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
Arab Film Weekend
June 2 through 5
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
For the first time, the MFA presents a survey of the best contemporary films produced in the Arab region of North Africa and the Middle East. The series kicks off with the remarkable Academy Award nominated Theeb, followed by the BAFTA nominated documentary A Syrian Love Story. A terrific opportunity to sample Arab cinema. Co-presented with the Boston Palestine Film Festival.
Tale of Tales
June 3 through 7
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
World premiere of a film by Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) The movie’s triptych of tales are based on 17th century-fabulist Giambattista Basile’s collection Pentamerone (The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones). The suggestion that this movie is for kids is ironic: the grisly Grand Guignol in this visual extravaganza is not for little ones, unless you want them traumatized. For example, one of the scenarios as described by USA Today: A barren king and queen, desperate for a child, are given harrowing instructions by a mysterious, gaunt figure in black: Hunt down a sea monster, cut out its heart, have it cooked by a virgin — then eat it.” Sounds like fun for adult foodies!
Kiss Me Deadly
June 3 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA
A pitch black film noir masterpiece from anarchic, left-liberal, anti-authoritarian director Robert Aldrich. It stars Ralph Meeker as churlish detective Mike Hammer, who is hunting down a mysterious box that glows and screeches. What’s in it? Add in the infamous apocalyptic ending and you have Cold War paranoia at its best.
Flesh and the Devil
June 5 at 2 p.m.
Somerville Theatre, Somerville, MA
Released in 1926: “Leo von Sellenthin and Ulrich von Kletzingk, two boys who have grown up together, swear eternal friendship through a blood bond. They attend military school together, and at home on annual holiday, Leo meets the entrancing Felicitas at a ball. When her husband discovers Leo with her in her boudoir, a duel is called and the husband is killed; forced into foreign service, Leo asks his friend Ulrich to console the widow. Three years later Leo is pardoned by the emperor and returns to find that Felicitas has married Ulrich. Vainly he seeks to escape her attempts to revive their former affair. With the enchanting Greta Garbo and John Gilbert as von Sellenthin.” (Criterion Collection)
Live music By Jeff Rapsis!
— Tim Jackson
Across the Ages
June 3 & 4 at 8 p.m.; June 5 at 4 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Green Street Studios
Across the Ages presents an ensemble of dancers impressively ranging in age from 10-85, with choreography by Ivalyo Alexiev, Ruth Benson Levin, Yo-el Cassel, William Evan, Imani McLauren, Lynn Modell, and Erica Schwartz. This year’s performance is dedicated to co-producer Marcie Midler, whose life was tragically cut short in February: “Her life is an inspiration to all to follow your passion and live with kindness, humor and grace.”
Cambridge Arts River Festival
June 4 from 12-6 p.m.
The Cambridge Arts Council presents its annual Cambridge Arts River Festival, boasting a wide array of jazz, folk, world music, dance, poetry, and theater performances ranging from local to national.
June 4 at 3 p.m.
Local dance mover and shaker Tony Williams returns to the Strand Theatre with Ballet Brilliante. The performance will showcase his newest endeavor, the creation of Tony Williams Ballet. The company will perform works both new and old, including classics by George Balanchine and Isadora Duncan.
June 3 and 4
Presented by Urbanity Dance at Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA
The group’s final performance of the 2015-2016 season features premieres as well as returning repertoire, all by Urbanity’s resident artists and guest collaborators.
In Of This Body, Paula Josa-Jones and her design team collaborators “explore liminal states of being – ambiguous, disorienting moments when we find ourselves poised on a threshold between one world and another – times of being caught in a maelstrom of events outside our control, evoking questions of identity, expression and place in the world.”
— Bill Marx
And further afield…
Varying locations. Visit PVDFest’s website for a complete schedule.
Head to Providence, RI, Thursday through Sunday for an eclectic festival featuring everything from art installations to food trucks to poetry slams. Dance events include Doppelgänger Dance Collective and Dance BFF’s Bollywood performance on Saturday, June 4.
— Merli V. Guerra
In the Body of the World, written and performed by Eve Ensler. Directed by Diane Paulus. Staged by the American Repertory Theatre at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA, through May 29.
