. . . . . . . News, events, opinions and ideas for the Greylock region. Host: Bill Densmore. (email) Click HERE for documents, texts and additional information. The views here are those of Bill Densmore. This is not a professional journalism service.
North Adams, MA - Events this week at the Alley, 23 Eagle Street: on Tuesday, December 8 from 7:30-10:30 pm, test your basic knowledge at bi-monthly Trivia Night, with lots of fun and specials available. On Thursday, December 10 from 8:30-11 pm, enjoy the best open mic acoustic night in all of Berkshire County. Taking the stage on Friday, December 11 at 10 pm, come hear Misty Blues with special guests the Trophy Husbands. Call 413.662.2223.
North Adams, MA - It's time again for another Railway Cafe show next Friday, Dec. 11th at 7:30pm at MCLA's Gallery 51. December's featured performers are both relatively local guys Seth Glier from Shelburne Falls and Chris O'Brien originally from Amherst, MA. It will be a highly energetic show and one that people will be talking about for a while, so you won't want to miss it.
Boston based singer/songwriter Chris O'Brien is an artist on the rise. Since the release of his CD "Lighthouse," Chris has caught the attention of many. The smooth production on the CD emphasizes his pleasant voice and the importance of the lyrics. He was chosen from a pool of nearly 1000 contestants to appear on Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" in the "People in Their Twenties" talent contest. The next week "Lighthouse" was the 5th Best selling Folk Record on iTunes.
Michael Witthouse of the Eagle Times in Springfield, VT says, "As a music fan, I live for those moments when I hear a performer for the first time and detect unmistakable magic. It happened with Shawn Colvin in 1989 and Patty Griffin in 1996. Last summer, O'Brien caught my ear. He's an uncommonly talented lyricist, with a voice that feels comfortable and familiar at first listen."
The other half of the night's lively performance will be up-and-comer Seth Glier. Chances are, you haven't heard of him yet, but if he continues on his current trajectory, it will be no time before you can say "I saw him at the Railway Cafe before he was a star." Think of him as the next Brandi Carlisle.
Seth Glier will grab you...if not with his powerful falsetto or his melodic prowess, then with what Performer Magazine calls his “intoxicating groove.” The 21-year-old singer, pianist and guitarist – who abandoned studies at The Berklee School of Music because he “decided I should be playing for people and not for grades” – aims straight for the gut on his MPress Records debut, The Trouble With People, which was recorded in his basement over the course of three months.
Rachael Sage from MPress Records observes, “Seth's songwriting is classic, and hearkens back to great piano-based songwriters who broke in the '70's like Billy Joel and Elton John...but he has an impressive range that grabs new audiences immediately, and his sense of melody is incredibly strong.”
His most current accolade came just two weeks ago when Seth was named one of the four winners (from thousands of entries) of the Youth Category in Mountain Stage's NewSong contest. Recently featured in The Boston Globe for his “100% Fan-Funded Tour” and in several regional newspapers for his "G3: Glier Goes Green Tour", Glier is already a seasoned troubadour. Notable supporters of Glier's music include acclaimed singer-songwriters Ellis Paul and Livingston Taylor. Taylor says, “Listening to Seth’s music gives me hope for what’s to come. The next generation is alive and well.”
Admission for this event is $12 in advance, $15 at the door, $10 for students and seniors. MCLA ID holders get an additional discount. Railway Cafe shows take place at MCLA's Gallery 51, 51 Main St., North Adams, at 7:30pm. To reserve in advance, call 413 664-6393, or email email@example.com.
Williamstown, MA - All are invited to the 36th annual 1753 House Carol Sing at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, December 21. Dress warmly and bring a candle to see by. Gail Burns will lead the singing and carol books will be provided. The 1753 House Carol Sing is a free, ecumenical event for all ages, which focuses on celebrating the miracle of Christ's birth through song. Carl and Marilyn Faulkner of the Williams Inn kindly donate hot mulled cider to warm the carolers.
The 1753 House is located in Field Park in between the Williams Inn and the Milne Public Library. Parking is available at the Inn and the Library. For more information call 413-458-4246
Bennington, VT - The explorations of European explorers 400 years ago left indelible imprints on our area. Within a few days of each other, in the fall of 1609, Henry Hudson sailed up the Hudson River as far as present day Albany and Samuel de Champlain investigated the lake that bears his name, and was likely the first European to see what we know today as Vermont. Although he was an Englishman, Hudson sailed for the Dutch East India Company, and established the claim that led to Dutch colonization in the 17th century. Champlain’s was one part of a series of expeditions that led to French domination to the North.
