Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, theater, and film that’s coming up this week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff.
One of the best things about Boston in the summer, the Tito Puente Latin Music Series continues with Venezuelan pianist Leo Blanco (back from a recent tour of the UK) and his wryly-named Latineous Monk Project.
Up from New York, this unusual trio of electro-acoustic improvisers bring their surprisingly wide-ranging sonic palette to the Lily Pad. Ergo is composed of Brett Sroka on trombone and computer, Sam Harris on piano, prepared piano, and Fender Rhodes piano, and Shawn Baltazor on drums.
The seemingly endless font of musical talent that is New Orleans flows into the Beehive in the form of Water Seed, an irresistible, jazz-rooted funk gumbo that draws on all that city’s cross-currents.
Fiesta Sinfónica with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra
Conducted by music director Christopher Wilkins
July 31, 7 p.m.
Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, Boston, MA
Co-sponsored by Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (who just wrapped up this year’s Festival Betances), this is a “classical” concert with a lot of connections to Latin jazz traditions. The program includes works by New Orleans native Louis Moreau Gottschalk (his first symphony, subtitled A Night in the Tropics—he was almost certainly the first American composer to incorporate the “Latin tinge”), Brazil’s Heitor Villa-Lobos (“Little Train of the Caipira” from Bachianas Brasileiras #2), and Mexico’s José Pablo Moncayo (Huapango), as well as contemporary compositions by Boston’s own Thomas Oboe Lee (Mambo) and Venezuelan-born Gonzálo Grau (“Viaje”)—better known to jazz audiences as the mastermind behind La Clave Secreta. In several pieces on the program, the BLO joins forces with a “pocket-sized salsa orchestra” (and, yes, there’s plenty of room to dance).
— J. R. Carroll
The SoWa Artists Guild Open Studios
August 2, 5– 9 p.m.
Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA
The first Friday of each month, Guild member artists and others open their studios. Meet the artists where they create, see great art, and buy direct. Also, enjoy the free parking!
July 27, 10 a.m.
Photographic Resource Center, Boston University, Boston, MA
Exposure, the Photographic Resource Center’s annual juried exhibition, highlights emerging photographers across North America and beyond. Eight contemporary photographers are being showcased.
— Renee Caouette
Roots and World Music
Lowell Folk Festival
Free activities don’t get any better or more fun than this annual celebration of multiculturalism. This year’s lineup includes the usual eclectic mix of bluegrass, gospel, polka, Western swing, West African music, and much more. All the food vendors are local, ethnic non-profits, and the homemade perogis are the best we’ve ever had.
Among the many musical highlights are garifuna star Aurelio Martinez, telepathic Irish duo Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, traditional ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams, meringue master Joaqin Diaz, and gospel veteran Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes. A number of workshops will bring together the disparate musicians—some of the more intriguing ones are Saturday’s A Better Place gospel session and Sunday’s guitar workshop.
A foodways demonstration area will be devoted to “Fried Dough Around the World”—everything from African-American hush puppies to Greek loukamathes. The crafts area also has a theme: carving traditions. That embodies everything from a duck decoy carver from Gloucester to a Lowell man who can carve the image of Jesus into a watermelon.
Although the multiple stages keep the festival from ever being too crowded, Saturday’s perfect forecast should mean high attendance figures. We’ve found that Sundays tend to have far lighter crowds (and even a chance at free on-street parking if you arrive early enough). And if you just can’t get there, radio stations WCAP and WUML and the Lowell Telecommunications Corp. TV network will all be streaming it live via their websites.
The Lowell Folk Festival has stayed true to its mission of presenting to the wider world artists who are beloved in their communities but not well known to the general public. As it faces budget woes, some have suggested that it alter or cut back its programming. Those who like the festival the way it is may want to keep that those threats in mind when volunteers make their rounds requesting cash donations this weekend.
Boston Summer Arts Weekend
A lot of music fans are livid that this WGBH and Boston Globe co-presentation is going up against Lowell for the second year in a row. (Lowell officials even complained that the timing makes it harder to compete for potential corporate sponsors.)
But scheduling aside, there’s no doubting that the lineup at Copley Square is a strong one. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Red Baraat, and Session Americana are always worth seeing, and the notion of seeing Alison Krauss along with a surprise band for free will surely be a huge draw. Dr. John’s show at the Paradise last year was among the year’s best, but recent reviews of his new band have been mixed. The energetic Galician bagpiper Carlos Nunez will perform with both his own group and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra. And a ticketed late-night series will feature most of the acts performing mini-sets in an indoor setting.
