Coming Attractions: June 26 through July 31 — What Will Light Your Fire

As the age of Covid-19 more or less wanes, Arts Fuse critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. Please check with venues when uncertain whether the event is available by streaming or is in person. More offerings will be added as they come in.


Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Masina in 1954’s La Strada, which will be screening as part of HFA’s Complete Federico Fellini.

The Complete Federico Fellini
Through August 15
Harvard Film Archives on Quincy Street in Cambridge

The HFA presents every Fellini film, from I vitelloni (1951) through Amarcord (1973). Here is a chance to see the work of one of the greatest and most influential of the postwar directors. Fellini won four Best Foreign Language film Oscars. The term “Felliniesque” was coined to describe his imaginative images, confessional stories, and the fantastical, circus-like worlds he created. Prepare for a collection of unforgettable characters; and then there are Nino Rota’s brilliant scores.

Roxbury Film Festival
through July 2
Museum of Fine Arts, Emerson Paramount, Hibernian Hall in Roxbury
Full Schedule of Screenings

In addition to a full roster of films, there are script readings, panels, and workshops.

There is a selection of films online for extended viewing, A free screening of Love Jones at the Museum of Fine Arts at 8 p.m. on June 28.

Beyond the Festival is a list of films by RoxFilm alumni available online and on DVD.

The Miltonesque hell world of Mad God. Photo: Tippett Studios

Mad God
Jun 29 & 30 at 9:15 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge

Phil Tippett’s Mad God is an experimental, hand-made, animated and stop motion film set in a Miltonesque world of monsters, mad scientists, and war pigs. “Sprinkled with reminders of Lynch and Cronenberg and others, Tippett’s defiantly adult vision has a freakish originality and a sorrowing tone that’s oddly touching. Humanlike figures are squashed, tortured and consumed by roaming brutes; piteous squawks and rattles pepper a soundtrack soothed by Dan Wool” (NY Times). In her Arts Fuse review, Nicole Veneto wrote, “Think Ray Harryhausen by way of the Quay brothers or Jan Švankmajer and you’ll have a vague sense of the sort of magnificent black magic that animates Mad God.”

Mr. Malcolm’s List
Opens on July 1
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline

Directed by Emma Holly Jones and written by Suzanne Allain, based on her novel of the same name: When she fails to meet an item on his list of requirements for a bride, Julia is jilted by London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Malcolm. Feeling humiliated and determined to exact revenge, she convinces her friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to play the role of his ideal match. Soon, Mr. Malcolm wonders whether he’s found the perfect woman … or the perfect hoax. “In the hands of this particular ensemble, the course of true love may not run entirely smooth, but it also couldn’t be more charming to watch.” (Collider)

 25th Maine International Film Festival
July 8-17
Waterville Opera House; The Railroad Square Cinema; Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre

MIFF is a project of the Maine Film Center. The 10 days of the festival showcase nearly 100 films selected from American independent and international cinema. It also spotlights some of Maine and New England’s most exciting and innovative filmmakers. The festival will present both live and virtual programming.

Complete Program
Virtual Schedule

Russell Crowe in Master and Commander: Far Side of the World.

Master and Commander: Far Side of the World 
July 15
Old Ironsides in Charlestown

Family Friendly Summer Movie Nights on the historic ship are free on a first come first served basis. Information and Directions

CX Movie Nights
Maria Baldwin Open Space

Cambridge Crossing (CX) and the Brattle Theatre will be screening outdoor movies in the Maria Baldwin Open Space. The double feature will schedule PG movies at 5:30 p.m. and PG-13 films at 7:30 p.m. Each guest can also enjoy a free popcorn and water while supplies last. Link for directions and info.

June 30: Moana (5:30 p.m.) and School of Rock (7:30 p.m.)

July 28: Encanto (5:30 p.m.) and Mrs. Doubtfire (7:30 p.m.)

