Fuse Coming Attractions: January 17 through 26 —What Will Light Your Fire This Week

Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, theater, dance, music, visual arts, and author events for the coming week.

By The Arts Fuse Staff


Boston Area Film Schedules—What is Playing Today, Where, and When

Woman in the Moon
January 17 at 7 p.m.
Aeronaut Brewery, 14 Tyler St. (near Union Square), Somerville, MA

Fritz Lang’s 1929 pioneering space drama will be screened with live musical accompaniment. A chance to take in the rarely seen full-length version of this film, which follows an intrepid band of space pioneers as they attempt mankind’s first voyage to the lunar surface.

A scene from "Theeb," screening at the Brattle Theater this week. A scene from “Theeb,” screening at the Brattle Theatre this week.

January 21 at 7:15
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

I have it on no less an authority than Arts Fuse critic Gerald Peary that Naji Abu Nowar’s adventure film, set in the Middle East during World War I, is a stunning and resonant exploration of history. It has been nominated for a 2016 Academy Award.

Judi Dench as Paulina and Kenneth Branagh as Leontes in The Winter’s Tale at the Garrick. Photograph: Johan Persson/Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company/Garrick.

Judi Dench as Paulina and Kenneth Branagh as Leontes in The Winter’s Tale at the Garrick. Photograph: Johan Persson/Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company/Garrick.

The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
January 22 through 24
Arts Emerson’s Bright Family Screening Room, Paramount Center, Boston, MA

Theater production or film? The issue is becoming somewhat bedeviling, to the point of radically challenging our perception of the nature of theater, or at least of how it is consumed. But that troubling notion is for a future commentary. To the point, here is an opportunity to see the magnificent Judi Dench as Paulina and Kenneth Branagh as Leontes in a critically admired production (it closed on January 16 at the Garrick Theatre in London) of the Bard’s fable. The staging is co-directed by Rob Ashford and Branagh.

— Bill Marx


Silas Riener performs Merce Cunningham's Changeling at the ICA, Boston. Photo: Liza Voll Photography.

Silas Riener performs Merce Cunningham’s “Changeling” at the ICA. Photo: Liza Voll Photography.

Merce Cunningham’s Changeling and Other Excerpts
January 21 through 24
Institute of Contemporary Art
Boston MA

Head to the ICA this week for a special treat: A select group of students from the the Boston Conservatory will perform excerpts from many of the famed works of Merce Cunningham, alongside the 1957 solo Changeling (newly reconstructed in collaboration with Jean Freebury), which will be performed by former Cunningham dancer Silas Riener.

Catalyst Performance Series
January 23 through February 6
The Dance Complex
Cambridge, MA

This Saturday marks the launch of three weekends of performances at The Dance Complex, as its inaugural CATALYST program comes to a close. Enjoy the choreography of local artists Chavi Bansal, Callie Chapman, Michael Figueroa, Sarah Mae Gibbons, and Kathleen Nasti in a number of different forms, from dance installation and film to performance.

OnStage Dance Company’s Season Ten Performance
January 23 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Cohen Auditorium, Tufts University
Medford, MA

It isn’t often that dance shows are as eclectic as this: Hip Hop, Contemporary, Jazz, Modern, Step, Poi, and Hoop all come together in this explosive performance, which will celebrate OnStage’s tenth season.

And further afield…

Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake
January 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Fine Arts Center Concert Hall
Amherst, MA

Celebrated South African choreographer Dada Masilo brings her reworked adaptation of Swan Lake to the UMass Fine Arts Center early next week. The performance merges traditional elements of the original ballet (pointe shoes and Tchaikovsky’s score) with the energetic, down-to-earth movements of South African pantsula and gumboot. This production contains partial nudity and is recommended for ages 14 and up.

— Merli V. Guerra

Roots and World Music


Jeffrey Broussard will be performing at Johnny D’s this week.

Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys
January 19
Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA

There’s a long list of ways that the upcoming loss of Johnny D’s will impact the local scene, but near the top is that the venue played host to Cajun and zydeco acts that will most likely have a hard time finding spaces for their gigs elsewhere in town. One of the best of the lot is this band led by fiddler/accordionist Broussard.

Del McCoury Band & Woody Guthrie
January 23
Presented by Celebrity Series at Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA

Yes, the billing is a bit awkward given that Guthrie died in 1967. But bluegrass’s premier band should be the perfect vehicle for the latest batch of previously unreleased Guthrie compositions.

January 24
House of Blues, Boston, MA

As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, World Music/CRASHArts is producing one of Boston’s only indoor festivals, chock full of artists who are either sporting foreign passports or worldly perspectives. Highlights include Benin’s Angélique Kidjo, a trio led by Carolina Chocolate Drop Leyla McCalla, and local favorites Session Americana and Debo Band. The gathering is big enough to fill not just the main House of Blues stage but also its adjacent Foundation Room and restaurant.

— Noah Schaffer


Photo: Puppet Showplace Theater.

A scene from “Cardboard Explosion!” at the Puppet Showplace Theater. Photo: Puppet Showplace Theater.

Cardboard Explosion! performed and directed by Brad Shur. At the Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station Street, Brookline, MA, through January 24.

The world premiere production of a “one-of-a-kind puppetry experience” that received a 2016 Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant. In the show, “five original stories are brought to life using nothing but cardboard and the power of an audience’s imagination. Inspired by everyday details from kids’ lives, puppeteer Shur transforms simple cardboard shapes into elaborate puppet characters and and fantastical scenes, then brings them to life before the audience’s eyes.”

Via Dolorosa by David Hare. Part of the third annual Next Rep Black Box Festival in the Black Box Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA, through January 31.

Hare’s one-man show about the political and cultural quandaries afflicting Israel will be performed by David Bryan Jackson. Arts Fuse review.

Violet by Jeanine Tesori, music, and Brian Crawley, lyrics and book. Directed by Paul Daigneault. Music direction by Matthew Stern. David Connolly, choreography. Staged by the SpeakEasy Stage Company in the Virginia Wimberly Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End, through February 6.

The New England premiere of the New York version of a musical that proffers a folk, rock, and gospel score. The show “tells the story of a young North Carolina woman named Violet who travels by bus across the South in 1964 to see a faith-healer she hopes will transform her life. Along the way, she forms unlikely friendships with her fellow passengers, and learns that it’s the journeys you take in life that help you discover who you are.” Arts Fuse review

Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar. Directed by Gordon Edelstein. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company in association with the Long Wharf Theatre, at the Boston University Theatre, Boston, MA, through February 7.

In this Pulitzer prize-winning play, “high-powered New York lawyer Amir has climbed the corporate ladder while distancing himself from his Muslim roots. When he and his wife Emily host a dinner party, what starts as a friendly conversation escalates, shattering their views on race, religion, and each other.” Arts Fuse review

The script is definitely one of the flavors of the season: “Disgraced is being produced at 10 major American regional theatres this season and will be produced across the United States 32 times over the next two years, as well as several productions overseas. A film version of the play is also in the works with HBO.”

Jeffrey Binder in the MRT's world premiere production of "The White Chip."  Photo: Meghan Moore.

Jeffrey Binder in the MRT’s world premiere production of “The White Chip.” Photo: Meghan Moore.

The White Chip by Sean Daniels. Directed by Sheryl Kaller. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, through January 31.

The world premiere of a “dark comedy about the science of addiction” written by Daniels, MRT’s Artistic Director. The script is “based on his own struggles with alcoholism and path to recovery.” The impressive cast of the 90-minute drama includes Benjamin Evett, Isabel Keating, and Jeffry Binder. Arts Fuse review

The Housekeeper by Ginger Lazarus. Directed by Shana Gozansky. Staged by Fresh Ink at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA, through January 30.

“This new local work tells the story of Adelina, a new housekeeper for widower Charlie Frey and his daughter Kaila. When she meets Charlie’s dead wife, Carson, she is not surprised. But soon she finds herself confronting more mess than she can handle—in the chaotic Frey household and in her own life.”

