Berkshire Weekend Cultural Preview Dec 14-18, 2011

LYLE LOVETT at the MAHAIWE

Lyle Lovett

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Four-time Grammy Award-winner Lyle Lovett will perform at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center with his five-member acoustic group on Saturday, December 17, 2011, at 8 pm. Finely wrought and full of wit, wisdom, and Texas-sized storytelling, his songs are rife with characters and concepts that loom large on the American landscape. Lovett has led a remarkable career that includes 14 albums and more than four million records sold. His idiosyncratic style intersects an array of genres from gospel, blues, soul, heartfelt ballads, jazz, bluegrass, swing, and straight-up country. Tickets are $70 to $100.

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DUNCAN SHEIK AND SONYA KITCHELL AT HELSINKI

Duncan Sheik

(HUDSON, N.Y.) – The weekend at Club Helsinki Hudson features acclaimed Broadway singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik, best known for the hit Broadway musical Spring Awakening, on Saturday, December 17, 2011, at 9 p.m., and jazz-pop singer-songwriter Sonya Kitchell, who began her career as a teen sensation in the Pioneer Valley and in the Berkshires at the old Club Helsinki in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday, December 16, at 9pm.

Sonya Kitchell has performed with everyone from Angelique Kidjo to India.Arie and Madeleine Peyroux. But  her career picked up international steam when jazz legend Herbie Hancock tapped her to tour the world with him in 2007. Slowing down after an exhilarating year on the road with Hancock, Kitchell found a much needed quieter place to write and record the six songs on Convict of Conviction..

Duncan Sheik has had a cult following since his days at Brown University. He made Broadway history when Spring Awakening, his musical about adolescent sexuality, opened to rave reviews on Broadway. In the early days, Duncan Sheik played with Lisa Loeb, but began shopping his own demo tape around. Later, he appeared with His Boy Elroy on a 1993 album for Epic, and spent several years writing songs before he signed a solo deal with Atlantic. With Rupert Hine in the producer’s chair, Sheik recorded his debut album and released it in June 1996. By the end of the year, Barely Breathing had become a modest hit and was used to great effect on the TV show ER, and he resurfaced in 1998 with Humming. White Limousine was released in 2006, Whisper House in 2009, and this year he released a fun and compelling collection of 80s hits called Covers 80’s.

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BOSTON STRING QUARTET CELTIC CHRISTMAS CONCERT WITH CATHIE RYAN

Cathie Ryan

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – The Boston String Quartet will be joined by a full chorus and Cathie Ryan, the acclaimed former lead singer of Cherish the Ladies and Irish Female Vocalist of the Decade, tonight Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at 7 p.m. at Minerva Arts Center, 1288 Massachusetts Avenue, in the former Our Lady of the Incarnation church in the Historic Blackington neighborhood, approximately 4 miles from the town centers of both Williamstown and North Adams/

The program will include Irish melodies, insistent Scottish rhythmic patterns, and a uniquely Celtic flavor with an entrancing underlying storyline, performed by the high-energy string ensemble that takes a daring approach to music entertainment by pushing the envelope with their unconventional emphasis on rhythm and beats. The concert will consists of Celtic music, wistful Christmas stories and a special visit from Santa for the whole family.

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COLONIAL CHRISTMAS CAROL with JAMES TAYLOR

James Taylor

James Taylor will play Bob Cratchit in 'A Christmas Carol' at the Colonial

(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – James Taylor makes his Berkshire stage debut as an actor this week, playing Bob Cratchit in Berkshire Theatre Group’s annual community production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, presented for the first time at the Colonial Theatre. A Christmas Carol runs December 17 – 30 at the Colonial Theatre.

Eric Hill and E. Gray Simons III will co-direct again and return to the stage with fellow company members Kim Taylor, Michael Brahce, Ralph Petillo, Gail Ryan and Chris Vecchia. Joining the community cast this year will be award-winning musician and Berkshirite James Taylor, in the role of Bob Cratchit; as well as four graduate students from BTG’s partner academic institution, Brandeis University, Sarah Elizabeth Bedard, Sam Gillam, Brandon Green and Eddie Shields; three of Berkshire Theatre Group’s Artists-in-Residence, Rachael Balcanoff, Jacob Gold and Lauren Stanek; in addition to 20 children, representing nine different schools and seven different towns in the Berkshire area.

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NORMAN ROCKWELL and the GHOST OF DICKENS

"Merrie Christmas: Couple Dancing Under Mistletoe," Norman Rockwell, 1928. Oil on canvas. Cover illustration for "The Saturday Evening Post," December 8, 1928.

(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – This holiday season Norman Rockwell Museum celebrates the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth with a new exhibition that explores the literary giant’s influence on the artist’s work. Norman Rockwell and the Ghost of Dickens is on view at the museum through March 4, 2012.

Norman Rockwell is well known for his enduring illustrations of the holidays, which brought good cheer to millions of Americans. In his autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, the artist described important memories from his youth that were seminal to his later work. Of particular importance were Rockwell’s recollections focused on his father reading Charles Dickens stories aloud to his sons in the evening after they finished their homework. Throughout his life, Rockwell would cite the significance of those nightly readings and the influence of Dickens on his art.

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TEEN FUNK-JAM TRIO THE McLOVINS at BTF

The McLovins

(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – Teenage funk-jam sensations The McLovins will perform at the Berkshire Theatre Festival’s Unicorn Theatre on Friday, December 16, 2011, at 9 pm. Hailing from Connecticut, the McLovins consist of Jake Huffman, Jeff Howard and Jason Ott. They have received critical acclaim for their largely improvisational brand of progressive rock. With two studio albums under their belt, they have amazed audiences at festivals and performance venues throughout New England and beyond.

These three talented and well-trained musicians have been endorsed by the best of the jam world.  The famous Phish lyricist Tom Marshall and Spin Doctors Anthony Krizan have collaborated to write two songs with the band. “Cohesive,” the first song released, has been featured in Relix Magazine and was debuted with Marshall and Krizan on stage, at a performance with the band at the Brooklyn Bowl last November. Rolling Stone says, “the McLovins — a trio of Connecticut kids who have managed to harness the musical ferocity of Trey Anastasio, Les Claypool and Stewart Copeland before being able to legally drive a car.”

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