Coming Attractions: February 9 Through 25 — What Will Light Your Fire

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


Iranian New Wave
Tuesdays at 10 a.m., through February 25
At the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA

Professor Andre Puca will take an in-depth look at the Iranian New Wave, a movement that occurred in the midst of great sociopolitical upheaval. Of course, the tensions are ongoing. Iran’s film industry has always been state regulated, but in 1978 and ’79 the arrival of the Islamic revolution made it increasingly difficult for New Wave directors to express their vision of an Islamic culture free from the strictures and “guidance” of a dogmatic, government-enforced censorship code. Please note that each class session will run approximately three hours.

A scene from Okko’s Inn, screening at the MFA Boston.

Boston Festival of Films from Japan
Through February 23
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

For the third year the MFA presents the best of the recent crop of films produced in Japan. The festival opens with a free screening of Okko’s Inn (ticket required), an unusual ghost story (based on a series of Japanese children’s novels) that is firmly grounded in human joys and pains. It is the latest feature from famed anime studio Madhouse and director Kitarō Kōsaka. Also featured are Takashi Miike’s neo-noir First Love and Shinobu Yaguchi’s award-winning Dance with Me, a musical road trip adventure filled with dance, humor, and heart.

2020 Boston Israeli Film Festival
Through February 13
At various locations: Brattle Theater, JCC Riemer-Goldstein Theater in Newton, MA, and West Newton Cinema

Nine of the most talked about Israeli films of the year, followed by conversations with visiting filmmakers and local speakers.

A scene from The Field, one of the films in this year’s Sci-Fi Film Festival.

45th Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival
Through February 16
Somerville Theater in Davis Square

Boston “Sci-Fi” is an 11-day cinematic event. It has become one of the longest-running genre fests in the world. There are features, shorts, webisodes, workshops, parties, and a welcome emphasis on emerging directors with distinct visions. The All-Access Pass includes the “Marathon” all-shorts programs, feature films, workshops, panels, select parties, and behind-the-scenes events. The “Marathon” starts at noon on the 16th and ends at noon on President’s Day. Festival Pass and Individual Tickets

February 10 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge

Description: “Diego is a circus artist performing for indifferent tourists in Puerto Vallarta when his elderly grandmother, América, falls and hurts herself. In response, Diego and his brothers reunite to take care of América, help her recover, and fight to release their father from jail for elder negligence. First-time feature directors lived with this extraordinary family over three years, capturing their love for and dedication to each other with a joyful, intimate approach that never relinquishes its grip on the difficulties of caregiving and the complexities of living.” This Docyard presentation features the filmmakers Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside in person for a post-screening Q&A with the DocYard’s Guest Curator, Abby Sun.

#Female Pleasure
February 13 at 7 p.m.
Bright Lights Screening Room at the Paramount Center, Boston, MA

Profiling five women fighting back against repressive cultural and religious traditions, the film allows each to explain her embrace of activism. Jewish author Deborah Feldman describes what she sees as her crushing treatment in her Hasidic community in Brooklyn. An inventive sex educator in India runs a website to advise young people about healthy relationships. Japanese manga artist Rokudenashiko challenges lopsided obscenity laws by fashioning art using molds and 3-D scans of her genitals. A former nun describes her quest for justice and spiritual peace after being repeatedly raped by her superior, a Catholic priest. Somali-born psychotherapist Leyla Hussein, a prominent campaigner against female genital mutilation, demonstrates the brutal procedure to a group of young men using a large clay model. The horror on their faces may be the most hopeful image in the entire movie.  Free to the public. Director Barbara Miller will be at the screening.

A scene from the documentary Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project.

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project 
February 17
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA

Matt Wolf’s unique and important documentary is about a lifelong African-American resident of Philadelphia, Marion Stokes. In the late ’70s, she developed an obsession with making home recordings of TV news coverage. For 30 years, she kept three to eight VCRs going round the clock, 24 hours a day, taping multiple channels. She kept every tape, cataloguing and storing it, creating a running diary of television news coverage, from mainstream networks to CNN and the cable channels that followed. These tapes became her purpose, her lifeblood, maybe even her identity. Director Wolf will be at the screening.

Destruction Babies
February 21 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA

Certainly not for everybody, though emerging filmmaker Tetsuya Mariko won Best New Director at the Locarno Film Festival. Yuya Yagira (Nobody Knows) plays the brooding, sociopathic Taira, who leaves his younger brother Shota and their hometown to run riot through the streets of Matsuyama city, where he picks fights with complete strangers and local yakuza. Destruction Babies is fierce, unflinching, and unapologetically gratuitous in its depiction of violence. Fight sequences have a disturbingly realistic quality — often filmed through a smartphone, with little to no dialogue, an absent soundtrack, muted “thuds,” and sporadic interjections from bystanders (who are frequently caught in the crossfire). Mariko situates viewers as if they are watching a viral video, forcing an uncomfortable voyeuristic position. Echoing Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, the line between spectator and participant soon becomes indistinct ( Mariko and producer/actress Eisei Shu will appear in person at the screening,

Zombi Child
February 21 through March 1
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

The dreamy detachment of French director Bertrand Bonello (Nocturama) has invited accusations of glibness … and worse. Zombi Child, his latest, is “a scintillating act of discretion. The connection between ritual and revenge in Haitian custom and race and class hierarchies in contemporary France gets a deliberate teasing out here.” (NY Times) “The film taps into Voodoo culture and addresses important issues that still linger with colonialism to offer a unique take on the zombie genre that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.” (

One of the adorable felines at the Cat Video Festival.

February 23 at 2:00 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, Boston, MA

Its time has come: selections culled from hundreds of hours of individual submissions, along with sourced animations, music videos, and, of course, the usual internet powerhouses. CatVideoFest also raises money for cats in need through partnerships with local cat charities, animal welfare organizations, and shelters that serve cats in the area.

