The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include Americana, blues, swing, modern dance, Leonard Bernstein, and a whole lot more.
For as long as I’ve been writing about music, I’ve marveled at the artistry of Brooks Williams. The Georgia native, one-time Pioneer Valley resident, and now expatriate living in England can do it all and at the highest level: write, sing, play, in a manner rooted in tradition yet that speaks in an utterly contemporary voice. He was Americana before there was such a term; he’s a phenomenal blues artist yet doesn’t really play that kind of blues, and he’s making his long-overdue Guthrie Center debut in Great Barrington, Mass., tonight at 8pm.
Also tonight, at 7pm under the stars in the beautiful Joe’s Field at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Ray LaMontagne and Neko Case will perform their critically acclaimed, Grammy Award-winning takes on original Americana music.
It’s hard to say in advance who is going to be the star of the show at PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century in Chatham, N.Y., on Saturday at 8pm: the brand-new, 300-seat open-air pavilion theater or the performers who will inaugurate the new space, including Guy Klucevsek, TAKE Dance, Hilary Chaplain, Vanaver Caravan, and Parsons Dance. The new theater replaces the tent that served as the main venue for 12 years. Guy Klucevsek is one of the world's most versatile and highly respected accordionists whose original works fuse regional accordion styles with jazz and avant-garde (trust me - Guy doesn't play "accordion music" - he plays celestial music). Physical comedian Hilary Chaplain presents two of her hilarious short works: The Classically Trained Musician and The Classically Trained Actress. And Parsons Dance presents Ian Spring in David Parsons’ breathtaking audience favorite, Caught. It's a good bet that space, performers, and audience all come out ahead. That’s PS21, Sat, at 8pm.
To honor the centennial of composer Leonard Bernstein’s birth this summer, the 2018 Bard SummerScape festival kicks off with the first major revival of the composer’s Peter Pan. Originally an Edwardian play by Scottish dramatist J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan, or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, owes its status as an enduring children’s classic chiefly to two popular American adaptations: the 1953 Disney animation and 1954 Broadway musical. Yet the postwar years yielded an earlier American adaptation too: a Broadway show that opened in 1950 and ran for 321 performances, with music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein. Presented complete in an intimate new chamber arrangement created by Christopher Alden, this psychologically gripping treatment reveals the childhood fantasy’s darker side. Peter Pan runs in the Fisher Center at Bard College for 25 performances, beginning this weekend and continuing through July 22.
On Saturday, at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Mass., at 7pm, New York City underground talents Pat Irwin, Sasha Dobson and Daria Grace, who make up Pi Power Trio, perform in the 1910 Barn as part of the Shaker Barn Music series.
There’s so much going on at Tanglewood this weekend through the Fourth of July, it would be a shame to overlook this Sunday’s quiet but gorgeous concert by Emmylou Harris and Ry Cooder in the Shed at 2:30pm.
And this weekend at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass., Pilobolus brings its “Come to Your Senses” program to the mainstage, while Ephrat Asherie Dance presents the world premiere of Odeon, a high-energy, hybrid hip-hop work set to and inspired by the music of early 20th century Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth, in the Doris Duke Theatre.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com