By Bill Marx
As the age of Covid-19 wanes (or waxes?), Arts Fuse critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, and music. Please check with venues about whether the event is available by streaming or is in person. More offerings will be added as they come in.
Far From Afghanistan
October 18, at 7 p.m. (in person)
Brattle Theater, Cambridge
Now ended after 20 years, the war in Afghanistan is now in the rearview mirror of our mediascape and national consciousness. This omnibus documentary created by five American filmmakers known for their political cinema and Afghan Voices, a collective of young trained Afghan video journalists, takes a stand: it diagnoses our militarist intervention and warns against what looks to be a collective forgetting. It is a Special Benefit Screening for Community Supported Film’s Fund for Afghan Evacuation and Resettlement.
While working on her own travel film, Courtney Stephens started researching amateur travelogues from women in the first half of the 20th century. Her research inspired this documentary on these efforts. The in-person screening of Terra Femme on November 1 will feature director Stephens performing the film’s voice-over live, followed by a Q&A.
BOSTON ASIAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL
October 20 – 24
This year’s BAAFF is virtual and the selection is hefty: 5 short programs, 10 feature films and documentaries, Q&As, and panels. All support the local Asian American Community.
The opening film, A Tale of Three Chinatowns, explores the survival of urban Chinatown neighborhoods in Boston, Chicago, and Washington, DC. The documentary probes the forces that are altering each community and the challenges for the future. The centerpiece offering is Waikiki. A Native Hawaiian hula dancer escaping her abusive boyfriend crashes her beat-up van into a mysterious homeless man. She finds herself flung into a surrealistic journey of self-exploration and enlightenment. (Q&A with filmmaker to follow.) The closing film is the debut of Who is Lun*na Menoh?, an examination of the work of an extraordinary Japanese artist. Complete schedule of films
INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON FALL FOCUS
The Brattle Theater, Cambridge
IFFBoston returns to the Brattle with 11 important new films from key directors. Screenings are in person and Covid procedures will be followed, so seating is limited.
The films include: The French Dispatch, Red Rocket, Spencer, Belfast, Memoria, Happening, The Worst Person in the World, Joyride, Petitie Maman, C’mon C’mon, and Parallel Mothers. Arts Fuse review of Parallel Mothers.
THE ANNUAL New York CAT FILM FESTIVAL
October 27 7 p.m.
Kendall Square Cinema, Cambridge
This celebration, through film, of our relationship with our mysterious felines is a benefit for a local animal welfare group that works on behalf of cats. This year’s program features 22 shorts, including The King O’ the Cats, in which animated cats perform an Olde English tale; Feline Noir, a film noir parody about a hard-boiled ginger cat and an unlucky-at-love dame who are destined to be together; Nauticats, a fanciful story of a feline ship and crew, led by Captain Sam, as they face their enemies and claw their way to victory; Quarantine Diary, a playful twist on the coronavirus pandemic, showing the amusing inconveniences that quarantine inflicts on a spoiled and grumpy house cat; Cat Scratch Fever, in which an aspiring feline DJ in a black hoodie practices to become the “Sultan of Scratch” on a small turntable, waking his sleeping human; and Caged, an animated story of a boy working for a cruel circus ringmaster who finds freedom when he sets a tiger cub free.
Now playing at the Coolidge Corner Theater, Kendall Square Cinema, and AMC Boston Common 19
A childless couple on a remote sheep farm adopt as their own a half-lamb/half-human infant birthed from a ewe in their herd. The film offers a distinctive blend of pantheistic folklore tinged with mystical quasi-religious overtones.There’s also some high drama undercut by dry Icelandic humor. Set amid the country’s exhilarating pastures, streams, and mountain ranges, Lamb‘s quiet and deliberate pace draws you in as the story builds (with little dialogue) to an unpredictable and stunning conclusion. Noomi Rapace, who gave a tense performance in the Swedish production of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, delivers the same quiet intensity via a quite different context and character. The movie was co-produced by Rapace and Hungary’s Béla Tarr, a master of isolation and immersive cinema. Director Valdimar Jóhannsson has supervised visual effects for films like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Prometheus. He underplays the illusion of a hybrid child but, along with the assistance of a slew of credited actors, the mutant child on display is remarkably convincing.
— Tim Jackson
October 20 at 7 p.m.