Scandalous: The True Story of the National Enquirer
February 20 at 7 p.m.
Bright Lights Screening Room at the Paramount Center, Boston, MA

Sex! Gossip! Scandal! For over 60 years, the National Enquirer has pumped out salacious, shocking stories, stretching the limits of journalism and blurring the lines between truth and fiction. Scandalous is the sensational true story of the most infamous tabloid in US history. Director Mark Landsman provides a behind-the-scenes look at the infamous tabloid and its impact on American culture and politics while examining our collective obsession with the rich, famous, and powerful. The director will be present. Free.

A scene from the satiric romp “My First Film.”

My First Film
February 24 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA

After a brief fall tour across the US, My First Film is finally traveling to the greater Boston area. A blend of film and performance by the filmmaker Zia Anger, whose “My Last Film,” from 2015, is a riotous “personal-cinemapocalypse.” This film is unsparing “about the milieu of independent filmmaking, its economy, its judgments, and its prejudices, and the personal and artistic compromises into which it coaxes its supplicants. She presents, with embarrassed derision, her crowdfunding video for “Gray” and details the process of pitching a project to a well-funded Web site that was seeking videos about women and reveals its male executives’ outrageous reaction to her idea (and her own exquisite comeback). The film looks at the “vastly imaginative and politically trenchant connection between the place of women in the independent-filmmaking world and in the world at large.” (Richard Brody)

— Tim Jackson

Children of the Sun
February 9
At the Bright Family Screening Room, Emerson Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA.

What looks like a promisingly wild adaptation (from Russia’s Red Torch Theatre) of Maxim Gorky’s 1905 drama about intellectuals adrift before the Revolution. The press material says the staging looks at “the new middle-class, foolish perhaps but likeable, as they flounder, philosophize, and yearn for meaning, all while being totally blind to their impending annihilation. Multi-award-winning director Timofey Kulyabin’s (Three Sisters, Onegin) modernized production, set in 1999 at Stanford University, focuses on the interplay between the characters, the relationships formed and broken, sparring over culture and the cosmos, barely sensing that their own privileged world is in jeopardy.” An offering from Stage Russia, “an intercultural project that films performances presented by the finest theater companies in Russia and distributes them in HD, translated and subtitled, into cinemas, arts centers and universities.”

Saint Pauline? A scene from the documentary What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael.

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael
February 21 through 28.
Kendell Square Cinema, Cambridge, MA

I will be writing on this documentary, whose hagiographical take on the problematic Kael demands a nuanced response. Here is the documentary’s pitch: “The New Yorker’s film critic Pauline Kael (1919-2001), often considered the most influential of all time, battled to make her mark—fueled by brilliance, unshakable self-confidence, a complicated past, and a deep love of the arts. In a field that embraced few female critics, Kael was charismatic, controversial, witty and discerning. Her turbo-charged prose famously championed the New Hollywood Cinema of the late 1960s and ’70s (Bonnie and Clyde, Nashville, Carrie, Taxi Driver) and the work of major European directors (François Truffaut, Bernardo Bertolucci), while mercilessly panning some of the biggest studio hits (The Sound of Music, Midnight Cowboy, Dirty Harry).”

— Bill Marx


Composers Saxophone Quartet
February 9 at 1:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

For a while in the ’80s, it looked like the saxophone quartet was going to become as popular in jazz as the string quartet in classical music — the World Saxophone Quartet (preeminent among them), Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet from Boston, Rova from San Francisco, and numerous others. The Composers Saxophone Quartet — a group that came together in the Boston area playing in big bands — carries on the tradition, writing their own pieces and arranging work by others. (Their “covers” range from the standard “Deed I Do” to Moondog’s “Bird’s Lament.”) The band is Diane Wernick on soprano and alto; Rick Stone on alto; Sean Berry on tenor; and Kathy Olson on baritone.

Meridian 71 celebrates the release of its second album, Metropolitan Sketches, Photo: Sam Dulay Bruce.

Meridian 71
February 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

The name comes from meridian 71 west, the longitude that passes through East Boston, home of bandleader-drummer Giuseppe Paradiso. He’s led this project since 2012, and tonight celebrates the release of their second album, Metropolitan Sketches. The impressive band includes trumpeter Phil Grenadier; Mark Zaleski on saxophones and clarinet; pianist and keyboardist Utar Artun; guitarist Phil Sargent; bassist Galen Willett; Malick Ngom on sabar and West African drums; and Paradiso on drums and percussion. Paradiso characterizes the music as “a global sound with influences that range mainly from jazz and improvised music to Mediterranean and West African music traditions,” reflecting “extensive and ongoing research into various traditions and cultures.”

Eric Hofbauer’s Book of Fire
February 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Peabody Hall, Parish of All Saints, Dorchester, MA.

The adventurous guitarist and composer Eric Hofbauer (his “Prehistoric Jazz” series of recordings has included Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” Messaeian’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” and Ellington’s “Reminiscing in Tempo”) teams up with bassist Tony Leva in a “five-part suite for guitar and bass where the acoustic performance is augmented by the addition of turntables, MPC1000, samplers and the intertwined recordings of literary giant James Baldwin.” The program will also include additional solo and duo pieces.

John Pizzarelli/Veronica Swift
February 14 at 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.

This Valentine’s Day double bill from the Celebrity Series of Boston matches guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli and his trio in a 100th anniversary tribute to Nat King Cole and impressive young singer Veronica Swift and her band on the undercard.

Steve Fell Quartet
February 19 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad Cambridge, MA

One of the essential players on Boston’s progressive jazz scene, guitarist Steve Fell (Clear Audience) convenes impressive, like-minded fellow travelers Forbes Grahm on trumpet, Kit Demos on bass and modular synth, and Matt Crane on drums.

Noah Preminger and his band will perform at Sculler’s on February 20.

Noah Preminger
February 20 at 8 p.m.
Sculler’s Jazz Club, Boston, MA

The fearless, gifted saxophonist and composer Noah Preminger has assayed albums of everything from Delta blues to Chopin Nocturnes and a growing book of compelling originals. In 2019, he took on one of his most challenging projects yet, Zigsaw, an unbroken 49-minute piece by the composer Steve Lampert — a demanding steeplechase performance for quintet and electronics. (Arts Fuse review) As challenging as it is for the players, the piece is a thrill-ride for listeners — headlong rushes of Lampert’s knotty theme alternated with contemplative breathers for soloists and layered ensemble interaction. Joining Preminger in the band are trumpeter Jason Palmer, alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher, pianist Leo Genovese, bassist Kim Cass, drummer Dan Weiss, and Rob Schwimmer on haken continuum and clavinet.

