Coming Attractions: August 27 through September 12 — What Will Light Your Fire

Our expert critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. More offerings will be added as they come in.


A scene from Have You Got It Yet? The Story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd. Photo: Mercury Films

Have You Got It Yet? The Story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd
August 30 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Regent Theatre in Arlington

Syd Barrett, the founding member of Pink Floyd, led a life full of unanswered questions. This documentary, set against the anarchistic social context of the ’60s, looks for answers. It pieces together the puzzle of his career, from his quick rise to stardom, which was fed by creative and destructive impulses, to his final breakdown and drift into isolation.

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
August 27 at 2 p.m, August 30 at 7 p.m.
Somerville Theater in Davis Square

This film is part of Sight And Sound Summer Vacation, a series made up of some of the movies that listed high in the 2022 edition (its eighth) of the titular British film magazine’s poll of the best films ever made. (The series is being  presented in collaboration with The Independent Film Festival of Boston.) Surprisingly, the 3 hour, 21 minute Jeanne Dielman knocked Citizen Kane out of the top spot. It was directed by the then 24 year-old Chantal Akerman (Welles was all of 25 for his debut). When Akerman died in 2015, New Yorker critic Richard Brody wrote that Jeanne Dielman “is an intimate film of majestic choreography. It distills a cinephilic passion — for classic Hollywood melodramas, Godard’s long takes, Jacques Tati’s pointillistic comedy, and Jacques Rivette’s and Andy Warhol’s experiments in duration — into an utterly personal and distinctive form. It takes on the subjects and the clichés of melodrama, such as prostitution and murder — those, in particular, of so-called women’s movies — and extrudes them with a profoundly modern psychological resonance, as well as a political fury.”

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
September 2 at 2:15 p.m and 7 p.m. and September 7 at 7 p.m.
The Brattle Theater in Cambridge

The Brattle is climbing on the Barbie bandwagon via a series titled Barbie’s Roots, which runs from September 1 through 7.

Director Jacques Demy’s celebrated musical, with its kaleidoscope of bright colors and songs from composer Michel Legrand, is an obvious influence on the megahit. The film launched 21-year-old Catherine Deneuve into stardom. It is part of a double feature with The Young Girls of Rochefort on September 2 and will be paired with Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown on September 7.

Any Number Can Win An All-Night Movie Marathon
September 2 beginning at 6 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive

The HFA’s annual Labor Day Marathon this year features the films: Johnny O’Clock (Robert Rossen); Any Number Can Win (Henri Verneuil); Pale Flower (Shinoda Masahiro); Bay of Angels (Jacques Demy); Croupier (Mike Hodges); California Split (Robert Altman)

A scene from The Mother and the Whore.

The Mother and the Whore
September 8 – 11.  Showtime’s vary
The Brattle Theater in Cambridge

Jean Eustache’s best known film is being screened as part of a terrific series at The Brattle, The Dirty Stories of Jean EustacheThe Mother and the Whore is 219 minutes of talk about “love and intimacy, humiliation and self-deception.” Eustache tape-recorded discussions with his lovers and sometimes took notes — this material inspired many of his movies. According to French film critic Serge Daney, filmmaking for Eustache revolved around “women, dandyism, Paris, the country, and the French language.” Ingrid Bergman, jury president of the Cannes Film Festival the year The Mother and the Whore won the Grand Prix, called it “sordid” and “vulgar.”  Only in 2021 did his son, Jean, who holds his father’s film rights, agree to the film’s restoration and distribution.

September 4 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline

Spielberg’s 1975 classic inspired a new approach to the marketing of blockbusters. Much has been written lately about the production’s travails and its enormous success, from Michael Schulman’s book The Oscar Wars to the Broadway play The Shark Is Broken, written by and featuring Robert Shaw’s son, Ian. The film, shot on Martha’s Vineyard, is an entry on the Coolidge’s Big Screen Series. It is a fitting way to close out our own summer of shark sightings and alerts.

