Posts Tagged ‘North Adams’

LIVE: FreshGrass @ MASS MoCA, 9/19-21/14

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Emmylou Harris (photo by Kirsten Ferguson)

Emmylou Harris (photo by Kirsten Ferguson)

Photographs by Kirsten Ferguson, Bender Mellon

The fourth annual FreshGrass festival was a rousing success at MASS MoCA in North Adams last month. It’s truly amazing how quickly the festival has grown since its debut in 2011 when only a few hundred fans were in attendance.

Of course, much of its success has to do with the stellar line-up that graced the three main stages of the museum’s grounds. This year the three-day bluegrass and roots music festival featured a mind-bending amount of music, with more than 40 bands throughout the weekend, including Emmylou Harris, Railroad Earth, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Sam Bush, Hurray for the Riff Raff, the Infamous Stringdusters, Valerie June, the Duhks, Alison Brown, the David Grisman Sextet, Sam Amidon, Cricket Tell the Weather, the Novel Ideas, the Flying Garbanzos and many, many more.

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Kyle Abraham’s Electrifying Dance “The Watershed” This Weekend @ MASS MoCA [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, October 17th, 2014
Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion. (photo: Steven Schreiber)

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion (photo: Steven Schreiber)

Tackling subject matter from the Emancipation Proclamation to the end of apartheid in South Africa and set to a score that incorporates contemporary cello, soul favorites and more, The Watershed is at once an elegant, physically electrifying choreographic work and a provocative sociopolitical reflection.

The new evening-length work has been created by Kyle Abraham, a Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and critically lauded choreographer who pairs diverse movement styles with issues of social and historical significance. Ella Baff, executive and artistic director of Jacob’s Pillow, describes Abraham’s work as “passionate, intelligent, earnest and always beautifully danced.”

It is an inportant and rare major dance event in the Berkshire off-season. Kyle Abraham brings his newest work to MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday & Sunday (October 18 & 19) in a co-presentation with Jacob’s Pillow, made possible by the Irene Hunter Fund for Dance. The Watershed is an evening-length work in Abraham’s signature blend of classical form, postmodern invention and urban influences, performed by Abraham and his accomplished company, Abraham.In.Motion.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

10-Piece Band Serves Up a Hot End-of-Summer Dance Party @ MASS MoCA

Friday, August 29th, 2014
EMEFE Dance Party at Mass MoCA August 30, 2014.

EMEFE Dance Party at MASS MoCA, August 30, 2014

Weather permitting, you will be dancing under the stars as EMEFE (as in M.F.A. – Music Frees All) a ten-piece soul-funk-everything band celebrates Labor Day weekend. These ten wailing musicians are on a mission to prove that there are no bad days, only days that need a new soundtrack. The blazing rhythms and bright sound will bounce off the bricks at MASS MoCA on Saturday (August 30) at 8pm in Courtyard C for an end-of-summer dance party that’s sure to be a barn-burner.

EMEFE lures crowds from the bar to the dance floor by beginning its live shows in the audience. The group is prone to snake conga lines while blaring trumpet squeals and swinging saxophones in one syncopated rhythm. The fun gets started at 8pm, and, yeah, if you want to learn some new moves, there will be some fun dance instruction by Jacob’s Pillow.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Sounding Good, But Strange: Roomful of Teeth @ MASS MoCA on Friday [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Roomful of Teeth

Upon receiving a 2014 Grammy Award for “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance,” Roomful of Teeth director Brad Wells said, “We wouldn’t have this album without our work at MASS MoCA.”

You can hear them in the open air courtyard space at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Friday (August 29) at 8pm. Listen for Hindustani and Persian singing styles, Ritornello with music and film by vocalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, and compositions by MASS MoCA and FreshGrass favorite, Sam Amidon.

On the heels of the success of its self-titled debut, Roomful of Teeth has been in residency at MASS MoCA since August 18 to explore different vocal techniques and create new groundbreaking work with a roster of guest composers. The group collaborates with American roots singer-songwriter and Vermont native Amidon, a virtuoso in the indie music world. Amidon reinvents traditional songs and contemporary hip-hop covers on guitar, banjo and fiddle and delivers them with eerily deadpan vocals that both charm and unsettle. According to Pitchfork, Amidon’s performances “meld the rural and the urban, the organic and the synthetic, the oral tradition and the written score.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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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