Revolutionary Snake Ensemble
February 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Boston’s peripatetic avant-second-line outfit the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble celebrates Mardi Gras with a couple of New Orleans veterans — saxophonist Amadee Castenell (one of Allen Toussaint’s core players) and singer Henri Smith.

— Jon Garelick

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)] with Leo Genovese (p) (at 10:30 p.m.) on February 17, at The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street, Inman Square, Cambridge, MA Everything must change, and so it is with this longstanding pairing. Bergonzi and Garzone are both saxophone giants, and their groups have shared the bill at the Lilypad on Monday nights for years. Hearing them play individually (and sometimes together) was a rite of passage for any Boston-area jazz listener worth their salt.

But the sudden death of the Fringe’s drummer Bob Gullotti on January 25 reminded everyone that life is the greatest gift we have, and it must be celebrated while we have it. George Garzone says The Fringe will continue, for now as a partnership with bassist John Lockwood, the rock on which everything has been built over more than two decades. And Gullotti will still be playing with them, in spirit. The Lilypad will see (as it has frequently in the past) the participation of guest artists, making every Monday night special. Last week, it was Dave Liebman (don’t you wish you’d been there?). Tonight, a superb Argentinian pianist, Leo Genovese, joins the Fringe, and his keyboard will add a color to the band they only rarely enjoy. The Fringe’s music is all about living life to the fullest, and Bergonzi’s group shares that vital joie de vivre. Go and hear both bands tonight, and be grateful that you can.

Natman Band [Nat Mugavero (dm), Leo Genovese (p), other artists to be announced] – on February 18 at 8 p.m. at The Beehive, 541 Tremont Street, South End. Veteran drummer Mugavero is extraordinarily versatile, capable of everything from solid funk to pure free playing. His band features the facile and inventive pianist Leo Genovese. You can expect the performance to be wide-ranging and stimulating.

Vocalist Cyrille Aimée — her voice is agile, her articulation excellent, and her ambition big. Performing at City Winery on February 19.

Cyrille Aimée (vo), with accompanists to be announced – at February 19 at 8 p.m. at City Winery, 80 Beverly Street, Boston. Aimée’s 2019 CD, Move On, marked a new chapter in a career that already has garnered a lot of attention. No less an authority than Will Friedland, the dean of singer assessment, named her an artist to watch early on, and for a number of years, she has explored what some critics called “gypsy jazz.” Last year’s CD changed direction: it was an all-Stephen Sondheim affair. It seemed to me that Move On skated over the surface of the tunes in order to give them jazz credibility (except for penetrating interpretations of “I Remember” and the title tune), but she has now has had plenty of time to live with this challenging repertoire. Her voice is agile, her articulation excellent, and her ambition big; such promise makes this show very tempting.  No accompanists have been announced, but pianist Pete Malinverni was working with her in January, so he may be on board.

Dr. Mabuse: The Many Faces (annual Film Noir concert, dir. Aaron Hartley and Ran Blake), w. New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra (dir: Ken Schaphorst) and ensembles of students and faculty of NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation Department (coaches: Eden MacAdam-Somer, Hankus Netsky, Ted Reichman, Henrique Eisenmann, Lautaro Mantilla), F ebruary 19 at 730 p.m.  at Jordan Hall.  Every year, NEC’s CI department follows a path set out by Ran Blake nearly 40 years ago – investigating the dark side of film through the lens of jazz-based improvisation. The focus this year is on Doktor Mabuse, Der Spieler (Doctor Mabuse,The Gambler), one of a series of suspense-horror films made by Fritz Lang. The antihero of the films is the fiendish criminal Dr. Mabuse, manipulating his dupes through various means of mind control, whom Lang used to warn about abuse of power in general and Hitler in particular. According to the NEC website, this year’s concert will “recreate a compelling soundtrack in real time” with “hand selected and custom-tailored [film] scenes” and music from the original film score by Konrad Elfers, “with new compositions and improvisations in a wide range of genres.” Expect that the artists involved will find some contemporary resonances.

Ron Savage (dm), Bill Pierce (as), Bobby Broom (g), w. Consuelo Candelaria (p), Ron Mahdi (b) on February 19, 7:30 p.m. at David Friend Recital Hall (a Berklee venue), 921 Boylston Street. Savage is one of Boston’s most respected veteran drummers, and this quintet, composed of his working trio with two leaders-in-their-own-right as special guests, should provide a wonderful evening of solid post-bop.

Charlie Kohlhase (as, ts, bari) & Explorers’ Club, w. Curt Newton (dm), others to be announced, on February 20 at 8 p.m. at Outpost 186, 186½ Hampshire St., Inman Square, Cambridge.  Charlie’s band crosses many lines, and his standing on the local scene as one of the longest-standing players of uncompromising music is reason enough to see it. They have gigged frequently across the way at the Lilypad, but this show happens at the even more basic Outpost 186, the second venue in “Downtown Cambridge” aka Inman Square, our very own neighborhood of the avant-garde. Its website doesn’t immediately pop up in a Google search, so paste this into your browser:

Drummer Joe Hunt is  at the Lilypad every month — don’t take him for granted.

Joe Hunt (dm), with supporting players to be announced, on February 23 at 8:30 p.m at The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street, Inman Square, Cambridge.  Roy Haynes isn’t the only octogenarian drummer still making great music. Hunt is just a few years younger than Roy, and he plays monthly gigs at the Lilypad with musicians he knows and likes. Don’t take him for granted.

