It’s quite a musical weekend in our region, touching down in jazz, gospel, rock, funk, choral music, Baroque, world, avant-garde, and a whole lot more.
Nearly 50 years ago, John Rider formed a band named Max Creek, envisioning a community that embraced the people who couldn’t quite fit themselves into the little boxes then available. Rider sought “a vehicle for dreams of musicians, artists, poets or anyone else with a vision,” as he put it. Since that day, Max Creek has become New England’s answer to the Grateful Dead, known for their freewheeling jams mixing rock, country, reggae, soul, jazz and calypso among other styles, and delivering it in concerts that span three hours or more. Some claim that the band’s first live performance actually took place in the Berkshires, at the once-legendary Woody’s Roadhouse in Washington, Mass. Thus it’s only right that the band returns to its birthplace tonight, when Max Creek entertains at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Mass., starting at 8pm.
Speaking of jazz, mainstream jazz fans take note: the Lao Tizer Quartet featuring Grammy Award-winning saxophone legend Eric Marienthal brings its modern sounds to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., tonight at 7:30 pm. The group’s contemporary approach treads a fine line between jazz, rock, pop, and world music. To give you a sense of their range, on the group’s latest album, Songs from the Swinghouse, they cover tunes by artists as diverse as U2, Cat Stevens, and Led Zeppelin.
Elsewhere, the Crescendo Music Series presents an evening of Motets and Madrigals by
Monteverdi and Gesualdo tonight at St James Place in Great Barrington, Mass., at 6pm. Keep in mind that this is early music, so be sure to get there on time.
And on Saturday at 5pm, the Cantilena Chamber Choir joins forces with Baltimore’s Urban Choral Arts Society for a special tribute to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., at Trinity Church in Lenox, Mass. The concert, featuring Psalms and Spirituals, will include selections from Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert and spiritual arrangements by the King’s Singers.
Woodstock’s own Amy Helm has a terrific new album out called "This Too Shall Light," and she will perform songs from the album and other favorites at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson with her band on Saturday at 7 pm. Daughter of The Band’s Levon Helm and singer-songwriter Libby Titus, Helm crosses Emmylou Harris’s achy vulnerability with Mavis Staples’ hearty soul. On her new gospel-infused album, she blends contemporary compositions by Milk Carton Kids and Hiss Golden Messenger with vintage R&B, such as Allen Toussaint’s “Freedom for the Stallion” and jazz, including Blossom Dearie’s “Long Daddy Green”. The most touching tribute, however, may well be her rendition of “The Stones I Throw.” Written by Robbie Robertson and dating back to the days when The Band was still known as Levon and the Hawks, Amy claims the tune for herself, breathing new life into a number that grew directly out of the Sixties civil rights movement but whose message -- “Don’t build walls and barricades” -- is as urgent today as it was 50 years ago.
And for the most adventurous listeners out there, tonight at 9pm, there is an amazing all-star trio of musicians spanning the worlds of rock, jazz, funk, world music, and the avant-garde when drummer Bobby Previte, keyboardist Jamie Saft, and Wilco guitarist Nels Cline join forces for a freewheeling psychedelic jam at Club Helsinki Hudson.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available at rogovoyreport.com