A scene from The Fire Brigade.

The Fire Brigade
September 10 at 2 p.m.
Somerville Theater in Davis Square

This elaborate MGM production is part of the Silents, Please! Repertory Series, which features live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis. Also known as Fire!, the film is an adaptation of a short story by Kate Corbaley, “The Fire Brigade.” “Spectacular [hand-colored] color effects have been restored to this rip-roaring tale of a tight-knit group of firefighters who modestly bear their birthright to heroism. When a corrupt real estate developer endangers a neighborhood orphanage these men come valiantly together to fulfill their destinies.” (SF Silent Film Festival)

Pick of the Week

Sorcerer (1977)
Apple TV and Amazon Prime

A scene from Sorcerer.

Advice from director William Friedkin, who passed away on August 7: “Most films should really be watched with your emotions, rather than with your intelligence”. His best known films, The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973),  certainly repay this kind of investment. Sorcerer, based on the French classic Wages of Fear, was not well received when it was released in 1977, the same year Star Wars dominated movie houses. It has since found many admirers.

Friedkin made a visit to the Harvard Film Archive when Sorcerer was screened there in 2017. The HFA described the film this way: “Featuring a trance-like score by Tangerine Dream and a visceral, astonishing performance by Roy Scheider, Friedkin’s reinterpretation of Clouzot’s 1953 masterpiece is perhaps the best remake of all time and is among Friedkin’s most daring works. Three sequences alone — a chaotic car crash in New Jersey, the unloading of charred bodies in a Central American village, and the explosives laden trucks crossing a rickety storm-blown bridge – retain their power to make audiences gasp. Friedkin’s audacious masterpiece represents the braver road abandoned by the studio system.”

— Tim Jackson

Roots and World Music

Himalayan Highway
August 28
Club Passim, Cambridge

Nepali master Shyam Nepali is one of the true treasures of the Boston music scene. Occasionally he collaborates with American bluegrass and string band musicians — the results are inevitably magical. For this project he’s joined by Nepali tabla player Pramod Upadhyaya, mandolinist Zoe Levitt (mandolin), and guitarist Alex Formento.

Saxophonist Greg Piccolo in action. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Greg Piccolo and Heavy Juice
August 31
The Bull Run, Shirley

The honking tenor saxophone sound that defined blues and R&B in the 40s and 50s lives on through Greg Piccolo, a New England legend dating back to his dats with Roomful of Blues, which he joined in 1969 and stayed with for 25 years. The Rhode Islander still at it and is finally coming back to the Boston area after far too long an absence. He’ll be joined at the Bull Run by organist and pianist Shinichi Otsu, bassist Marty Ballou and drummer Steve Langone.

Bay State Barn Dance Film Premiere Weekend
September 1-3
Friday Events: The Cabot Theatre, 286 Cabot Street in Beverly
Saturday Events: The Franco American Club, 44 Park Street in Beverly
Sunday Events: Bone Up Brewing, 38 Norman St in Everett

Last year was the grand finale of the New England Shake-Up rockabilly weekend. The highlight of that event was the Bay State Barn Dance, an Opry-style revue by a galaxy of hillbilly music specialists. The event was filmed by BopFlix for a full-length feature, and that is premiering at the Cabot in Beverly on Friday night. Saturday will feature a full day concert by local favorites such as Jittery Jack and Miss Amy and Shaun Young and Sean Mencher, culminating with the first live show by ’50s cowgirl Mimi Roman in decades. The weekend wraps up on Sunday with a record fair and vintage market at Bone Up Brewing in Everett.

Kooked Out will be out on its Kooky Bus in September. Photo: Christine Paige Photography

Kooked Out
September 1
Park 9, Everett

Summer may be winding down, but the sounds of surf music continue to reverberate thanks to the hard-working duo Kooked Out. They just reissued their debut album Vis Viva on cassette, and they are bringing their Kooky Bus to venues around the area, including this new dog park/bar in Everett. Besides suppling plenty of catchy pop and punk songs, the cassette features some surf chestnuts and the rollicking original instrumental “Bugger Off.” Quincy’s Dick Dale would be proud.

