Berkshire Arts Preview, June 9-13

Highlights of the Berkshire cultural weekend include another segment of Symphony Space’s Selected Shorts at the Mahaiwe; cellist Andrés Díaz and pianist Wendy Chen performing cello-piano duets at Tannery Pond concerts; the opening of Roberto Juarez: Mural Paintings 2000-2011 at the Berkshire Museum; a weekend-long celebration of music by Nerissa and Katryna Nields in Northampton; an eclectic array of concerts at Club Helsinki including Alejandro Escovedo, Michelle Shocked, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas and Flute Force; and legendary Yiddish vocalist Adrienne Cooper at the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst.



“]The Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, Mass., boasts a full weekend of events, beginning on Thursday, June 9, with an encore presentation of The Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest “Live in HD,” followed on Friday night by a screening of the comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail. On Saturday, June 11, the Mahaiwe once again hosts Symphony Space’s Selected Shorts, with a fatherhood theme for Father’s Day weekend, featuring Tony Award-winning actor Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens), Campbell Scott, and host Isaiah Sheffer reading stories about fatherhood by Etgar Keret, Maxine Swann and Mark Strand


Brian Bedford stars in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by and starring Brian Bedford, who has earned three Tony Award nominations for this production, including best revival and best actor for Bedford. Host David Hyde Pierce will take viewers backstage for a behind-the-scenes peek in this broadcast, and Alfred Molina and Oscar Wilde expert Michael Hackett will discuss the writer and the man in an intermission special. Tickets are $18 to $25.

On Friday, June 10 at 7, Greenagers are sponsoring a fundraising showing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The idea for the GreenAgers originally came out of a forum held by Center for Peace Through Culture in the 1980s. A think tank process resulted in the idea of recruiting teenagers into an “environmental army” to awaken their parents, teachers and fellow students into action around the issue. Their name would be GreenAgers. GreenAgers mobilizes and empowers young people to come together and work cooperatively to design and carry out environmental projects in their own their local communities. The screening features a contest for best costume inspired the the classic Monty Python film.

The Mahaiwe Box Office is located at 14 Castle Street in Great Barrington, Mass. Box Office Hours: Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6pm and three hours before show times. For tickets and information, visit  or call 413.528.0100.



Wendy Chen

On Saturday, June 11, at 8, Tannery Pond Concerts presents cellist Andrés Díaz and pianist Wendy Chen performing cello-piano duets by Debussy, Chopin, Astor Piazzolla, Xi Wang and Rachmaninoff, in the Tannery on the grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and Darrow School, New Lebanon, N.Y.

Since winning First Prize in the 1986 Naumburg Interntional Cello Competition, Andrés Díaz has thrilled both audiences and critics with his intense and charismatic performances. He has earned exceptional reviews for his “strongly personal interpretive vision” (New York Times) and his “bold and imaginative” playing (Boston Globe) and was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1998. Diaz graduated from the New England Conservatory, where he currently plays an active role in chamber music performances with faculty members. He served for five years as Associate Professor of Cello at Boston University and Co-Director of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Quartet Program. He now lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Julie, and sons Peter Manuel and Gabriel Andrés. Diaz plays a 1698 Matteo Goffriller cello and a bow made by his father.

Wendy Chen has garnered critical acclaim for her appearances with leading orchestras and in concert halls worldwide, with reviewers affirming that “having pianist Wendy Chen on the program is a guarantee that sparks will fly.” Having studied with legendary pianists Aube Tzerko and Leon Fleisher, Ms. Chen is a dedicated pedagogue, frequently giving master classes throughout the world. She recently completed a five-year residency at the University of Louisville and has taught at the Innsbrook Institute in Missouri and the International Festival of Music in Cartageña, Colombia. Ms. Chen has appeared on St. Paul Sunday Morning, can be heard regularly on NPR’s Performance Today, and serves as a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts.