Museum of Science
New York City’s Valerie Green/Dance Entropy enlivens the Museum of Science with a performance installation inspired by astrophotography, string theory, interconnectivity, space, and time. With an emphasis on collaboration, the work utilizes local musicians and dancers as it strives to portray a “visual, physical, and emotional translation of the cosmos.”
Initiation– In Love Solidarity
October 21 at 6 p.m.
The Harvard Dance Center presents a screening of the dance film for Initiation– In Love Solidarity, a new work by 2021 Artist-in-Residence Nailah Randall-Bellinger. Filmed at historic New England sites related to the transatlantic slave trade and emancipation, Initiation– In Love Solidarity is a choreographic narrative exploring the embodiment of the Middle Passage and female resilience.
Woodman Family Community & Performing Arts Center
Festival Ballet Providence presents works by Jacob’s Pillow 2019 Choreography Award recipient Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Boston Ballet principal dancer Lia Cirio. Enjoy a vibrant evening featuring Lopez Ochoa’s choreographic fusion of flamenco and hip-hop with classical and contemporary ballet, alongside Cirio’s energetic Paquita Suite.
The Gathering Place
October 23 & 24 at 2 p.m.
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Inspired by the landscape and historic figures of Mount Auburn Cemetery, this site-specific performance celebrates the lives of historic persons buried at Mount Auburn as it examines place, time, and environment. 2021 Artist-in-Residence Jennifer Lin blends Western ballet, American modern, and postmodern dance traditions with an intergenerational cast of dancers. A Q&A with Lin will follow the performance.
Kieran Jordan & Rebecca McGowan
October 29 at 7 p.m.
The Dance Complex
Kieran Jordan (teacher) and Rebecca McGowan (apprentice) perform an informal showing of Irish step dances, a culmination of their time together as recipients of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Traditional Arts Apprenticeship. Over the past twelve months, Jordan has shared her lifelong repertoire of Irish set dances with McGowan, from the traditional to the contemporary. This informal performance features a selection of these dances, with live music by Devin McCabe.
— Merli V. Guerra
COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters: requirements often include proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 rapid test. Also, companies are requiring masks at indoor performances.
A Lie Agreed Upon, a new version of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, written and directed by Tony Estrella. Staged by the Gamm Theatre, 245 Jefferson Blvd, Warwick, RI, through October 24.
This play used to be dismissed as a didactic pot-boiler, one of Ibsen’s second-rate fulminations. Now it is being revived — and in many cases updated — by theater companies around the world. Climate change has given the text a fresh (and meaningful) lease on life.
“The future is looking bright in Springfield! A brand-new hot springs spa is about to open its doors. Hotels and shops are booming in anticipation of a blockbuster tourist season. The spa’s visionary chief medical officer, Dr. Thomas Stockman, is being hailed as a local hero for turning the humdrum town into a must-see destination…until he discovers the springs are toxic and insists on doing the “right thing.” Inconvenient truths fight alternative facts, minority rights battle majority rule, and individual conscience clashes with economic interest in this powerful reinvention of Ibsen’s masterpiece.”
The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp. Directed by Bryn Boice. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, in Boston’s South End, streaming through October 24.
This is billed as “an intensely quiet play that introduces us to Bella Baird, a novelist who, in the 17 years since she was last published, has almost completely isolated herself from the world. But everything changes when she meets Christopher, a brilliant but enigmatic student in her creative writing class at Yale. As their friendship deepens, their lives and the stories they tell about themselves become intertwined in unpredictable ways, leading to a shocking request. ” Arts Fuse review
LORENA: A Tabloid Epic by Eliana Pipes. Directed by Erica Terpening-Romeo.A BU New Play Initiative production, produced by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, through October 24
The script “spins out of the media hailstorm surrounding Lorena Bobbitt, who became a sensation after she used a kitchen knife against her abusive husband in 1993. The tacky dystopia of American pop culture tumbles onto the stage in a series of funhouse vignettes that know no bounds, while The Playwright desperately tries to protect Lorena from the play which has clearly gotten out of her control.”
Witch by Jen Silverman. Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont, Street, Boston, through November 14.
“As an unmarried woman who keeps to herself in a small village, Elizabeth Sawyer is branded a witch and an outcast by the locals, blamed for everything from bad harvests to sick cows and colicky babies. When an alluring devil named Scratch arrives in town, promising to make the residents’ darkest dreams come true in exchange for their souls, he expects Elizabeth to be an easy mark, but finds her intriguingly resistant to both his charms and his offer of sweet revenge.”
