Coming Attractions: May 7 through 23– What Will Light Your Fire
Arts Fuse critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. More offerings will be added as they come in.
Still Life with Hong Sangsoo
through May 14
Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge
The HFA presents the last seven films of Hong Sangsoo, the brilliant and prolific Korean director who has produced an average of one film per year for the past 26 years. “Hong’s films are always suggesting this possibility for a different world. It sometimes flickers into being through the presence of chance or coincidence; at other times, through the extraction of the unexpected from the ordinary. In all of his work, there is the constant need to keep meaning from becoming reducible to allegory or metaphor, to maintain the potential for ambiguity. In this sense, the films are truly radical, making the world anew time and time again.” (Dennis Zhou, the Nation) Arts Fuse review
May 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Part of Belmont World Film’s International Film Series
At the Majestic 7 Cinema, 81 Arsenal Yards Blvd, Tenant 100, Watertown
In this thriller, a French couple moves to a small village in Galicia where they will practice ecologically responsible agriculture and restore abandoned houses, which will facilitate the repopulation of the town. This drama digs into the feral underbelly of country life, focusing on the brutal conflicts between foreigners and locals, educated and uneducated. It was a recent winner of a César Award (the French Oscars) for Best Foreign Film. A discussion with Susana Domingo-Amestoy, Assistant Professor of Latin at UMass Boston, will follow.
Boston Festival of Films from Japan
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
The festival pairs with the exhibition Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence. The opening film is Love Life, about a family who comes together after an unspeakable tragedy. The closing film (2 p.m. on May 20) is A Man about a woman whose husband dies in a tragic accident, then discovers her new husband was not the man she thought he was. There is the Boston premiere of Ribbon, about an art student grappling with cancellation of her thesis exhibition due to the pandemic. Two anime masterpieces are featured, Neighbor Totoro and Akira, and a new animation, Miss Hokusai, an animated tale about the talented daughter of the legendary Japanese artist. Complete Schedule
May 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Part of Belmont World Film’s International Film Series
Majestic 7 Cinema 81 Arsenal Yards Blvd Tenant 100, Watertown
Catherine Deneuve plays an overbearing mother to her son Benjamin, a “failed actor” turned acting teacher who has been given a terminal cancer diagnosis. The guy seeks end-of-life advice from Dr. Eddé (played by real-life oncologist and music therapy practitioner Dr. Gabriel Sara), who plays guitar and leads his staff in sing-alongs. Sara provides the kind of compassionate, empathy-based treatment that enables Benjamin to become his true self. Sara also served as the film’s consultant and will participate in a Q&A moderated by WBUR Senior Health & Science reporter Gabrielle Emanuel.
May 19 at 7 p.m.
Bright Family Screening Room, Emerson Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston
A Shared Stories presentation, a collaboration by BAAFF, RoxFilm and CineFest Latino Boston. The documentary chronicles the conflicts around monuments that arose in the United States during the George Floyd protests and the 2020 presidential election. The nation’s triumphalist myths are called into question when statues of Columbus, Confederate generals, and Founding Fathers are pulled from their pedestals. The film interrogates the physical links between history and political action in a nation that must confront its past now more urgently than ever. A moderated discussion will follow the screening. Arts Fuse review
The documentary follows conservationist Kris Tompkins on an epic, decades-spanning love story as wild as the landscapes she dedicated her life to protecting. She and outdoorsman and entrepreneur Doug Tompkins left the world of the massively successful outdoor brands they’d helped pioneer — Patagonia, The North Face, and Esprit — and turned their attention to a visionary mission — to create national parks throughout Chile and Argentina. For a special screening on May 13 at 7 p.m. director Chai Vasarhelyi will be in attendance.
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
May 19 – 23
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
Premiere of an animated film about how a lost cat, a voluble giant toad, and a tsunami help an unambitious salesman, his frustrated wife, and a schizophrenic accountant save Tokyo from an earthquake. During the adventure they find meaning in their lives. It is the first animated feature adaptation of a tale by Haruki Murakami, whose stories were the inspirations for the films Burning and Drive My Car. The film “makes the most of the medium in order to capture the author’s brand of magic realism, as gently psychedelic dream sequences are interwoven seamlessly with the naturalistic everyday action” as well as “an advanced 3D modelling technique to capture the smaller nuances of his actors’ live-action movements and gestures.” (Slate)
Pick of the Week
The Warhol Diaries Netflix
This stylish profile of Andy Warhol justifies its gargantuan girth: the 10-part miniseries sets out to explore the many sides of one of the 20th century’s most elusive and influential artists. Created by activist and producer Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck, The Watcher, Glee, American Crime Story), the series becomes remarkably personal, about a subject who was always elusive about his private life. Rare footage and insightful interviews are interwoven between passages from a condensed version (by Warhol collaborator Pat Hackett) of the artist’s 20,000 pages of diary entries. Resemble AI’s synthetic speech engine recreates the voice of Warhol (as read by Bill Irwin), which we hear intoning diary entries throughout each episode. The use of technology is a fitting irony; after all, this is an artist who famously once said, “I want to be a machine.”