A photo the Lyric Stage Company's cast for "Sondheim on Sondheim."

The Lyric Stage Company’s cast for “Sondheim on Sondheim.”

Sondheim on Sondheim, Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Conceived by James Lapine. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. Music director, Jonathan Goldberg. Choreography & musical staging by Ilyse Robbins. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company at 40 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through February 21.

“With songs taken from nineteen Sondheim shows produced over a 62-year period, eight of your favorite Boston-based musical-theatre artists (Leigh Barrett, Mala Bhattacharya, Maritza Bostic, Christopher Chew, Aimee Doherty, Davron S. Monroe, Sam Simahk, and Patrick Varner) will perform well-known, rarely heard, and cut material, featuring video commentary from the master himself.”

Citizens of the Empire by Kevin Mullins. Directed by Lindsay Eagle. Staged by Boston Public Works at Deane Hall, the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through January 23.

A premiere of a fantastical script: “Eight hundred years in the future, nobleman-turned-revolutionary Marcus Kent must risk everything to assure the freedom of his people. Joined in his fight by a union-organizing robot, an interstellar garbagewoman, and the madame of a space brothel, Marcus is driven to arms against those he once considered his friends in the Imperial court. The fates of billions hangs in the balance as idealism and despotism clash in a struggle of galactic proportions.” Arts Fuse review

Winter Panto 2016: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Written and directed by Matthew Woods. Staged by imaginary beasts at the Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, through January 30.

“Hold onto your hats! imaginary beasts sweeps into town like a cyclone this January with a tale full of magic and wonder when they refashion an American classic into a fantasy of technicolor proportions.”

Mark Rylance in the 2013 Guthrie Theater production of 'Nice Fish.' Photo: Richard Termine.

Mark Rylance in the 2013 Guthrie Theater production of ‘Nice Fish.’ Photo: Richard Termine.

Nice Fish, conceived, written, and adapted by Mark Rylance and Louis Jenkins. Directed by Claire van Kampen. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through February 7.

“On a lake in frozen Minnesota, the ice is beginning to creak and groan. It’s the end of the fishing season, and two men are out on the ice one last time, angling for answers to life’s larger questions. A play woven together from the acclaimed prose poems of Louis Jenkins, Nice Fish reflects nature with a wry surreality.” Mark Rylance is a terrific actor … so this production looks most promising.

Twelfth Night, an adaptation of the Shakespeare play by Filter Theatre (in association with Royal Shakespeare Company). Directed by Sean Holmes. Presented by Arts Emerson at the Paramount MainStage, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA, January 20 through 30.

The second rock version of one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays to pop up in the area recently.  I sense a pattern. Maybe, if I live long enough, I will see a rap version of Timon of Athens. This British company is offering a “fresh, antic remix of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, classical verse meets merry mayhem as two worlds collide.”

Michael Cumpsty and Michael Crane in a scene from Dan O'Brien's play, "The Body Of An American." Photo: Courtesy of Hartford Stage

Michael Cumpsty and Michael Crane in a scene from Dan O’Brien’s play, “The Body of an American.” Photo: T. Charles Erickson.

The Body of an American by Dan O’Brien. Directed by Jo Bonney. At Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford, CT, through January 31.

According to critic Christopher Arnott of the Hartford Courant, this two-man autobiographical play — a drama about the relationship that developed between playwright O’Brien and photo-journalist Paul Watson – is “compelling yet strangely calm; it makes you question matters of life, death, war and peace. It values friendship. It leads you through the creative process, the journalistic process and the grieving process. It’s a grand poetic statement that gains power and humanity from being so eloquently staged.” The script comes with plenty of garlands: it is the winner of the inaugural Edward Kennedy Prize, the Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play, and the PEN Award for Drama.”