PVD Fest
September 8-10
Providence, RI

For a number of years PVDFest has been two things at once: a free music festival with a strong eclectic lineup, and an excuse for a lot of people to get drunk on the streets of downtown Providence. New mayor Brett Smiley is aiming to tone down the latter behavior, so the stage has been shifted a few blocks to an area along the Providence River. One thing that hasn’t changed — the great programming. Living treasure Mavis Staples sings on Saturday, and Sunday is the day long Afrika Nyaga Drum & Dance Festival with the likes of British/Nigerian singer Wunmi, Malian rapper Master Soumy, and host Sidy Maiga.

Accordionist Sharon Shannon will perform at The Burren. Photo: CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Sharon Shannon
The Burren
September 12-13

Sharon Shannon is rightfully considered one of the greatest Irish accordionists of her generation. Why the 55-year-old is billing this as her “farewell US tour” isn’t clear. But if it is true, her many Boston fans will have an opportunity to say goodbye during her four shows over two nights at the Burren.

— Noah Schaffer

Music Festival

Outlaw Music Festival
The Xfinity Center, Mansfield
September 16

Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers. Photo: courtesy of the artists

Helmed by the iconic Willie Nelson,  the ever-evolving Outlaw Music Festival is bringing, as part of its 2023 tour, a tasty package to its stop in Massachusetts. In addition to a headlining set by the Red Headed Stranger, who at 90 continues to release a steady torrent of new (and good!) music, the show will feature Bobby Weir and Wolf Bros featuring the Wolfpack, Los Lobos, String Cheese Incident, and Particle Kid. Roots-rocking Los Lobos will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. Bluegrass-and-beyond jammers String Cheese Incident are also highlighting a new album, Lend Me a Hand. With Wolf Bros, Weir is discovering fresh inroads into his extensive song catalog, both as a solo artist and founder of the Grateful Dead. And there’s every reason to believe that these musicians will be drifting in and out of each other’s sets.

— Scott McLennan


Composer Tod Machover — a new version of his 1987 adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Valis comes to the MIT Theater Arts Performance Space. Photo: Wiki Common

Presented by MIT Media Lab
September 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., 10 at 3 p.m.
MIT Theater Arts Performance Space, Cambridge

Tod Machover’s 1987 adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s eponymous novel comes to MIT in a new version developed in collaboration with that school’s Media Lab. The production stars Davóne Tines and Anaïs Reno, and is directed by Jay Scheib; the composer conducts.

Madama Butterfly
Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
September 14 and 22 at 7:30 p.m., 17 and 24 at 3 p.m.
Emerson Colonial Theatre, Boston

Boston Lyric Opera starts the season with a new production of Puccini’s tragedy that updates and transplants the action to 1940s San Francisco. Karen Chia-Ling Ho sings the title role, Dominick Chenes is Pinkerton, and David Angus conducts.

Presented by A Far Cry
September 15, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston

The Criers return to action with a program featuring a pair of arrangements of familiar works (Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet, Bach’s D-minor solo-violin Chaconne) as well as new pieces by Shelley Washington and Andrea Casarrubios.

— Jonathan Blumhofer


COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.

Revolution’s Edge by Patrick Gabridge. Directed by Alexandra Smith. Staged in partnership with Plays in Place at the Old North Church & Historic Site, 193 Salem Street, Boston, through September 19.

“For the first time in Old North Church’s 300-year history, the historic site will host an original play.” The drama is “set in Boston’s oldest surviving church on April 18, 1775, the day before the Battle of Lexington & Concord and mere hours before the famous ‘two if by sea’ lantern signals. The story centers on the interaction between three fathers, who share a faith but are politically divided, as Boston sits on the brink of war, searching for information and answers as to the best path forward for both their families and the colonies.”