Family Flicks at the Prudential Center
Prudential Center Boston
July 8-August 29

Free family films are presented every Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m. Link for Schedule and details

Sarah Lancashire and Julia Child In Julia. Photo: HBO Max

Pick of the Week:

Daniel Goldfarb, producer of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, brings his charm and sparkle to the story of Julia Child, her marriage and surprising success with “The French Chef” program on WGBH. Sarah Lancashire’s charismatic performance as Julia is a triumph, neither cloying nor a caricature. David Hyde Pierce plays her talented and ​supportive husband Paul, with Bebe Neuwirth as her friend and supporter, culinary editor Avis DeVoto. The entire cast is excellent, assisted by wonderful period costumes and set designs (as they were in Mrs. Maisel).  Bostonians will have fun revisiting the roots of Boston’s celebrated public television station, identifying Cambridge locations and noting local actors.

— Tim Jackson


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.

D’Arcy Dersham, on the floor, and, in the background from left, Robin Bloodworth, Allison Zanolli, and Jack Ashenbach perform in Harbor Stage Company’s production of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child. Photo: Joe Kenehan

Buried Child by Sam Shepard. Directed by Robert Kropf. Staged by Harbor Stage at 15 Kendrick Avenue, Wellfleet, MA, through July 9.

Critic Richard Gilman on the drama of Sam Shepard in 1981: “What distinguished Shepard’s plays from most others in the American repertoire was their greater vivacity and elasticity, even more than their far greater impurity, the presence in them of so many energies and actions not previously thought to be properly dramatic. More than any other American playwright of the sixties, he broke down the fixed definitions of the dramatic.”

Pride@Prejudice, written and directed by Daniel Elihu Kramer. Staged by the Chester Theatre Company at the Town Hall Theatre, 15 Middlefield Road, Chester, MA, through July 3.

“The Jane Austen classic reimagined with bloggers, chat rooms, Austen enthusiasts, and even Jane, herself! A hilarious and moving homage to the beloved novel, with 30 characters portrayed by five versatile, diverse actors.” Originally premiered at CTC in 2011. Here is the Arts Fuse‘s review.

MaConnia Chesser as The Poet in An Iliad at Shakespeare and Company. Photo: Shakespeare & Company

An Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare. Directed by Jeffrey Mousseau. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the Tina Packer Playhouse, Lenox, MA, through July 3.

“Adapted from an acclaimed translation by Robert Fagles, An Iliad refreshes Homer’s world classic and transforms the epic poem into a riveting account of the Trojan War, told in the present time complete with nods to modern-day events.” Arts Fuse review

Mr Fullerton, Between the Sheets by Ann Undeland. Directed by Judy Braha. Staged by  Gloucester Stage, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, July 1 through 24.

A tell-all about Edith Wharton! The author of  House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome) “has just outsold every other writer at the turn of the century, when she falls for the handsome charms of Morton Fullerton, fellow-writer, bon-vivant, and Don Juan. Wharton’s dinner parties are the talk of society, and her maid, Posy, will fill you in on all the details.” Cast includes Sarah Newhouse and Ryan Wrinkles.

Man of God by Anna Ouyang Moench. Directed by Maggie Burrows. Produced by Williamstown Theater Festival in association with Geffen Playhouse at the Nikos Stage, 1000 Main St., Williamstown, MA, July 5 through 22.

Billed as “a comedy thriller.” “Chaos ensues when four teenage girls on a mission trip to Bangkok discover a camera hidden by their pastor in their hotel bathroom. Do they leave it to God or take matters into their own hands? The pressure builds quickly in this suspenseful comedy that interrogates justice, privacy, religion, the patriarchy, and who you follow on Instagram. Juxtaposing girl power with teenage angst, the girls’ different ideals emerge as they discover what it takes to fight back.”

Members of the cast of Common Ground Revisited at The Huntington. Photo: T Charles Erickson

Common Ground Revisited, An adaptation of J. Anthony Lukas’s Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families. Conceived by Melia Bensussen and Kirsten Greenidge. Adapted by Kirsten Greenidge. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood at the Boston Center For the Arts, 527 Tremont St., Boston, through June 26. Digital performance through July 10.