“Scratch has better luck, however, in seducing the souls in the neighboring castle of Sir Arthur Banks, the biggest landowner in town, where Sir Arthur’s somewhat sensitive son Cuddy and an ambitious peasant Frank Thorney vie for Sir Arthur’s affections and inheritance, while servant Winnifred makes plans of her own.”
Loosely based on the Jacobean play The Witch of Edmonton written by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker, and John Ford in 1621, Silverman’s Witch was commissioned by Writers Theatre in Chicago, where it premiered in 2018, and was subsequently produced at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2019.”
The Chairs by Eugène Ionesco. Translated by Donald M. Allen. Directed by James Warwick. Staged by Shakespeare and Company at the Tina Packer Playhouse, Lenox, MA, through October 31.
A rare opportunity to see Eugene Ionesco’s 1952 poetic masterpiece: “In a house on an island, a very old couple pass their time collecting and inventorying chairs while sharing half-remembered stories. “His own experience,” writes critic Martin Esslin, “has convinced Ionesco that the spontaneous reproduction of the structures of the subconscious imagination is bound to emerge in the form of structurally satisfying patterns.”
Queens Girl in the World by Caleen Sinnette Jennings. Directed by Dawn M. Simmons. Co-produced by The Nora@Central Square Theater, The Front Porch Arts Collective, and The Hangar Theater at the Central Square Theatre, 450 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA, through October 31.
This is the “Motown-infused story of Jacqueline Marie Butler, a Black teenager coming of age in the ’60s. Her joys, challenges, and heartbreak play out against the backdrop of the civil rights movement as she journeys from her familiar Queens neighborhood to a progressive, predominantly Jewish private school in Greenwich Village.” Arts Fuse review
BLKS by Aziza Barnes. Directed by Tonasia Jones. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company in the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, October 29 through November 20.
The script by poet, performer, and playwright Jones “explores the lives of three twenty-something black women trying to find intimacy and purpose in a city that just doesn’t seem to care about them. The story begins when, in the wake of a serious health scare, Octavia recruits her besties June and Imani to join her for one last epic night on the town.” Wild adventures, which take an existential turn, ensue. CONTENT WARNING: Adult themes including drug use, sexual content, and strong language.
Macbeth in Stride, Created and performed by Whitney White. Orchestrations: Steven Cuevas and White. Music Director: Cuevas. Choreography: Raja Feather Kelly. Directed by Tyler Dobrowsky and Taibi Magar. Presented by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, October 23 though November 14.
“The world premiere production of the first of Obie Award-winning artist Whitney White’s five-part series commissioned by A.R.T. excavating the women from Shakespeare’s canon. The production uses pop, rock, gospel, and R&B to trace the fatalistic arc of Lady Macbeth while lifting up contemporary Black female power, femininity, and desire.”
Lifted by Charlie Thurston. Directed by Josh Short. Staged by the Wilbury Theatre Group, outdoors at the WaterFire Arts Center, Providence Rhode Island, October 21 through November 13.
The script is “part absurdist family drama, part imaginative theatrical fantasia. In an environmentally ravaged near-future, birds have returned from their recent extinction to carry a teenage boy off into the sky. Is it an act of salvation or a declaration of war? As the avian abduction sends ripples through the city, then the country, then the world, his twin brother, father, and girlfriend have to turn to each other for meaning.”
Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O’Neill. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by the Hartford Stage Company,50 Church Street, Hartford, CT, through November 7
Eugene O’Neill’s only comedy “is a play full of heart and wit that celebrates family and community. In 1906 Connecticut, a young man falls in love with poetry and a girl, and ends up with his heart broken. But with the help of others, he may yet find happiness.” Even the hard heart of one of theater’s toughest critics, George Jean Nathan, was softened by this script: “Turning from tragedy to comedy, the author has here achieved the tenderest and most amusing comedy of boyhood in the American drama.” Of course, it should be noted that O’Neill dedicated the play to Nathan.
— Bill Marx
The 1970s were heady days for all kinds of experimental film, from underground to cinema verité to the avant-garde videos by artists like Bill Viola and Nam June Paik. Leslie Thornton, a student at the time, absorbed all these developments as influences in her work, created over nearly five decades, which combines her own footage with archival clips and audio and an expressive use of sound.