A “world-premiere adaptation of Ensler’s critically acclaimed 2013 memoir of the same name” In this solo piece, the activist and artist (The Vagina Monologues, Emotional Creature, The Good Body, O.P.C.) “celebrates the strength and joy that connect a single body to the planet.” “While working in the Congo, where war continues to inflict devastating violence on women, Ensler was diagnosed with stage III/IV uterine cancer. This diagnosis erased the boundaries between Ensler’s art, her work, and her own body. This production charts the connections between the personal and the public, inviting and challenging all of us to come back into our bodies, and thus the world.” Arts Fuse review
Eyes Shut. Door Open. by Cassie M. Seinuk. Directed by Christopher Randolph. Staged by Wax Wings Productions at Warehouse XI, Union Square, Somerville, MA, through May 26.
A revival of Seinuk’s intriguing drama; about the play’s earlier production (in August 2015), Arts Fuse critic Ian Thal thought that “weak production elements [obscured] a powerful performance of an intensely relentless script.”
Mud Blue Sky by Marisa Wegrzyn. Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary. Staged by Bridge Repertory Theater at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, through June 5.
The plot of this comedy: “three flight attendants approaching their retirement years find themselves on a typical layover, only to be joined in their hotel by Jonathan, the local teenage pot-dealer who has just left his hot date at the prom.” A sterling cast includes Deb Martin, Adrianne Krstansky, Leigh Barrett, and Kaya Simmons.
The Taming by Lauren Gunderson. Directed by Nicole Ricciardi. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the Elayne Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA, through July 30.
A political satire/farce with a cartoon premise: “Super-patriot Miss Georgia has something bigger in mind for the Miss America pageant than winning a crown. She wants to jump-start a movement to rewrite the Constitution. So she’s locked herself in a hotel room with two captive political opposites and the ensuing conflict plays out in hilarious fashion, complete with a screwball chase scene, underwear gags, and slyly developing sexual attractions.”
Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls, created and performed by John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine and Roberto Rossi, with musicians Jessica Lurie and Hannah Temple and puppeteer Sam Wilson. Staged by Great Small Works at the Charlestown Working Theater, Charlestown, MA, on June 4 and 5.
“A puppet show based on the lives and work of Zuni Maud and Yosl Cutler, two radical hand-puppeteers from the early 20th century. It is a meditation on their incisive and funny satirical work, and on historical models of robust embodied practices for changing social power relationships. Muntergang is a bilingual puppet show in Yiddish and English which uses original Maud and Cutler scripts, graphics and songs, together with Great Small Works’ own handpuppets, projections, rod puppets, panoramic scrolls, handmade lighting instruments, flat cut-outs, acting, dances, and an original music score performed live.
I Was Most Alive with You, written and directed by Craig Lucas. Staged by the Huntington Theater Company, at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through June 26.
“A family’s faith is severely tested when their adult son, a Deaf, gay, recovering addict played by Russell Harvard (Fargo, Spring Awakening), sees his carefully calibrated world fall apart after an accident. Performed simultaneously in English and American Sign Language.”
Dogfight, based on the Warner Bros. film and screenplay by Bob Comfort. Music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Book by Peter Duchan. Directed by Paul Daigneaut. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts, through June 4.
The Boston premiere of a musical set in the Vietnam era: “It’s November 21, 1963; and on the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying, and maybe a little trouble. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she winds up rewriting the rules of the game and teaching him the power of love and compassion.” Arts Fuse review
Blood on the Snow by Patrick Gabridge. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Presented by the Bostonian Society in partnership with the National Park Service at the Old State House, 206 Washington Street, Boston, MA, through May 29.
A historical drama that sets out to reexamine the Boston Massacre and shed “light on its ties to contemporary events.” The impressive cast includes Dale Place, Ken Baltin, Bill Mootos, and Lewis Wheeler.
Presto Change-O Book and Lyrics by Eric Price. Music by Joel Waggoner. Choreography by Chris Bailey. Directed by Marc Bruni. Staged by Barrington Stage Company at the St. Germain Stage, Pittsfield, MA, through June 11.