— Tim Jackson
COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (Part 1: Millennium Approaches) by Tony Kushner. Directed by Eric Tucker. Staged by Central Square Theatre, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, April 20 through May 28.
Bedlam artistic director Eric Tucker brings his “signature, pared-down approach” to the first part of Tony Kushner’s much-lauded comedy-drama epic. Some very fine local talent in the cast, including Debra Wise, Nael Nacer, and Maurice Emmanuel Parent. Tucker will tackle the role of Roy Cohn. Arts Fuse review
Dance Nation by Claire Barron. Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques. Choreography by Audrey Johnson. Staged by the Apollinaire Theatre at the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, through May 14.
“Somewhere in America, an army of pre-teen competitive dancers plots to take over the world. And if their new routine is good enough, they’ll claw their way to the top at Nationals in Tampa Bay.” This is a play about “ambition, growing up, and yearning to embrace our bodies and our souls.
Sister Act, Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater. Book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner with additional materials by Douglas Carter Beane. Directed by Leigh Barrett. Musical direction by David F. Coleman and choreography by Dan Sullivan. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, through May 14.
For those who enjoy this kind of jovial fantasy, the Lyric Stage’s publicity proclamation pretty well sums it up: “Sister Act, based on the beloved hit movie, will have audiences relishing ‘heavenly’ voices and jubilant performances. Featuring a choir of cheeky, lovable nuns led by the fabulous, unforgettable, (and sequin loving!) Deloris Van Cartier, toes will be tapping and spirits will be lifted at this celebration of friendship, the joy of music, and the importance of togetherness.” Love those toes a-tapping.
“This is an urban ecological pilgrimage featuring a 10 mile spectacular procession with visual art, giant puppets and costumes, and 21 sustainability site performances of music, dance, theater, and poetry. The pageant celebrates local climate solution initiatives throughout the community gardens, neighborhood, and waterfront on the Lower East Side of New York City.” I am listing this because it will be worth heading down to New York to take part. And to nudge someone in the Boston area to put together a local version.
the ripple, the wave that carried me home by Christina Anderson. Directed by Tamilla Woodard. Staged by Yale Rep at Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, through May 20.
“1992. Janice lives with her family in an Ohio suburb — a world away from her childhood in ’60s Kansas, where her activist parents fought to integrate public pools and taught Black children how to swim. When she is asked to return and speak at a ceremony honoring her father, she must decide whether she is ready to reckon with her political inheritance and a past she has tried to forget.”
The Prom. Book and lyrics by Chad Beguelin. Book by Bob Martin. Music by Matthew Sklar. Directed by Paul Daigneault, with help from music director Paul S. Katz and choreographer Taavon Gamble. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage at the Roberts Studio Theatre, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, through June 10.
This musical, which won the 2019 Drama Desk Award for Best Musical, “tells the story of Emma, an Indiana teen who makes headlines when she announces she wants to take her girlfriend Alyssa to their high school prom. But just when it seems like she might persuade the hesitant PTA to agree, four bumbling Broadway has-beens in search of a cause barge into town to put a spotlight on the issue — and themselves. As the worlds of Broadway and Main Street hilariously collide, the courage of one girl reminds us all how the power of love can bring people together.” This is a Boston premiere.
Joy and Pandemic by Taylor Mac. Directed by Loretta Greco. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood/BCA, 527 Tremont St. Boston, through May 21.