“This riveting and intricately woven world premiere play brings Boston’s history to life in the 1960s and 70s, culminating in three families’ experiences in court-mandated busing. Diverse in both race and class, what can these families’ experiences tell us about our own time? Especially when Boston Public Schools are more segregated in 2021 than they were in 1974. Common Ground Revisited is inspired by Anthony Lukas’s landmark Pulitzer Prize–winning book.”

ABCD by May Treuhaft-Ali. Directed by Daniel J. Bryant. Staged by Barrington Stage at the St. Germain Stage, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, MA, July 1 through 23.

A world premiere: “At two very different public schools in the same city — an underserved school on the verge of shutdown, and an elite magnet program nearby — pressure to perform well on standardized tests drives students and teachers to compromise their integrity. This script is a brutal dissection of the inequities in our public school system. When the joys and challenges of learning are reduced to a multiple-choice test, is cheating the only option?”

DeAnna Supplee, Jahi Kearse, and Justin Sturgis in B.R.O.K.E.N code B.I.R.D switching at the Unicorn Theatre. Photo: Jacey Rae Russell.

B.R.O.K.E.N code B.I.R.D switching by Tara L. Wilson Noth. Directed by Kimille Howard. Staged by the Berkshire Theatre Group at the Unicorn Theatre, 6 East Street, Stockbridge, MA, through July 6.

A world premiere: “After unbearable loss, a grieving attorney takes a pro bono case representing a black teenager accused of murder. When an alluring stranger steps in to help, she is left questioning who she is and what she wants. While fighting for the young man’s innocence, she is forced to confront the devastating truth about marriage, race, and the woman she has chosen to be.”

Birds of North America by Anna Ouyang Moench. Directed by Alex Keegan. Staged by the Chester Theatre Company at the Town Hall Theatre, 15 Middlefield Road, Chester, MA, July 7 through 17.

“Binoculars. Birds. A Baltimore backyard. Over the course of a decade, a father and daughter navigate the changes in the climate and in their relationship as the world around them shifts in ways both towering and minute.”

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. Directed by Kelly Galvin. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the New Spruce Theatre, Lenox, MA, July 2 through August 14.

Well, the riskiest of the Bard’s comedies in the era of #MeToo. Let’s see what the production does to salvage its retro qualities. “A celebration of true love, friendship, and comedy that features some of Shakespeare’s most satisfying language. As Count Claudio falls in love with Hero, the daughter of his host, Hero’s cousin Beatrice and Benedick – a bachelor – are each duped into believing the other is in love with them. Meanwhile, Claudio is deceived by a plot that suggests Hero has been unfaithful. Will courage, wit, and compassion reveal the truth of their circumstances?”

Sushma Saha, Sara Porkalob, Mehry Eslaminia, Gisela Adisa, Crystal Lucas-Perry, Elizabeth A. Davis, Becca Ayers, Brooke Simpson, and Oneika Phillips in 1776, playing now through July 24 at American Repertory Theater. Credit: Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made.

1776 Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards. Book by Peter Stone. Based on a Concept by Sherman Edwards. Directed by Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus. A co-production of the American Repertory Theater and the Roundabout Theatre Company, at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, through July 24.

“They knew they would make history, but not what history would make of them. Fed up with living under the tyranny of British rule, John Adams attempts to persuade his fellow members of the Continental Congress to vote in favor of American Independence and sign the Declaration. But how much is he willing to compromise in the pursuit of freedom? And who does that freedom belong to? A.R.T. artistic director Diane Paulus and Jeffrey L. Page direct a new production of the Tony Award-winning musical, reexamining this pivotal moment in American history with a cast that reflects multiple representations of race, gender, and ethnicity.” Arts Fuse review

Slow Food by Wendy MacLeod. Directed by Daniel Bourque. Staged by Hub Theatre Company of Boston at Club Café, 209 Columbus Ave., Boston, July 16 through 30.

