Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, visual art, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.
December 16 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge
“Weaving together footage filmed and broadcasted by little-known Chinese live-streaming anchors, who struggle with real-life face-to-face social interaction because of their identity, disability and social-economic status, this cinematic collage explores how individuals satisfy their cravings for human connection through virtual togetherness, and how these virtual relationships challenge standard definitions of companionship.” This DocYard presentation brings director Shengze Zhu to the audience via Skype for a Q&A.
This is a classic Brattle double feature. The 1933 American pre-Code monster adventure film with Fay Wray and ranked by Rotten Tomatoes as the fourth greatest horror film of all time and the 33rd greatest film of all time plays with the great 1946 Beauty and the Beast, directed by French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau.
Notable Christmas Openings
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – December 20
Here we go again: J.J. Abrams directs the conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come.
1917 – December 25
Fillmed in what appears to be a single shot, director Sam Mendes follows the struggles of a pair of British soldiers who must cross German lines in order to warn their countrymen that the enemy’s retreat is actually bait for a deadly trap. With astute staging and the brilliant cinematography of Roger Deakins, the narrative creates a surreal landscape of war and destruction.
Little Women — December 25
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) has assembled a near-perfect cast for her smart adaptation of the classic American novel. Shot in Concord, with lush cinematography by Yorick Le Saux and a sumptuous score by Alexandre Desplat, the film demands to be seen on the big screen.
Clemency – December 27
Chinonye Chukwu’s first feature culminates years of research propelled by her commitment to protesting the death penalty in America. Alfre Woodard plays the difficult role of a warden on whom executions have taken a personal toll. The film looks at both the injustice of state-sanctioned execution and the effect these deaths have on those involved.
Sátántangó, directed by Béla Tarr. Screening at the MFA Boston, December 21 and 22.
Adapted from the challenging but powerful novel by László Krasznahorkai (who co-wrote the screenplay), this is an uncannily beautiful black and white Hungarian film fully worthy of its nearly 8-hour running time. “Many of its basic elements — its length, its style, its subject matter — might sound prohibitive, [but] the wide-ranging study of life in a rural village (and then, later, out of that village) during the final days of Communism is one of cinema’s most fascinating and immersive films.” (IndieWire) What is currently on release is a restoration of the 1994 masterpiece. Blu-ray and VOD release is scheduled for 2020, but here’s a chance to see a cinematic epic on a big screen. Screenings at the MFA include two 15 minute intermissions. Bring a barrel of popcorn.
— Bill Marx
Tony Malaby Double Trio
December 17 at 8:30 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Tony Malaby — one of jazz’s heavy-cat saxophonists, with credits too numerous to mention (Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, et al.) — has assembled a Double Trio for this appearance at Outpost 186: Jorrit Dijkstra on soprano sax and analog electronics (the Lyricon being a favorite); Nate McBride on bass and bass guitar; John Lockwood on acoustic bass; and Luther Gray and Ra-Kalam Bob Moses on drums.
The Two Tuckers
December 20 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The two Tuckers here are tenor saxophonists Mike Tucker and Tucker Antell. Mike is a regular with Arturo Sandoval, Tucker with the likes of Hal Crook and Antonio Sanchez. The “Friendly Fire” project recalls some of the great hard bop tenor “battles” of yore — Griffin and Jaws, Jordan and Gilmore, Trane and Rollins, you get the idea. They come to town backed by the Ryan Parker Trio from the Pressroom in Portsmouth, N.H., with whom they did a popular stint back in March. That would be pianist Parker with bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa and drummer Les Harris Jr. Sharp arrangements keep the proceedings fleet and fresh without devolving into jam session tedium. It helps that everyone here is an equally sharp player with no shortage of good ideas.