The world premiere of a play from an award-winning, iconoclastic dramatist, that “questions how our passions regarding family, art, and war impact the very meaning of our lives. As Joy finds her Philadelphia children’s art school at risk in a burgeoning public health crisis, she hopes to keep her dream of the school alive. When her unyielding faith runs up against another mother’s beliefs, an afternoon in the early 20th century transforms the world for both of their daughters for decades to come.” I have written on Mac’s plays Hir and Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. Arts Fuse review
Obscurum per Obscurius, created by Greg Kowalski. Lighting by Greg Kowalski. Quadraphonic Sound Design by Dave Seidel. Voice by Dei Xhrist. Ampenforcer: Gabon Kabuki Flaps. A Machine 5 production at The Wire Factory, 171 Lincoln St, Lowell, May 13. Tickets
Given how depressingly conventional theater has become in the Boston-area, this non-narrative piece sounds enticingly challenging. “‘Obscurum per Obscurius’ — (explaining) the obscure by means of the more obscure” – is the expression alchemists used to describe their work. For this piece, light is blocked in the venue so as to achieve complete blackout conditions. Please be aware of this as there will be prolonged periods in total darkness.” This group has staged Crave by Sarah Kane, Play by Samuel Beckett, and Sacred Emily by Gertrude Stein.
Evita, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Tim Rice. Directed by Sammi Cannold and choreographed by Emily Maltby and Valeria Solomonoff. Produced by the American Repertory Theater in association with the Shakespeare Theatre Company and by arrangement with The Really Useful Group at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, May 17 through July 16.
A revival of the Tony Award-winning rock opera. “Icon or human, villain or saint, aggressor or victim: Who was the woman inside the iconic ball gown?”
The Children by Lucy Kirkwood. Directed by Steve Kidd. Staged by The Gamm Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, RI, through May 14.
“In a remote English cottage by the sea, retired scientists Hazel and Robin are determined to grow old together as the world crumbles around them. Practicing yoga, tending cows, and rationing electricity, the couple does its best to live “normally” in the wake of a nuclear disaster. But their already precarious existence is challenged when Rose, a friend and former colleague, shows up after 38 years with a life-altering request.” The script “raises big questions about culpability, and what we owe ourselves and younger generations.”
— Bill Marx
MacArthur Fellow Okwui Okpokwasili returns to the ICA with a world-premiere performance of adaku, part 1: the road opens. Combining movement, song, and storytelling, Okpokwasili (writer, performer, and choreographer) and Peter Born (director, designer, filmmaker) reframe the oral traditions of West African griot poets and musicians, importing and updating ancient techniques for contemporary audiences.
DANCE NOW Boston
May 13, 14, 20, 21
Dance Complex, Cambridge
DANCE NOW Boston presents two separate programs, collectively featuring Boston artists Lorraine Chapman, Janelle Gilchrist, KAIROS Dance Theater, Meghan McLyman & Kristen Duffy Young, and Jenny Oliver, along with New York–based artists The Bang Group and Megan Williams Dance Projects. Now in its ninth season, DANCE NOW Boston commissions Boston choreographers to bring in or to create work for shared programs in both Boston and New York City, working in close collaboration with DANCE NOW NYC.
Museum of Science, Boston
Constellation Stories — a multicultural celebration of astronomy through dance, technology, and music — will ignite the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science, Boston. This collaborative gathering of dance, light, and science will feature astronomy-based mythologies from China, Japan, Estonia, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Cape Verde. Produced by the Arts Fuse‘s Merli V. Guerra’s PLACE Project, the evening will include contemporary performances by Luminarium guest artists; original music composition by Madeleine Shapiro (cellist/improvisations, NYC) and Andreas Bergsland (electronics, Norway); traditional Taíno solos by Chali’naru Dones and Vinny “Tata’niki” Iraheta; and a new work by Henoch Spinola. All the artists are there to honor the night sky.
Global Arts Live presents Dorrance Dance at the ICA, Boston. MacArthur Fellow Michelle Dorrance has been hailed as “the most exciting and original choreographer in tap today” (New York Times). Join the company as it performs excerpts from SOUNDspace and other works to explore what is most thrilling, brilliant, and beautiful about tap dancing — movement as music. Note to the interested: two of the three performances are already sold out! Grab your tickets ASAP.
— Merli V. Guerra
People in Between
Presented by New England Philharmonic
May 7 at 3 p.m.
Tsai Performance Center, Boston
The NEP concludes their season with a pair of New England premieres — Adeliia Faizullina’s Bolghar and Thomas de Hartmann’s Violin Concerto — set alongside Shostakovich’s mammoth Leningrad Symphony (No. 7).