— Steve Elman

Vinicius Cantuária
February 22 at 8 p.m.
Sculler’s Jazz Club, Boston, MA

Brazilian native Vinicius Cantuária made his mark in the world of bossa nova and MPB (música popular brasileira), working with everyone from bossa pioneer Marcos Valle to Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque, and Caetano Veloso, penning hits, singing, and playing guitar, drums, and percussion. A 1994 move to New York brought collaborations with a who’s who of jazz and world music, including David Byrne, Angelique Kidjo, Brad Mehldau, and Bill Frisell, and a spate of tasty and adventurous recordings that reinvented his Brazilian roots. Cantuária’s last Boston show was heavy on Jobim, following on his album of songs by the Brazilian master, with generous helpings of his own melodious, jazz-inflected compositions. For the Scullers show—which coincides with this year’s Carnaval—he’ll be bringing three stellar veterans of the New York Brazilian scene (who spent some early years in Boston): Hélio Alves on piano, Paul Socolow on bass, and Mauricio Zottarelli on drums.

— Evelyn Rosenthal

Visual Arts

“Mount Fuji” © Photography: John Tsantes and Neil Greentree © Robert Feinberg.

Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1868) has no exact parallel in the rest of human history. Named for Edo Castle, seat of the ruling Tokugawa clan, and the city that grew up around it (now modern Tokyo), it was an era when Japan cut itself off from the outside world, banned almost all contact with foreigners, tried to eliminate war and internal conflict, and developed a rich and distinctly Japanese culture. The art of the Edo, with its bold forms, calculated simplicity, and exuberant compositions, strikes many Westerners as the most Japanese of all.

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection (Harvard Art Museums, February 14-July 26) is billed as the largest exhibition ever presented at Harvard’s three art museums. It will fill the special exhibitions gallery and spill into the research gallery, the teaching gallery, and the study gallery. The 120 works on view will explore all the types of painting the inventive Japanese created, including gilded folding screens, richly colored hanging scrolls, painted fans, and books, representing the range of popular and elite styles the period enjoyed, from the flashy art enjoyed by the dominant military elite to the refined designs favored by the old aristocracy. Arts Fuse review

Despite the stuffy conservatism of the Queen herself, the British Victorian Era was a never-ending spectacle of reformers, radicals, and eccentric non-conformists. Yale’s Center for British Art presents the visual arts side of things in Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement (February 13-May 10), a huge selection of 145 objects, many never before seen outside the United Kingdom. Avant-garde, for the time, pieces by Ford Madox Brown, Edward Burne Jones, William Holman Hunt, Elizabeth Siddall, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and many others — paintings, works on paper, decorative arts — will no doubt show how visual radicalism in Victorian Britain was yet another side of radicalism in politics, philosophy, and lifestyles.

The premise of Savor: A Revolution in Food Culture (February 29 – May 25) is that radical new approaches to food, cooking, and dining swept through eighteenth-century Europe, transforming eating and table settings for ever after. Tureens in the shape of cauliflowers and chickens, rare cookbooks, and gardening manuals narrate tales about changing agriculture and domestic habits that are still with us today. Bon appetit!

Perhaps spurred by large gifts of the native art of Oceania and North America, the Hood Museum of Art’s focus has broadened, in recent years, well beyond the usual Western suspects. Shifting the Lens: Contemporary Indigenous Australian Photography (February 16-June 21) takes a cue from the collections of indigenous Australian art and pushes its cameras away from the anthropological frame towards the complexities of indigenous Australian experience. Christian Thompson, Fiona Foley, Bindi Cole, Michael Cook, Darren Siwes, Tony Albert, and Michael Riley are the artists on view.

James Welling, “Seascape,” 2017. Colorized 16mm film transferred to digital video.

In the early 1930s, William C. Welling, who studied with American Impressionist Wilson Irvine, took black and white footage of the celebrated beaches around Ogunquit, Maine with a new Cine-Kodak Model B 16mm camera. Decades later, Welling’s grandson, the contemporary artist James Welling, colorized the footage and transformed it into a film about the dramatic confrontation of sea and land along the Maine coast. Acquired by the Portland Museum of Art in 2018, the film will be publicly presented at the museum in Seascape, continuously screening  from February 22 – July 5.

The late 19th- to early 20th-century Spiritualist movement sought to connect the living to the dead, who existed in a hidden “spirit world.” Part religion, part research project, part philosophy, part stage show, Spiritualism had less well known and complex connections to the reform movements of the day, including women’s rights. The Fitchburg Art Museum’s group show, After Spiritualism: Loss and Transcendence in Contemporary Art (though June 7), takes as its starting point Spiritualism’s promise of comfort, guidance, and enlightenment from the great beyond. History, loss, ritual, transgression, and spirit communication are some of the elements these artists explore.

James Prosek, Paradise Lost 1 (Burmese Python and Blue and Yellow Macaw, Everglades), 2019. Oil and acrylic paint on panel. Courtesy the artist and Waqas Wajahat, New York. © James Prosek.

James Prosek, Yale Class of 1997 and artist-in-residence at the Yale University Art Gallery, is also writer, and naturalist fascinated with both the natural world and the artificial spaces of the museum, For James Prosek: Art, Artifact, Artifice (February 14 – June 7) he has chosen objects from the Gallery, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the Yale Center of British Art to speak with some of his own work about the intertwined worlds of art and natural and artificial objects.

— Peter Walsh

Karl Baden, “Harvard Sq.,” 2017.

Mass Ave, Cambridge: Photos by Karl Baden
Through February 20
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.”

Nostalgia Tech
Through February 16
At the Boston Cyberarts Gallery, 141 Green Street, Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA

Co-curated by Boston Cyberarts board member (and Arts Fuse associate editor) Mark Favermann, assistant director Keaton Fox, and executive director/founder George Fifield, the show “is a mix of historic and contemporary art and design pieces skillfully and aesthetically utilizing simple technologies. The works are in conversation with each other, and thus the exhibit showcases a collection of intriguing artistic devices that use technologies that are now part of our collective cultural memory and are now nostalgic.”

— Bill Marx

Roots and World Music

Claire Lynch will perform at this year’s Joe Val Bluegrass Festival. Photo: Stacie Huckeba.