The Bennington County Choral Society has chosen to present a program of Christmas music that reflects the contributions of these two cultures to our region. The concert will include Dutch carols, or Kerstliedjes, from the time of Hudson’s voyage, and Noëls, the French traditional carols of the season, passed along in the traditions of French Canada.
The Netherlands was not a political entity in the early 17th century, but the Dutch East India Company was governed by a group of directors from several cities in the Low Countries. A rich cosmopolitan culture existed in the larger cities, such as Amsterdam, where a lively climate of trade brought in goods, ideas and the arts from throughout Europe and beyond. Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was one of the principal composers of the day, at the peak of his productive output at the time of Hudson’s voyage. The choral society will sing “Gaudete omnes,” a refined Christmas piece in five parts from his pen. Samuel Scheidt, a student of Sweelinck’s at this same time, later compiled a collection of harmonizations that included the folk-song carol “O Little One Sweet,” perhaps best known today in a later harmonization by J. S. Bach.
As early as 1539, the collection Souterliederkens included Psalm paraphrases in the vernacular that were to be sung to familiar folk song melodies. The Choral Society will sing “If Ye Would Hear” from this source, as harmonized by Ralph Vaughan Williams. It seems only fitting that English composers should have appropriated these Dutch traditional songs, with the same ready connection across the English Channel that had enabled Hudson to sail for the Dutch. Another such adaptation is “King Jesus Hath a Garden,” harmonized by Charles Wood for the Cowley Carol Book. The Oxford Book of Carols of 1928 is a standard English source of seasonal songs that includes many Dutch and Flemish examples. Several of these will be included in the Choral Society’s program, some in new arrangements made for this concert.
Probably the most readily identifiable “Canadian” carol is “’Twas in the Moon of Wintertime,” the so-called “Huron Carol.” In the early 17th century, Fr. Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary, retold the Christmas story in the language of the Hurons, using images from their culture. The words were sung to a French noël tune, Une jeune pucelle. In the 19th century, Ernest Gagnon, a Québec organist, became interested in the folk-music of his province, and in 1897 published Chansons Populaires, a collection which included five items for the Christmas season. While some of the carols are well-known in France, they seem to form a core repertoire for French-Canadians, as well. The Choral Society will present this group in newly re-worked versions, inviting you to join in for “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
Marius Barbeau, a disciple of Gagnon’s, continued the scientific study of folk song throughout French Canada and inspired future generations of collectors. From these sources, we have selected “De la Noël C’est La Fête,” as sung by Alcide Léveillé in Témiscouata in 1918, “Gabriel,” from the singing of Élodie Godin in New Brunswick in 1959, and “Le Noël des Animaux,” sung in 1949 by the 80-year-old Octave Brien in Montcalm, Québec. This will be the first time this group has been presented in a choral version.
Among the best-known of the indigenous folk-melodies of Canada is “D’où viens-tu, Bergère,” which will be sung by the women of the chorus. The men of the chorus will present “La Guignolée,” which has a long and mysterious history. This song is sung at New Year’s, by groups of men, begging at the door for food and drink. Barbeau traces the origins to prehistoric Celtic solstice rituals. Whereas the European tradition has all but disappeared, the practice is continued in Canada and among French-speaking communities in the United States.
Music Director Edwin Lawrence will conduct for this performance. Pianist Noah Lindquist will join the chorus as pianist. A 2008 graduate of Williams College, he was a two-time winner of the Berkshire Symphony concerto competition.
The concert, Kerstliedjes and Noëls, will be performed at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Pleasant Street, Bennington on Saturday, December 5th at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, December 6th at 3 pm. Tickets, at $10 are available at the door or in advance at the Bennington Bookshop or from Choral Society members. St. Peter’s Church is handicapped accessible.
North Adams, MA -Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts hosts a performance of God’s Trombones, Craig Harris’ jazz opera based on the book by James Weldon Johnson, Sunday, December 6 at 3 p.m. at the Church Street Center.