Thornton’s show Begin Again, Again, opens October 22 at MIT’s List Center. It is her first US solo exhibition as well as her most comprehensive show to date. The October opening will include a List Center Commission, a two-channel video work Hemlock (2021).
Also opening at the List Center on the 22nd is Sreshta Rit Premnath: Grave/Grove.
Who owns space? Where do the marginalized go to survive? These are questions Ramanath, who was born in India and lives in Brooklyn, asks again and again in his work. His materials — corrugated panels, cardboard, metal fencing, and discarded shipping and freight materials — suggest the composition of squatter settlements or homeless camps. His work often explores the lives of the marginalized and those left behind in the rush towards global development and wealth. His new pieces incorporate live plants, of a type often classed as “weeds,” mingled with cut-out shapes and human figures shaped from foam and plaster, suggesting the persistence and resilience of disenfranchised populations living in the margins of 21st-century societies.
The third October 22 opening is List Projects 23: Andrew Norman Wilson. It is the first institutional solo exhibition for the Los Angeles–based artist.
Like so many contemporary artists, Wilson blends installation, video, film conventions, narrative, and social commentary into work that looks closely at society. Wilson, though, sets a narrower focus in some works; he targets specific multinational high-tech corporations and how they interact with their workers. Workers Leaving the Googleplex (2011) critiques Google, while Kodak (2019) probes how Eastman Kodak and other companies in the entertainment world use contracted labor to produce cultural products.
Besides Kodak, the exhibition features a new narrative video work, Impersonator (2021), about a homeless man living on Hollywood Boulevard seeking a connection to the world by way of Hollywood-oriented conspiracy theories.
On Friday, October 22, at 1 p.m., the Yale Center for British Art will present at home: Artists in Conversation: Rachel Whiteread. This free, online event features one of Britain’s most noted contemporary artists talking with Michele Robecchi, independent curator, writer, and commissioning editor at the Phaidon Press. Whiteread’s sculptures explore the negative space of ordinary objects, generating eerie auras of memory, absence, and time. She is best known for House (1993), a complete concrete cast of the interior of a three-story Victorian home.
The online program is open to the public. Registration is required on the Center’s website.
— Peter Walsh
Miguel Zenón Berklee Quintet
October 19 at 8 p.m.
Red Room at Café 939, Berklee College of Music, Boston
The protean 44-year-old Puerto Rican saxophonist, composer, bandleader, and MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow Miguel Zenón leads a group of audition-chosen Berklee students through a selection of his repertoire from the past 10 years — projects that include Awake, Esta Plena, Rayuela, and Identities are Changeable. The band is Zenón on alto, with tenor saxophonist Ray Logan, pianist Naomi Nakanishi, bassist Noam Tanzer, and drummer Guilhem Fourty.
Kurt Elling with Charlie Hunter
October 20 at 8 p.m.
City Winery, Boston
Grammy Award–winning singer Kurt Elling has made wide-ranging choices over his career, combining deep-jazz learnedness with pop theatricality, joining projects by the likes of Branford Marsalis, Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch (settings of Walt Whitman), and John Hollenbeck (Kenneth Patchen). On the new SuperBlue, he gets into funk grooves with guitarist/producer Charlie Hunter in repertoire that includes inventive arrangements of Carla Bley, Tom Waits, the Roots, and Wayne Shorter, among others. Drummer Nate Smith and keyboardist Stu Mindeman join Hunter and Elling for this show.
October 22 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
The latest project from the accomplished trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Jeremy Pelt is Griot: This Is Important, a combination of music and spoken-word oral history. The album is chock full of guest stars, as players and subjects, with the succinct, casual, intimate interview snippets (Paul West, Larry Willis, René Marie, J.D. Allen, among others) seguing smoothly into the assured musical responses and Pelts’s always lyrical playing. Expect some version of the album’s core band to be at Scullers for these two shows: vibist Chien Chien Lu, pianist Victor Gould, bassist Vicente Arthur, and drummer Allen Mednard.
Aardvark Jazz Orchestra
October 24 at 7 p.m.
St. John’s Episcopal Church
The beloved Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, led by composer and trumpeter Mark Harvey, opens its 49th season with one of its traditional all-Ellington concerts, including favorites like “Satin Doll,” “C Jam Blues,” and “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” along with selections from Ellington’s Sacred Concerts, including “Come Sunday” and “It’s Freedom.” Grace Hughes is the featured vocalist with this superb band of Boston-area players.