Newport Folk Festival
Fort Adams Stage Park
While the Saturday and Sunday sessions have been sold out for months, tickets are still available for the Friday edition of the expanded festival. Old Crow Medicine Show, Phosphorescent, J. D. McPherson, the Mountain Goats, and the Milk Carton Kids are among that day’s highlights. As for the rest of the weekend, you can go the un-folky route and deal with scalpers, or you can tune into the live stream on npr.org.
Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival
City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA
Although both organizers and some attendees were dismayed at the city’s decision to move the event from Dorchester to downtown, there will still be no shortage of cultural activities, salsa music, reggaeton, and flag waving. The parade starts at noon on Sunday and goes from the Villa Victoria in the South End to Government Center.
— Noah Schaffer
The Melvins (30th Anniversary Tour)
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
What the Melvins lacked in mainstream success, they more than made up for in influence. In fact, the argument could be made that without the Melvins there would have been no grunge. At the very least, that seminal genre would have sounded different had the Washington-based Melvins not taken the fury of punk and mixed it with the heaviness of metal. The resulting sludge set the template for the 1990s, and while grunge is long since dead and buried, the Melvins are thankfully still with us.
Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, MA
I was lucky enough to see New Order this year at Coachella, and theirs was one of my favorite sets of the weekend. Founding bassist Peter Hook is no longer with them, but the band (almost) makes up for this fact by delivering hit after hit in concert, from “Bizarre Love Triangle” to “Blue Monday” to (my personal favorite) “Temptation.” As if this weren’t enough, New Order is also the best Joy Division cover band in the world, and as drummer, Stephen Morris, and guitarist/vocalist, Bernard Summer, were actually in Joy Division, I say they’re allowed. At Coachella, the band played the Joy Division song “Isolation” early in their set and then played an all Joy Division encore of “Atmosphere,” “Transmission,” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Expect something similar at Bank of America Pavilion.
— Adam Ellsworth
Lou Harrison – An American Maverick
Presented by Monadnock Music
July 27, 7:30 p.m.
Peterborough Town House, Peterborough, NH
One of the twentieth century’s most original composers, Lou Harrison, is the focus of a long overdue tribute, courtesy of Monadnock Music and conductor Gil Rose. Violinist Gabriela Diaz is the soloist in the Suite for Violin and American Gamelan; La Koro Sutro, for mixed chorus, six percussion, organ, and harp, rounds out the evening.
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
July 27, 8:30 p.m.
Koussevitzky Music Shed at Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
This was supposed to be Andris Nelsons’s debut as the BSO’s music director designate, but an unexpected injury has precipitated his withdrawal. Carlo Montanaro substitutes on the podium, though Nelsons’s wife, Kristine Opolais, is still slated to appear as the soprano soloist in Verdi’s thrilling, terrifying Requiem.
Purcell and Britten at Tanglewood
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
July 31 and August 1, 7:30 p.m.
Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
The Mark Morris Dance Group and TMC Opera pair up to present music by Britain’s two greatest composers, Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten: Curlew River (by the latter) and Dido and Aeneas.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
An excellent reason for driving to Cape Cod
July 30, 7:30 p.m.: Trio Solisti
Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, MA
Trio Solisti (Maria Bachmann, violin, Alexis Pia Gerlach, cello, Jon Klibonoff, piano) perform works by Beethoven, Chausson, and Mussorgsky.
August 2, 7 p.m.: In Tribute to Van Cliburn
First Congregational Church, Wellfleet, MA
In Tribute to Van Cliburn features the pianists Haochen Zhang, André-Michel Schub, and Jon Nakamatsu. Former Boston Globe music critic Richard Dyer will speak. The program will include works by Schumann, Debussy, Stravinsky, Mozart, and Chopin.
August 4, 4 p.m.: Bachmann, Greensmith, and Klibonoff
First Congregational Church, Chatham, MA
Maria Bachmann, violin, Clive Greensmith, cello, and Jon Klibonoff, piano, perform works by Schubert, Saint-Saëns, and Mendelssohn.
July 28, 3 p.m.
Dublin Emmanuel Church, Dublin, NH
The terrific violinist Irina Muresanu plays a fabulous program (heard this past spring at Boston Conservatory) entitled Four Strings around the World: Prokofiev, Piazzolla, Kreisler, Bach, Shankar, and many others.
Old West Organ Society
July 30, 8 p.m.