December 21 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
Trinidad-born trumpeter Etienne Charles bills his slice of jazz as “Creole soul” — a blend of Caribbean influences. Naturally, this show is being called “a Creole Christmas” — with “classic selections from the Caribbean, South American, North American, and European holiday songbooks.” But my takeaway from a Charles show at the Newport Jazz Festival a couple of years ago was a new appreciation of the virtues of playing pretty. And Charles is bringing a particularly good band with him: saxophonist Godwin Louis, pianist Christian Sands, cuatro player Jorge Glem, bassist Or Bareket, and drummer Savannah Harris.
December 31 at 9:30p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
Freddy Cole, the younger brother of Nat “King” Cole, is a formidable pianist and singer in his own right — with the requisite vocal charm, swing, and sense of the blues — and a good choice for New Year’s Eve. His band includes his son Lionel — whose credits as pianist and producer include stints with Mariah Carey (and a co-writing credit for her 2002 hit “Through the Rain”).
— Jon Garelick
Just because the big venues go into near-hibernation for the holidays, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing wonderful to hear. Now’s the time to get to one of the smaller venues, or to visit one of our premier music schools.
Jerry Bergonzi (ts), with Phil Grenadier (b), Luther Gray (dm), and guests (at 830 p.m.) and The Fringe [George Garzone (ts/ss), John Lockwood (b), Bob Gullotti (dm)] at 10:30 p.m (both Mondays), December 16 and 23, at The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street, Inman Square, Cambridge. Bergonzi, a saxophone giant, brings his long-standing trio and occasional guest artists to Inman Square’s intimate avant-garde storefront at 8:30 p.m. every Monday. Then The Fringe, one of the greatest free-jazz ensembles in the world, featuring fellow sax giant Garzone, come on at 10:30 p.m. Hearing both groups will clean out your ears and reboot your brain.
Aidan Scrimgeour (p), Matt Estabrook (b), PJ Holaday (dm) playing Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmason December 16, at Distler Performance Hall, Granoff Music Center, Tufts University, 8 p.m. OK, OK, here’s the one holiday concert on my list. Scrimgeour and company have been playing the compositions from the Guaraldi album around town during the month of December, and this show at Tufts will be a benefit for Operation Warm, the nonprofit that seeks to provide winter coats to children in need. If you think the tinkly tunes Guaraldi wrote for the Peanuts specials are all there is to this underappreciated artist, you may be surprised by how much real feeling there is in the music itself.
Laszlo Gardony (p), w. Christian Artmann (fl), John Lockwood (b), Yoron Israel (dm) at December 17, David Friend Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. at Berklee, 921 Boylston Street, Boston. The gifted veteran Gardony and his working trio (with two monstrous players in support) are celebrating 20 years together in 2019. This intimate concert, with guest artist Christian Artmann, will be an ideal way to hear their extraordinary rapport.
Steve Kirby & John Stowell (g), with Blake Newman (b), Mike Connors (dm) on December 17 at 8 p.m. at The Beehive, 541 Tremont Street, South End. Berklee faculty member Kirby has invited Stowell, an accomplished player with a suitcase full of impressive playing credentials, for a two-guitar show this evening. Guitarists always inspire one another, and this pairing should be well worth hearing.
Donna Byrne (vo), w. Tim Ray (p), Marshall Wood (b), Mark Walker (dm) on December 20 at 7 p.m. at The Mad Monkfish, 524 Massachusetts Avenue, Central Square, Cambridge. Byrne works regularly at Monkfish, but that’s no excuse to take her for granted. She’s an accomplished song interpreter, a swinging improviser, and a knowledgeable curator of repertoire. When she works with the marvelously talented Tim Ray, there’s plenty to enjoy.
Gerry Beaudoin (solo g) on December 21, at Les Zygomates, 129 South Street, Boston, at 5:30 p.m. You don’t often hear seven-string guitar, but the artists who play it are special, usually providing their own bass lines – and solo shows give them a chance to really display technique. Beaudoin was mentored by Bucky Pizzarelli, one of the best of the bunch, and this gig, probably featuring a lot of standard- and swing-based tunes, should be a very satisfying experience.