Joe Val Bluegrass Festival
February 14-16
Framingham Sheraton

The Boston Bluegrass Union’s annual celebration of all things bluegrass returns with a full weekend of national and regional band concerts, jam sessions, workshops, and more. Artists include Dan Tyminski, the great voice behind both “Man of Constant Sorrow” and Avicii’s “Oh Brother,” as well as songbird Claire Lynch and Italy’s Red Wine.

Mike Block and Balla Kouyate
Club Passim
February 18

Perhaps the world’s first ever cello/balafon duo: cellist Mike Block and Malian balafon player Balla Kouyate. Both are known for their virtuosity as well as their love of cross-genre explorations.

February 22
House of Blues Boston

The annual winter celebration of global music returns with a typically eclectic lineup. Fela! The Concert brings the hit Broadway musical about Fela Kuti to a festival setting. Also on tap are Mali’s Fatoumata Diawara, the New Orleans brass of Cha Wa, and many others.

— Noah Schaffer


Eleanor Reissa and Stephen Schnetzer in the Huntington Theatre Company production of We All Fall Down. Photo: Nile Hawver.

We All Fall Down by Lila Rose Kaplan. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, through February 15.

“This new comedy is about family and tradition, as well as the hang-ups and surprises that, no matter who you are or where you come from, seem to sneak into all of our family gatherings. Linda and Saul Stein still live in the Westchester home where they raised their two beautiful daughters. But when Saul unexpectedly retires, Linda summons the family to celebrate Passover for the first time in decades. Linda tends slightly toward the theatrical (okay, a lot), and their family has never been particularly religious (okay, not at all).” Hilarious complications ensue — I hope. Arts Fuse review

The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company at 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, through February 9.

“Conflict collides with confection when Della, a traditional Southern baker who’s preparing to compete on The Big American Bake-Off, reunites with her deceased best friend’s daughter, Jen, in preparation for Jen’s wedding. Della is forced to question her strongly-held beliefs when she is asked to bake Jen’s dream wedding cake for her and her future wife. Questions of morals, judgment, and family swirl around them all.” Arts Fuse review of the 2018 Barrington Stage production. Arts Fuse review of the Lyric Stage production.

Manahatta by Mary Kathryn Nagle. Directed by Laurie Woolery. Yale Rep at Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, through February 15.

An East Coast premiere. The name of the no doubt slippery protagonist could have come out of a Ben Jonson play: “It’s 2008 and securities trader Jane Snake has landed a lucrative job on Wall Street, where her ancestors, the Lenape, were violently removed four hundred years before, when the Dutch “purchased” the island of Manahatta. Past and present intertwine as Jane is caught in the center of a looming mortgage crisis that threatens financial ruin for millions of families––including her own.”

Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through February 16.

A two-person play that “is the story of two women who meet and fall in love. We see the entirety of their relationship from beginning to end, spanning more than forty years, but in a fascinating non-linear format. Honest, moving, and deeply poignant, we move from moment to moment and experience the complexity of Erica and Vicky’s relationship over time.”

Josephine Moshiri Elwood, Debra Wise, and Malikah McHerrin-Cobb in the Underground Railway Theater production of Vanity Fair. Photo: Nile Scott Studios

Vanity Fair, An (Im-) morality Play, an adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel by Kate Hamill. Directed by David R Gammons. Staged by Underground Railway Theater at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, through February 23.

“Two women – one privileged and the other from the streets – strive to navigate an unfair society that punishes them for every mistake. (Bad) Becky isn’t afraid to break the rules while (Good) Amelia fears even to bend them. Hamill’s adaptation of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair explores how flexible our morals become when our luck turns against us.” Arts Fuse review

Hair Book & Lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Music by Galt MacDermot. Directed and choregraphed by Rachel Bertone. Staged by New Repertory Theatre on its MainStage Theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts located at 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through February 23.

“With MacDermot’s groundbreaking music and the show’s progressive themes, Hair revolutionized musical theatre as Broadway’s first rock musical in 1968. Emerging from the hippie counter-culture of the 1960s, Rado and Ragni’s story shows a tribe’s journey toward finding their voices in a time of political upheaval, and their use of sex and drugs to evade reality. Featuring the smash hits ‘Aquarius’ and ‘Let the Sunshine In’, this award-winning show is certain to be a nostalgic and groovy experience.” Believe me, this show was considered incredibly square by counterculture types. Somehow it has become “groundbreaking.” Note: This production contains strong language, frequent references to sex and illicit substances, and brief nudity. Recommended for ages 18+. Arts Fuse review

Eunice Wong and Patricia Kalember in Gloria: A Life at the A.R.T. Photo: ©

Gloria: A Life by Emily Mann. Directed by Diane Paulus. Staged by the American Repertory Theater (In association with the McCarter Theatre Center and by special arrangement with Daryl Roth)at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through March 1.

See it before it goes to New York. “This new play about Gloria Steinem and the women she has partnered with in a decades-long fight for equality is brought to life by a dynamic ensemble of performers. Fifty years after Gloria began raising her voice and championing those of others, her vision is as urgent as ever. Gloria’s belief in talking circles as a catalyst for change offers us all a path forward. The first act is Gloria’s story; the second is our own.” Note: This production includes strong language, mature themes, and discussions of sexual harassment and violence. Arts Fuse review

King John by William Shakespeare. Directed by Kimberly Gaughan. Staged by Praxis Stage at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, Boston, MA, January 30 through February 16.

It isn’t often I have to pull out my Complete Oxford Shakespeare, but it has been a long time since I have read this very, very rarely staged history play. Praxis Stage insists the script is “subversive with its strikingly skeptical vision of history and how identities of nations are formed. Shakespeare dramatizes the capricious relationship between intention and outcome as personal umbrages jostle international politics. Great men create great messes. Intelligent, iron-willed women adeptly clean things up.” Who knows? Shakespeare scholar Virginia Mason Vaughan defends the maligned script: “Somewhere between the two tetralogies … lies Shakespeare’s King John, neglected because it does not fall within the broad scope of a series, and scorned as unpopular and untheatrical … In King John we miss a sense of history as a continuing process. What we gain, however, is an intense focus on the political present — the here and now of decision-making.” Ok, but why did the Bard leave out the 1215 signing of the Magna Carta? Arts Fuse review

Brontë England-Nelson and Eric Berryman in Detroit Red. Photo: Randall Garnick Photography.