World premiere production of an “exciting new musical tells the story of three generations of magicians who find themselves under one roof for the first time in years. When the grandfather causes real magic to happen, they must confront their past mistakes and re-examine what it means to be a family.” Arts Fuse review
Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Music by Wayne Barker. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. Music Director, Catherine Stornetta, Choreography by Ilyse Robbins. Staged by Lyric Stage of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through June 26.
A prequel to Peter Pan: “An acclaimed new play (partly inspired by the theatricality of Nicholas Nickleby) that uses ingenious stagecraft, the talents of a dozen of our favorite actors, and the limitless possibilities of your imagination to create theatrical magic.” The show “chronicles the adventures of Molly, a girl charged to protect a cargo of stardust from falling into the wrong hands, and an orphan named Peter who eventually becomes The Boy Who Never Grew Up.” The cast includes some real pros — Margaret Ann Brady, Ed Hoopman, Margarita Martinez, Will McGarrahan, Marc Pierre, and Robert Saoud. Arts Fuse review
Brilliant Traces by Cindy Lou Johnson. Directed by Kyler Taustin. Presented by the Brown Box Theatre Project at Atlantic Wharf, 290 Congress Street, Boston, MA, June 4 through 12.
This two-hander is “set in a remote cabin nestled in the Alaskan wilderness. Sole occupant, Henry Harry, sleeps as a blizzard rages outside. When he is awakened by a pounding at the door, a dazed stranger stumbles in without explanation in her full bridal attire before falling asleep for two days. As Henry Harry cares for her, Rosannah dissects her reckless non-stop drive from an Arizona wedding chapel to Alaska. The two navigate each other within the confines of this tiny cabin as they begin to reconcile their own loneliness and grapple with wounded pasts, gnawing regrets, and desperate fears in whiteout conditions.”
The Birds and the Bees by Kate Snodgrass, Charlotte Meehan, and Adara Meyer. Directed by Melia Bensussen and Shana Gozansky. Staged by Sleeping Weasel at the Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Black Box Theatre, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, June 2 through 11.
Should this be given an X-rating? “Kate Snodgrass’ The Last Bark, Adara Meyers’ Birds, and Charlotte Meehan’s Beesus & Ballustrada make up a trio of frighteningly funny, cross-generational plays that pushes the ‘feminine perspective’ on heterosexual love and existence (i.e., the birds and the bees) to dangerous new places.” The cast includes Boston standouts Karen MacDonald, Cliff Odle, and Steven Barkhimer
Next Voices Festival: New Play Readings. At the Black Box at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, June 4 and 5. Free and open to the public.
Four readings of scripts by New Rep’s Next Voices Playwriting Fellows: False Flag by Walt McGough (Saturday June 4 at 3 p.m.); Jesus Girls by Lila Rose Kaplan (Saturday, June 4 at 7 p.m.); When Herod Came to Georgia by James McLindon (Sunday, June 5 at 3 p.m.); Dream House by Cassie M. Seinuk (Sunday, June 5 at 7 p.m.).
“On a hallucinatory road trip from the Badlands to Graceland, the spirits of Elvis Presley and Theodore Roosevelt battle over the soul of the painfully shy meat processing plant worker, Ann, and over what kind of man or woman Ann should become. Set against the boundless blue skies of the Great Plains and endless American highway, RoosevElvis is a new work about gender, appetite, and the multitudes we contain.” Arts Fuse review
— Bill Marx
June 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
This English-born pianist and songwriter is an adoptive son of New Orleans, having lived there since 1980. A kinetic NOLA player in the tradition of Professor Longhair, Dr. John, and Henry Butler, Cleary brings his Absolute Monster Gentlemen to the Regattabar.
Out of the jazz studies program at SUNY Purchase, and now playing NYC and . . . everywhere, the HD Quintet is fronted by Alex Hamburger (flute, vocals) and Nicole Davis (trumpet). And hey, Hamburger, though young, delivers “Skylark” with authority and feeling. And the originals also have a nice snoot on them, mixing swing and rock rhythms. The group is rounded out by bassist Mike Robinson, drummer Juan Sanchez, and guitarist Andrew Latona. The group’s debut album Live in the Studio has just be released.