Tannery Pond: 888.820.1696


"Cultural Law" by Roberto Juarez

On Saturday, June 11, at 5, the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass., hosts an opening reception for Roberto Juarez: Mural Paintings 2000-2011. The five, large-scale, mural-size paintings, inspired by Roberto Juarez’s world travels and influenced by traditions of Hispanic and non-Western art, range in style and subject, depicting flora and fauna as well as employing geometric abstraction. Brought together for the first time for this exhibition, on view in the museum’s Ellen Crane Memorial Room through September 25.

“I’ve enjoyed Roberto’s work for many years, but knew I had to find the right opportunity to best showcase it at Berkshire Museum,” says interim executive director Maria Mingalone. “The Ellen Crane Memorial Room can either overwhelm a work of art, or provide it the perfect context to truly come to life. In this case, the scale of the room seems a great fit with Roberto’s mural-sized paintings. We’re delighted to expose this work to Berkshire audiences.”

“From the first time I went to Berkshire Museum, I was taken by the scale and the symmetry of the Crane Room,” Juarez says. “I find the notion of installing painting there to be very inspiring. I am looking forward to seeing people’s reaction to the new work in particular, to see what it’s like to be able to hang them and view them from a distance in such a large room—which is how they’re going to live eventually.”

A world traveler, Juarez has drawn inspiration from visits to such places as Mexico, Rome, the Dominican Republic, and India. He has received numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in Painting, an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy in Rome’s Rome Prize.  Juarez has shown his work widely, dating back to his first exhibition in 1981 at Robert Miller Gallery in New York City. His work is in the collection of nearly two dozen museums and major collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. Perhaps owing in part to his acumen for creating large-scale pieces that burst with energy and fire the viewer’s imagination, he has proven a popular choice for public art commissions but has also continued to show on a regular basis in NYC. Recent shows include the Charles Cowles Gallery in 2008 and Pace Prints in 2010, and locally last summer at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson.

Berkshire Museum: 413.443.7171



Katryna and Nerissa Nields today

While they’ve been singing together since childhood, Nerissa and Katryna Nields are celebrating twenty years of making music together professionally with a weekend-long festival, Jam for the Fans, June 10, 11, 12 in Northampton, Mass. The anniversary weekend events include a Friday evening open mic for fans to sing their favorite Nields song (with or without backup from a Nields), a Saturday morning family concert, afternoon scavenger hunt, evening reunion concert featuring the five-member folk-rock configuration of the group (Nerissa, Katryna, Dave Chalfant, Dave Hower, David Nields), and a gospel-inspired Sunday brunch – not unlike their annual Falcon Ridge Sunday morning performances.  The name “Jam for the Fans” is a nod to their 1998 fundraiser “Jam for the Van” daylong concert in Hatfield at which the quintet raised $24,000 to replace their aging van, Moby, allowing them to continue touring.

More info: 413.527.9393

Friday, June 10 – Sunday, June 12: All locations in Northampton, MA

Friday  7 pm: OPEN MIC | Thorne’s Marketplace

Saturday  10:30 am: FAMILY SHOW | Center For The Arts

Saturday  1 pm: SCAVENGER/TREASURE HUNT |Downtown Northampton

Saturday  7 pm: 20TH ANNIVERSARY REUNION CONCERT |Iron Horse Music Hall

Sunday  10 am: NIELDSY GOSPEL BRUNCH | Paul & Elizabeth’s, Thorne’s Marketplace


Alejandro Escovedo

A stunning sequence of concerts at Club Helsinki in Hudson, N.Y., begins tonight (Wed, June 8 ) with Austin-based cult-rocker Alejandro Escovedo and The Sensitive Boys. On Thursday night, roots-rockers Houston Jones and The Tommy Sharp Project take the stage. On Friday, June 10, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas will provide the soundtrack to a Louisiana-inspired dance party, followed on Saturday by indie-folk icon Michelle Shocked. The weekend of music at Helsinki concludes on Sunday with Flute Force, a 30-year-old flute ensemble, as part of the Claverack Landing classical music series at Helsinki.

Alejandro Escovedo’s body of work ranges from full force rock ‘n’ roll to delicate folk-blues, all seamlessly expressed in Escovedo’s signature gritty, plaintive voice. Escovedo is one of contemporary music’s truly original and unique artists, earning him consistent critical hosannas. The breadth and depth of his creativity prompted No Depression magazine to name him Artist of the Decade even before the close of the 1990s.