—Bill Marx

Visual Arts

Tseng Kwong Chi (Canadian, b. Hong Kong, 1950–1990) Hollywood Hills, California, 1979, from the East Meets West series Vintage gelatin silver print, printed 1983 36 x 36 in. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Purchased with fund contributed by the Young Collectors Council, 1997, 97.4521 Read more at http://www.craveonline.com/art/917103-exhibit-tseng-kwong-chi-performing-camera#zPA8V66xIjhq78Pc.99

Tseng Kwong Chi, Hollywood Hills, California, 1979, from the East Meets West series. Vintage gelatin silver print, printed 1983 36 x 36 in. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera
January 21 – May 22

Marcelo Brodsky | Jorge Tacla: Upheaval
January 21 – May 22
Aidekman Arts Center, Tufts University, Medford, MA

Cut short by AIDS in 1990 when the artist was 39, Hong Kong-born Tseng-Kwong-Chi’s career never reached the celebrity level grasped by Keith Haring, Madonna, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and his other friends from Manhattan’s downtown ‘80s art scene. Yet the prolific Tsung was an iconic part of the strange, cultural contradictions of the Reagan Era. His photo-based works, often produced in sequences like East Meets West and Expeditionary Series, played with cliches of the mysterious Asian, the tropes of the fading Cold War, the kingpins of American Conservatism, and his own life as a gay Asian-American.

New York Times art critic Ken Johnson says Tseng was “was blessed with a larky spirit.” Many of the more than 80 images in the Tufts exhibition show him in his classic “Mao-suit,” dark glasses, name tag, and deadpan expression, posing at Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls, or the Brooklyn Bridge, or with celebrities like Paloma Picasso and Henry Kissinger at a Metropolitan Museum reception he crashed in 1980. Others images include his portraits of American conservatives like William F Buckley, Jr., posing against a wrinkled American flag, Haring in his studio, or the dancer Bill T. Jones, dressed in nothing but Haring-designed body paint. Never sinking to satire, parody, or waspish moral judgments, Tsung was, according to Johnson, “a seriously playful artist. In his utopia, everyone would be having fun; no one would be left out.”

Argentinian Marcelo Brodsky and Chilean Jorge Tacia both came of age during periods of turmoil and political violence during dictatorships in their home countries. Brodsky, a photographer, and Tacia, a painter, both work with the materials of protest and social justice, their artistic roots in experiences of repression. Related programs at Tufts will include a symposium and a public art “billboard” created in collaboration with Tufts students.

Instantly Yours
January 21 – February 21
Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, Boston, MA

Polaroid Corporation, inventor of “instant” cameras, inspired and encouraged a whole school of photography with its innovative film stocks and large-scale cameras. The company’s headquarters in the Boston area meant that the aesthetics of instant had a particular influence in the region and on local galleries like the PRC. The open call for PRC’s “Instantly Yours” exhibition sought new one-of-a-kind instant Polaroids and its successors in the digital landscape that ended Polaroid’s corporate life. The resulting exhibition and relating events will help kick of the PRC’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

Walls and Beams, Rooms and Dreams: Images of Home
January 23 – July 31
Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA

The comforts, status, and hazards of home have always played an important role in American art and, so too, in its art. This collection show at the Addison explores the many facets of home with works in a range of media and styles, from 19th-century “primitive” paintings to contemporary photographs. Edward Kranich, Kerry James Marshall, Francesca Woodman, Robert Adams, and Andrea Zittel are among the artists represented.

— Peter Walsh



Dutch-born alto saxophone, lyricon, and synth player Jorrit Dijkstra will perform at Lily Pad in Cambridge this week with pianist Benoit Delbecq and drummer John Hollenbeck.

January 19 at 8 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

A rare conclave of these three improviser/composers: Dutch-born alto saxophone, lyricon, and synth player Jorrit Dijkstra, of the Boston-based Driff label; French pianist Benoit Delbecq, playing prepared piano and synth; and drummer John Hollenbeck, composer/mastermind of the Claudia Quintet as well as his formidable Large Ensemble.