Morgan Bassichis’s Don’t Rain On My Bat Mitzvah, co-created with Ira Khonen Temple. Performed live in Astor Place, July 4, 2021. Photo by Matteo Prandoni/

Morgan Bassichis: More Little Ditties at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Level 3, Sert Gallery, Harvard University, 24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, through September 3.

“The artist brings together performance, video, and text-based works — created both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic — that mark time, loss, desire, disappointment, and joy through playful musical gestures. The exhibition is co-organized with the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, where it will be on view September 8 to January 7, 2024.

“Through deceptively simple and incantatory ‘little ditties,’ Bassichis approaches urgent questions with critical curiosity, poetry and — crucially — pleasure. Performing solo as well as working collaboratively in duets and groups, Bassichis’s practice offers intimate encounters with learning, collectivity, and lineages of queer and Jewish radicalism. As noted by the artist, these ‘songs fall somewhere between adult lullabies and practical spells, and will not include concrete policy recommendations but maybe they should?'”

On Cedar Street, Book by Emily Mann. Music by Lucy Simon & Carmel Dean. Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead. Adapted from the novel Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Directed by direction by Susan H. Schulman. Staged by the Berkshire Theatre Group on The Larry Vaber Stage, at The Unicorn Theatre, 6 East Street, Stockbridge, through September 2.

“This world premiere musical tells the joyful and inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together in a search for happiness and family.

“In the small town of Holt, Colorado, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades. Addie and Louis have long been living alone in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. But maybe that could change? When Addie tries to make a connection with her neighbor, the two begin sleeping in bed together platonically, with the innocent goal of alleviating their shared loneliness. As their relationship deepens, however, they each deal with grief and loss, and a real romance begins to blossom and a beautiful story of second chances unfolds.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare & Company: (l to r) Javier David, Madeleine Rose Maggio, Carlos Olmedo, and Naire Poole. Photo: Nile Scott Studios

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. Directed by Allyn Burrows. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the New Spruce Theatre, 70 Kemble Street, Lenox, through September 10.

Another outing for one of the Bard’s most produced scripts: an impressive cast includes Nigel Gore, Elizabeth Aspenlieder, and Sheila Bandyopadhyay. “The play that Bottom and company put on raises the problem of the metaphysical distinction between existence and essence.” — W.H. Auden on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Half-God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams. Directed by Taibi Magar. Movement direction by Orlando Pabotoy. An American Repertory co-production with with New York Theatre Workshop, at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, September 8 through 24.

“Experience a new epic fusing Greek mythology and Yoruba spirituality from award-winning playwright and poet Inua Ellams. When Demi — half Greek god, half Nigerian mortal — takes his first shot on a basketball court, the deities of the land wake up. But as Demi’s skills propel him from his village in South West Nigeria to the NBA playoffs and the London Olympics, Zeus gets jealous of his game.”

The Thin Place by Lucas Hnath. Directed by Jeff Zinn. Staged by Harbor Stage at 15 Kendrick Avenue, Wellfleet, through September 3.

“If you could speak to the dead, what would you say? What would you want them to say to you? In this hypnotic mystery, a disarming psychic leads a grieving client through a journey marked by conjuring, connection, and hope. An intimate drama about trust, truth, and how we treat each other — in this world and the next.​” The cast includes D’Arcy Dersham, Stacy Fischer, Robert Kropf, and Brenda Withers.

The Heart of the Matter Circus, written and performed by Bread & Puppet Theatre. Presented by the Cambridge Arts Council on the Cambridge Common, Cambridge, September 2 at 4 p.m.

The Bread & Puppet circus is coming to town, an annual extravaganza in which stilt dancers, paper maché beasts of all sizes and a riotous brass band “will draw attention to the urgent issues of the day.” Artistic director Peter Schumann puts the always rousing entertainment’s mission this way: “in response to our totally unresurrected capitalist situation, not only the hundreds of thousands of unnecessarily sacrificed pandemic victims but our culture’s unwillingness to recognize Mother Earth’s revolt against our civilization. Since we earthlings do not live up to our earthling obligations, we need resurrection circuses to yell against our own stupidity.”