Escovedo’s musical career began with the Nuns, a mid-1970s punk band based in San Francisco. He later co-founded the pioneering cowpunk band Rank and File, which later moved to Austin. He released a solo album, Gravity, uniting his wide variety of styles, and then began gigging periodically with the band Buick MacKane, which fused old-school punk with ‘70s glam rock. In 1996 he released With These Hands. He then signed with the Chicago-based alt-country label Bloodshot, which released the live album, More Miles Than Money: Live 1994-1996 and the acclaimed studio set A Man Under the Influence.

In 2003, Escovedo collapsed following a show in Phoenix, Ariz., after which it was subsequently revealed that he had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C in late 1990s but had not sought treatment. An outpouring of support from musicians led to a series of successful benefit concerts to help pay Escovedo’s medical expenses and keep his music before the public, followed by a tribute album, Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo, which was released in 2004. In 2006, Escovedo released Boxing Mirror. His next album, Real Animal, was produced by Tony Visconti and released in June 2008. Escovedo returned in 2010 with a new album, Street Songs of Love, written with his songwriting partner, Chuck Prophet– a loud, resilient hymn to love, friendship and rock ‘n’ roll dreams.

Houston Jones is a California-based, high-octane Americana quintet with a strong original repertoire, ranging from bluegrass and folk to blues and gospel. Houston Jones features Glenn Houston on lead guitar; Travis Jones on lead vocals and acoustic guitar; Henry Salvia on keyboards and accordion; Chris Kee on standup bass and guitar; and Peter Tucker on drums and percussion.

Tommy Sharp brings his newest musical undertaking, the Tommy Sharp Project, to the stage for a night of Tommy’s brand of experimental roots. Tommy is a familiar face in the Hudson music scene. Since transplanting to Hudson from New York, Tommy Sharp’s musical projects have taken an ever-evolving direction, from ensemble projects like The 405s to The Diamond Street String Band.

Nathan Williams of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas

The music of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas is the expression of a remarkable South Louisiana family. Dennis Williams, Nathan’s brother, brings his jazz-influenced guitar chops to the band. Nathan Williams Jr. plays keyboards and rubboard player Mark Williams is a cousin who has been with the band since its inception. Rounding out the Cha Chas is the exceptional rhythm section of bassist Paul Newman and drummer Herman “Rat” Brown, who held the drum chair with Buckwheat Zydeco for many years.

Growing up in a Creole-speaking home, Nathan Williams eagerly sought out the music of zydeco originators such as Clifton Chenier. When he was too young to actually attend a Clifton Chenier dance at a St. Martinville club, he hovered by the back of the building to hear his idol. Later, while recovering from a serious illness, Nathan decided to dedicate himself to learning the accordion. That dedication blossomed into an illustrious career, encompassing seven albums and spanning close to two decades.

Michelle Shocked brings her “Campfire Girl” tour to Club Helsinki to bear witness to the enduring legacy of her highly unusual debut, The Texas Campfire Tapes, a bootleg famously recorded on a Sony Walkman and released, unbeknownst to Shocked, by an enterprising Briton. Shocked was more surprised than anyone when the album made its debut on the UK independent charts in November 1986: “I never made a record,” she recalls, “so why would I expect to be on an English chart?” This early experience and a 1996 legal battle to retain her catalog ownership against Mercury Records made Shocked a natural poster child for artists’ rights. In 2003, The Texas Campfire Tapes finally found its way home to her own Mighty Sound label.

Michelle Shocked

In a 24-year career that has seen critical acclaim at every juncture, Michelle Shocked has famously escaped major-label indentured servitude. She has made good use of her independence, releasing critically acclaimed albums on her Mighty Sound label, her 2009 album, Soul of My Soul, being the most recent. In 2010, she launched Roadworks, an ongoing, five-year touring project which curates audience’s favorite songs while developing new, unreleased material.