The White Raven
Presented by Coro Allegro
May 7 at 3 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge
Coro Allegro marks Daniel Pinkham’s centennial with a performance of his The White Raven, originally written for the ensemble’s fifth anniversary. Also on the docket is Haydn’s “Lord Nelson” Mass and Diane White-Clayton’s Many Mansions.
Presented by A Far Cry
May 12 at 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston
The Criers wrap their season with a string orchestra arrangement of Britten’s String Quartet No. 2, as well as music by Henry Purcell, Yaz Lancaster, and Shaw Pong Liu.
Tchaikovsky & Chaminade
Presented by Longwood Symphony
May 20 at 8 p.m.
Kresge Auditorium at MIT, Cambridge
Avlana Eisenberg leads the LSO in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and William Grant Still’s Can’t You Line ‘Em. In between, flautist Anthony Trionfo is the featured soloist in Charles Griffes’s Poeme and Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino.
Spanish Candy Release Concert
Presented by Now Musique
May 20 at 7 p.m.
Chapel at Arlington Street Church, Boston
The excellent (and busy) guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan celebrates the release of his 10th album, a survey of Spanish-themed works for his instrument, with a concert of excerpts from it. The program features selections by Albéniz, Marquina, Tárrega, Sanlúcar, J.S. Bach, Daniel Felsenfeld, and Larget-Caplan himself.
Dancing Through the Centuries
Presented by Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra
May 21, 3 p.m.
Second Church in Newton
Boston Symphony assistant conductor Earl Lee leads Pro Arte in a set of dance-themed works by Bartók, Kenji Bunch, Heinrich Biber, Florence Price, and Francesco Geminiani.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
“The whole idea of a self-portrait is so strange,” says famed portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz. Yet many photographers have found the notion irresistible. When the self becomes the subject, the artist’s ability to reveal, conceal, or alter identity becomes the content of the image.
The Performative Self-Portrait, which opens at the RISD Museum on May 13, explores “ways artists use self-portraiture to enact the self, question history, and articulate identity.” On view will be works from the museum’s collection, including new acquisitions and other works on public view for the first time, made between 1930 and the present.
RISD graduate Ana Flores is the focus of the Newport Art Museum exhibition Ana Flores: Shaman Ladders and Other Stories, opening on May 20. Flores, a Cuban refugee who came to the United States with her family, is a sculptor, writer, and ecologist who works with narratives connecting communities and landscapes. The Newport show features work drawn from two series based on the ecology and history of places important to the artist: the forest near her Charlestown, RI, studio, and the shores of Nova Scotia.
Marking the 180th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s first visit to Hartford in May 1843, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art exhibition I Am Seen…Therefore I Am: Isaac Julien and Frederick Douglass is built around Sir Isaac Julien’s multiscreen film installation, Lessons of the Hour. The show was co-organized by Harvard professor of African-American history Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sarah Elizabeth Lewis.
Besides the Julien installation, the exhibition includes rare 19th-century daguerreotypes made by African-American photographers of African-American subjects. The juxtaposition suggests, the organizers say, a dialogue between the local and the international, between Douglass’s encounters with the citizens of Hartford and his never finished search for social justice. The show opens May 18. On May 19, a “conversation” between Gates, Lewis, and Julien is already sold out but it can still be viewed via Zoom link; free tickets are available through the museum’s website.
The MFA’s Community Arts Initiative is a nearly two-decade-old project designed to introduce young people ages six to 12 to art making and the MFA collections through partnerships with community organizations. From Farm to Craft Table, opening on May 13, brought together children from a dozen Boston Boys and Girls Clubs and other area community organizations with mixed media Artist Alexandra Adams to explore the “wonders of wool.”
Starting at the Waltham Fields Community Farm, the children and their mentor worked together to build relationships with fur-bearing animals and form an appreciation for the nature of wool. The exhibition consists of a community garden of felt tendrils and roots, abstract vessels, a paint patchwork quilt, and felt sculptures that together form a landscape of green wools, dangling root systems, and blossoming seeds.
Though watercolor is ancient, it has has often seemed like the quintessential American art medium, partly because so many American artists, amateur and professional, have so eagerly adopted it as their own. Quick and expressive, portable, amenable to experiment and work in any style, easy to take up almost anywhere, watercolor even seems to parallel the American concepts of limitless possibilities, self invention, and endlessly unfolding frontiers.