Mark Harvey Group
October 28 at 7-8:30 p.m.
Speaking of Mark Harvey (see Aardvark, October 24), tonight the trumpeter, composer, bandleader and retired Episcopal minister celebrates the 50th anniversary of A Rite for All Souls, a landmark event in the Boston music scene. Conceived as an evening-long theatrical presentation, the Rite was originally performed October 31, 1971, at Boston’s Old West Church. A live recording of the event was “lost” for five decades, rediscovered, and released on CD in July 2020. The players were Harvey on trumpet and brass, Peter Bloom on woodwinds, and the late Craig Ellis and Michael Standish on percussion. The piece deploys spoken recitation amid eloquent “free” improvisation, by turns roiling and delicate, and the space of the Old West Church itself becomes a living presence in “room sound” captured on tape. The musicians were responding to the ongoing Vietnam War, civil unrest, and the inequities in their community.
More than a musical/theatrical experiment, A Rite for All Souls survives in the creators’ intent, as an “aesthetic response to the times and an evocation of ‘the better angels of our nature.’” This streamed event will include excerpts from the CD, a recorded discussion of Harvey and Bloom speaking with critic Bob Blumenthal, and a live Zoom question-and-answer session with audience members. With the 2016 book and record release The Boston Creative Jazz Scene: 1970-1983, Harvey chronicled a fertile era in the history of the Boston avant-garde, and of music as social force. There will certainly be plenty to learn from this discussion, an example of “living history,” as relevant today as ever. Registration is free at Eventbrite.
The creative reed player and composer Josh Sinton (I’m particularly fond of, Ideal Bread, his arrangements of the music of Steve Lacy) is celebrating his 50th birthday with the premiere of “4 freedoms,” an “articulation of the politics Sinton has learned from the music of Duke Ellington, Anthony Braxton, Andrew Hill, Julius Hemphill, and Henry Threadgill.” Sinton will play baritone sax, bass clarinet, and alto flute with the members of his band Predicate — trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, cellist Christopher Hoffman, and drummer Tom Rainey. It’s a live, free performance (courtesy of the New York Foundation for the Arts) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, but you can also stream it live from Sinton’s YouTube channel.
Dave Douglas and Kenny Werner
October 29 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
What else to call these guys except modern masters? Combining deep learning, commanding chops, and a sense of community (Werner as a teacher and Douglas as a musician-centered record label owner), they’re each worth hearing in any context. They’re squaring off as a duo for this appearance at Scullers, and, busy as they are, with varied interests and enthusiasms, they rarely show up in the same format twice, so don’t sit on this one.
Dee Dee Bridgewater with Bill Charlap
October 30 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater’s career has explored all facets of jazz and adjacent traditions, from blues and R&B to American Songbook standards and the avant-garde. She’s joined for these duet shows by an eloquent scholar (and beautiful player) of American song, pianist Bill Charlap.
— Jon Garelick
NEC Jazz Orchestra: Musical Polyglots at Jordan Hall, Boston, MA, October 21 at 8 p.m. Free and open to the public with proof of vaccination.
A very special concert with a provocative talk with some of the musicians earlier in the day. The NEC Jazz Orchestra will perform a program featuring Chico O’Farrill’s legendary “Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite” along with guest Arturo O’Farrill’s “Afro-Latin Jazz Suite.” Vocalist and composer Somi will perform selections from “Holy Room,” her Grammy-nominated collaboration with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, and NEC faculty member Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol will join the orchestra in a performance of his “Abraham Suite.” At 1 p.m. at NEC’s Williams Hall, Ken Schaphorst will moderate a panel that includes O’Farrill, Sanlıkol, and Somi, composers whose work employs multiple musical languages.
— Bill Marx
Roots and World Music
Boiler House Jazz Series
October 21, 7:30 p.m.
Not every series has returned in person. With the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation still closed through spring, its series of Boiler House Jazz duets is continuing to be virtual. Tonight’s pairing finds Kazakhstan-born jazz keyboardist Anastassiya Petrova in collaboration with Cyprian percussionist George Lernis. After the performance, journalist Kevin Lowenthal will moderate a discussion with the artists.
Crystal Ballroom at the Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA
South African Gripper’s specialty is playing West African kora music as adapted for the acoustic guitar. For good reason, he’s frequently on the schedule of Global Arts Live.