The Pecoraro Stock Company Players
June 2 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
I don’t know these guys, but I like how they roll: “”a brass-based chamber-jazz quintet fusing the roots of American improvised music with elements of New York funk, New England sea shanties, contemporary classical music, and sounds and rhythms from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Eastern Europe, and the West Indies.” They play originals as well as their own arrangements of “Ellington, Monk, Mingus, Louis Armstrong, Don Cherry, the Beatles, and more.” The players are composer Emily Pecoraro on soprano sax and clarinet, trumpeter Bobby Spellman, baritone saxophonist Tyler Burchfield, tubist Josiah Reibstein, and dummer Will Sigel
Saxophonist Kidd Jordan, long an avant-garde stalwart of the New Orleans scene (his credits range from Ray Charles and Big Maybelle to Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor), is the centerpiece for a two-day mini-festival presented by Bursts! at two different Somerville venues. Jordan is joined by guitarist Donald Miller, drummer Avreeayl Ra, and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, with openers the Jooklo Duo (saxophonist Virginia Genta and percussionist David Vanzan). And, of course, “special guests.”
June 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA
The accomplished bassist and composer brings his exuberant trio to town, with pianist Christian Sands and drummer Jerome Jennings (replacing longtime McBride stickman Ulysses Owen Jr.). McBride’s skill and imagination make distinctions like mainstream and avant-garde beside the point.
June 5 at 6 p.m.
Cabot Theatre, Beverly, MA.
The pyrotechnic Cuban expat trumpeter and composer (he also likes to play some piano) comes to Beverly’s beautifully renovated 1920-vintage former vaudeville house, prefaced by a set from the fine Oscar Peterson-influenced Australian pianist Matt Baker and his trio. WBUR’s Jose Masso is emcee.
Eric Rosenthal Quartet/Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet
June 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA
Two collections of stellar musicians from Boston’s rich experimental jazz and free-improv scene offer this third iteration of a nifty double bill. Drummer Rosenthal fronts a group with pianist Eliot Cardinaux, flutist Matt Somalis, cellist Junko Fujiwara, and bassist Bruno Raberg. Keyboardist Karayorgis convenes saxophonist Seth Meicht, trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Luther Gray.
New Black Eagle Jazz Band
June 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
The New Black Eagles have been doing the New Orleans trad thing since 1971, with its early-jazz references to Armstrong, Ellington, and Jelly Roll Morton. They understand that it doesn’t do any good to be well schooled unless you also know how to cut loose.
— Jon Garelick
Rock, Pop, and Folk
Although they were co-founded by Queen of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and were popular enough to tour the world, Eagles of Death Metal were not exactly a household name in 2015. That all changed on November 13 of that year. On that night, the band was performing at La Bataclan in Paris when it was struck by suicide bombings that resulted in the deaths of 89 people at the venue. Like all of the band’s shows since, its performance at House of Blues on Wednesday will take on an added layer of poignancy.
The London-based quartet Bloc Party released its first full-length album Silent Alarm in 2005 and immediately won the approval of the critics and fans to whom its angular, punky, and sometimes spooky sound appealed. Since then, the band has shown itself admirably willing to experiment, even if it meant risking the acclaim that it had initially secured. More often than not, that risk has paid off. The band released Hymns, its sixth album, in January and will be performing at the House of Blues on Thursday.
Ruby Rose Fox
Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA
Multiple Boston Music Award-winning singer-songwriter Ruby Rose Fox (click for my 2015 interview with her) will celebrate the release of her debut album Domestic at the Middle East Downstairs on Friday. Those who have been impressed by her EPs should find themselves astonished by this batch of new songs, while those who have seen merely promise will find that she has delivered and then some.
Married couple, hard-rocking musical duo, and 2014 Boston Music Awards winner for Best New Artist When Particles Collide will perform a release show of its own at Great Scott on Saturday. Supporters of local artists and venues will find themselves plenty busy this weekend.
The veteran alt-rock/power pop band Nada Surf’s last Boston show was at the Paradise Rock Club three-and-a-half years ago (click for my review). Meanwhile, nearly four-and-a-half years have passed since their last album, 2012’s triumphant The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy. The quartet is now back with the LP You Know Who You Are and will return to is former stomping grounds on Saturday.
