This week’s cultural highlights in our region include cutting-edge bluegrass, contemporary a cappella, Jamaican music, dance with drones, plus … the circus comes to town!
Punch Brothers, featuring mandolinist and public radio host Chris Thile, bring their exciting, virtuosic brand of progressive bluegrass back to MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday at 8pm. In addition to Chris Thile, Punch Brothers includes guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Paul Kowert, banjoist Noam Pikelny and violinist Gabe Witcher, making them a kind of supergroup of modern bluegrass. Singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane warms up the crowd with his Book of Travelers project, first workshopped at MASS MoCA last fall and inspired by his two-week train journey across the country.
The Cantilena Chamber Choir will present a concert called Cool Sounds a Cappella on Sunday at 3p.m. at the Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsfield, Mass. Cool Sounds will introduce new and innovative a cappella music, including sounds from Cuba, a tribute to Stephen Sondheim including music from Company and Sunday in the Park with George; and new and sophisticated a cappella arrangements of the music of Mr. Billy Joel.
Perhaps the craziest cultural event of the weekend takes place at PS21 in Chatham, N.Y., on Saturday at 3 pm, when Parsons Dance offers a work-in-progress showing of a new kind of live performance wherein live human dancers interact with flying drones. Parsons Dance has been at PS21 all week fine-tuning the technical side of this exciting new work. The New York City-based dance company has partnered with French technology artist Ben Kuperberg on this ongoing project that presents myriad technical challenges, especially since drone technology isn’t geared for indoor theater spaces with varying shapes and sizes. In other words, every performance in every new space has to be redesigned and reconfigured.
Bindlestiff Family Cirkus ends its Winter Residency at Club Helsinki Hudson this weekend, with its adult-oriented Cabin Fever Cabaret on Saturday night at 9pm, followed on Sunday by a family-friendly matinee appropriate for all ages, at 3pm. Bindlestiff is known for its cutting-edge circus and performance acts, including acrobatics, live music, audience interaction, and, of course, clowns and juggling.
The Sound the Trumpet! jazz series at Bard College’s Fisher Center continues this weekend with “Jamaican Roots,” led by Trinidadian trumpeter Etienne Charles and featuring rising Jamaican vocalist Shenel Johns, on Saturday at 7:30pm, in the Fisher Center’s Luma theater. Drawing upon the styles of mento, ska, reggae, rocksteady, dub, and their various contemporary influences, Charles and Johns will explore the flow of Jamaican influence on today’s global sound of blues, jazz, and pop.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available at rogovoyreport.com