A Boston premiere: “Empty-nesters Irene and Peter are struggling to salvage their anniversary dinner at the only open restaurant in town. However, when their maddening, meddling waiter inserts himself into their meal and their marriage, the evening really heats up! The hangry couple begin to question everything from their menu choices to their future together. Will their food ever come? Will their waiter ever leave? Will they even make it to their next anniversary? The script is a theatrical treat that explores what we truly hunger for and will please the palate of even the most discerning diners and viewers.”

A scene from Double Edge Ensemble’s Hidden Territories of the Bacchae. Photo: Kim Chin-Gibbons

The Hidden Territories of the Bacchae, an adaptation of Euripides’s The Bacchae, created by the Double Edge Ensemble. Directed by Stacey Klein. At the Double Edge Theatre, 948 Conway Road, Ashfield, MA, July 15 through August 6.

Double Edge Theatre’s 40th Anniversary Summer Spectacle: “A response to Euripides’s Bacchae in which women’s rites are no longer in hidden territories but freely able to express their deeply held desires.”

— Bill Marx

Visual Arts

Alexandria Smith is known for her hard-edged, semi-abstract compositions, full of personal symbols and a touch of the surreal, that explore issues of Black identity. For the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, she will create an elaborate site-specific multimedia work that includes painting, sculpture, and an original sound composition by Liz Gre. Centered on the transition from a past in which she felt invisible to the present and into the future, the piece will confront contrasts of invisibility and hypervisibility, awareness and insecurity, and freedom and stagnancy. Alexandra Smith: Memoirs of a Ghost Girlhood, A Black Girl’s Window opens on June 30.

Azza El Siddique, What is left is only water, 2019 (detail). Steel, fired slip cast, water, slow drip irrigation system, cement bricks. Courtesy the artist and Helena Anrather, New York. Photo: Sebastian Bach

Also on June 30, MIT’s List Visual Arts Center will open List Projects 25: Azza El Siddique. Born in Khartoum, Sudan, El Siddique now lives and works in New Haven, CT. Her work draws heavily on her adolescence in Canadian Sudanese communities. Her environments include welded-steel structures based on Nubian sacred sites, and draw on glass and unfired ceramic vases, urns, and fragmentary figures. Slowly released water droplets gradually erode the clay and steel, evoking the irrigation systems used in her arid original homeland. Working on yet another sense, heat lamps release scents of sandalwood, myrrh, rose, frankincense, and fragrant oils used in Muslim ritual or worn as perfume.

Mary Ann Unger (1945-1998) was a prominent part of the downtown art scene in New  York in the ’80s and ’90s, a member of the feminist Guerrilla Girls, and a pioneer of Neo-Expressionism. She worked in watercolor, graphics, large-scale sculpture, and site-specific works. Over 60 works from the artist’s estate, some of them never before exhibited, will join African, European, and Pre-Columbian art from the Williams College Museum of Art in Mary Ann Unger: To Shape a Moon from a Bone, an exhibition that will explore the very contemporary issues of lineage, influence, and appropriation.

Kat O’Connor, Girl Next Door, 2021. Photo: Worcester Art Museum

Kat O’Connor is a Worcester artist who won the “Best in Show” prize at the 2021 ArtsWorcester Biennial. Her solo exhibition, Fathom, opens at the Worcester Art Museum on July 16. O’Connor has exhibited nationally for more than 30 years. For over a decade, water has been the artistic focus of her paintings, especially (recently) the surface and depths of swimming pools, where figures — transformed by surface reflections, optical distortions, bubbles, and ripples of the water — swim in the midst of a sky of stars, planets, and galaxies. Earthly swims are seen as part of the vast sea of the universe.

— Peter Walsh

Music Festivals

Cecile McLorin Salvant will perform at this year’s Newport Jazz Festival. Photo: Shawn Michael Jones.