Within the Harvard Art Museums’ vast drawing collection, which ranks with the largest and most important in the world, is an extraordinary group of American watercolors, carefully built up over more than a century. American Watercolors, 1880-1990: Into the Light, opening on May 20, features a selection of 100 examples from this resource by about 50 artists, both well-known practitioners and and historically underrepresented artists: Romare Bearden, Charles Burchfield, Alexander Calder, Charles Demuth, Zelda Fitzgerald, Helen Frankenthaler, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, John Marin, John Singer Sargent, and Bill Traylor, among others.
Because watercolors are “fugitive,” that is, highly subject to fading, they can only be exhibited rarely and for short intervals. So this could be your only chance to see many of these works for a long time.
Opening May 13 at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton is the exhibition Material Mapping: Data-driven Sculpture by Adrien Segal & Norwood Viviano. Working with materials from glass to wood to steel, the two artists seek to convert data on such subjects as disruptions in the natural environment, scientific observation, industrial change, and population shifts into works that make visible the contemporary world and human impacts upon it.
— Peter Walsh
Roots and World Music
The Secret Trio
City Winery, Boston
A rare and welcome Boston visit from an all-star combo that with great verve explores musical traditions from around the Mediterranean, Balkans, and Middle East — and also makes up some new traditions of their own. The members are Macedonian clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski, Armenian oud player Ara Dinkjian, and Turkish kanun player Tamer Pınarbaşı.
50 Years of Hip-Hop
Roxbury Community College
Unless you live under a rock — or perhaps only listen to rock — you’re likely aware that 2023 has been unofficially but universally declared as the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. The cultural big bang (allegedly) happened on an August night when DJ Kool-Herc threw a party in the Bronx. Lots of big names are cashing in — LL Cool J is headlining a massive show this summer at the TD Garden full of old-school stars. To their great credit, the community-minded Roxbury International Film Festival and Roxbury Community College are presenting a free afternoon and early evening that everyone can enjoy. The festivities start at 4 p.m. with the screening of the Public Enemy flick Welcome to the Terrordome followed by the rarely screened Boston hip-hop documentary Take the T Train and a panel discussion. At 7 p.m. there will be performances by Red Shaydez, Paul Willis, and REKS.
Zeiterion Theater, New Bedford
Kool and the Gang with the Spinners and Average White Band
MGM Music Hall, Boston
Fans of old-school R&B have an embarrassment of choices this weekend. Longtime fans of Tavares know that the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack stars got their start as a soulful New Bedford outfit called Chubby and the Turnpikes. Chubby Tavares himself will be retiring after this weekend, although the group will continue, so it should be an emotional home time gig. (A Friday night show is already sold out.) Robert “Kool” Bell and his funky Gang are still receiving good reviews. The band usually includes Sun Ra trumpeter Michael Ray. They’re also paired with just-announced Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Spinners for a May 11 show at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom.
May 20, noon
Club Passim, Cambridge
The twin Kossoy Sisters performed at the very first Newport Folk Festival and, before that, at the 1956 “Bound for Glory” tribute concert for an ailing Woody Guthrie. They never stopped singing, though they have largely avoided the commercial music route. It was 40 years between their two full-length albums. That didn’t stop a new generation from discovering them via the film O Brother Where Art Thou?, which included their version of “I’ll Fly Away.” The sisters now live in Guatemala, but are back for this matinee, which also includes Guatemalan blues singer Mercedes Escobar and a Q&A session about the early New England folk scene.
Tiny Glass Tavern: There Shall Be No Sea
May 20, 3 p.m.
Swedenborg Chapel, Cambridge
The Tiny Glass Trio bridges folk, new, early, and classical music with their thoughtfully curated programs. This mix of song and poems about the sea will be performed by Sophie Michaux (voice), Adam Simon (voice+guitar+bass), Kai-Ching Chang (piano), and Chris Voss (narration+voice). This performance marks the ensemble’s first collaboration with the Journeys in Sound series.
— Noah Schaffer
Erik Friedlander’s The Throw
May 7 at 1:30 p.m.
Cellist and composer Erik Friedlander convenes his extraordinary quartet The Throw for this show, with pianist Uri Caine, bassist Mark Helias, and drummer/percussionist Ches Smith.
May 9 at 7:30 p.m.
The always provocative Point01 Percent team has put together another fascinating lineup of improvisers. First up (at 7:30) is drummer Eric Rosenthal with Jorrit Dijkstra on saxophone and lyricon, pianist Tatiana Castro Mejía, and bassist Brittany Karlson. At 8:30 or so it’s pianist Pandelis Karayorgis with bassist Nathan McBride and drummer Nat Mugavaro.