This event, which is part of the MCLA Presents! concert series, is a fundraiser for the Margaret A. Hart ’35 Scholarship at MCLA. Margaret A. Hart was the first person of color to graduate from MCLA, and she was the first African-American to teach in the local public schools.
God’s Trombones is co-presented by the Williams College Dance Department, MCLA’s African, Latino, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) Student Clubs and Organizations, and MCLA’s Center for Multicultural Education and Student Affairs office.
Originally work-shopped at MASS MoCA in 2005, God’s Trombones had its first staged performance at Williams College in 2006. It has since gone on to Harlem Stages and the Apollo Theater, where it was directed by actor/director Avery Brooks.
Harris’ inspiration for God’s Trombones comes from the trombone “shout bands” he heard growing up in Harlem and James Weldon Johnson’s book, God's Trombones: Sermons in Verse, a classic collection of poems that refigure inspirational sermons by itinerant preachers. Although deeply rooted in the work of Christian preachers, Harris’ vision for God's Trombones looks beyond the sectarian roots of the poetic sermons to the spirit that underlies and moves all religious experience.
“I’m a trombone player and James Weldon Johnson is an icon in America,” he said in a recent interview. “I often deal with icons. I read his sermons and it just fit. The title was God’s Trombones and it was simple. It’s a beautiful title. We just try to deliver a sonic sermon. It becomes everybody’s story as opposed to one person’s.”
As a child Harris would pass the United House of Prayer and hear the sounds of the trombone shout band inside.
“He was drawn in by the unique and wonderfully full sound of horns playing with horns” said Jonathan Secor, director of Special Programs at MCLA. “I remember talking with Craig when we were presenting Brown Butterfly at MASS MoCA and he was saying he would sneak up to the balcony of the church where Rev. McCullough and the Sons of Thunder were rehearsing. He was not ready to join the choir, but he couldn’t resist the sounds.”
This unique musical form stems from a late nineteenth-century African-American religious revival that renounced the staid and stoic forms of traditional Protestant denominations in favor of a charismatic and emotional style of worship. The shout form incorporates an up-tempo “wall of sound” that sets it apart from the European tradition of brass performance.
Harris began playing trombone at age 10 and continued his studies at SUNY-Old Westbury. He has performed on Broadway with Lena Horne and was a featured performer in the American Music Theater production of Mystery of Love. Harris has led ensembles including Tailgater's Tales, Cold Sweat, and Nation of Imagination and is a founding member of Slide Ride. He has also played around the world with legends like Sun Ra, Henry Threadgill, Sam Rivers, Lester Bowie, The Four Tops, The Manhattans, Odetta and Hugh Masekala.
Harris was the musical director for the New York State tour of Songs of the Spirit produced by Jonathan Secor and Brian Young, and was last heard at MCLA when he brought a group of musicians to Gospel Fest in 2006.
“Sound is an extension of spiritual experience,” said Harris. “It draws people to a simpler spirituality. Just the sound of the spirit draws people in. I always hope that when we perform that there’s a spiritual experience between the audience and ourselves.”
Tickets for God’s Trombones December 6 are $20 general admission, $5 for MCLA faculty and staff and non-MCLA students, and free for MCLA and Williams students and members.
Call the box office at (413) 662-5204 for reservations. For information on the MCLA Presents! performance series visit www.mcla.edu/presents or call (413) 664-8718.
MCLA Presents! is a project of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center.
North Adams, MA - The North Adams Public Library hosts "Rhythm, Roots, Blues and Poetry" with singer Robin O'Herin on Monday, November 23 at 6:30 pm at 74 Church Street. For more information or to sign up, please call Kim Di Lego or Kirsten Rose at 413.662.3133.
North Adams, MA - The First Congregational Church of North Adams will present a concert featuring the Bay Path College Choirs on Friday November 20 at 7:30 pm. The concert, directed by Scott Bailey, will feature Advent and Christmas music that will be presented by the choirs at a choral festival in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic during the week of Thanksgiving. The free concert will be held at The First Congregational Church, 134 Main Street. Call 413.663.9940 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The North Adams Public Library hosts "Rhythm, Roots, Blues and Poetry" with singer Robin O'Herin on Monday, November 16 and the 23 at 6:30 pm at 74 Church Street. For more information or to sign up, please call Kim Di Lego or Kirsten Rose at 413.662.3133.