleasant St., Easthampton.

New Century Theatre will be staging a production of “A Walk in the Woods” by Lee Blessing in late July and early August, a drama set during the end of the Cold War in the early ‘80s, which is centered around a newly assigned American diplomat desperately trying to negotiate a lasting nuclear arms treaty with her more experienced Soviet counterpart. “As the talks stall and tensions mount, the two decided to take a stroll in a mountain glen in Switzerland away from the negotiating table and the prying eyes of the press,” the company’s website reads.

These private conversations between the two diplomats break the stalemate, finding common ground between the world’s two superpowers. Blessing’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony-Award-nominated work was written more than 30 years ago, but still resonates with a topical theme of finding a shared belief despite political and ideological differences and how having one on one conversation has not only the power to change minds, but alter the future of our world.

— Chris Goudreau

When: August 17 from 1 to 11 p.m.
Where: 27 Center St., Montague

It’s not your ordinary music festival. This August, a one-day global music festival called Barbès in the Woods will take place on the former Bartlett Farm in the village of Montague, a 12-acre location with fields, woodlands, and a river abutting the Sawmills Conservation Area with two stages featuring a large lineup of music genres from across the world. The festival takes its name from an iconic Brooklyn bar, Barbès, a former Park Slope laundromat that two Frenchman turned into a bar. The back room of that bar is a Brooklyn favorite for live music that’s non-commercial and a mainstay for international performers and continues to host more than 700 performances every year.

Now, Olivier Conan of Barbès is co-curating the festival our own Pioneer Valley version of what the legendary bar/music venue brings to Brooklyn every week alongside co-curator, the World Music Collider. The festival features acts, including afrobeat band Antibalas, cumbia/ psychedelic afro-carribean punk group Combo Chimbita, afrobeat/ indie dance band Underground System, Slavic Soul Party!, which features Roma music, klezmer, funk, and New Orleans jazz influences.

Meanwhile, there are other acts at the festival such as Ethiopian funk/ jazz and world music ensemble Anbessa Orchestra, world pop & soul group Alsarah & The Nubatones, French gypsy jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel as well as instrumental trio Big Lazy, Boston-based cubmia, surf, funk, and klezmer band Klezperanto!, and samba group, The Berkshire Bateria & Bossa Triba.

— Chris Goudreau

When: Tuesday, August 20, 4 – 9:30 p.m.
Where: Pines Theater, Look Park, 300 North Main St., Florence

DAN LITTLEMatthew Pierce from the Unband performs music from This is Spinal Tap during Transperformance 25- Look at the Movies,  Wednesday afternoon at Pines Theater in Florence.

DAN LITTLEMatthew Pierce from the Unband performs music from This is Spinal Tap during Transperformance 25- Look at the Movies, Wednesday afternoon at Pines Theater in Florence.

It’s the 29th iteration of the popular show Transperformance this year, in which local musicians don fabulous costumes and embody beloved musicians old and new. Each time it happens there’s a theme, and this year’s happens to be “Lookstock,” a take off of the performance’s home at Look Park in Florence and the iconic rock festival Woodstock, now 50 years young.

Musician participants will embody performers who graced the Woodstock stage 50 years ago, opening up Jefferson Airplane, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young as possibilities. Not Iron Butterfly though. They were stuck at the airport.

The concert, put on by the Northampton Arts Council and the Parent Teacher Organizations of Northampton’s public schools, is a benefit for the Northampton Public Schools’ ArtsEZ grant program, which supplies money for arts enrichment programs.

The line-up of local musicians has not yet been determined, so check back at northamptonartscouncil.org.

— Dave Eisenstadter

When: Sept. 6 (5-11 p.m.), Sept. 7 (12-11 p.m.), Sept. 8 (12-7 p.m.)
Where: St. George Greek Orthodox  Cathedral, 22 St. George Rd., Springfield

Are you Greek, an avid Greek music and dance fanatic, or gyro connoisseur? If you fit the description of any of those titles, Glendi is the event for you.

Glendi is an annual Greek gathering sponsored by St. George Cathedral in Springfield. The three-day event is a celebration of Greek culture with plenty of Greek food, music, and dance. 1978 marked the inaugural Glendi, and the festival has been going strong for 41 years since.

The food served at Glendi is to die for. Greek dishes such as Souvlaki (grilled lamb) and pastries like Koulourakia (Greek sesame seed cookie) are even available to go. Live music is performed by Hellenic Express and dance is performed by Glendi dancers with traditional Greek wear. Kids are more than welcome at the festival, with plenty of activities for the youth. Greek alcohol is also available for more adult fun.

Glendi also includes a tour of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral with Fr. Christopher as the tour guide. The Cathedral was built in 1864 and was designed by Richard Upjohn and is listed as a U.S. Historical site.

Admission is $1 and comes with raffle ticket for a $1,000 valued prize.

— Jonathan Kermah



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