Prayer for the French Republic by Joshua Harmon. Directed by Loretta Greco. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at 264 Huntington Ave. Boston, September 7 through October 8.

“It’s 2016 Paris. The Salomon family has worked hard to make Paris into a warm and wonderful home after settling down in the turbulent 1940s. But when their son comes home beaten up because he was wearing a yarmulke, they are forced to question their safety and sense of belonging in the city they love. Artistic Director Loretta Greco directs Joshua Harmon’s play, having originally produced a workshop of it at the Magic Theatre prior to its New York debut in 2022.”

Neurodiversity New Play Festival, staged by Providence’s Spectrum Theatre Ensemble (STE) along with the Die-Cast Collective in Philadelphia. Presented in various venues in the Jewelry District in Providence, R.I, September 7 though 9.

“This will be the fourth Neurodiversity New Play Festival for Spectrum Theatre Ensemble.  The programming consists of six original short plays, produced by STE specifically for the festival. In addition, Die-Cast Collective will produce two short plays as well as one devised piece that will be created during the week leading up to the festival. ”

Nael Nacer and Eric Tucker in Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches. Photo: Nile Scott Studios

Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner. Staged by the Central Square Theatre, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, September 7 through October 7

“The mid-1980s. America. The acclaimed play careens from New York City to Heaven and back in the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration.” Bedlam Artistic Director Eric Tucker brought his signature, pared-down approach to this production last season, which is being reprised before it joins Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika in rep on September 14. Arts Fuse review

Tall Tales from Blackburn Tavern by John Minigan. Original Music and Lyrics by John Minigan. Musical Arrangements by Colin Minigan. Directed by Bryn Boice. Staged by Gloucester Stage Company in celebration of Gloucester’s 400+ Celebration at Gloucester Stage, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, September 1 through 24.

The world premiere production of this script promises to “bring to life legendary tales deeply rooted in Gloucester’s captivating past, featuring iconic characters and events shaping the community. Audiences can expect an epic theatrical experience” that includes “intriguing narratives surrounding the infamous Gloucester Sea Serpent, the astonishing Ghost Army thwarted by the brave Ebenezer Babson, and the enigmatic secrets of the Witches of Dogtown … through the imaginative use of projections and puppetry, these larger-than-life fish tales will come alive on stage, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the magic and wonder of Gloucester’s remarkable oral history.”

Little Amal in Toronto. Photo: Taku Kumabe

Amal Walks Across America, produced by The Walk Productions in association with Handspring Puppet Company.

Little Amal, an internationally celebrated 12-foot-tall puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl, will kick off her 6,000-mile national journey across the United States in Boston. In partnership with the City of Boston, ArtsEmerson, American Repertory Theater and the Harvard University Committee on the Arts, Company One, the ICA, and Extinction Rebellion will host events from September 7 through 10 to welcome Little Amal, whose name means “hope” in Arabic. “The puppet has been welcomed by more than 250 uniquely created artistic events across the globe since her initial 5,000-mile trek across Europe in 2021. Amal carries her message of hope for marginalized people everywhere, especially children who have been separated from their families.”

— Bill Marx

Visual Arts

Reggie Burrow Hodges, Chromium Dip, 2022. Photo: courtesy of the artist and Karma

Andover’s Addison Gallery of American Art, which has been closed for the month of August, will reopen September 1 with a quartet of new exhibitions. Sea Change draws on the Addison’s collection of seascapes, marine art, and model ships to explore America’s complex, layered, and ambiguous relationship with the oceans around it: sources of wealth and food, longtime lure for adventure, vector of European invasion, immigration, and the slave trade, metaphor for change and new directions, cherished retreat from summer heat and urban stress, stage set for danger, destruction, death, and romanticized ruin.