Gary Lucas — The Golem
Magic Room, Norwell, MA
Fans of psychedelia and Boston rock will be thrilled to hear that the (no longer) Allston-based Magic Room is now presenting its eclectic mix in Norwood. While avant guitar hero Gary Lucas is best known for his association with Captain Beefheart, tonight finds him in Halloween mode, playing a live soundtrack to the 1915 German silent film The Golem.
Ram and Boukman Eksperyans
Oceanside Ballroom, Revere, MA
This could well be one of the shows of the year, especially in a time when — at the moment — many non-US bands can’t enter the country. Both bands spread the Haitian mizik rasin (roots music) sound all over the world during the ’90s combining Vodou rhythms with jazz, funk, and rock. Both remain important cultural institutions as well as famously charismatic performers.
— Noah Schaffer
Susan Cattaneo — whom I interviewed for The Arts Fuse in 2015 and The Somerville Times in 2019 —c is a recently retired Berklee College of Music songwriting professor who has recorded five solo albums, received two Boston Music Awards nominations for Best Americana Artist, and won or been a finalist in numerous national folk music contests. Paul Hansen — a Berklee grad whom I interviewed for The Somerville Times in 2014 — is the lead singer and songwriter of The Grownup Noise, who have been nominated twice (2014, 2015) for the Best Band in Massachusetts honor at the New England Music Awards, opened for Patton Oswalt, Amanda Palmer, Counting Crows, Tommy Stinson, and Lee Fields, and has had its music used in programs produced by MTV and Netflix. Together, they are Honest Mechanik, whose sound has — in the Medford-based duo’s own estimation — “the vibe of The Velvet Underground paired with the intimacy of Belle and Sebastian.” Those who are curious as to how this combination manifests itself can check out videos for four songs on their YouTube channel. Those who like what they hear can purchase their 10-track eponymous debut, the release of which will be the cause for celebration at The Burren on Saturday.
Rival Sons included a version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long As I Can See the Light” on a bonus-tracks edition of their 2014 album Great Western Valkyrie. Like that Bay Area group, Long Beach’s Rival Sons’ loud, bluesy, and slightly Southern-fried sound belies its California roots. After its self-issued 2009 debut Before the Fire, Rivals Sons had five well-received LPs released by independent distributors before making their major-label debut in 2019 with Feral Roots. The quartet burnished its classic rock bona fides in that 10-year stretch by supporting AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Sammy Hagar, Kiss, and — for the whole of its 2016-2017 farewell tour — Black Sabbath. The band is presently headlining a tour in celebration of the 10th birthday of Pressure & Time, which AllMusic’s William Ruhlmann said “might have made…after listening to the first Led Zeppelin LP over and over for a day or two.” (He also referenced its hints of “Deep Purple’s early days” and lead singer Jay Buchanan’s “Eric Burdon-like swagger.”)
Cambuslang, Scotland native James “Midge” Ure — whom I interviewed for The Somerville Times in 2015 — has been in the lineups of The Rich Kids, Visage, Thin Lizzy, and Ultravox throughout his 45-year recording career. The last of these groups collected dozens of silver, gold, platinum, and multi-platinum singles and albums in the United Kingdom throughout the ’80s. (The band’s 1980 single “Vienna” had the dubious distinction of being kept from the top of the UK chart by both the recently murdered John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over” and the novelty single “Shaddup You Face” by Joe Dolce.) In 1984, Ure and Bob Geldof co-wrote “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, a charity song that became the biggest-selling single in the UK until being overtaken by the 1997 version of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “Candle In the Wind.” In addition to his success as a musician, he also wears the hats of philanthropist, memoirist, five-time honorary doctorate recipient, and OBE. The second stop of Ure’s October-November Unzoomed & Face To Face tour will be at City Winery Boston on October 27.
In 2012, Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen wrote, “Wild Nothing’s second album, Nocturne, distinguishes itself from the crowded pack of dream-pop nostalgists for the same reason 2010’s Gemini did — Jack Tatum is simply one of the best songwriters in this field.” In the years since, Tatum has remained a distinguished presence in the field of practice thanks to 2016’s excellent Life of Pause, 2018’s Indigo (which Annie Zaleski called “easily Wild Nothing’s best album to date” in her A.V. Club review), and the 2020 EP Laughing Gas. Tatum’s tour in honor of the 10th-anniversary reissue of Gemini was originally supposed to begin in January 2020, then in May 2020, then in the fall of that year.