Detroit Red by Will Power. Directed by Lee Sunday Evans. Produced by ArtsEmerson at the Emerson Paramount Center, Robert J. Orchard Stage, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA, through February 16.

A world premiere production: “The world forever knows him as Malcolm X, but when he lived in Roxbury, they called him “Detroit Red.” Internationally renowned playwright Will Power combines the accuracy of a historian with the lyricism of a poet to shine a contemporary light on a pivotal coming-of-age moment in the celebrated, controversial civil rights leader’s life.” Arts Fuse review

Radio Golf by August Wilson. Directed by Jude Sandy. Staged by Trinity Rep at the Dowling Theatre, 201 Washington Street, Providence, RI, through March 1.

Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks interviewed August Wilson shortly before his death. Asked about this script, the final in his cycle of ten plays depicting the Black experience decade by decade through the 20th century, Wilson responded that he “had to in some way deal with the black middle class, which for the most part is not in the other nine plays.” Parks’s reply: “You are wild in ways that people aren’t even hip to…. Within the lines of this play, you’ve made a place for the unconventional, the bit that does not traditionally fit, the outsider, the digression, the seemingly extraneous.” Arts Fuse review

Gordon Clapp in the Peterborough Players production of Robert Frost: This Verse Business.

Robert Frost: This Verse Business by A.M. Dolan. Directed by Gus Kaikkonen. Staged by the Peterborough Players at 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, through February 16.

In this solo show, actor Gordon Clapp once again (he performed the play in 2010 for the Peterborough Players) breathes life into Robert Frost, who is poised and waiting for the birth of a new poem. “Why don’t I say some poems to ya I’ve already written … and we’ll see if another one creeps up on me.” Arts Fuse review

The Juke: A Blues Bacchae by Regie Gibson. Presented by Queen Mab Inc at Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA, February 21 and 22.

Sound intriguing — Euripides, of all the great Greek dramatists, would certainly have appreciated the blues. “Set in the small town of Crossroads, Mississippi,” the piece “chronicles the fight between D’nysus, the divine son of the God of Blues, and his cousin Pent, defender of the Gospel faith, for the soul of the town.” “Performed with a live band and some of Boston’s most celebrated musical stars (including Elliot Norton Award Winner Davron Monroe and National Poetry Slam Winner and author Regie Gibson).”

Deal Me Out by MJ Halberstadt. Directed by Shana Gozansky. At the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, February 13 through March 1.

“November, 2016. A close-knit board game group meets for its weekly game night in Oberon’s father’s garage with an uncomfortable “game” on the menu: kick Dez out. But echoes of the polarized world outside invade their sacred space, and no one is prepared to face the real problem, which threatens to flip the board on them all.” This is “a comic drama set inside the world of gamers.”

The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish by Alexander Pushkin. Directed by Evgeny Ibragimov. Set & Puppet Design by Ksenya Litvak. Music by Nikolay Yakimov. Staged by the Arlekin Players Theatre at 368 Hillside Ave, Needham, MA, February 14 through April 12.

From the golden pen of Pushkin: “One day, a poor old fisherman casts his net into the ocean and catches an unusual and beautiful talking fish. The fish begs the old man to release him, which he does, refusing any payment for this act of kindness. What happens next is a tale about love and betrayal, temptation and redemption.” Note: this is a non-verbal performance suitable for ages 4 and up.

Winter Panto 2018 | 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Winter Panto 2020: Hansel & Gretel, written and performed by imaginary beasts at the Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA, through March 1.

“The beasts’ ensemble as they take you on a fairy tale journey through an enchanted forest filled with sweet adventures and delicious dangers. When young Hansel and Gretel find themselves lost in the woods, things take a suitably “Grimm” turn, until they chance upon a house made of gingerbread. Will our hungry heroes satisfy their every sweet-tooth; or, will they bite off more than they can chew? There’s no sugar-coating one fact: this year the Dame is a real witch!”

TIL DEATH DO US PART…YOU FIRST! written and performed by Peter Fogel. Directed by Chazz Palminteri. At Arlington’s Regent Theatre, Arlington, MA, February 14 through 16.

The press release says it all: “Fasten your seat belt for non-stop laughs.” The set-up of this one-man show: “Eternal Bachelor Peter Fogel has major commitment issues — and the love of his life has just broken up with him on Valentine’s Day. Sensing his own mortality, he decides to revisit the scenes of all his romantic disasters. Fogel introduces us to his Evil Step Mom Eva, Crazy Exes Elena and Tanya, his five-times married buddy Sal, and his college roommate and “marriage veteran” Harold–who gives Peter dating advice, even though he hasn’t dated since “Madonna was a Virgin!”” “Opening for these shows will be multi-talented singer/songwriter Steve Spector of Hopkinton MA, and the world-class Violingrrl performing some of their favorite romantic cover tunes and original songs.”

Sweat by Lynn Nottage. Directed by Kimberly Senior. Staged by Huntington Theatre Company at the venue of the Arts / Huntington Avenue Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, through March 1.

This critically acclaimed play from a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright “chronicles years in the lives of a group of friends from this working-class community who are struggling to stay connected as the local factory industry, which has employed them for generations, crumbles. In a neighborhood bar, each of them reaches for their piece of the American dream while their friendships are put to the test.”

Nina Simone: Four Women by Christina Ham. Directed by Kenneth L. Robertson. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theater (a co-production with Chicago’s Northlight Theatre) at 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, February 12 through March 8.

“The show brings to life Nina Simone’s original song “Four Women,” her tribute to the four little girls killed in the 1963 church bombing in Alabama. Fearing for their lives in a basement across the street from the church, the women – including Nina herself – represent four very different African-American perspectives. As she grapples with sorrow and rage, Nina slowly begins her transformation from jazz club chanteuse to the civil rights activist we revere today.”