And you should linger after dinner this evening at Les Zygomates for this:
Yoko Miwa (p), possibly with Will Slater (b), Scott Goulding (dm) – same day and venue as above, at 8 p.m. The indefatigable Miwa just keeps playing strongly and beautifully, two nights and sometimes three nights a week. This doesn’t mean that she’s phoning it in – her fine CDs and great choice of tunes testify to her savvy and strength. This may be the last time you get the chance to hear her before 2020.
John Sullivan (b), possibly with Dan Papas (p), Austin McMahon (dm) – on December 27, at Les Zygomates, 129 South Street, Boston at 8 p.m. Sullivan is a versatile player with strong credentials (anyone hired by Roy Haynes has to be very good indeed). He usually brings along very accomplished sidemen like the ones above, with whom he’s worked recently.
— Steve Elman
Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter. Photo: courtesy of the ICA.
When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston MA 02210
Through January 26
Borrowing its name from Somali-British poet Warsan Shire’s poem “Home,” this exhibit presents work by 20 artists from a myriad of countries, on the subject of migration and displacement. Currently witnessing the global movement of peoples on an unparalleled historical scale, artists like Kader Attia, Tania Bruguera, and Reena Saini Kallat respond to this exodus with highly diverse artwork, from poetic meditations to detailed individual accounts.
Holly Roddenbery, “A Few Drops of Compassion,” 2019. Wood, Silver, Stone, Acrylic. Photo by Melissa Lovingood.
Human Impact: Stories of the Opioid Epidemic
Fuller Craft Museum
455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA 02301
Through May 3
This exhibit brings together 11 invited artists, who share perspectives on the opioid crisis from the viewpoint of those who are closest to the subject. Working in collaboration with families deeply affected by opiate use, these artists create works that communicate stories of pain, hope, and courage. Jodi Colella’s “Once Was (Remembrance)” is a towering, monolithic poppy field, a monument to the lives lost to this epidemic, while another piece, John Anderson’s “Sacrificial Lamb,” an altar of prescription pill bottles and cage-like wire, illustrates the chaos unleashed by the force of addiction. The Fuller Craft Museum presents this show in cooperation with the District Attorney’s office, Brockton Hospital, High Point Treatment Center, and Stonehill College, which advocate for the spread of awareness and information on this subject.
Yayoi Kusama, “Love Is Calling,” 2013. Photo: courtesy of the ICA.
Yayoi Kusama: Love Is Calling
Through February 7, 2021
ICA Boston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston MA 02210
Premiering in Japan in 2013, and recently acquired as part of the ICA’s permanent collection, “Love Is Calling” is one of Kusama’s 20 infinity rooms. A darkened space, lined with mirrors and interspersed with repetitive, brightly colored sculptural forms, generates a kaleidoscopic effect that surrounds viewers as they traverse the visually crowded space. The experience is accompanied by a sound recording of the artist reciting her poem “Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears” in Japanese. This vibrant environment explores such themes as love, life, and death. It promises to be a remarkable experience.
Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman
Worcester Art Museum
55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA
Through February, 2020
In the 1950s, once consumerism, television, and image-sharing became commonplace, a new era of photographic experimentation commenced. Photo Revolution presents a wide range of works at the center of this transformation, featuring a wide range of mediums, from artists whose work centered on photography, such as Chris Burden, Nan Goldin, John Baldessari, and many more. These artists used photography and video to make social and political statements, turning what was seen as a practical, secondary medium into the inspiration for new movements in art. Easy access to photo and video production led to a diversification of format, which stirred artists to not only make work using photography, but to make work about photography.
Andy Goldsworthy, “Watershed.” Photo: courtesy of the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.