Something that hasn’t changed now that the shows are actually happening is that Wild Nothing will be joined by Beach Fossils, who also reissued their 2010 debut last year and whose 2017 album Somersault included some fine examples of jangle pop in the tradition of the genre’s most important practitioners. On November 19, Beach Fossils will release The Other Side of Life: Piano Ballads, which consists of jazzy versions of previously recorded songs. Group mastermind Dustin Paysuer says, “The Other Side of Life grew out of my love for artists like Lester Young, Chet Baker, Bill Evans and Coleman Hawkins — specifically their ballads …There’s always been an element of jazz in Beach Fossils; chords are rarely played, instead the instruments typically play single-notes that come together to create chords … As for my vocals, I’m not a jazz singer and I had no intention of altering my style for this record. The idea was for my vocals to be the common thread between the original versions and these new versions.”
19-year-old singer, songwriter, and producer Hannah Jadagu is on the first tour of her career as the opening act for WN/BF’s October 4-November 1 dates.
— Blake Maddux
Lisa Batiashvili plays Sibelius
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
October 19, 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston
Violinist Batiashvili joins the BSO for Sibelius’s brilliant, tempestuous Violin Concerto. William Grant Still’s Threnody: In Memory of Jan Sibelius and Richard Strauss’s “Symphonic Fantasy” on Die Frau ohne Schatten complete the program. Andris Nelsons conducts.
Presented by New England Conservatory
October 20, 7:30 p.m. and streaming
Jordan Hall, Boston
David Loebel and the NEC Symphony survey of pieces by Verdi, Haydn, Joan Tower, and Charles Ives probe questions of place, patriotism, and destiny.
Sofia Gubaidulina’s The Light of the End
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
October 21-23, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston
The BSO marks Sofia Gubaidulina’s 90th birthday year with performances of her 2003 work (and BSO commission) The Light of the End. Balancing things out is Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no. 3.
Music for the Royal Fireworks
Presented by Boston Baroque
October 23 and 24, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and streaming
GBH Calderwood Studio, Boston
Martin Pearlman and Boston Baroque kick off their season with music by Handel and Jean-Féry Rebel.
as the seasons return
Presented by Chameleon Arts Ensemble
October 23 (at 8 p.m.) and 24 (at 4 p.m.)
First Church in Boston, Boston
CAE returns to action with a wide-ranging selection of pieces by Samuel Barber (Summer Music), Kenneth Fuchs (Quiet in the Land), Zoltán Kodály (Serenade for two violins & viola), and Anton Bruckner (String Quintet in F major).
Victor Wooten’s La Lección Tres
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
October 28-31, 8 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sunday)
Symphony Hall, Boston
Thomas Wilkins returns to the BSO’s podium to lead Wooten’s electric bass concerto La Lección Tres, as well as music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Duke Ellington.
Presented by Radius Ensemble
October 30, 8 p.m.
Pickman Hall, Cambridge
Radius’s first concert of the season brings together chamber music by Jonathan Bailey Holland, André Previn, Jennifer Higdon, and Astor Piazzolla.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Blacksmith House Poetry Series — CCAE
Lloyd Schwartz & Peter Shippy
Who’s on First: New and Selected Poems & Kaputniks
October 18 at 7:15 p.m.
Somerville poet laureate Lloyd Schwartz and local poet Peter Shippy will read from their new collections virtually at the renowned Blacksmith House.
Virtual Event: Jane Goodall — Harvard Book Store
The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide to Trying Times
October 20 at 12 p.m.
Tickets are $33.75 including copy of book
“In this urgent book, Jane Goodall, the world’s most famous living naturalist, and Douglas Abrams, the internationally bestselling co-author of The Book of Joy, explore through intimate and thought-provoking dialogue one of the most sought after and least understood elements of human nature: hope. In The Book of Hope, Jane focuses on her “Four Reasons for Hope”: The Amazing Human Intellect, The Resilience of Nature, The Power of Young People, and The Indomitable Human Spirit.”
Fiction Days Presents: Dina Nayeri — Boston College Events
The Ungrateful Refugee
October 20 at 7 p.m.
