Billboard called her “Nashville’s Next Indie Star,” and there is little doubt that soul-rock singer Ruby Amanfu is a force to be reckoned with. Since her star turn on Jack White’s “Love Interruption” in 2012, she was nominated for a Grammy, toured with Norah Jones and released her transcendent 2015 debut album, Standing Still. Born in Ghana and now based in Nashville, Ruby Amanfu and her band will get your heart beating a little faster. at MASS MoCA’s Club B-10 at 8pm on Saturday (April 2).UPDATE: This concert has been cancelled. Refunds are available at the place of purchase…
Amanfu’s voice is described as having both the soaring power of gospel and a hushed intimacy, and the singer is arguably on her way to becoming one of the greats. A highly skilled singer-songwriter, Amanfu’s Standing Still also manages to spotlight a flawlessly curated collection of covers paying homage to such music icons as Wilco, Irma Thomas and Brandi Carlile, as Amanfu breathes new life into beloved classics.
M Is Black Enough exercises spirited conversation and debate through steel pan, cello, text and voice. Cellist Jeffrey Zeigler (of the Kronos Quartet) teams up with composer-percussionist Andy Akiho, poet Roger Bonair-Agard and percussionist Sean Dixon for a work-in-progress program of spoken word and music, both complex and aggressive. Slam poetry meets new music in this electrifying and thought-provoking program of music and words presented by three acclaimed contemporary performers in MASS MoCA’s Club B-10 in North Adams at 8pm on Saturday (March 26).
Jeffrey Zeigler is a versatile cellist known for his work within the classical and new music realms. The New York Times describes his playing as “fiery…with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone.” His debut solo album, Something of Life, features premiere works by notable contemporary musicians, including composers Philip Glass and Paola Prestini, and drummer Glenn Kotche of Wilco. MASS MoCA audiences will remember Zeigler from the 2015 Solid Sound Festival where he performed a duet with Kotche.
Calling this exciting new theatrical production a musical betrays the collaborative magic of its production team, including theater-maker Rinde Eckert, composer Paola Prestini, director Julian Crouch and instrument-maker Mark Stewart. Produced by Beth Morrison (whom audiences will remember from October 2014’s arresting music-theater production, “The Source”) and VisionIntoArt, “Aging Magician” follows a man near the end of his peculiar life on an odd but strangely sweet journey to Coney Island, all punctuated by the lovely Brooklyn Youth Chorus, under the direction of Dianne Berkun-Menaker. See the magic come alive 2pm on Sunday (February 28) at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams.
“Aging Magician” is a haunting, genre-defying adventure that combines theater, music, puppetry, one-of-a-kind instruments, scenic design and film media. The creative team of Prestini, Eckert, Crouch, Stewart and Morrison comprises the most superlative producers in avant-garde theater today. The show follows an ordinary man named Harold, coping with the final stages of his life, as he muses on the movement of time and his own mortality while confronting past loves both lost and imagined. His mind begins to wander while in transit to iconic Coney Island, with fantasy and reality blurring along the subway ride in the “magic show of time itself.”
Brooklyn vocalist Jason Walker hails from a multi-generational music family — he was cradled in the arms of Mahalia Jackson as a child and has shared the stage with Mick Jagger, Bono and Lou Reed. His own music is a sublime and gospel-infused soul, which should be especially affecting in MASS MoCA’s intimate Club B-10 at 8pm on Saturday (February 20).
Velvety-smooth vocalist Jason Walker combines jazz, gospel, classical and soul in an uplifting, honey-sweet sound that’s a pure pleasure to take in. Fans rave about this crooner’s gorgeous vocals, bluesy bassline interludes, and joyous lyrics that coalesce in his self-coined style of “folk-soul,” a revelatory combination of spiritual and secular music that anyone can enjoy.
MASS MoCA’s Curator of Performing Arts and Film, Rachel Chanoff, raves, “Jason Walker is too often the power beyond the throne. His extraordinary voice has illuminated so many other people’s projects. It’s time — and so thrilling — to give our audience the opportunity to discover a truly compelling artist.”
Granted, it’s only a work-in-progress taking place for three days, but it is clearly a fresh and new approach to enjoying a museum. You may want to try out this new performance-based museum audio/docent tour created by Here Lies Love choreographer Annie-B Parson and creative partner Paul Lazar. This interactive event deliberately changes how we experience a museum — by disrupting, confusing and ultimately reconsidering the ways we see art. Big Dance Theater calls it This Page Left Intentionally Blank and has scheduled six only-at-MASS-MoCA engagements in North Adams to take place at 12noon & 3pm on Wednesday, Friday & Saturday (February 10, 12 & 13). Ticket details at bottom of article.
My advice: with only a very limited number of tickets I suggest it might be smart to book your place early. This event is going to be fascinating.
Daniel Wohl’s “boldly surreal” (The New York Times) music, synch audio and visual content are in real time for this multi-sensory audience experience, accompanied by artist Daniel Schwarz’s lush visuals. Co-commissioned by MASS MoCA and featuring Roomful of Teeth’s Caroline Shaw and the Bang on A Can All-Stars, Wohl’s new album, Holographic, comes to life with a blend of acoustic instruments and rich electronic creations in this work-in-progress performance on Saturday (January 16) at 8pm in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams.
Presented in North Adams before its official premiere in New York City on January 21 and in Saint Paul on February 11, Holographic is a full-length album and performance commissioned by MASS MoCA with Liquid Music, Baryshnikov Arts Center and Indianapolis Museum of Art. Created by Paris-born and Brooklyn-based Wohl, who “blurs the line between electronic and acoustic instrumentation and seemingly melts both elements into a greater organic whole” (WNYC), the music incorporates an improbable combination of sounds, inspired by new ideas in modern science and humanity’s symbiotic relationship with technological creations. “Holographic is about exploring different worlds — improbable combinations of sounds — hidden and imaginary sonic landscapes — both acoustic and electronic,” explains Wohl.
Using visuals that are a hypnotic blend of animation, documentary footage and archival photos – and accompanied by live music – Nari tells the story of Gingger Shankar’s mother and grandmother, Viji and Lakshmi Shankar, whose collaborations with her great-uncle, Ravi Shankar, and George Harrison helped bring Indian music to the West in the 1970s. Musician Gingger Shankar, producer Dave Liang and filmmaker Sun Yunfan will deliver a work-in-progress presentation of Nari at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams on Saturday (December 12) at 8pm.
Nari brings Viji and Lakshmi’s story to life in an animated documentary and multimedia performance in which live vocals, keyboards and Gingger’s extraordinary double violin are set to an entrancing blend of hip-hop, high-energy solos, electronica and Viji’s never-before-heard classical Indian vocals. The result is a collage of live music, synched with video that blends film, family photos, artwork and animation.
Peculiar. And very entertaining in a subtle, understated way. It’s the only way to describe Stephin Merritt, whose life might be described as a study in brown, his signature couture color. The man who taught us to feel with 69 Love Songs serenades his fans at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams with a rare, stripped-down concert accompanied solely by Magnetic Fields bandmate and cellist Sam Davol at 8pm on Saturday (November 21).
Magnetic Fields frontman and lyrical mastermind Stephin Merritt exclusively wears brown clothing; published an ode to two-letter Scrabble words; and plans his set lists according to the alphabet. He doesn’t play by anybody’s rules — and he doesn’t need to. Few musicians can boast an oeuvre as vast and acclaimed as Merritt’s, a fanbase as devoted or a songwriting talent as limitless.
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