Andy Goldsworthy: Watershed
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA 01773
This permanent, site-specific structure is installed in a hillside near the museum and pays structural homage to the homogeneous architectural style of New England. The granite stone installation is the latest in Goldsworthy’s many works that explore the nature of water, weather, and related natural occurrences that affect a particular landscape. Because it emphasizes and utilizes the impact of groundwater runoff in the vicinity, visitors can see and hear the structure being activated and, over the years, altered by the water flowing through it when it rains. Arts Fuse review
Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect
Through January 5
The Rose at Brandeis, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA
Gordon Matta-Clark coined the hybrid term “anarchitect” for his site-specific works erected in 1970s South Bronx. They have been celebrated as activist interventions within derelict urban communities. Trained as an architect, Matta-Clark critiqued the treatment of areas and people that capitalism had tragically failed. This exhibit focuses on the political content of these interventions, particularly his pioneering approach to social activism through art. Arts Fuse review
–- Rebekah Bonner
Karl Baden, “Harvard Sq.,” 2017.
Mass Ave, Cambridge: Photos by Karl Baden
Through February 20, 2020
At Cambridge Arts’ Gallery 344, 344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA
“Mass Ave, Cambridge began with a conversation between photographer Karl Baden and Lillian Hsu, Cambridge Arts’ Director of Public Art and exhibitions. In recent years, Baden has developed a particular interest in the people, the serendipity, and the visual forms found along our streets and sidewalks. An idea for an exhibition sprung from what seemed like a simple objective: Karl could spend a year and a half recording life along Mass. Ave. from Arlington to the Charles River. But, of course, Mass. Ave. is vividly complex.
“Baden’s resulting Mass. Ave. photos mix objective documentation and personal interpretation. The pictures show people walking down the street, people dancing, people stepping out for a smoke, people bundled up against falling snow, people out in summer shorts. There are smiles and pain and love. You’ll recognize icons of the avenue—the Charles River, Out of Town News, Porter Square. There are dogs and buses, advertising signs, reflections in windows. Side by side, the photos add up to a portrait, unique to our time and place, of the jostle and jumble and life of the thoroughfare.”
— Bill Marx
Festival Ballet Providence’s The Nutcracker
Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI
Dive into Festival Ballet Providence’s extravagant version of The Nutcracker, complete with picturesque sets, refined choreography, and impressive dancers. Enjoy this holiday favorite outside Greater Boston.
What the Dickens!
Now through December 22
John Hancock Hall
Enjoy What the Dickens!, which celebrates the literary classic A Christmas Carol. Deborah Mason’s Cambridge Youth Dance Company and its roster of guest artists integrate contemporary dance, ballet, tap, hip hop, and flamenco. The result is a dance-theater rendition of Dickens’s famous tale in which greed is transformed into kindness and joy.
Boch Center Shubert Theatre
Those in search of a Nutcracker production that stands out among the rest should head to Tony Williams’s Urban Nutcracker, the modern Boston-centric holiday classic presented by City Ballet of Boston. This year marks the production’s 19th annual season, presented for its second year at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre. Experience what The Boston Globe has aptly described as “a holiday arts tradition reflecting the rich multicultural diversity of Boston.”
Commonwealth Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Commonwealth Ballet’s The Nutcracker in Weston, MA, proffers a professional-level production outside the city. Luxuriate in an evening of impressive sets, colorful costumes, and a talented cast.
And further afield…
December 21 at 8 p.m.
Join dancer Michelle Marroquin on the night of the winter solstice as she travels into the mythological world of Persephone. Explore Persephone’s mysteries as Marroquin (dance), Tony Silva (guitar), Valerie Gilman (artist), and Carolyn Cushing (poet and tarot guide) interpret her story while contemplating what darkness means to each of us.
— Merli V. Guerra
Roots and World Music
Klezwoods’ Christmas Show
December 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Atwoods Tavern, Cambridge, MA
There’s no shortage of holiday offerings this time of year, but the all-star klezmer aggregation known as the Klezwoods offer the only local Christmas Jewish music night we’re aware of — and a week before the start of Hanukkah to boot. The show is part of Atwoods’ new Sunday night dinner series, which offers significantly earlier start times compared to the venue’s usual evening shows.
— Noah Schaffer
Fade by Tanya Saracho. Directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo. Staged by Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington Street, Providence, Rhode Island, through January 5, 2020.
