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Rogovoy Report For 2/10/17

The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include a theatrically staged concert of new music about guns; chamber music; funky jazz; bluegrass banjo; writers reading their work; and a whole lot more.

The innovative ensemble So Percussion explores America’s fraught relationship with guns in “A Gun Show,” a theatrically staged concert in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., on Saturday at 8pm. “A Gun Show” gives the Second Amendment a soundtrack. Taking mallets to disassembled sniper rifles and assorted drums, the musicians serve as a Greek chorus, commenting instrumentally on sung and spoken texts drawn from the nightmares and nostalgia of armed experiences. 

Jazz-funk outfit Gruppo Mondo, featuring superstar drummer Jerry Marotta (who has worked with Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, Indigo Girls, and Orleans), brings its unique blend of improvised soul music to the Egremont Barn tonight at 8pm. Gruppo Mondo, based in Pittsfield, is led by bassist Fran Tokarz and includes Peter Primamore on piano and keyboards. Other musicians who play with Gruppo Mondo include Aaron Dean, Tom Major, John Zarvis, Charlie Tokarz, and Darryl Kniffen.

Grammy Award-nominated musician Noam Pikelny, the preeminent banjoist of his generation, will play old favorites and preview new songs from his upcoming album, “Universal Favorite,” at Club Helsinki Hudson tonight at 9pm. Pikelny is a founding member of Punch Brothers, a three-time Grammy Award nominee, and was awarded the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010.

Also at Helsinki this weekend, folk-soul duo Birds of Chicago plays its unique blend of rock ‘n’ roll and “secular gospel” on Sunday, February 12, at 8pm. Husband-wife duo JT Nero and Allison Russell anchor Birds of Chicago, a sprawling collective of soul-inflected, groove-based Americana from the Midwest. Birds of Chicago’s music seamlessly spans genres, drawing on the soulful balladry of the gospel tradition while simultaneously embracing deep grooves of country and soul. Singer-songwriter Levon Henry will warm up the crowd for Birds of Chicago.

Writers Kassi Underwood, Franz Nicolay, and Roselee Blooston will read from their works at Spotty Dog Books & Ale in Hudson on Saturday at 7pm, as part of Volume, the free monthly reading and music series every second Saturday of the month. The readings will be followed by book-signing and a DJ set.

Works inspired by Voltaire’s “Candide” by Haydn, Schumann, Prokofiev, Brahms, Golijov, and others will be performed by musicians from The Orchestra Now in “Candide’s Journey” at the Hudson Opera House all day Saturday from noon to 5pm. The casual event, to be held in the Opera House’s intimate West Room, is free and open to the public. Music lovers are encouraged to step in and out throughout the day.

“20th Century Music for Strings and Women’s Voices,” a program of works by Vaughan Williams, Britten, Saint-Saëns, Poulenc, and Foote, takes place at The School | Jack Shainman Gallery in Kinderhook, N.Y., on Sunday at 2pm, as part of the Concerts in the Village. Artistic director David Smith will conduct the Broad Street Orchestra and the women of the Broad Street Chorale in the 20th concert of the series, the third at The School. Soloists include sopranos Amanda Boyd and Caroline Dunigan and flutist Elizabeth Chinery.

Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com