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Rogovoy Report 6/28/19

The highlights of the cultural weekend in our region include rock ‘n’ roll, funk, modern dance, food for thought … plus a whole lot more.

By far the biggest event in the region this weekend is Wilco’s three-day Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams. Predictably, however, the biannual festival is entirely sold out. Take heart though: there’s tons of other events and performances to choose from as the summer season truly gets underway during this pre-July 4th weekend.

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, who emerged from the same mid-1970s New Jersey Shore bar-band scene as did their colleague, friend, and sometime-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, bring their horn-laced R&B to the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, Mass., on Saturday at 8pm. I saw Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes a bunch of times back in the day, and their concerts were full of moody peaks and ecstatic valleys not unlike the Boss’s shows. The play a lot of tunes written by Springsteen especially for them, as well as some by founding member Steven Van Zandt, back then known as Miami Steve, eventually known as Little Steven, but mostly known as Silvio Dante for his role in the Sopranos. Their best-known songs include "The Fever" – not the Peggy Lee tune but a Springsteen-penned number --  "Talk to Me", "This Time It's For Real", "Love on the Wrong Side of Town", “Trapped Again,” and Miami Steve’s “I Don’t Want to Go home.” And their shows typically concluded with the audience up on its feet and dancing and singing along to a spirited version of Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party.” Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington on Saturday night at 8pm.

Speaking of 1970s outfits that still get audiences up out of their seats for a dance party, quintessential Seventies dance band Earth Wind & Fire returns to Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass., tonight, bringing the group’s phenomenal catalog of number-one jazzy R&B and disco hits including “Shining Star,” “That’s the Way of the World,” “September,” “After the Love Has Gone” and “Sing a Song.”

Jacob’s Pillow gets its summer season up and running with two fascinating dance companies in residency this weekend with performances tonight through Sunday. Compañía Irene Rodríguez performs its Cuban-based amalgam of dance, uniting traditional flamenco and Spanish dances with vibrant Afro-Cuban rhythms, ballet and contemporary techniques. The program features two Pillow-commissioned world premieres, including La Desesperación, inspired by Edvard Munch’s iconic painting The Scream. The company performs with five seasoned flamenco musicians accompanying them with arrangements for saxophone, percussion, bass, and guitar. Also at the Pillow this weekend is Abby Z and the New Utility, making their Jacob’s Pillow debut with abandoned playground at the Doris Duke Theatre. Abby Z’s unique movement vocabulary brings together hip-hop, West African, and postmodern dance styles.

Author Mitch Horowitz appears in the Food for Thought series featuring dinner and discussion at Hancock Shaker Village just outside of Pittsfield, Mass., tonight at 6pm. Horowitz, the author of Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped our Nation, will talk about the genesis of spirituality and mysticism and its impact on modern American culture, politics, and religion.

Also of interest this weekend, a New Sculpture Exhibit opens at Chesterwood in Stockbridge, Mass.; singer-songwriter Heather Maloney celebrates her terrific new album at Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday at 9pm; Stew & Heidi premiere their new musical at the Ancram Opera House tonight and Saturday; Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters appear at Flying Cat Music in Phoenicia, N.Y., tonight at 7:30pm; and the summer season at PS21 in Chatham, N.Y., gets underway on Saturday at 8pm, with an opening night revue featuring performances by members of the Jamal Jackson Dance Company, Dance Heginbotham, Parsons Dance, fiddler Jeremy Kittle, and comedian Hilary Chaplain.

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