A new play about “Culture, class, and the price of ambition.” The plot: “Lucia is understandably nervous. It’s day one at her first TV writing job. As a Mexican-born novelist, she may actually be the ‘diversity hire’ she’s heard whispers about. Uncertain whether she can make a place for herself in cutthroat Hollywood, at least she feels less alone when she meets Abel, the Latino janitor. They form a bond and share stories, but it turns out that what Lucia gains from their friendship is not what Abel expects.”
Agatha Christe’s Murder on the Orient Express, Adapted by Ken Ludwig. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. Staged by the Lyric Stage of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA, through December 22.
There was a time when theaters produced Christie mystery plays on a fairly regular basis — though they have fallen out of fashion over the last decade or so. That makes this effort, as a piece of colorful holiday entertainment, worth a look. Lots of fine local actors will be riding on this whodunit train, including Remo Airaldi, Will McGarrahan, and Rosa Procaccino. Arts Fuse review.
A Christmas Carol, an adaption of the Charles Dickens story by the Underground Railway Theatre. Directed by Debra Wise. Produced by Underground Railway Theater & The Nora Theatre Company at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, through December 29.
A celebrated local production of the oft-produced chestnut, that, I suspect, knowing the company, doesn’t skimp on the social concern. “Immerse yourself in the swirling spectacle of London’s yesteryear and present day as we propel you through Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous journey. See this tale like never before–resurrected by intimate storytelling, hilarious puppetry, lively music, and jovial dancing! This theater-in-the-round adaptation of Dickens’ 1843 classic showcases vibrant performers and heartfelt holiday cheer.”
Sailor Moon Shoujo Spectacular at Oberon, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA, December 29 at 9 p.m.
Too strange a holiday entertainment not to mention. “Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight” this show is back for its seventh year. “Join kawaii curators Mx Macabre and Jade Sylvan for an evening of performance dedicated to one of the most influential and long-lasting animes of all time — Naoko Takeuchi’s Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon! Let out your inner magical self as you see your favorite characters brought to life on stage. Dress to impress for our costume contest with fabulous prizes!”
The Plot by Will Eno. Directed by Oliver Butler. Stage by Yale Rep at the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, through December 21.
The plot (pun no doubt intended by the playwright) of this world premiere from an admired contemporary dramatist (The Realistic Joneses): “a moving, mysterious, at times hilarious story of a tiny plot of land and some people with grand and incompatible designs on it.”
The Christmas Revels: An American Celebration of the Winter Solstice. Directed by Patrick Swanson; Megan Henderson, music director. Staged at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, through December 29.
The 49th annual Christmas Revels brings it all back home. “From bluegrass and Appalachian running sets to Gospel and spirituals, from swinging Second Line brass bands to the twang of the African-American banjo, from play songs of the Georgia Sea Islands to the raw power of the blues, from ecstatic Shaker melodies to the bony shape-note hymns, this year’s Christmas Revels will be a toe-tapping celebration of the diversity of our country’s musical traditions.”
Oliver!, book, music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. Directed and choreographed by Michael J Bobbitt. Staged by New Rep on its MainStage Theater the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through December 29.
Let’s hope something invigorating is done to this chestnut of a musical. “Still relevant today, this Victorian-era tale explores the contrast between the rich and poor, the struggles of the Industrial Revolution, and the results of an absent middle class and no upward mobility.” Well, yes — but this version is a sentimentalized version of the Dickens novel. And how about Fagin and anti-Semitism? Arts Fuse review
Christmas on Uranus by Ryan Landry. Directed by Kiki Samko. Staged by the Gold Dust Orphans at the South Boston Lithuanian Citizens’ Association, 368 West Broadway, Third Floor, South Boston, MA, through December 22.
The premiere of a brand new GOLD DUST ORPHANS Christmas show … IN A BRAND NEW THEATRE! The so-called plot: “Santa has been kidnapped by the nefarious Minge the Merkinless, dictator of Uranus and Emperor of the Galaxy. The Robinson family and ace pilot Don West are tapped to launch into the stratosphere to find Santa and bring him home to save Christmas. But when a stow-away doctor finds herself aboard the Rudolph 2, the ship is thrown off course and the Robinsons are lost in space! Will it ever be Christmas again? Watch the crew, accompanied by a Robot known only as Sophia, as they planet-hop throughout the galaxy in search of St. Nick. Can any Earthling survive the lowbrow hi-jinx of a Christmas on Uranus?”