For example, 2011 Roadwork’s theme, Campfire Girl, celebrates the 25th anniversary of the release of her unauthorized debut album, The Texas Campfire Tapes. Her full band set will recapture the raw intimacy of a portrait of the artist as a young woman and refresh memories of that audacious introduction. In addition, she’ll introduce new songs from her not-yet-recorded series, Indelible Women.

At a show at Club Helsinki’s former address in Massachusetts, Shocked famously drove through a raging winter blizzard to play, she “just felt she needed to play,” and then announced to the audience, who also braved the hazards the storm, “this is a free show, a gift from me to you.” Shocked then played a tremendous nearly two hour set, thanked the club profusely and drove off into the night.

Flute Force skillfully plays from an assortment of over a dozen types of flutes for a special afternoon concert at 2. Post-concert the quartet will host a flute workshop for young people.

Flute Force

The group was founded in 1981 when there was virtually no written music available for four flutes playing together.  As a result, much of what they do these days is either commissioned specifically for them or transcribed from pieces created for other instruments. They have more than 20 original works under their collective belts and serve as a model for flute quartets throughout the country.

This concert will offer a cross section of their repertoire and shows the wide range flute capabilities. Included will be a piece by Stravinsky, a Quartet in d minor from around 1700 (probably originally written for a recorder, but no one is certain), a work written by Eugene Bozza from mid-20th century, and Walk Like This, described as “rock influenced” and written by Ian Clarke, an English studio composer who counts Bobby McFerrin and Robert Dick among his most important influences.


Club Helsinki Hudson
405 Columbia Street
Hudson, N.Y.



”]Boston-based folk-rock singer-songwriter Mark Erelli performs at Gypsy Joynt in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday, June 10, at 9. Erelli’s style blends elements of Americana and contemporary folk. In 2007, he was part of Lori McKenna’s backup band on tour with Faith Hill.  In 2010, he was invited to be part of the Darwin Song Project in the UK. Last year, he released Little Vigils, his eighth solo recording of all new original songs, and a side project with Jeffrey Foucault, Seven Curses, an album of murder ballads.


When Mark Erelli bought his first house in a little town not far from where he grew up just north of Boston, the nearby woods were a real selling point.  “My son loves to take nature walks,” explains Erelli, “while I tell him about all the trees and bugs and birds.” These walks have not only reconnected Erelli with his scientific background (he has a masters’ degree in evolutionary biology), they have also rekindled his love of nature. “I have spent most of the last ten years touring from city to city,” he says, “and I had fallen out of touch with the richness of the natural world leading such an itinerant life.” Nature’s little details and the sense of wonder they engender figure prominently in nearly every track on Little Vigils, the eighth album from Mark Erelli.

“This record really explores the notion of ‘scale,’” Erelli muses. “these are intimate and detailed songs about bigger, more universal things.” While life endures on a grand scale, the details are ephemeral and we can miss them if we are not paying attention. Likewise, we can lose touch with parts of ourselves we take for granted. A rich life, as Erelli reminds us with Little Vigils, is one in which we are fully engaged, bearing witness to the little details that might otherwise slip away, unnoticed and unappreciated.

Gypsy Joynt
293 Main St.
Great Barrington, Mass.



Yiddish vocalist Adrienne Cooper

The National Yiddish Book Center presents a concert featuring vocalist Adrienne Cooper, one of the premiere contemporary Yiddish vocalists, along with Michael Winograd and Friends, on Sunday, June 12, at 2. One of the key figures in the revival of Yiddish vocal music and klezmer, Cooper has been collaborating with a new, younger generation of musicians who are advancing the music in unprecedented ways. Her latest recording, Enchanted: A New Generation of Yiddishsong, produced by Winograd, incorporates many of these innovations while being firmly grounded in the Yiddish tradition that Cooper knows best and has lived as much as anyone.

From deeply traditional a cappella and jazz ballads to pop and big-band, Adrienne Cooper is accompanied by the acclaimed arrangements of klezmer sensation Michael Winograd and free improvisations by Canadian jazz pianist Marilyn Lerner.

National Yiddish Book Center
1021 West Street, Amherst, Mass.


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