Posts Tagged ‘MASS Moca’

LIVE: Stephane Wrembel @ MASS MoCA’s Courtyard Café, 8/23/14

Monday, August 25th, 2014
Stephane Wrembel

Stephane Wrembel

Review and photographs by J Hunter

It’s kind of sad to think this night of technically acoustic, but spiritually electric, music wasn’t even supposed to happen. The Courtyard Café was supposed to belong to the Lost Bayou Ramblers, a Grammy-nominated Cajun rock band from (Where else?) Louisiana, but they had to cancel. By sports standards, a substitute is never as good as the player he or she replaces, but I’ve seen Mose Allison pinch-hit at Caffe Lena, so bang goes that stereotype. As last-minute gets go, MASS MoCA hit the lottery with Stephane Wrembel, whose past appearances in Greater Nippertown are the stuff of legend.

For someone who came to New York City in 2000 with only $300 in his pocket, the French guitar wizard has done tremendously well: World tours, six recordings (seven if you count the one coming out on September 13) and music in two Woody Allen films. The latter point is crucial, particularly when you factor in Allen’s longtime love affair with the music of Django Reinhardt. There are more than a few groups out there perpetuating the sound created by Reinhardt and the Quintette du Hot Club de France, but – like MASS MoCA – Wrembel thinks outside the box, augmenting Reinhardt’s iconic sound with influences from Africa, India, Japan, and a host of places Wrembel has seen on his personal & professional journey.

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LIVE: Jason Isbell @ MASS MoCA, 8/15/14

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Jason Isbell

Photographs by Bender Melon

At MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit played through most of Southeastern, a few songs from the back catalog and some of his Drive-By Truckers songs.

The band was tight. The witnesses were pleased.

THE LINE-UP
Jason Isbell (guitar)
Sadler Vaden (guitar)
Jimbo Hart (bass)
Chad Gamble (drums)
Derry deBorja (keyboards)

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LIVE: Glenn Kotche @ MASS MoCA’s Bang On a Can Summer Music Festival, 8/1/14

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
Glenn Kotche

Glenn Kotche

Review and photograph by Joel Reed

In addition to his thirteen years as Wilco’s drummer, Glenn Kotche has composed music for Kronos Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, eighth blackbird and other groups, and so joins the National’s Bryce Dessner and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood in the small group of composer-musicians with solid credibility in both rock and new music worlds. He’s a natural then for the summer Bang on a Can residency at MASS MoCA in North Adams. In the days before his solo performance on Friday, August 1 he had been teaching the fellows of the summer institute, and three of his compositions were on the program for the festival’s concluding marathon concert on Saturday, August 2.

The last time I saw Kotche perform solo was at one of the Solid Sound festivals, where he played to a standing crowd in MASS MoCA’s 1000-people capacity Hunter Center, and before that, at the Morgan Library’s formal theater. It was a treat then to sit at a cafe table among the 200 people on the deck behind the museum, and Kotche, nodding to friends and students in the audience during his set, seemed to enjoy the setting as well.

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LIVE: Netsayi & Black Pressure @ MASS MoCA’s Courtyard Café, 7/19/14

Friday, August 1st, 2014
Netsayi & Black Pressure

Netsayi & Black Pressure

Review by J Hunter

There are days when the Inner Banshee screams for me to find something different, something new, something unknown. Fortunately, it’s only a short, scenic (and fun) drive to MASS MoCA, where the curators think outside the box that “The Box” came in! That’s why – on the strength of one video posted on the groundbreaking museum’s web site – I was checking out Netsayi & Black Pressure.

I’ve seen many shows in MASS MoCA’s courtyard space, but never in the configuration I was presented with: The bar area that overlooks the courtyard had been turned into an outdoor music club, with a small stage stuck into the corner nearest the museum; tables were set close together, with a few rows of seats laid out at the back near the actual bar – which was already doing Land Office business when I stepped onto the wooden deck. It was intimate, to say the least, but it was also perfect for Netsayi, who is nothing if not intimate.

Now, I don’t mean “intimate” in the Joni Mitchell/Buffy Saint-Marie “sensitive singer-songwriter” sense, although Netsayi’s lyrics do take you close to her heart. But the messages Netsayi sends out are all about empowerment and education – empowerment for the 99-percent, education about what’s happening (and what should happen) in the places where justice is in short supply. “These are the facts of life where we come from,” Netsayi said about her home country of Zimbabwe. “We have land issues. Did you know that?” she asked in her intro to Miriam Makeba’s still-contemporary classic “A Piece of Ground.” The night’s opening song “Hondo” – which translates to “War” – was about “the necessity of fighting for what you believe.” You could apply that to Zimbabwe, which was born out of revolution, but the belief and energy that radiated from the slow-building song could make you take up arms against anything that confronted you.

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LIVE: Bang On a Can Music Festival @ MASS MoCA, 7/26/14

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Bang on a Can

Review and photographs by Joel Reed

Long before MASS MoCA began hosting Wilco’s Solid Sound and the FreshGrass music festivals, the sprawling North Adams museum and performance space offered the Berkshires and the Capital Region unmatched opportunities for extended exposure to alternative music. In 2002, the NYC-based new music ensemble Bang On a Can began taking up an annual summer residency there with two weeks of concerts and recitals coupled with instruction for a small group of “fellows” eager to study extended technique and composition from the All Stars who launched a genre.

