This week’s cultural highlights in our region include several jazz events, a new play festival, indie rock, chamber music, Cajun music, and a whole lot more.
Combine deadpan whimsical vocals that recall Jonathan Richman or the Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano (or even The Kinks’ Ray Davies) and melody-infused guitar rock that might appeal to a fan of the Replacements (with a hint of Nirvana) and you get a rough approximation of indie-rock group Car Seat Headrest, who bring their brilliant and witty alternative sounds to the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA in North Adams tonight at 8pm.
The 10X10 Upstreet Arts Festival returns to downtown Pittsfield for the eighth year and features music, theatre, dance, film, visual art, spoken word, comedy and more. The festival includes Barrington Stage Company’s 10X10 New Play Festival, which kicks off this weekend and runs through March 10. Barrington Stage artistic director Julianne Boyd and Emmy Award-winning director Matthew Penn split the direction duties between themselves for these ten, ten-minute plays, which cover a variety of styles and subjects. And the great thing is, if you don't like one, just wait ten minutes and it's over!
Jesse Harris is probably best known as the pen behind some of Norah Jones’s greatest hits, especially her early ones that made her a household name, won her a slew of Grammy Awards, and put her music in every elevator and supermarket across the land. But Jesse Harris is an artist in his own right, both as a singer-songwriter AND as a musician and composer. Harris is going to put on display his latter role in a special concert tonight at 8 at the Egremont Barn in South Egremont, Mass., when he performs with his band Cosmo, an all-star assemblage of downtown experimental talent featuring members of and collaborators with Paul Simon’s band, Bon Iver, Bill Frisell’s trio, the Lounge Lizards, and Rubblebucket. The group recorded an eponymously titled album for John Zorn's Tzadik label and is currently recording a new album for release later this year.
Over at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, the Walden Chamber Players perform works by Bach, Mozart, Schnittke, and Schubert’s Trout Quintet on Sunday at 3pm.
Over in Hudson, N.Y., Bobby Sanabria and Dave Liebman headline the annual Hudson Jazz Festival at Hudson Hall this weekend. The famed Latin jazz percussionist Sanabria kicks off the festival with his Quarteto Aché tonight at 7pm. On Saturday at 1pm, piano devotees will be treated to a performance by three world-class musicians in an afternoon of jazz piano immersion, when Kirk Nurock, Lynne Arriale, and Sullivan Fortner perform. On Saturday night at 7pm, an all-star quartet of jazz talent joins forces for a journey through jazz experimentation, led by saxophonist David Leibman, who began his career in the 1970s with Elvin Jones and Miles Davis before continuing as leader of his widely acclaimed bands Lookout Farm and Quest. Leibman will be joined by vocalist Jay Clayton, known as a pioneer of the free jazz movement, renowned for her instrument-like vocal agility and bold exploration of the terrain between jazz and new music. Bassist Jay Anderson, who has played with the likes of David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Chaka Khan, and legendary poet Allen Ginsberg, will hold down the bottom, while festival artistic director Armen Donelian will lay down the harmonic base on piano in what promises to be a memorable event.
Also in Hudson, Cajun music superstars Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet laissez les bontemps rouler at Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday at 9.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available at rogovoyreport.com