Composers Collective
January 20, 7:30 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

Saxophonist and composer Allan Chase is bringing together some of the best players and writers in the Boston area to ply their wares: trumpeter Dan Rosenthal, trombonist Randy Pingrey, soprano and tenor saxophonist Jason Robinson, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, bassist Bruno Raberg, drummer Austin McMahon, and, of course, Chase, playing alto and baritone.

Hankus Netsky/Eden MacAdam-Somer
January 20 at 7:30 p.m.
The Burren, Somerville, MA.

New England Conservatory profs Hankus Netsky (saxophone, et al.) and Eden MacAdam-Somer (violinist, singer, dancer) are hitting the Burren for what they’re calling “an evening of Yiddish and Hassidic song and klezmer dance tunes.” But since these two direct NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation department, you can expect anything. They’re both phenomenal performers (MacAdam-Somer’s “My First Love Story” was one of the best jazz, etc. albums of 2015).

Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorer’s Club
January 21 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.

Some of us are overdue to revisit one of saxophonist and composer Charlie Kohlhase’s reliably exploratory and reliably exhilarating bands: tenor saxophonist Seth Meicht, bassist Kit Demos, drummer Curt Newton, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, tubist Josiah Reibstei, and (we think) trumpeter Daniel Rosenthal.

Eric Alexander
January 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander’s sound is inevitably described as “big and warm.” It is indeed, and this is never a bad thing, especially given Alexander’s mastery of the details (think: Coltrane). He’s joined by the fine pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Greg Ryan, and drummer Jason Tiemann.

Photo: Liz Linder.

Singer Debbie Lane will perform in Cambridge this week. Photo: Liz Linder.

Debbie Lane Quintet
January 26 at 8:30 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

The assured vocalist Debbie Lane digs into standards and not-so-standards from the ’20s to the present, celebrating the release of her debut CD, This Happy Madness. The band is pianist Bill Duffy, guitarist John Baboian, bassist David Landoni, and drummer Steve Langone.

Steve Bilodeau Trio
January 26 at 10 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

Guitarist and composer Steve Bilodeau has a tuneful pen as well as the requisite learned 21st-century guitar chops, emphasizing content over fancy noodling. The recent New England Conservatory grad is celebrating the release of a new CD, joined at the Lily Pad by saxophonist Richard Garcia and drummer Dor Herskovits.

Donny McCaslin Group
January 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin has long been one of the most respected players on the scene, going all the way back to his tenure with Gary Burton. More recently, he and his band gained broader notoriety for being the backing group on David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar. McCaslin is bringing the crew back to the Regattabar — bassist Tim Lefebvre, bassist Jason Lindner, and drummer Mark Guiliana.

— Jon Garelick

Classical Music

Bělohlávek conducts Martinů et al.
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 21-23, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Bohuslav Martinů’s cryptic Sixth Symphony, a BSO commission from 1955, returns to Symphony Hall for the first time in fifteen years. Also on the program are Dvorak’s Cello Concerto (with Johannes Moser) and Smetana’s popular The Moldau.

American Idols
Presented by Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra
January 23, 8 p.m.
First Baptist Church, Newton Center, MA

A cross-section of 20th-century American music comprises Pro Arte’s first program of the new year. Beatrice Affron conducts pieces by David Diamond, Thomas Oboe Lee, Aaron Copland, Irving Fine, George Gershwin, and Samuel Barber, two of which (Copland’s Quiet City and Barber’s Capricorn Concerto) feature soloists from the ensemble.

Daniele Gatti  Photo: Celebrity Series

Daniele Gatti conducts the Orchestre National de France in a performance at Symphony Hall this week. Photo: Celebrity Series

Orchestre National de France
Presented by the Celebrity Series
January 24, 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

The ONF returns to Symphony Hall with music by Debussy, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. Alexander Thaurad is the soloist in Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto; occasional BSO guest conductor Daniele Gatti conducts.