Old West Church, Boston, MA, free
Summer Concerts at the Old West Church presents Geoff Wieting, organist, playing Bach and others.
— Susan Miron
The Woods Hole Film Festival
July 27 through August 6
Woods Hole, MA
This New England festival, nestled by the ocean, is informal and filled with lesser-seen independent films as well as workshops and guest speakers. There will be two filmmakers-in-residence. This year’s talks and workshops include the state of documentary filmmaking, a panel on Community Filmmaking, a Master Class on the DIY Distribution of the documentary Detropia, a Directing Workshop with James Mottern, and a Screenwriting Workshop with Ernest Thompson (On Golden Pond).
See the schedule for the full run down of films. Opening Night features a hybrid documentary, biography, and sociological study called Year of the Living Dead about filmmaker George Romero, and a fish story, Matt Birman’s debut feature about life, death, faith and family.
If It Fits
Brattle Theater Cambridge, MA
John Marshall was one of the most significant ethnographic vérité style filmmakers to come from the Boston area. In this film, he turned his eye on Haverhill, MA, which he called “a ghost town where you expect to see tumbleweeds come rolling down Main Street.” A co-presentation of the Docyard Series and Documentary Educational Resources. A post-screening discussion with DER Executive Director Alice Apley and former DER Executive Director Sue Cabezas will follow, with the focus on Marshall’s influence and work.
Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge, MA
As part of its delightfully thorough Alfred Hitchcock series, the Film Archives is featuring several of the esteemed director’s silent films. It is a rare opportunity to see this early Hitchcock with live accompanied by Robert Humphreville on piano.
Editorial Caprice: One of my favorite theater reviews by George Bernard Shaw is his hilarious demolition of an 1895 stage adaptation of Hall Caine’s best-selling novel The Manxman, which the film is based on. Here is GBS on the dialogue:
. . . the Manx race are without a vernacular, and only communicate with each other by extracts from Cassell’s National Library, the Chandos Classics, and the like. In the Isle of Man you do not use the word “always”: you say “Come weal come woe, come life come death.” The most useful phrases for the tourist are “Dust and ashes, dust and ashes,” “Dead sea fruit,”"The lone watches of the night,” “What a hell is conscience!” “The storm clouds are descending and the tempest is at hand,” and so on. The Manx do not speak of a little baby, but of a baby “fresh from God.”
At least Hitchcock’s silent version of Caine’s hoo-ha does away with this gibberish—aside from whatever turns up on the inter-titles.
— Bill Marx
Post Tenebras Lux
The Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
Reviewed in Arts Fuse earlier this month when it appeared at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, this is one of the year’s most stunning films, a terrific choice for revival on a big screen. It is partly autobiographical, but it is also a meditation on desire and fantasy that takes on a disconnected and surreal tone. Far from your standard narrative film, Post Tenebras Lux generates its own unpredictable internal logic, but give yourself over to it—the breathtaking images and beautiful sound design take you to another world.
— Tim Jackson
Psycho Beach Party by Charles Busch
Directed by Barbara DiGirolamo
Staged by the Happy Medium Theatre Company and Heart & Dagger Productions
Through August 3
Factory Theatre, Boston, MA
I vaguely remember finding a production of this camp romp amusing years ago. This mashup of surf, sand, and suspense (Beach Blanket Bingo meets Marnie) revolves around the trials and tribulations of “Chicklet Forrest, a teenage tomboy, who desperately wants to be part of the surf crowd on Malibu Beach in 1962.”
Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them by Christopher Durang
Directed by Adam Zahler
Staged by the Titanic Theatre Company
Through August 10
Black Box Theater in the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA
Tony Award-winning playwright Christopher Durang “turns political humor upside down in a raucous black comedy for our era of yellow, orange and red alerts.” Arts Fuse review to come.
The Bridges of Madison County
Book by Marsha Norman. Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Based on the novel by Robert James Waller.
Directed by Bartlett Sher
The Williamstown Theatre Company, Williamstown, MA, August 1 through 18.
Sappy as all get out, but sappy is very profitable on Broadway, especially when this kind of weepy, romantic material comes stamped (in gold) with the name recognition bestowed by a best-selling book and popular film. The world premiere staging of a musical version of a story about a middle-aged woman on an Iowa farm whose life is “uncomplicated until the day a National Geographic photographer comes up her driveway looking for directions, forever changing the course of their lives.” Hard not to be curious. Arts Fuse review to come.
— Bill Marx