Moby Dick: A Musical Reckoning, based on Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Music, Lyrics, Book, and Orchestrations by Dave Malloy. Developed with and directed with Rachel Chavkin. Music Direction and Supervision by Or Matias. Choreography by Chanel DaSilva. Produced by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through January 12, 2020.
“An epic musical adaptation of Herman Melville’s iconic American novel. As the egomaniacal Captain Ahab drives his crew across the seas in pursuit of the great white whale, Melville’s nineteenth-century vision of America collides head-on with the present. Note: This production contains strong language, weapons, blood, depictions of violence, strong lights, haze, fog, and strobe.
Thumbelina, Book, Music, and Lyrics by Julia Riew. Musical direction, orchestrations, and arrangements by Riew and Ian Chan. Choreography by Ryan Kapur. Directed by Emma Watt. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, December 20 through 31.
Harvard University undergraduate Julia Riew wrote and composed the music for this show, which revises the fairy tale in a way that makes it a celebration of literature. Sounds good to me. Thumbelina is “no longer just a little victim of her circumstances,” Riew says in an interview. “Instead of her story being determined by a Prince who comes to the rescue, my Thumbelina is a voracious reader. Despite being sheltered in her mother’s garden, she spends her time gaining expertise through books, and reading adventure novels that fill her with curiosity and desire for her own journey.”
— Bill Marx
Musicians of the Old Post Road presents: Christmas Pilgrimage
December 15 at 4 p.m.
First Unitarian Church, 90 Main St, Worcester, MA
“Joyful seasonal pastorales and sublime cantatas by Handel, Telemann, Heinichen, and others, along with the world premiere revival of a Christmas cantata by Graupner. Taking inspiration from the guiding light of Epiphany, Graupner’s cantata Das Volk so im Finstern wandelt (The people wandering in darkness see a great light) is about seeking and finding a new spiritual home.”
Glissando Concert Series presents: Music for Piano Four-Hands
December 15 at 4 p.m.
First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
On the program: Mozart’s Sonata in B-flat, K. 358; Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor, K. 608; Schubert’s Fantasia in F minor, D. 940; Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge in B-flat, Op. 133/134. William Davidson and Sergey Schepkin, piano duet.
Christmas in Baroque German
December 20 at 7:30 p.m.
December 21 at 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
First Church Congregational in Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
On the Blue Heron Program: music by Praetorius, Scheidt, and Schein.
La Estrella: A Hispanic Christmas
December 20 at 8 p.m.
At All Saints’ Church – Ashmont, 209 Ashmont Street, Dorchester, MA
December 21 at 8 p.m.
At First Parish Church of Newbury, 20 High Road, Newbury, MA
December 22 at 4 p.m.
At First Parish Church, Cambridge, 1446 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
The Boston Camerata program: “This exuberant, vivacious program celebrates Christmas with music from the Spanish speaking parts of the globe: Renaissance Iberia, and the Hispanic settlements of the New World. Encounters among indigenous Americans, the Spaniards, and West Africans produced some extraordinary musical results — unusual vocal colors, soulful melodies, and irresistible rhythms, sustained in our production by winds, keyboard, gamba, baroque guitar, and Iberian harp.”
— Susan Miron
Kim Kashkasian (viola) on December 16, Burnes Hall at New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Avenue, at 8 p.m. NEC’s website simply announces this recital without repertoire and without mentioning any other musicians. But Kashkashian is a supremely gifted and relentlessly searching artist, and any concert she headlines is bound to be a rewarding experience.