“Dina Nayeri will give a reading from The Ungrateful Refugee, followed by a moderated conversation and audience Q&A. In The Ungrateful Refugee, Nayeri asks what it is to be a refugee, to grapple with your place in society, attempting to reconcile the life you have known with a new, unfamiliar home. All this while bearing the burden of gratitude in your host nation: the expectation that you should be forever thankful for the space you have been allowed.
Aged eight, Dina Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother, and lived in the crumbling shell of an Italian hotel-turned–refugee camp. Eventually she was granted asylum in America. She settled in Oklahoma, then made her way to Princeton. In this book, Nayeri weaves together her own vivid story with the stories of other refugees and asylum seekers in recent years, bringing us inside their daily lives and taking us through the different stages of their journeys, from escape to asylum to resettlement.”
Virtual Event: Susan Orlean — Harvard Book Store
October 26 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $33.75 including copy of book
“How we interact with animals has preoccupied philosophers, poets, and naturalists for ages,” writes Susan Orlean. Since the age of six, when Orlean wrote and illustrated a book called Herbert the Near-Sighted Pigeon, she’s been drawn to stories about how we live with animals, and how they abide by us. Now, in On Animals, she examines animal-human relationships through the compelling tales she has written over the course of her celebrated career.”
Virtual Event: Clea Simon — Harvard Book Store
Hold Me Down: A Novel
October 28 at 7 p.m.
Free with $5 suggested donation
“Gal, a middle-aged musician, is back in Boston to play a memorial for her late drummer/best friend, when she finds herself freezing on stage at the sight of a face in the crowd. The next day, she learns that the man she saw has been killed—beaten to death behind the venue—and her friend’s widower is being charged in connection with his death. When the friend refuses to defend himself, Gal wonders why and, as the memories of begin to flood back, she starts her own informal investigation. As she does so, she must reexamine her own wild life, her perception of the past, and an industry that monetizes dysfunction in a dark tale of love, music, and murder.” Arts Fuse review
Virtual Event: Shea Serrano: Hip-Hop (And Other Things) — brookline booksmith
Hip Hop (And Other Things)
November 4 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $37
“Hip-Hop (And Other Things) … is about, as it were, rap, but also some other things. It’s a smart, fun, funny, insightful book that spends the entirety of its time celebrating what has become the most dominant form of music these past two and a half decades. Tupac is in there. Jay Z is in there. Missy Elliott is in there. Drake is in there. Pretty much all of the big names are in there, as are a bunch of the smaller names, too. There’s art from acclaimed illustrator Arturo Torres, there are infographics and footnotes; there’s all kinds of stuff in there. Some of the chapters are serious, and some of the chapters are silly, and some of the chapters are a combination of both things. All of them, though, are treated with the care and respect that they deserve.”
Virtual Event: Ravi Shankar — Harvard Book Store
Correctional: A Memoir
November 5 at 7 p.m.
Free with $5 suggested contribution
“The first time Ravi Shankar was arrested, he spoke out against racist policing on National Public Radio and successfully sued the city of New York. The second time, he was incarcerated when his promotion to full professor was finalized. During his 90-day pretrial confinement at the Hartford Correctional Center — a level 4, high-security urban jail in Connecticut — he met men who shared harrowing and heartfelt stories. The experience taught him about the persistence of structural racism, the limitations of mass media, and the pervasive traumas of 21st-century daily life.”
Virtual Event: Isabel Fargo Cole with Hari Kunzru and Dustin Illingworth — brookline booksmith
November 6 at 2 p.m.
“C. is a wretched grump, an anguished patron of bars, brothels, and train stations. He is also an acclaimed East German writer. Dogged by writer’s block, remorse, and national guilt in the years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he leaves the monochromatic existence of the GDR for the neon excess of the West. There at least the novelty of his origins grant him easy money and minor celebrity, if also a deflating sense of complacency. With his visa expired and several relationships hanging in the balance, C. travels back and forth, mentally and physically, between two Germanys, contemplating diverging visions of the world and what they mean for people like him: alienated and aimless witnesses to history.”
“This monumental novel from one of the greatest chroniclers of postwar Germany, masterfully translated by Isabel Fargo Cole, interrogates with bitter wit and singular brilliance the detritus of 20th-century life: addiction, consumerism, God, pay-per-view pornography, selfishness, and statelessness.”
Virtual Event: Louise Erdrich with Ann Patchett [TICKETED] — Porter Square Books
November 9 at 8 p.m.
“Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading “with murderous attention,” must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning. The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written.”
— Matt Hanson