The ship also turns metaphorical in the Addison’s Hayes Prize 2023: Reggie Burrows Hodges, Turning a Big Ship. Hodges, the inaugural recipient of the museum’s Bartlett H. Hayes, Jr., Prize, awarded by the Addison Artist Council, uses the notion of “turning a big ship,” a slow effort involving energy and the steady application of force, to suggest the marshaling of collective will and labor to resist a powerful current. Rethinking maritime painting, Hodges creates expressionistic compositions of murky layers of color against an ink-dark ground.

The Addison opened in 1931 with a collection of about 400 objects. Nearly a century later, its holdings have grown to 25,000. Occupying the entire second floor of the museum, Free Association: New Acquisitions in Context, shows how the latest arrivals complement those for the past, “drawing out new narratives, juxtapositions, and conversations across time and media.”

Opening September 1 at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Sum of Its Parts: Multi-Panel works on Paper from the Collection, explores the idea of making art works with a number of discrete parts in photography, prints, and collages made between the 17th and 21st centuries.

Also closed for much of the summer, Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art opens Gateway to Himalayan Art on September 5. Highlighting works from the Rubin Museum of Art from Indian, Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Tibetan cultures as well as related Mongolian and Chinese tradition. Shaped above all by esoteric Buddhist religions, Himalayan art is steeped in traditional symbols, rituals, multiple deities, and the spiritual world.

Bats! on view at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, looks at the only mammal that can truly fly along with its complex and contradictory cultural history. Benign creatures in many Asian nations, where they are often depicted in art, bats suggest the macabre, the morbid, and the supernatural in the West, and are a popular metaphor for insanity. To environmental science, bats are highly beneficial to their ecosystems and as an “indicator species,” help monitor the health of the environment and the effects of climate change. The PEM exhibition, opening September 9, includes a live colony of Egyptian fruit bats and works by a dozen contemporary artists.

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-Portrait (detail), about 1556. Possibly oil on parchment. Photo: MFA

Partly obscured or forgotten by later generations, the women of Renaissance Italy played remarkable roles in one of Western culture’s greatest eras — as artists, writers, patrons, political players, business owners, healers, religious leaders, and more. The more than 100 works from the 14th to the early 17th centuries, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, illustrated books, and prints, in, the Museum of Fine Arts’ exhibition Strong Women in Renaissance Italy explores the  creativity and power of some remarkable Italian women who lived long before feminism was a thing. The show opens on September 9.

— Peter Walsh


Tuba Skinny will be performing in Rockport. Photo: Sarrah Danziger

Tuba Skinny
August 30, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA

Rockport Music brings back the wonderful New Orleans trad-jazz-and-blues outfit for the second year. This is not your daddy’s Bourbon Street “Dixieland” (no “Muskrat Ramble,” no “St. James Infirmary,” no “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?,” no “Saints”). Instead, the band digs into lesser-played beauties by King Oliver, Jabbo Smith, Clarence Williams, Bessie Smith, and others, along with some well-turned originals. The band (usually about nine pieces) is led by the wonderful cornettist Shaye Cohn (granddaughter of saxophonist Al and daughter of guitarist Joe), with distinctive post-Bessie blues moaning by singer Erika Lewis (doubling on bass drum). Washboard (“frattoir”) player Robin Rapuzzi plays his instrument like a true percussionist, with dexterous syncopations and cross rhythms.

Club d’Elf will perform at City Winery this week. (l to r) Dean Johnston, Paul Schultheis, Lyle Brewer, Mike Rivard, and Mister Rourke. Photo: Joshua Touster

Club d’Elf
August 31
City Winery, Boston

The tagline for Club d’Elf’s sublime You Never Know (2022) was that it featured “originals, Gnawa and Sufi folk songs, and covers of Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Joe Zawinul, and Nass El Ghiwane.” That will give you a hint of the mesmerizing mix of “jazz, hip-hop, electronica, avant garde, prog-rock, and dub” that bassist, sintir (3-string Gnawan bass) player, and ringleader Mike Rivard has been spinning with this crew for 25 years. Expect Rivard to try out some “new sintir-based tunes” he’s been writing, joined by new guitarist Lyle Brewer and regulars Paul Schultheis, on Fender-Rhodes, Moog, organ, and melodica; Mister Rourke on turntables; and Dean Johnston on drums.

Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant. Photo: Michael Jones

Cécile McLorin Salvant
September 7 at 8 p.m.
Shalin Liu Music Center, Rockport, Mass.

In her most recent CD — the enchanting, ingeniously produced, Mélusine — Cécile McLorin Salvant sings “a mix of five originals and interpretations of nine songs, dating as far back as the 12th century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl.” OK, then. If you don’t agree that McLorin Salvant is one of the most vital singers before the public today, you’ll have to concede that none are more erudite. She’s joined her by her superb accompanist, the pianist Sullivan Fortner.

Kenny Garrett
September 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

Formerly a young phenom with Miles Davis’s band, Kenny Garrett, now 62, is an assured master in his own right, his latest release being the widely acclaimed Sounds from the Ancestors (2019). He opens Scullers’ fall season with four shows over two nights.

Poet Robert Pinsky is bringing his PoemJazz thing to WBUR CitySpace on September 9.  Photo: Eric Antoniou

Robert Pinsky
September 9 at 7:30 p.m.
WBUR CitySpace, Boston

In his heart of hearts, Robert Pinsky — three-term poet laureate of the United States — is a jazz saxophonist. His early experiences with the horn, he has said, have profoundly influenced his poetry. Now he brings his ongoing PoemJazz project around for the new CD Proverbs of Limbo: PoemJazz III and in anticipation of a new book of poetry in 2024. If you haven’t seen Pinsky do his PoemJazz thing, be forewarned: this isn’t a “reading” with jazzy background noodling. Pinsky holds nothing back in his performances and he asks his fellow players, under the leadership of pianist and musical director Laurence Hobgood, to do this same. Joining Pinsky and Hobgood for this show are saxophonist/flutist/vocalist Stan Strickland, cellist Catherine Bent, bassist John Lockwood, and special guest percussionist Mino Cinélu.

Singer Vicki Burns will perform at Mad Monkfish on Sept 10. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Vicki Burns
Sept. 10 at 4 p.m.
Mad Monkfish, Cambridge, Mass.

The Maine native Vicki Burns used to sing regularly in Boston clubs like Ryles, the 1369, and the Starlight Roof before decamping to San Francisco and eventually New York. Her latest disc, Lotus Blossom Days, shows off her secure technique, rich sound, and impeccable taste over a mix of American Songbook standards as well as a crafty original, a couple of vocal takes on hard-bop chestnuts (Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder” and John Coltrane’s “Equinox”), and the Billy Strayhorn title track. She’s joined in this Mad Monkfish Sunday matinee series performance by the excellent trio of pianist Mark Shilansky, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Les Harris Jr.

— Jon Garelick

Author Events

Australian novelist Shelley Parker-Chan will read from her latest novel He Who Drowned the World. Photo: Liminal magazine

Shelley Parker-Chan – brookline booksmith
He Who Drowned the World
August 29, 6 p.m.

“The sequel and series conclusion to Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, the accomplished, poetic debut of war and destiny, sweeping across an epic alternate China. Mulan meets The Song of Achilles. How much would you give to win the world? Zhu Yuanzhang, the Radiant King, is riding high after the victory that tore southern China from its Mongol masters. Now she burns with a new desire: to seize the throne and crown herself emperor.

But Zhu isn’t the only one with imperial ambitions. Her neighbor in the south, the courtesan Madam Zhang, wants the throne for her husband—and she’s strong enough to wipe Zhu off the map. To stay in the game, Zhu will have to gamble everything on a risky alliance with an old enemy: the talented but unstable eunuch general Ouyang, who has already sacrificed everything for a chance at revenge on his father’s killer, the Great Khan.”