All Flesh is Grass
Presented by the Seraphim Singers
January 24 and 31, 3 p.m.
First Church, Cambridge (on the 24th) and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Brookline (on the 31st)

Seraphim offers an intriguing program of music by three 20th-century composers – Hugo Distler, Ildebrando Pizzetti, and Edwin Fissinger – that reflect on “death and eternity.” Jennifer Lester conducts.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

The New Brandenburgs
January 22 at 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project presents a program of compositions inspired by Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.

Pianist Dang Thai Son
January 23 at 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA

Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts presents Dang Thai Son in a program of music by Gabriel Fauré (Ballade Op. 19), Claude Debussy (Images, Book 2, Two Arabesques), Franz Schubert (Four Impromptus D. 899, Op. 90) and Frédéric Chopin Nocturne in C Minor Op. 48, No. 1, Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 31).

Musicians from Marlboro
January 24 at 1:30 p.m.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA

The program features Beethoven’s String Trio in C Minor, Op. 9, No. 3, Penderecki’s Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio, and Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet in B Minor.

william shakespeare quotes

Shakespeare in Music
January 24 at 5 p.m.
King’s Chapel, 64 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

King’s Chapel Choir & Soloists observe the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with a program of his words set to music by Vaughan Williams, Frank Martin, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, and Three Sonnets, written for the occasion by Graham Gordon Ramsay.

— Susan Miron

Rock, Pop, and Folk

The New Orleans Suspects will perform at Johnny D's this week. Photo: John Nunu Zomot.

The New Orleans Suspects will perform at Johnny D’s this week. Photo: John Nunu Zomot.

New Orleans Suspects and Glen David Andrews
January 20 (doors at 6 p.m., show at 8 p.m.)
Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA

Davis Square will become the French Quarter on Wednesday when the New Orleans Suspects and Crescent City trombonist Glen David Andrews arrive at Johnny D’s. Featuring musicians who have worked with some of NOLA’s most legendary artists, the Suspects will serve up the sort of rock-funk-soul mixture for which the Big Easy is famous. The jazz and R&B sounds of Andrews will do their immeasurable parts to perfect the ambience, thereby allowing those who cannot make it to Mardi Gras this year to feel like they were just there.

Holy Holy
January 21 (8 p.m)
Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA

Holy Holy is a David Bowie tribute that features Spiders from Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey and all-around musical collaborator Tony Visconti. Together, they will perform the 1970 album The Man Who Sold the World in its entirety. In addition to the deep cuts and better-known favorites from that classic album, which Visconti produced and on which he played bass and piano, grieving fans can expect to hear any number of other gems from the Ziggy Stardust era.  This show would have been spectacular under any circumstances — the fact that it is happening this Thursday makes the evening a perfect opportunity to celebrate a one-of-a-kind artist’s legacy. (For the record, the date was scheduled as part of a tour that had commenced prior to Bowie’s death.)

Jon Butcher Axis Photo: AFCA

Jon Butcher Axis will perform at Johnny D’s this week. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

The Jon Butcher Axis with Hirsh Gardner & John Fannon of New England
January 22 (doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 6:30 p.m.)
Johnnys D’s, Somerville, MA

Johnny D’s continues its run of welcoming back local legends for a final chance to feel the storied, well-worn Johnny D’s stage beneath their feet. On Thursday, the early show will be The Jon Butcher Axis, which enjoyed an admirably successful run in the early to late ’80s. The trio reformed in 2012 to tour and record, much to the delight of all the fans who never said goodbye to them.

Boston’s Best Tribute Bands: LoVeSeXy, Rock Bottom, Clock Strikes Ten, Sister Lovers, MELT
January 23
Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA

What can I say? The beloved local venue is obviously determined to close its doors with a bang and not a whimper. This Saturday, bands that have committed themselves to recreating the timeless songs of Prince (LoVeSeXy), Cheap Trick (Clock Strikes Ten), Big Star (Sister Lovers), Peter Gabriel (MELT), and 1970s classic rock (Rock Bottom) will occupy Johnny D’s for one unforgettable night.