–Bill Marx



Choreographer Levi Marsman explores the life of Thomas McKeller. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Meeting Thomas McKeller
February 13 at 7 p.m.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum presents an evening created by Visiting Curator of Performing Arts Helga Davis, contemplating the life and times of Thomas McKeller (roughly 1890-1962). Enjoy an evening of music and dance, as Lara Downes (piano), Davóne Tines (baritone), and Levi Marsman (choreographer) explore, via using historical records and creative reinterpretation, McKeller’s iconic work with painter John Singer Sargent.

Nosotras Somos
February 14 at 8 p.m.
Multicultural Arts Center
Cambridge, MA

Set your taste buds and kinetic heartstrings on fire when NYC-based A Palo Seco presents its latest fiery flamenco work, Nosotras Somos. Celebrate your Valentine’s Day with a 21+ spanish wine and cava cash bar from 7-8 p.m. in the gallery, complete with tantalizing appetizers by Season to Taste.

When Time Dilates
February 25 at 7 p.m.
MIT Chapel
Cambridge, MA

MIT Swara presents an evening of Carnatic music and classical Bharathanatyam Indian dance featuring performer Sujatha Srinivasan and musician Sri Balraj Balasubrahmaniyam. Both are highly-acclaimed artists and teachers; joint performance celebrates the romantic and the divine.

And further afield…

February 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, MA

Toying unabashedly with varying tropes of female objectification, OBJECT presents a startling take on “femininity.” Head to Cape Cod to witness this contorted vision of Hollywood icons and fashion trends, through a blending of video and live performance.

Classical Music

Skylark Ensemble presents: Once Upon a Time
February 15 at 7 p.m.
At the Church of the Redeemer, 379 Hammond Street, Chestnut Hill, MA
February 16 at 4 p.m.
At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 166 High Street, Newburyport, MA

The concert features “fantastical stories of Snow White and The Little Mermaid in impressionistic musical form: Benedick Sheehan’s new and original scoring will blend seamlessly with Sarah Walker’s narrative, stitching together an eclectic and engaging mix of existing music from Ralph Vaughan Williams, Francis Poulenc, Leonard Bernstein, Morten Lauridsen, and more.”

Boston Chamber Music Society
February 16 at 3 p.m.
At Sanders Theatre/Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

On the program:Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Trio in C Minor, Op. 9, No. 2; Béla Bartók’s Violin Sonata No. 1, Sz. 75 (1921);
Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 15.

Celebrity Series of Boston presents: Stephen Osborne & Paul Lewis, duo-piano
February 21 at 8 p.m.
At Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

“Acclaimed Scottish pianist Steven Osborne makes his Celebrity Series debut in a must-see concert: a four hands, one piano recital alongside his friend and contemporary, English pianist Paul Lewis.” On the program: Gabriel Fauré’s Dolly Suite, Opus 56; Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Piano Four Hands; Claude Debussy’s Six Épigraphes Antiques; Debussy’s Petite Suite; Igor Stravinsky’s Trois Pièces Faciles; Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite.

Cappella Clausura presents: Hildegard von Bingen Ordo Virtutum
February 22 at 7 p.m.
At Eliot Church of Newton, 474 Centre Street, Newton, MA
February 23 at 5 p.m.
At St. Paul’s Church Brookline, 15 St. Paul Street, Brookline, MA

“Hildegard von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum is what LeClair has called the very first opera, written around 1150 by Abbess St. Hildegard von Bingen. We fully stage it in modern dress: our conceit is that the 18 Virtues work for small NGO. Lending a new gender fluidity to the Virtues, both men and women sing the various roles, and the devil is a female, perhaps a corporate raider, enticing the young soul Anima to love possessions, whatever their cost, thus renewing this extraordinary work’s relevance to today’s audiences.”

Temple Emanuel presents: Arnaud Sussman, violin & Gloria Chien, piano
February 23 at 3 p.m.
At Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward Street, Newton, MA

On the program: works by Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy and Ravel.

— Susan Miron

Beethoven & Mozart
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
February 14 (at 7:30 p.m.) and 16 (at 3 p.m.)
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout joins H&H for a program that includes a couple of favorites – Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 3 and Mozart’s Linz Symphony – as well as a symphony by C.P.E. Bach.

Lucas Debargue plays Liszt
Presented by Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
February 20 (at 7 p.m.), 22 (at 8 p.m.), and 23 (at 3 p.m.)
Sanders Theater, Cambridge (on the 20th and 23rd) and Jordan Hall, Boston, MA (on the 22nd)

Pianist Lucas Debargue joins the BPO for a performance of Franz Liszt’s wildly virtuosic Piano Concerto no. 2. Around it, Benjamin Zander conducts pieces by Zoltan Kodály (Dances of Galánta) and Antonin Dvořák (the Symphony no. 7).

Together and Apart
Presented by New England Philharmonic
February 23, 3 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Richard Pittman and the NEP present – astonishingly – the first Boston performance of Béla Bartók’s early tone poem Kossuth, as well as the world premiere of Bernard Hoffer’s Violin Concerto no. 2 (with Danielle Maddon as soloist). Music by Judith Weir (Moon and Star) and John Adams (The Chairman Dances) round out the typically-eclectic afternoon.

Violinist Joshua Bell andASMF return to Boston on February 23 at Symphony Hall

Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Presented by the Celebrity Series
February 23, 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Joshua Bell and the ASMF return to Boston with a program that covers just about all the expressive bases, beginning with Mozart’s ebullient Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, continuing with Paganini’s high-flying Violin Concerto no. 1 (with Bell as soloist), and ending with Brahms’ tragic Symphony no. 4.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Author Events

Helen Fremont
The Escape Artist
February 11 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA

“In the tradition of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or George Hodgman’s Bettyville, Fremont writes with wit and candor about growing up in a household held together by a powerful glue: secrets. Her parents, profoundly affected by their memories of the Holocaust, pass on a penchant for keeping their lives neatly–even obsessively–compartmentalized, as well as a zealous determination to protect themselves from the dangers of the outside world.”