Kamasi Washington featuring Ami Taf Ra
May 9-11 at 7:30 p.m.
City Winery, Boston
Saxophonist and composer Kamasi Washington, along with his ensemble featuring singer Ami Taf Ra, settles in for three big nights at City Winery.
Claire Dickson with Magdalena Abrego
May 11 at 7:30 p.m
Parish of All Saint, Dorchester, MA
Coming from a Boston-area musical family, Claire Dickson has been an accomplished jazz singer since she was a teenager. Her reach as a vocalist and composer has grown exponentially since her years studying at Harvard and especially with Esperanza Spalding as a mentor. Now based in Brooklyn, she returns to the area for this show with guitarist Magdalena Abrego.
May 12 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
Saxophonist and composer Wayne Escoffery celebrates the release of his new Like Minds. We’re hoping he will be joined by his longtime collaborators from that album, the wonderful keyboardist David Kikoski and bassist Ugonna Okegwo, plus the exciting young drummer Mark Whitfield Jr.
May 13 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
The exciting veteran vibraphonist Joe Locke celebrates the release of his new Makram, probably with the band from that album — pianist Jim Ridl, bassist Lorin Cohen, and drummer Samvel Sarkisyan.
May 14 at 3:30 p.m.
The bassist, composer, and educator Bruno Råberg has long been a mainstay of the Boston scene as both sideman and leader, but now comes his first solo-bass release, Look Inside (due May 14), and this show celebrating the recording. The new album shows off Råberg’s broad musical knowledge (from American jazz to West African and South Indian traditions) and sterling virtuosity in 11 discrete, succinct pieces, including originals as well as Miles Davis’s “Nardis” and the Gershwins’ “My Man’s Gone Now.” A solo set will be followed by a trio with Råberg, saxophonist Allan Chase, and drummer Francisco Mela.
Wild West Quartet
May 14 at 9:30 p.m.
Another one-of-a-kind ensemble of distinguished improvisers and composers playing together for the first time as a band. The saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock has released one beautiful album after another in recent years with a variety of ensembles, often including her husband, the great drummer Tom Rainey (her latest is The Last Quiet Place, on Pyroclastic). The distinguished electronic musician Tim Perkis is known for his networked computer music ensemble, The Hub; he’s a winner of the Giga-Hertz Prize for lifetime achievement in electronic music. Bay Area musicians Lisa Mezzacappa (bass) and Jason Levis (drums) work together as duo B.
May 16 at 8 p.m.
Once again, three fine players you may know, but not in this particular configuration: guitarist Andrew Stern, bassist Brad Barrett, and drummer Dave Fox. They boast: “Dynamic original tunes plus covers of Chopin, Neil Young, Ellington, and who knows what else…”
Roots of Jazz: Trumpet Titans
May 17 and 18 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston
Trumpeter Byron Stripling made his first appearance with the Boston Pops in 1989. In a career that has mixed jazz and theatrical productions (including the musical “Satchmo: America’s Musical Legend”), he’s gone on to become a regular on the pops concert circuit, as well as artistic director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. The best part: he can play. He joins Keith Lockhart and the Pops for this edition of their “Roots of Jazz” series: “a journey from the New Orleans roots of Louis Armstrong to the frenetic bebop of Dizzy Gillespie to the cool stylings of Miles Davis” — with a bit of James P. Johnson and Duke Ellington in there as well.
May 18 at 8 p.m.
Harvard-Epworth Church, Cambridge
In this edition of his “Third Thursday” residency at Harvard-Epworth (an ongoing exploration of the legacy of Ornette Coleman), keyboardist Dave Bryant brings in the phenomenal drummer Gregg Bendian, who was part of the trio with Bryant on 2020’s Night Visitors that also included the late Charnett Moffett. The bassist in tonight’s power trio is Hilliard Greene, another veteran player with vast experience in new music.
May 19 at 8 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA
Deeply learned, broadly accomplished, and a beautiful player by any standard: pianist and composer Eliane Elias performs in the Rockport Music series with her longtime musical partner, the superb bassist Marc Johnson, along with fellow Brazilians guitarist Leandro Pellegrino and now-Boston-based ace drummer Rafael Barata. Elias’s lyrical, flowing jazz piano comes out of Bill Evans (Johnson was the Evans trio’s last bassist), plus her own dash of rhythmic zest. As for bossa and samba, you might hear it played differently, but no one better than this São Paulo–born dynamo.