Eliot Sumner is the 25-year-old daughter of Gordon Sumner. If you don’t know what that guy’s more famous stage name is, this particular offspring’s voice—on some songs, at least—and her choice of instrument should give you a clue. One should definitely give this Sumner a fair and open-minded listen irrespective of what he or she thinks of the man who sired her.
Upcoming and on sale:
Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (June 7, Regent Theatre); Diiv (June 7, The Sinclair); Modern English (June 7, Middle East Downstairs); Bearstronaut (June 10, The Sinclair); Cherie Currie (June 11, Brighton Music Hall); The Jayhawks (June 13, Royale); John Doe (June 13, Atwood’s Tavern); Dungen (June 16, The Sinclair); Wye Oak (June 19, The Sinclair); Dolly Parton (June 21, Wang Theatre); Deerhoof (June 24, Brighton Music Hall); Soul Asylum and The English Beat (June 25, Royale); Dead Kennedys (June 25, Paradise Rock Club); Pere Ubu (June 27, Sinclair); Steve Gunn (June 29, Great Scott); And the Kids (July 7, The Sinclair); Guided By Voices (July 11, Paradise Rock Club); Girlpool (July 11, Middle East Downstairs); Sonny & The Sunsets (July 12, ONCE Ballroom); Wussy (July 13, Middle East Upstairs); The Coathangers (July 14, ONCE Ballroom); Rhett Miller (July 16, ONCE Ballroom); Paul McCartney (July 17, Fenway Park); Marissa Nadler (July 19, Great Scott); Super Furry Animals (July 24, The Sinclair); White Lung (July 30, Brighton Music Hall); Chris Robinson Brotherhood (July 30, The Cabot); Bryan Ferry (July 31, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion); Yes (August 4, Lynn Auditorium); Belly (August 9, Royale); Rich Robinson (August 12, Brighton Music Hall); X (August 15, Brighton Music Hall); Dick Dale (September 1, Middle East Downstairs); Ani DiFranco (September 1 and 2, Shalin Liu Performance Center); Little Feat (September 8, Wilbur Theatre); Echo & The Bunnymen (September 8, House of Blues); The Specials (September 12, House of Blues); Okkervil River (September 14-15, The Sinclair); Lush (September 15, Royale); Car Seat Headrest (September 17, The Sinclair); Joan Baez with Mary Chapin Carpenter (October 9, Wang Theatre); Pet Shop Boys (November 9, Orpheum Theatre); Peter Hook & The Light (November 26, The Sinclair)
— Blake Maddux
Summer Arts and Crafts Towns
It is the pipe dream of many a declining fishing village, seaport, and manufacturing town. Attract a bunch of artists and craftspeople and those empty factories will turn into studios and loft apartments, the vacant storefronts on Main Street will fill up with arts and crafts galleries, and hoards of tourists with cash to spend will surely follow. Sadly, the cold reality of economics means these hopes only rarely pan out. Yet when they do the transformation can be spectacular.
New England arts and crafts towns are scattered across the picturesque landscape. Many are heavily dependent on the summer tourists and on making enough during the short warm season to pay the bills the rest of the year. Their commercial art galleries rarely go for the cutting edge: they typically specialize in local artists and in comfortable views of local landmarks, hand-thrown pottery, and jewelry with a certain free spirit. But, compared to, say, Manhattan’s famous art names, their stock is affordable and good for more than just casual vacation souvenirs. Rain or shine, brilliant or run-of-the-mill, here are a few arts and crafts towns that make for a fine place to kill a few vacation hours just looking at art.
Once known for its tall pine, used in shipbuilding, good fishing, and granite quarries, Rockport became popular with artists in the early 19th century. Around this time, a modest wooden fishing shack went up on Bradley Wharf, near the center of town. The small, weathered, red-colored building was painted and drawn so often it became known as “Motif No. 1” and the “most often painted building in America.” As the town became popular with tourists and day-trippers from Boston, galleries popped up selling the work of local artists. The fame of Motif No 1 soon spread around the country.