Though Bang On a Can’s founding composers and musicians are classically trained and mostly work with traditional instrumentation, their work refers more to late twentieth-century experimental or avant garde composition and rock than it does the orchestral and chamber music of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. As with all art, theirs is based in a set of conventions that become more familiar and accessible over time, but its relevance is less in doubt, and so their annual presence at MASS MoCA fills a unique niche in our region for those who are looking for world-class live music but aren’t turned on by SPAC’s classical season or rock reunion acts.

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Relentlessly Inventive Bang on a Can Offers Festival of New Music During MASS MoCA Stay [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Pop-up orograms in the galleries are a regular feature of the Bang on a Can Festival.

Pop-up programs in the galleries are a regular feature of the Bang on a Can Festival.

From Saturday (July 26) through August 2, the “relentlessly inventive” (New York Magazine) new music collective Bang on a Can collaborates with MASS MoCA to present Bang on a Can Plays Art, a jam-packed, week-long new music extravaganza featuring 14 concerts in eight days, as the culmination of the 13th annual Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA which began on July 14. Bang on a Can Plays Art draws inspiration from the visual art on exhibit in the galleries at MASS MoCA. Each concert will showcase music that interacts with the art on various levels – stylistically, thematically and whimsically – performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Festival artists and fellows, and special guests Steve Reich and Glenn Kotche (of Wilco).

Bang on a Can Plays Art kicks off in the afternoon on Saturday (July 26) with Bang on a Can Plays Izhar Patkin featuring Terry Riley’s minimalist classic In C, followed by a performance that evening of Bang on Can co-founder David Lang’s haunting death speaks by the Bang on a Can All-Stars with special guest Shara Worden, as well as a late-night solo concert by Worden’s musical alter-ego My Brighest Diamond.

Festival highlights include Bang on a Can Plays Teresita Fernández featuring Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe’s Cruel Sister (July 27); Bang on a Can World Premiere Composer Concert showcasing brand new music by the Festival Fellows (July 28); Bang on a Can Plays Ann Hamilton (July 29), featuring the world premiere of Paper Chorus created by the Festival musicians wearing Hamilton’s all new paper sculptures; Bang on a Can Plays Mark Dion featuring Morton Feldman’s Why Patterns? (July 30); Bang on a Can Plays Sol LeWitt featuring the music of Steve Reich, who was a friend and colleague of LeWitt (July 31); Bang on a Can Plays Anselm Kiefer, featuring Georg Friedrich Haas’ powerful string quartet In iij. Noct. performed in total darkness (July 31); Bang on a Can Plays Natalie Jeremijenko featuring Wilco’s Glenn Kotche (Aug. 1); and the annual Bang on a Can Marathon at MASS MoCA featuring more than 50 musicians and composers in six hours of non-stop, boundary-smashing music – a feast of sound including classical, contemporary, minimalism, ambient, jazz, experimental and more – including special guest Steve Reich and his newest composition Radio Rewrite, special guest Glenn Kotche’s recent chamber music and music from his new release Adventureland (Cantaloupe) and a rare performance of Edgar Varese’s masterpiece Ionisation (Aug. 2).

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

LIVE: Beck @ MASS MoCA, 6/24/14

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Beck

Beck

Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Beck rhymes with Bowie, hell yes.

Throughout Beck’s epic Tuesday night romp at MASS MoCA, I couldn’t get David Bowie out of my head.

The Thin White Duke’s effortless appropriation. Pinching Donovan’s 12-string waif, pulling Lou Reed’s New York street cred, borrowing Stevie Wonder’s soul and Stevie Ray’s blues. But put through the Bowie blender, it all became sexy, exotic and wild.

Beck, too. And not just because he interpolated Donna Summer into “Think I’m in Love.”

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For MASS MoCA, a Celebration That Has Been 15 Years in the Making [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Red Baraat

Red Baraat

By Larry Murray

This month marks 15 years for MASS MoCA in North Adams, so they’re throwing a party with Bhangra funk, fun food, festive spirits and dazzling new art. On Saturday (May 24), beginning at 4pm and lasting long through the night, dance-party favorite Red Baraat and soul-stirring spinner DJ Rekha; pop-ups from past performers including Mark Mulcahy, Cynthia Hopkins and Mark Stewart; and an opening reception for a series of dynamic and immersive new works by Brooklyn-based artist Teresita Fernández, “As Above So Below,” fill the bill at a MASS MoCA-sized celebration of their first 15 years!

“With so many good friends and terrific performers from our first 15 years, you never know who may show up,” says museum director Joseph Thompson. “Expect a rollicking dance party with lots of friends and family returning to MASS MoCA, interesting food trucks and newly concocted drinks, a few surprises and excellent art and music from stem to stern.” Thompson notes, “We’ll start with Teresita Fernández’s exquisite, lustrous installation of gold and graphite, which opens at 4pm, and dance under the stars with Red Baraat and DJ Rekha.”

The mid-career exhibition of sculptor Fernández, “As Above So Below” opens with an artist’s reception from 4-6pm in the main galleries. Primarily using graphite and gold, Fernández creates works that shift in scale from the colossal to the infinitesimal utilizing natural and manufactured light to create an ever-changing atmospheric landscape. The result is a space in which the viewer can become immersed, or even lost, in the artworks. The opening reception includes local food and wine. Museum galleries are open until 8pm.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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