Newport Folk Festival
July 22-24

Newport Jazz Festival
July 29-31

The Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals are both back at full force at Rhode Island’s Fort Adams State Park this summer after two years of pandemic adjustments. The folk fest, which sells out long before acts are announced, boasts such draws as the National, hot jammers Goose, Courtney Bartnett and Japanese Breakfast (Friday), Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Lucius, Bleachers and Clairo (Saturday) and Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, the Roots and Sylvan Esso (Sunday). The event also showcases surprising newcomers (watch for Buffalo Nichols and the punky Linda Lindas) and collaborations. Bonny Light Horseman leads a tribute to Mermaid Avenue, the 1998 Wilco/Billy Bragg project with Woody Guthrie lyrics.

Tickets are easier to get for the jazz fest, which packs plenty into its own three days the next weekend. Norah Jones, Terence Blanchard, modern fusionists BadBadNotGood, Lettuce and Christian McBride’s all-star “Newport Jawn” (including Mike Stern, Vijay Iyer and Chris Potter) help kick off Friday. Saturday soars with vocal talents Esperanza Spalding, Cecile McLorin Salvant and Jazzmeia Horn as well as drum master Jack DeJohnette’s Quartet, London’s soon-to-disband Sons of Kemet and the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Sunday spans hip-hop with Digable Planets and Sampa the Great in addition to the piano trios of Iyer and Jason Moran, Angelique Kidjo’s homage to Talking Heads’ Remain in Light and a celebration of both fests’ founding father George Wein to include Trombone Shorty, Hiromi, Salvant, and artistic director McBride, capping two expansive weekends by the harborside.

— Paul Robicheau


The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble will perform on June 26 at Zuzu in Cambridge. Photo: Maura Hanlon

Revolutionary Snake Ensemble: “A Night In New Orleans”
June 26 at 7 p.m.
Zuzu, Cambridge

For Boston’s venerable avant-second-line brass band the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, it’s always “A Night in New Orleans,” but they wanted to make that explicit this time around. The superb players include alto saxophonist, composer, and RSE leader Ken Field, tenor saxophonist Tom Hall, trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, trombonist Dave Harris, bassist Blake Newman, and drummer Phil Neighbors. It’s all part of the Sunday night Jazz All Ways series at Zuzu.

Josh Rosen and The Melt
June 26 at 7 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge

Josh Rosen is a seasoned and learned musician, a Berklee prof who was schooled in part in the free jazz scene of 1970s Lower East Side New York. But he also loves form and funk, and his well-turned compositions can take his crew of equally adept fellow travelers in many directions. (We’re thinking “melt” is a melting pot of styles.) The Melt consists of Rosen on piano along with saxophonist Sam Spear, bassist Isaac Ooi, drummer Jake Rosenkalt, and guitarist Jeff Lockhart (whose resume includes Meshell Ndegeocello, Mike Clark, Bill Summers, Soulive, and Lettuce).

M.K.T. Trio
June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge

Three of the most highly valued sidemen in the Boston area (all distinctive player-composers and leaders in their own right) have teamed up for this collective trio: bassist Max Ridley, pianist Kevin Harris, and drummer Tyson Jackson.

June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge

Last week we touted bassist Bruce Gertz’s gig at Scullers, but here’s a whole different deal: his venerable outfit Gargonz, a showcase for dear friends (and two of the best tenor saxophonists alive) George Garzone and Jerry Bergonzi. The two have been holding down a double-bill for years at the Lily (Garzone with Boston institution the Fringe). But here they get to go head to head in a band that includes Gertz, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, and drummer Austin McMahon.

Nina Ott at the organ. Her Latin Jazz Quartet will perform in Milton on June 30.

Nina Ott Latin Jazz Quartet
June 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Eustis Estate, Milton

The Detroit-born pianist and composer Nina Ott was classically trained but found herself drifting to jazz and then took a deep dive into Afro-Latin roots. Her Latin Jazz Quartet includes some of the best players in that tradition on the Boston scene: bassist Chris Lopes, percussionist Eguie Castrillo, and drummer Bertram Lehmann. It happens in the bucolic surround of the historic Eustis Estate, so pack a picnic. Advance tickets are advised, since capacity is limited.