After the original was destroyed in the infamous Blizzard of 1978, Motif No. 1 was immediately replaced with a costly exact replica. A few years later, though, signs began to appear in local gallery windows, “We sell real paintings by local artists.” The reason: Chinese art factories, working from photographs, were cranking out mass-produced versions of Motif No. 1 and other Lockport beauty spots and undercutting the local market. The gallery scene was never quite the same, though a somewhat reduced community of artists remains in what is mostly a comfortable Boston suburb. The surviving galleries, including some dealing in historical work, made long before the blizzard, are around to cater to the huge crowds that flock to Rockport’s winding streets every summer.
In the 19th century, the Maine coastal town of Rockland developed into a flourishing industrial center and market. At its peak it was sustained by a number of activities: ship and boat building, lime production, lumber yards, granite and marble works, shoe factories, tanneries, and a ferry port serving the islands of Penobscot Bay. The city became popular with tourists late in the century and, early in the 20th, began to attract prominent artists, starting with the Wyeth family. Since the 1980s, aided in part by the expansion of the local Farnsworth Museum, founded to collect and exhibit Maine-related art, the town has changed. Former banks and department stores along Main Street house large and sophisticated galleries mounting ambitious shows and the neighborhood has sprouted with trendy cafés and restaurants. It all goes to show there is a lot more to Maine than just lobsters.
Burlington’s story as a gallery town dates back to the early 1980s, when a freshly-elected city mayor named Bernie Sanders established the Mayor’s Art Council (MAC) to “make the arts available to all, regardless of social, economic or physical constraints.” The MAC later evolved into an official city department, renamed the BCA (Burlington City Arts), and in 1995 converted the ground floor of a former fire station into a fine arts gallery. Later, other parts of the building were converted into studio and classroom space.
Now, in the 21st century, this city on the shores of Lake Champlain sports at least a dozen art galleries, including the MAC’s spacious Vermont Metro Gallery in that fire station, which has become the BCA Center, a premier space for contemporary art. Elsewhere in town, an artist’s cooperative and other spaces devoted to Vermont-based artists and craftspeople are apparently thriving. The BCA also sponsors the BCA Summer Artist Market, a juried exhibition as well as sale of handmade art and crafts, which takes place on Saturdays on City Hall Plaza through mid-October. It is the New Vermont’s answer to the classic farmer’s market: all the arts and crafts you can eat.
Shelburne Falls, MA
The Berkshire foothills village of Shelburne Falls got itself on the tourist map thanks to two unique attractions: the abstract “potholes” sculpted in the stone bed of the Deerfield River by the last Ice Age and the “Bridge of Flowers,” a disused trolly bridge over the river converted by local gardeners into a flower-bedecked pedestrian way in 1929. Nowadays, the Shelburne Falls Historic District booms with a mixture of small-town New England businesses, a trolly museum, alternative restaurants, and natural food stores. And there are numerous arts and crafts galleries that feature artists (many ex-urbanites) who are based in the surrounding hills.
New Haven, CT
Though it hardly fits the stereotype of a New England art town, the once-declining university city of New Haven now sports the largest collection of art galleries in the state of Connecticut. Thanks to Yale University, the city has long been home to leading art and architecture schools and two art museums of international importance: the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. New Haven visitors have found that the galleries (sometimes paired with boutiques or framing shops) that have sprung up around these foundation institutions are surprisingly sophisticated and friendly. The major visual arts events, including City Wide Open Studies, take place in the fall but, thanks to the mix of important institutions and local color, there is always something to see.
— Peter Walsh
World Music and Roots
Arts at the Armory Cafe, Somerville, MA
Turkish vocalist and NEC student Gurlec has attracted plenty of local attention through her collaborations with musicians from around the globe. In this gig she’s promising plenty of variety — music from the sixteenth century and hip-hop — and a plethora of special guests.
FirstWorks PVD Festival
Downtown Providence, Rhode Island
Two of the best shows in this spring’s World Music/CRASHArts series featured the Afro-Cuban All-Stars and Debo Band with the What Cheer? Brigade. As it happens, all three are appearing at this eye-popping free festival in Providence, along with Daptone gospel star Naomi Shelton, Puerto Rican traditionalists Plena Libre, the Italian sounds of Newpoli and a slew of others.