Poupeh Missaghi
Trans(re)Lating House One
February 12 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA

“In the aftermath of Iran’s 2009 election, a woman undertakes a search for the statues disappearing from Tehran’s public spaces. A chance meeting alters her trajectory, and the space between fiction and reality narrows. As she circles the city’s points of connection — teahouses, buses, galleries, hookah bars — her many questions are distilled into one: How do we translate loss into language? Melding several worlds, perspectives, and narrative styles, trans(re)lating house one translates the various realities of Tehran and its inhabitants into the realm of art, helping us remember them anew.”

David Michaels
The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception
February 18 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

The Triumph of Doubt traces the ascendance of science-for-hire in American life and government, from its origins in the tobacco industry in the 1950s to its current manifestations across government, public policy, and even professional sports. Well-heeled American corporations have long had a financial stake in undermining scientific consensus and manufacturing uncertainty; in The Triumph of Doubt, former Obama and Clinton official David Michaels details how bad science becomes public policy—and where it’s happening today.

Amid fraught conversations of “alternative facts” and “truth decay,” The Triumph of Doubt wields its unprecedented access to shine a light on the machinations and scope of manipulated science in American society. It is an urgent, revelatory work, one that promises to reorient conversations around science and the public good for the foreseeable future.”

Jerry Mitchell
Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era
February 21 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

“In Race Against Time, Mitchell takes readers on the twisting, pulse-racing road that led to the reopening of four of the most infamous killings from the days of the civil rights movement, decades after the fact. His work played a central role in bringing killers to justice for the assassination of Medgar Evers, the firebombing of Vernon Dahmer, the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham and the Mississippi Burning case.

Mitchell reveals how he unearthed secret documents, found long-lost suspects and witnesses, building up evidence strong enough to take on the Klan. He takes us into every harrowing scene along the way, as when Mitchell goes into the lion’s den, meeting one-on-one with the very murderers he is seeking to catch. His efforts have put four leading Klansmen behind bars, years after they thought they had gotten away with murder.”

Clare Beams will read at Porter Square Books on February 25.

Claire Beams
The Illness Lesson: A Novel
February 25 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

“At their newly founded school, Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline promise a groundbreaking education for young women. But Caroline has grave misgivings. After all, her own unconventional education has left her unmarriageable and isolated, unsuited to the narrow roles afforded women in 19th century New England.

When a mysterious flock of red birds descends on the town, Caroline alone seems to find them unsettling. But it’s not long before the assembled students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms: Rashes, seizures, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings. One by one, they sicken. Fearing ruin for the school, Samuel overrules Caroline’s pleas to inform the girls’ parents and turns instead to a noted physician, a man whose sinister ministrations — based on a shocking historic treatment — horrify Caroline. As the men around her continue to dictate, disastrously, all terms of the girls’ experience, Caroline’s body too begins to betray her. To save herself and her young charges, she will have to defy every rule that has governed her life, her mind, her body, and her world.”

— Matt Hanson

Rock, Pop, and Folk

Juliana Hatfield with Will Dailey
February 12 (doors at 7, show at 8)
ONCE, Somerville, MA

Juliana Hatfield has recorded each of the four albums that she has released since 2017 at Somerville’s Q Division Studios. These include Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John (which I talked to her about in 2018) and two from last year: Weird (click for my Arts Fuse review) in January and Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police in November. Two covers albums  in the space of a year-and-a-half might seem like a lot, but her splendid execution and smart selection makes each collection fresh and engaging. My hope is that her next album of this sort, if there is one, will include material by the group that her high school band The Squids used to cover: Rush. Be in the ONCE Ballroom at showtime on Wednesday to take in an opening set by four-time Boston Music Award winner Will Dailey.

Sloan with DJ Carbo
February 19 (doors at 7:30)
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

Canada’s favorite power pop veterans sure aren’t, to quote a 2006 song title, “fading into obscurity” as they close in on the end of their third decade together. Their most recent studio albums, Commonwealth and 12 (click for my Arts Fuse review of each) are among the best of their career. Moreover, they have been none too shy about celebrating their past triumphs. Since 2012, their ’90s albums Twice Removed, Once Chord to Another, and — as of last October — Navy Blues have all been reissued in limited, multi-LP vinyl editions that include various combinations of remasters, demos, B-sides, outtakes, and live recordings. Each of these box sets have been accompanied by a tour featuring a performance of the celebrated album from top to bottom. Thus, their February 19 show at the Paradise will include not only the impossibly awesome single “Money City Maniacs” but also “Iggy and Angus,” “Stand By Me, Yeah,” “Suppose They Close the Door,”  and its many other hidden gems. (Here is the interview that I did with guitarist/singer Jay Ferguson in 2016.)

The Silks with Neighbor
February 21 (doors at 7, show at 8)
Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA

The Providence/Boston-based The Silks won the Blues Artist Boston Music Award in 2016 and 2017 and has been nominated each year after that. They have released three albums since 2013: Last American Band (produced by Paul Westerberg), Turn Me On, and Live Bootleg. The quartet will bring its self-described “true grit rock and roll” to Brighton Music Hall on February 21 with the Boston by way of Newfields, NH duo Neighbor along for support.

Drive-By Truckers with Buffalo Nichols
February 22 (doors at 7, show at 8)
Somerville Theatre, Somerville, MA

Drive-By Truckers have never been known for their punch-pulling. That was true right up to and including American Band, which was released five weeks prior to the 2016 election. The Arts Fuse‘s Milo Miles described its musings on injustice, racism, and violence as “triumphantly defiant.” Fans could clearly not expect songwriters Patterson Hood (click for my 2019 interview) and Mike Cooley to have mellowed in the wake of Trump’s ascendancy.  Songs like “Rosemary With a Bible and a Gun,” “Armageddon’s Back in Town,” “Thoughts and Prayers,” and “Babies In Cages” from the just-released The Unraveling amply demonstrate that they have clearly done no such thing. Milwaukee-based bluesman Buffalo Nichols with join DBT at the Somerville Theatre show on February 22.

— Blake Maddux

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