May 20 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
The 32-year-old pianist and composer Emmet Cohen — a 2011 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition third-place finalist, among other star-making achievements of the past decade, as well as host of his long-running pandemic-initiated weekly “Live from Emmet’s Place” — celebrates a new release, Uptown in Orbit, with trio mates Joey Ranieri on bass and Kyle Poole on drums.
Ran Blake & Dominique Eade
May 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Community School of Springfield, Springfield, MA
The visionary pianist and composer Ran Blake — a fixture on the Boston scene since helping Gunther Schuller create the Third Stream department at New England Conservatory in 1973 — returns to the city of his birth (where he still has deep roots) for this performance with his longtime collaborator, the brilliant singer, composer, and teacher Dominique Eade. On record and in concert, these two always manage to go far and deep, whether in Blake’s film noir-inspired originals, jazz standards, or blues and folk.
Dennis Warren Octet (FMRJE)
May 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Drummer Dennis Warren formed the Full Metal Revolutionary Jazz Ensemble in Boston in 1989. For the first time in memory, the Warren band now returns as the Full Metal Revolutionary Jazz Eclectic. Warren will play a variety of acoustic and electronic percussion and will be joined by Earl Grant Lawrence on flutes and saxophone; trumpeter Vance Provey; keyboardist Michael Shea; guitarist Tor Snyder; electric bassists Albey Balgochian (seen at the Lilypad recently with Linda Sharrock) and Mowgli Giannitti; and Jose Arroyo on congas and other percussion.
— Jon Garelick
“Dysfunction, drama, and coming-of-age confusion ensues in this ’90s Los Angeles tale” is how the press release describes Secret Rules to Being a Rockstar, the “YA LGBQTA+ novel” that Three Rooms Press published on April 18.
The author of said publication is Boston native and Emerson College graduate Jessamyn Violet. With the release of this book, the Venice Beach, California, resident added novelist to a résumé that already included poet, short story writer, screenwriter, actor, pianist, and drummer.
As a drummer, she and guitarist Vince Cuneo make up the instrumental duo Movie Club, who have released an LP and numerous EPs and singles — including this year’s “Requiem/Spinner” — since 2019.
At her May 9 visit to City Winery, Violet will read from her novel, discuss it with Berklee professor Susan Rogers, and perform a set of Movie Club music with Cuneo.
So as the tour flier says, “Come for the books, stay for the bands!”
— Blake Maddux
Somerville PorchFest 2023
May 13, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Another installment in what has become a neighborhood arts and culture happening. “Perhaps you’ve sat on your porch and overheard a neighbor strumming guitar on another porch? Porchfest takes this idea and multiplies it. This is not a festival per se but rather a community event where Somervillians share their love of playing and listening to music … from their porches, driveways, yards, etc.”
Terry Kitchen, Jim Infantino, and Danielle Miraglia
May 19 at 8 p.m.
The Square Root
2 Corinth St. Roslindale Square, Boston
A trio of top-notch, award-winning local singer/songwriters perform at The Square Root, which had a close call this winter when someone drove a car into their building, so it’s nice it’s back up and running.
— Bill Marx
The Wilbur: Sasha Velour – brookline booksmith
The Big Reveal Live Show!
May 8 at 8 p.m.
Wilbur Theatre, Boston
Tickets are $45-100
“Sasha Velour presents an immersive evening of drag, storytelling, and live art, in celebration of her forthcoming book The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag. The volume documents the histories and controversies surrounding drag alongside Velour’s own personal story. The live show brings this to life with iconic new performances from Sasha, an in-person conversation with a special guest star, and an audience Q&A. Book signing to follow!
Velour’s live performances have been called “an entirely new level of performance art” (Yahoo) and “heart-wrenching” (Billboard). Her first one-queen drag show Smoke & Mirrors toured from 2019-2022 to over 80 cities around the world including sold out shows in London (The Palladium), Paris (Folies Bergère), New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Auckland, Warsaw, Bogotá and more. Her acclaimed drag show NightGowns, founded in 2015, has hosted some of the world’s greatest drag performers and was adapted into a docu-series (NightGowns, 2020). Velour came to international attention in 2017 when she was featured on Season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Holly Goldberg Sloan in conversation with Henry Louis Gates Jr. – Porter Square Books
Pieces of Blue
May 9 at 7 p.m.