Cambridge River Festival
East Cambridge, MA
This long-running free event has a new location this year. Several of Cambridge’s best venues, including Club Passim and Atwood’s, have programmed roots, folk, indie and jazz greats like Dennis Brennan, Twisted Pine, the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, and Mr. Airplane Man.
The consumate roots singer/songwriter/guitarist has spent the past few years recording and touring with his brother and former Blasters partner Phil Alvin, but at Passim he’ll be doing a relatively rare solo acoustic set.
Bishop Harold Branch 62nd Anniversary
Russell Auditorium, 80 Talbot Avenue, Dorchester, MA
Bishop Branch has been playing gospel on Boston airwaves for decades, and he’s also a fixture at local programs where he is inevitably the only solo guitar-based act. For this year’s anniversary he is joined by Connecticut’s Deacon Lou Dobbs and many local Boston groups. Look for a full interview with Bishop Branch in the Arts Fuse later this week.
— Noah Schaffer
Presented by Odyssey Opera
June 3 (at 7:30 p.m.) and 5 (at 3 p.m.)
Boston University Theater, Boston
Odyssey Opera’s annual summer series opens, this year called “When in Rome,” with a rare outing of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Ezio, a tale of love and loyalty that unfolds shortly before the fall of the Empire. The cast includes Brenda Patterson (in the title role), Randall Scotting, Jennifer Holloway, and William Hite. Gil Rose conducts.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Nahant Music Festival
June 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Nahant Village Church, 27 Cliff Street, Natant, MA
The opening night gala (including a silent Auction and reception) features soprano Barbara Kilduff, baritone Sumner Thompson, and pianist Brian Moll.
Nahant Music Festival
June 5 at 3 p.m.
At the Ellingwood Chapel, 195 Nahant Road, Nahant, MA
On the program: The Nahant Music Festival 2016 Vocal Apprentices team up with members of Boston’s illustrious Emmanuel Music orchestra for an afternoon of cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. The program includes BWV 17, “Ver Dank opfert, der priest mich,” and BWV 8, “Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben.”
— Susan Miron
Rusty Barnes & Lee Clay Johnson
Ridgerunner & Nitro Mountain
June 1 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
Two debut novelists come to Brookline to shed some literary light on the wonders and ravages of Appalachia. Barnes’s novel concerns a conservation officer at odds with the powers-that-be; Johnson’s tome takes a close look at how the devastation of their mining town affects a group of friends.
The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics
June 1 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
The esteemed historian begins his latest book with the claim that “there are two keys unlocking the secrets of American politics and American history.” The first is the egalitarian tradition — the founder’s belief that social inequality and economic extremes will destroy democracy. The second is hyper partisanship, a permanent fixture in American life and, according to Wilentz, the country is the better for it.
What They Do With Your Money: How the Financial System Fails Us and How to Fix It
June 2 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
Americans pay billions of dollars to the masters of our financial system, which would be fine it helped keep the system running properly. But it doesn’t: financial institutions regularly put their needs first, concealing their practices to the people and their own investors. Lukomnik offers an analysis of the problem as well as a way to fix it.
How to Make White People Laugh
June 3 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
Farsad is an Iranian-American Muslim female standup comedian who writes about her experience growing up as an “Other” in the post- 9/11 America. Farsad will talk about how humor can lead to peace and cultural understanding, one fart joke at a time.
Voyager: Travel Writings
June 6 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
Now in his seventies, the novelist has traveled all across the globe. In his latest book, Banks recounts his globe-trotting, from hippie festivals in North Carolina, to an elopement in Scotland, reflections on the landscapes of the Caribbean, the Andes, and the Himalayas.
Write On! Submitting to Literary Magazines: Why It Matters and How to Do It
June 7 & June 18
The Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley MA
$100 for two-part series, registration required
The plethora of outlets for literary work can be intimidating and forbidding for the novice writer. With literally thousands of journals and magazines to choose from, it’s useful to have someone to explain the process. Oliver has edited at some nationally reputed magazines, and will begin a two-part series on how the submission process works, how publication happens, and everything in between.
— Matt Hanson