Bebel Gilberto
July 12 at 8 p.m.
City Winery, Boston

Bebel Gilberto is something of bossa nova royalty: she is the daughter of João Gilberto and singer Miúcha and niece of singer/composer Chico Buarque. Though she’s made various forays into all kinds of pop, the Brazilian bossa tradition is her mainstay, as well as her birthright.

— Jon Garelick

Roots and World Music

Céu performing in Saint-Nazaire in 2019. Photo: Wikipedia

July 5
City Winery, Boston

Céu’s first five albums established her as one of Brazil’s most engaging and eclectic singer/songwriters. Now she’s released an all-covers album, Um Gosto de Sol, and is embarking on an acoustic tour which is her first US outing in many years. A week later the City Winery hosts another famed Brazilian diva, Bebel Gilberto.

Tsvey Brider + Baymele
July 5
The Boston Synagogue

The Boston Festival of New Jewish Music continues its free series of concerts with an especially intriguing pairing. Tsvey Brider is the duo of bass singer Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell and accordionist Dmitri Gaskin, and they specialize in putting “modernist 20th-century Yiddish poetry” into a musical form. For this show, they’ll add in collaborations with the klezmer trio Baymele.

New Bedford Folk Festival
July 9-10

This South Coast folk fest is pretty much everything its famous neighbor in Newport long ago ceased to be: an affordable and easily accessible gathering that evenly mixes contemporary and traditional folk acts with heavy doses of Celtic, French-Canadian, old-time, and acoustic blues. Artists range from the newly minted NPR Tiny Desk Contest winner Alisa Amador, to folk headliners Tom Rush and Cheryl Wheeler, to blues and gospel torchbearers Rev. Robert B. Jones Sr. and Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, and in the great folk fest tradition they appear both in their own sets and as part of workshops.

Banjo whiz Alison Brown comes to Club Passim on July 16.

Alison Brown
July 16
Club Passim, Cambridge

Of all the Harvard-educated MBAs, few have done as much good for the music world as Alison Brown, whose Compass Records remains an invaluable source of acoustic music — as well as one of the last of the great indie roots labels that hasn’t been swallowed up by a large corporate entity. That can make it easy to forget that Brown is also an innovative banjo picker who has long been at the forefront of combining jazz, pop, and bluegrass. She’ll be bringing her full band of Chris Walters, piano; John Ragusa, flute; Garry West, bass, and Jordan Perlson, drums, to Passim for a date on her way back from the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, and both special guests and songs from her forthcoming new album On Banjo are likely.

Mames Babegenush
July 26
Sonia, Cambridge
This event raises two questions: Why does one of the best klezmer bands in the world come from Denmark, and why are they playing a room like Sonia that usually features rock and electronic music? Regardless of the answers, this is likely to be one of the sleeper shows of the summer.

Phoenix Rising: Silkroad Ensemble with Rhiannon Giddens
July 27
Indian Ranch, Webster, MA

In a tremendous joining of like-minded creative and socially active spirits, the cross-cultural musical collaborators in the Silkroad Ensemble are now under the artistic direction of Rhiannon Giddens. She’s now undertaking her first major tour with the ensemble, which is performing pieces either composed or newly arranged during the pandemic. The tour is playing such high-profile venues as Tanglewood and the Newport Folk Festival, but in an appropriately inventive booking, Music Worcester is also bringing it to the lakeside stage of Indian Ranch.

Dedicated Men of Zion will perform at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on July 28.

Dedicated Men of Zion
July 28
Boston Museum of Fine Arts

There are hundreds of very good quartet-style gospel groups singing on the church program circuit. About once in a generation one of those groups makes the leap to the roots music festival circuit, the latest being North Carolina’s Dedicated Men of Zion. Their glorious new release, The Devil Don’t Like It, shows a fresh approach to traditional gospel harmonizing. They make their Boston debut as part of the MFA’s Elaine and Jerome Rosenfeld Concerts in the Courtyard series.

