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Arts & Culture

Rogovoy Report 6/22/18

The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include folk-pop, New Orleans, Broadway, ballet, dance, contemporary jazz, and a whole lot more.

Leave it to singer-songwriter Aimee Mann to make beautiful music about mental illness, as she did on last year’s album by that name. Her album “Mental Illness” won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album this past February. NPR has named her one of the world’s top 10 greatest living songwriters. Her songs are well-crafted compositions filled with pop hooks and melodies that are instantly pleasing and pull the listener along, with lyrical hooks that are equal to the music. She started out in the 1980s as the bassist and vocalist for the band ‘Til Tuesday, which had a big hit with “Voices Carry.” Her solo career began in 1993 with the perfect pop-rock album “Whatever,” and she has appeared on many film soundtracks, most notably the song score for “Magnolia,” for which her “Save Me” landed her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song. She’s also a terrific live performer, which you can see for yourself at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, Mass., tonight at 8pm. 

For the past three years, Sally Taylor – the daughter of James Taylor and Carly Simon - has engaged artists working in every medium and genre and brought them together by asking them to interpret one another’s artwork in the vein of a game of “Telephone,” and to express it in their own medium. For example: a musician interprets a photograph, a dancer interprets their song, a painter interprets the dance, a perfumer interprets the painting, a poet interprets the perfume, and so on, until all five senses are represented. In this process, which Sally calls Consenses, each artist extracts the essence of the artwork they are provided and uses this work as the catalyst for their own creation.

For the first time since the founding of Consenses, Taylor has engaged young student artists from local elementary schools to create Come to Your Senses, featuring 55 works across all media - on exhibit this summer at Kidspace at MASS MoCA in North Adams Mass. Taylor celebrates the opening of the exhibit with an intimate, one-night-only concert on Saturday at 7pm, featuring acoustic performances by herself and her brother Ben Taylor; fellow next-gen R&B sensation Kori Withers, daughter of Bill Withers; blues guitarist Eric Erdman; and hip-hop artist and producer John Forté, formerly of The Fugees.

Jacob’s Pillow opens its dance season this weekend with The Royal Danish Ballet, the third oldest ballet company in the world. The legendary ballet company includes contemporary choreographers in its repertory, including Jiri Kylian, John Neumeier, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon. Also at the Pillow this weekend is the Minneapolis-based Ragamala Dance Company, which specializes in a vibrant, contemporary take on South Indian classical dance. The company’s evening-length work, Written in Water, features a live ensemble of musicians accompanying the dancers.

?On Saturday night at 7pm, Harry Connick, Jr., brings “A New Orleans Tricentennial Celebration” to the Shed at Tanglewood, in a concert featuring a night of Connick’s hits and New Orleans favorites. And then on Sunday at 2:30pm, the phenomenal singer and actress Audra McDonald will perform a program of songs ranging from standards by Sondheim, Rodgers, and Gershwin to the sounds of today’s leading music theater composers, backed by the Boston Pops Orchestra.

And our region’s own Lindsey Webster brings her award-winning jazzy, blue-eyed soul to Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday at 9pm. Webster was named "Contemporary Jazz Artist of the Year" by Billboard Magazine for two years running, in both 2016 and 2017. Her cool, urban soul vocals have often been compared to such R&B royalty as Sade, Mariah Carey, and Anita Baker. The sultry and soulful singer-composer has scored two Billboard #1's on the Contemporary Jazz Chart, making her the first vocalist in the format to garner a number-one record since the iconic Sade.

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