Upcoming/On Sale:

Rustic Overtones (Brighton Music Hall, January 29); John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band (Johnny D’s, January 29); Wilco (Orpheum, January 29-30); Lyers, The Paul Collins Beat, and the modifierS (Middle East Upstairs, January 30); For the Sake of Song: The Music of David Bowie (Atwood’s Tavern, February 4); Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (TD Garden, February 4); The Machine Performs Pink Floyd (The Cabot, February 5); Dweezil Zappa & The ZPZ Band Perform the Music of Frank Zappa (Paradise Rock Club, February 5); Johnny A (Johnny D’s, February 5); Rhett Miller (Johnny D’s, February 17); Killing Joke (Paradise Rock Club, February 19); Neko Case (Orpheum Theatre, March 2); The Who (TD Garden, March 7); Rickie Lee Jones (Johnny D’s March 8); Lucinda Williams (Paradise, March 21-22); Bonnie Raitt (Orpheum Theatre, March 29)

— Blake Maddux

Author Events


Sunil Yapa
Your Heart is A Muscle the Size of A Fist
January 19 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

Yapa’s debut novel — called “symphonic” by Colum McCann — concerns Victor, a young malcontent who intends to sell as much marijuana as possible to the gathering throng of protesters at the WTO meeting in Seattle. Along the way, Victor’s actions change the fates of several individuals, including the Chief of Police.

Michael Ian Black
Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (But Also My Mom’s, Which I Know Sounds Weird)
January 20 at 6 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
$5 tickets, or free with purchase of the book

The massively popular comedian and actor reads from his new book. It is a memoir, and Black draws on his wittily deadpan comedic style to frankly and memorably deal with his relationship to his ancestry.

Sven Beckert
The Empire of Cotton: A Global History
January 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Royall House & Slave Quarters, 15 George St, Medford MA
Free for Museum members, $5 for non-members

The Laird Bell professor of history at Harvard will give an illustrated lecture on his book, which was named by the New York Times one of the five best nonfiction books of 2015. He tells the story of the multinational industry of cotton and how it has created innumerable issues related to exploitation, inequality, and vast accumulations of wealth that still resonate in today’s world.

Lisa McGirr
The War on Alcohol
January 21 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

Prohibition is admitted by most to be a massive failure but, according to historian Lisa McGirr, its negative effects went deeper, raising issues of abusive governmental overreach that reverberate powerfully today.

Maria Konnikova
The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time
January 21 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

There are always going to be con artists; people like Bernie Madoff and Lance Armstrong have been bamboozling the public since the dawn of time. But why do we keep falling for their schemes? Konnikova, a writer whom Steven Pinker praises for her “characteristic clarity, flair, and depth,” explains how the nature of belief and the psychological relationship between scam artist and victim really works.

Beyond Lolita: Literary Writers on Sex and Sexuality
Daniel Jones, Cathi Hanauer, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Marjan Kamali, Amy Monticello, Jaclyn Friedman
January 25 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

In an event sponsored by PEN USA, a diverse panel of writers – professors, journalists, and an advice columnist — meet in Porter Square to discuss the ever-enticing subject of the history of sex and sexuality in literature.

Stephen Prothero
Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): A History of Religious Battles That Define America from Jefferson’s Heresies to Gay Marriage
January 26 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

If Donald Trump’s current double-digit lead in the GOP primary polls alarms you (and why wouldn’t it?) don’t despair – Stephen Prothero, a Boston University professor, offers reassurance. He puts today’s ideological conflicts in perspective, outlining the history of conservative and liberal debate in American history. Prothero argues that, over time, liberal ideas have always ultimately prevailed.

mr-splitfootSamantha Hunt
Mr. Splitfoot: A Novel
January 26 at 7 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, MA

The literary world is abuzz with interest in the acclaimed novelist’s latest work. The novel tells the story of two women who are involved in different ways with a mysterious cult that practices necromancy as a way of entertaining orphaned children. Hunt’s writing has been called “dazzling” as well as “dark and delicious” from many sources within the literary world and this book is receiving plenty of critical acclaim.

— Matt Hanson

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