Don Bryant — the greatest actively performing deep soul artist working today — will appear at the Lowell Folk Festival.

Lowell Folk Festival
July 29-31

The badly missed Lowell Folk Festival makes its return after two years of Covid cancellations. As always, the free event brings together the finest in global and American traditional music as well as nonprofit food vendors that come from the Lowell area’s diverse communities. One of the can’t miss artists is Don Bryant, the Memphis soul man who co-wrote “I Can’t Stand the Rain” with his wife Ann Peebles before taking a back seat for many years. His recent string of recordings with the all-star Bo-Keys make a strong argument that he’s the greatest actively performing deep soul artist working today. Another kind of music that would otherwise never be heard in these parts is the Tejano fiddle tradition of Panfilo’s Güera, led by San Antonio’s Belen Escobedo. And favorite Lowell genres like Cajun/zydeco (Cedric Watson), polka (Chicago Push), and traditional Latin music (the plena and bomba of the legendary Los Pleneros de 21) are all on the menu as well. Full disclosure: This writer has occasionally written artist biographies for the festival’s programmer, the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

— Noah Schaffer


America(na) to Me
June 26
Ted Shawn Theatre, Becket, MA

Jacob’s Pillow presented its very first concert in the Ted Shawn Theatre in 1942, a showcase of American Folk Dances curated by Shawn that inaugurated the first theater in the United States designed for dance. America(na) to Me strives to encapsulate the artistic vibrancy of Jacob’s Pillow’s 90th Anniversary Season. This world premiere event features an expansive array of artists, including Warwick Gombey Troupe, Jasmine Hearn, Nélida Tirado, Sara Mearns & Joshua Bergasse, Alexandra Tatarsky, and Pillow commissions performed by Dormeshia & Guests and Mythili Prakash. Many of the works will also include live music, including Mythili Prakash’s accompaniment by Sushma Somasekharan, Rajna Krishnan Swaminathan, Kasi Aysola, and Ganavya Doraiswamy. Note to viewers: The program may contain moments of strong language and mature content.

Join Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston’s July First Friday. Photo: ICA

ICA First Friday
July 1
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston invites you to strut your stuff at its July First Friday, with a Caribbean Catwalk theme. Enjoy drinks on the water, a musical performance, dancing, and a carnival costume presentation and fashion show from Boston Caribbean Fashion Week. Attendees are also welcome to explore the ICA galleries. Note: This is a 21+ event.

June 29-July 3
Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, MA

Head out to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival to witness the physical and creative prowess of BODYTRAFFIC. Hailing from Los Angeles, BODYTRAFFIC delivers performances that aim to inspire audiences to appreciate the art of dance. The company will be performing A Million Voices (choreographed by Matthew Neenan), Notes on Fall (choreographed by Brian Brooks), and SNAP (choreographed by Micaela Taylor).

Bill Shannon
July 8
Henry J. Leir Outdoor Stage, Becket, MA

Known for his hip-hop and skateboarding prowess on crutches, Bill Shannon is an interdisciplinary artist and maker who explores bodycentric work through video installation, sculpture, linguistics, sociology, choreography, dance, and politics. Shannon has been awarded a United States Artists Fellowship in Dance, a Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography, and a Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship in Performance Art. Shannon frequently lectures internationally on his performance practice, focusing on the phenomenological and linguistic framing he has created around his street practice.

Nozama Dance Collective in action. Photo: Tim Avery

July 9
Mass Motion Dance Boston, Brighton

Head to Mass Motion Dance Boston for N2, an intimate showing of new works by Nozama Dance Collective. The performance features five world premieres by directors and members of the collective, commentary by the works’ creators, and a screening of AUTONOMY, a screendance film. Join the company for this prolific performance of creative new works.