“From New York Times bestselling author Holly Goldberg Sloan, a compelling and heartfelt novel for fans of Maria Semple and Emma Straub about a family trying to restore a ramshackle beachside motel — and their own lives
“What good was thinking the future only held cloudy skies? Wasn’t the reality that pieces of blue were always there, waiting to break through?”
Mitchell Zuckoff at the Cambridge Public Library – Harvard Book Store
The Secret Gate: A True Story of Courage and Sacrifice During the Collapse of Afghanistan
May 10 at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $31 with book, free without, RSVP required
“When the U.S. began its withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Afghan Army instantly collapsed, Homeira Qaderi was marked for death at the hands of the Taliban. A celebrated author, academic, and champion for women’s liberation, Homeira had achieved celebrity in her home country by winning custody of her son in a contentious divorce, a rarity in Afghanistan’s patriarchal society. As evacuation planes departed above, Homeira was caught in the turmoil at the Kabul Airport, trying and failing to secure escape for her and her eight-year-old son, Siawash, along with her parents and the rest of their family.
“Meanwhile, a young American diplomat named Sam Aronson was enjoying a brief vacation between assignments when chaos descended upon Afghanistan. Sam immediately volunteered to join the skeleton team of remaining officials at Kabul Airport, frantically racing to help rescue the more than 100,000 stranded Americans and their Afghan helpers. When Sam learned that the CIA had established a secret entrance into the airport two miles away from the desperate crowds crushing toward the gates, he started bringing families directly through, personally rescuing as many as fifty-two people in a single day.”
Brianna Holt at Harvard Book Store
In Our Shoes: On Being a Young Black Woman in Not-So “Post-Racial” America
May 12 at 7 p.m.
“A memoir in essays about young Black women and the stereotypes and preconceived notions they are expected to live up to, examined through the lens of Brianna Holt’s lived experience and pop culture to help readers unlearn their biases and expand their worldviews.
“Part memoir, part cultural critique, In Our Shoes will walk readers through the common stereotypes and issues young Black women have to overcome in modern America, in order to dismantle myths about Black womanhood and explore the roles Black millennial women take on simply to survive.”
Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson at the Brattle Theatre – Harvard Book Store
Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity
May 16 at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $34 with book, $6 without
“Power and Progress demonstrates that the path of technology was once — and may again be — brought under control. The tremendous computing advances of the last half century can become empowering and democratizing tools, but not if all major decisions remain in the hands of a few hubristic tech leaders.
“With their breakthrough economic theory and manifesto for a better society, Acemoglu and Johnson provide the vision needed to reshape how we innovate and who really gains from technological advances.”
Jonathan Eig with Randall Kennedy – brookline booksmith
King: A Life
May 19 at 7 p.m.
$35 with book, free without
“Eig has pulled off a kind of miracle. Here is the [Martin Luther] King we know, think we know and ought to know. Here is the leader, the preacher, the orator, the husband, the father, the martyr, the human being — not with melodramatic halo in place, but in all his heroic, tragic Glory. Hallelujah!” —Ken Burns
Serhii Plokhy at Harvard Book Store
The Russo-Ukrainian War: The Return of History
May 22 at 7 p.m.
“Despite repeated warnings from the White House, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 shocked the world. Why did Putin start the war — and why has it unfolded in previously unimaginable ways? Ukrainians have resisted a superior military; the West has united, while Russia grows increasingly isolated.
“Serhii Plokhy, a leading historian of Ukraine and the Cold War, offers a definitive account of this conflict, its origins, course, and the already apparent and possible future consequences. Though the current war began eight years before the all-out assault — on February 27, 2014, when Russian armed forces seized the building of the Crimean parliament — the roots of this conflict can be traced back even earlier, to post-Soviet tensions and imperial collapse in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Providing a broad historical context and an examination of Ukraine and Russia’s ideas and cultures, as well as domestic and international politics, Plokhy reveals that while this new Cold War was not inevitable, it was predictable.”
Abraham Verghese – brookline booksmith
The Covenant of Water
May 24 at 6 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline
$35 with book, $8 without
“The Covenant of Water is the long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, the author of the major word-of-mouth bestseller Cutting for Stone, which has sold over 1.5 million copies in the United States alone and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years. Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning — and in Kerala, water is everywhere.”
— Matt Hanson