— Steve Elman
Harvard Bookstore Winter Warehouse Sale
December 15 from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Harvard Bookstore Warehouse, 14 Park St, Somerville MA
Over two weekends at the end of the year, Harvard Book Store opens up its warehouse of deeply discounted titles and lets any and all who wish to browse and come away with the book haul of the season. Titles from all genres are available: from history and fiction to cookbooks and art, as well as used books. An excellent opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping!
The Year of No Nonsense
December 17 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
“Meredith Atwood is a recovering attorney, wife, mother of two, four-time IRONMAN triathlete who had never run a mile in her life until she tackled the sport of triathlon. In 2010 she started writing and created her Swim Bike Mom blog. Over 2.5 million words later, she has built a cult following of women (and men) who desired a change in their lives–but not at the expense of their health, family or sanity. In The Year of No Nonsense, Atwood shares what she learned, tackling struggles with work, family, and body image, and also willpower and time management. Ultimately, she’s the tough-as-nails coach /slash/ best friend who shares a practical plan for identifying and getting rid of your own nonsense in order to move forward and live an authentic, healthy life.”
Harvard Book Store Gives Back
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
A percentage of all in-store and online sales will go to selected charitable organizations, including 826 Boston’s helping young students with their writing skills, Community Cooks preparing home-cooked meals for vulnerable populations, and On The Rise which helps women have the resources they need to move out of homelessness.
— Matt Hanson
Rock, Pop, and Folk
The LA folk duo The Milk Carton Kids have played anywhere from three to a dozen gigs in each of 2019’s 12 months. That grueling schedule has included three Massachusetts dates, the most recent of which was at Brighton Music Hall on October 30. The first of the Grammy nominees’ final six shows this year will be at The Cabot on December 15. The duo’s 2011 live album — Retrospect — and debut studio album — Prologue — are both available as free downloads on their website. The seven-song The Only Ones came out in October and the only one who appears to be selling it is Amazon. (Mark Erelli, who calls Melrose, MA home, will warm up the North Shore crowd.)
Brooklyn-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter/musician Michaela Anne made her Yep Roc Records debut in September with Desert Dove. This follow-up to 2016’s Bright Lights and Fame has garnered praise from Billboard, Rolling Stone, and No Depression. Critics are particularly quick to praise her literal voice as a singer (“captivating,” “stunning,” “a glassy quiver”) and figurative one as a lyricist. Fans who can attest to Anne’s uniqueness among today’s country artists are sure to be out in droves for her December 15 performance at City Winery’s Haymarket Lounge. The curious, meanwhile, would be wise to avail themselves of the opportunity to see her in the kind of intimate setting that she probably won’t be playing forever.
Hallelujah The Hills won 2014 Boston Music Awards for Rock Artist of the Year and Video of the Year and were nominated for the same honors in 2015. The sextet was ineligible for 2019 BMA consideration because its latest CD, I’m You, was not available until November 15. Since its release, their seventh album has received praise from local outlets such as the Metro and The ARTery and been described by others as “feel-good, singalong music,” “viscerally comforting,” and “without question the best album of the year.” With myriad listeners concurring, HTH will surely add to their number of nominations and victories when the time comes next year. Great Scott will host I’m You‘s release celebration on Thursday. Fellow locals Major Stars and Newton native Adam Schatz will kick off the festivities.
Memphis indie rock/alt-country quintet Lucero played one show at Paradise Rock Club last year in support of their then-new album, Among the Ghosts. This year, they will accommodate more than one-and-a-half times as many fans over the course of three consecutive nights at The Sinclair. Cambridge is the first official stop of the band’s tour after it plays a warm-up gig in their hometown. Providence’s The Huntress and Holder of Hands — whose sound incorporates viola, ukelele, and cello — will open each night.
BU grad, Beverly resident, and longtime Boston music scene luminary Barrence Whitfield plays shows all around the world. Fortunately, the town that he calls home has the ideal venue for him in 9 Wallis. If you missed his show there in July, or were left wanting more having seen it, then avail yourself of tickets for his December 27 return. (And stop by The Record Exchange in Salem and you might catch him at his day job.)
— Blake Maddux