— Merli V. Guerra

Author Events

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi – brookline booksmith
How to Raise an Antiracist
June 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $35

“Following the accessible genre of his internationally bestselling How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi combines a century of scientific research with a vulnerable and compelling personal narrative of his own journey as a parent and as a child in school. The chapters follow the stages of child development from pregnancy to toddler to schoolkid to teenager. It is never too early or late to start raising young people to be antiracist.”

Caleb Gayle will read from We Refuse to Regret on June 28.

Caleb Gayle at Harvard Book Store
We Refuse to Forget: A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity, and Power
June 28 at 7 p.m.

“Award-winning journalist Caleb Gayle tells the extraordinary story of the Creek Nation, a Native tribe that two centuries ago both owned slaves and accepted Black people as full citizens. Thanks to the efforts of Creek leaders like Cow Tom, a Black Creek citizen who rose to become chief, the US government recognized Creek citizenship in 1866 for its Black members. Yet this equality was shredded in the 1970s when tribal leaders revoked the citizenship of Black Creeks, even those who could trace their history back generations — even to Cow Tom himself.

“Why did this happen? How was the US government involved? And what are Cow Tom’s descendants and other Black Creeks doing to regain their citizenship? These are some of the questions that Gayle explores in this provocative examination of racial and ethnic identity.”

Virtual Event: Maya Tatsukawa with Dane Liu – Porter Square Books
Sunday Pancakes
June 30 at 6 p.m.

“It’s Sunday! And for Cat that means … pancakes! But Cat is out of eggs and milk — maybe inviting friends will fix that. Luckily, Rabbit and Bear have the missing ingredients covered, and these friends get to work baking stacks and stacks and STACKS of pancakes! There may be a few spills and oops along the way, but pancakes — and friends — don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. Included in the story is a simple recipe so readers can enjoy making pancakes of their own!”

Jake S. Friedman at Harvard Book Store
The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation’s Golden Age
July 7 at 7 p.m.

“Soon after the birth of Mickey Mouse, one animator raised the Disney Studio far beyond Walt’s expectations. That animator also led a union war that almost destroyed it. Art Babbitt animated for the Disney studio throughout the 1930s and through 1941, years in which he and Walt were jointly driven to elevate animation as an art form, up through Snow White, Pinocchio, and Fantasia.

“But as America prepared for World War II, labor unions spread across Hollywood. Disney fought the unions while Babbitt embraced them. Soon, angry Disney cartoon characters graced picket signs as hundreds of animation artists went out on strike. Adding fuel to the fire was Willie Bioff, one of Al Capone’s wiseguys who was seizing control of Hollywood workers and vied for the animators’ union.

“Using never-before-seen research from previously lost records, including conversation transcriptions from within the studio walls, author and historian Jake S. Friedman reveals the details behind the labor dispute that changed animation and Hollywood forever.”

Conner Habib with Paul Tremblay – Porter Square Books
Hawk Mountain
July 10 at 6 p.m.

The plot of Habib’s debut novel: “An English teacher is gaslit by his charismatic high school bully in this tense story of deception, manipulation, and murder.”

Keith Gessen with Kara Baskin – brookline booksmith
Raising Raffi
July 11 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are Free, $27 with copy of book

“Keith Gessen was nearing forty and hadn’t given much thought to the idea of being a father. He assumed he would have kids, but couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a parent, or what kind of parent he would be. Then, one Tuesday night in early June, the distant idea of fatherhood came into view: Raffi was born, a child as real and complex and demanding of his parents’ energy as he was singularly magical.

“Fatherhood is another country: a place where the old concerns are swept away, where the ordering of time is reconstituted, where days unfold according to a child’s needs. Whatever rulebooks once existed for this sort of thing seem irrelevant or outdated. Overnight, Gessen’s perception of his neighborhood changes: suddenly there are flocks of other parents and babies, playgrounds, and schools that span entire blocks. Raffi is enchanting, as well as terrifying, and like all parents, Gessen wants to do what is best for his child. But he has no idea what that is.”

— Matt Hanson

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