Back-to-School Grown Up Book Fair at Aeronaut Brewing! — Porter Square Books
September 3 from 2-6 p.m.

“Remember getting the book fair flyers at school? Seeing if the next book in your favorite series was coming out, comparing lists with your friends, checking off the books you want, and planning how you’ll totally convince your parents that yes, in fact, you definitely need all those books because don’t they want you to get into a good college or whatever? And then there’s the thrill when the books arrive and you see a pencil set you absolutely need and stickers for your trapper keeper and one of those friendship necklaces? Think you would never get to experience that rush again?” Join Porter Square Books at Aeronaut Brewing for a Back-to-School Grown Up Book Fair. It “will have everything you love about school book fairs, plus beer!”

Lee McIntyre at Harvard Book Store
On Disinformation: How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy
September 5 at 7 p.m.

“In On Disinformation, Lee McIntyre shows how the war on facts began, and how ordinary citizens can fight back against the scourge of disinformation that is now threatening the very fabric of our society. Drawing on his twenty years of experience as a scholar of science denial, McIntyre explains how autocrats wield disinformation to manipulate a populace and deny obvious realities, why the best way to combat disinformation is to disrupt its spread, and most importantly, how we can win the war on truth.”

Jocelyn Simonson at Harvard Book Store
Radical Acts of Justice: How Ordinary People Are Dismantling Mass Incarceration
September 7 at 7 p.m.

Radical Acts of Justice tells the stories of ordinary people joining together in collective acts of resistance: paying bail for a stranger, using social media to let the public know what everyday courtroom proceedings are like, making a video about someone’s life for a criminal court judge, presenting a budget proposal to the city council. When people join together to contest received ideas of justice and safety, they challenge the ideas that prosecutions and prisons make us safer; that public officials charged with maintaining “law and order” are carrying out the will of the people; and that justice requires putting people in cages. Through collective action, these groups live out new and more radical ideas of what justice can look like.

In a book that will be essential reading for those who believe our current systems of policing, criminal law, and prisons are untenable, Jocelyn Simonson shows how to shift power away from the elite actors at the front of the courtroom and toward the swelling collective in the back.”

Grace Lin will read from Chinese Menu at Porter Square Books.

Grace Lin — Porter Square Books
Chinese Menu
September 10 at 3 p.m.

“Newbery and Caldecott honoree and New York Times bestselling author Grace Lin delivers a groundbreaking, lushly illustrated, and beautifully written full-color book that explores the whimsical myths and stories behind your favorite American Chinese food. From fried dumplings to fortune cookies, here are the tales behind your favorite foods. Do you know the stories behind delectable dishes — like the fun connection between scallion pancakes and pizza? Or how dumplings cured a village’s frostbitten ears? Or how wonton soup tells about the creation of the world?

Separated into courses like a Chinese menu, these tales — based in real history and folklore — are filled with squabbling dragons, magical fruits, and hungry monks. This book will bring you to far-off times and marvelous  places, all while making your mouth water. And, along the way, you might just discover a deeper understanding of the resilience and triumph behind this food, and what makes it undeniably American.”

An Evening of Poetry: Airea D. Matthews – brookline booksmith
Bread and Circus: Poems
September 13 at 7 p.m.

“As a former student of economics, Airea D. Matthews was fascinated and disturbed by 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith, and his magnum opus The Wealth of Nations. Bread and Circus is a direct challenge to Smith’s theory of the invisible hand, which claims self-interest is the key to optimal economic outcomes. By juxtaposing redacted texts by Smith and the French Marxist Guy Debord with autobiographical prose and poems, Bread and Circus demonstrates that self-interest fails when people become commodities themselves, and shows how the most vulnerable — including the author and her family — have been impacted by that failure. A layered collection to be read and reread, with poems that range from tragic to humorous, in forms as varied and nuanced as the ideas the book considers, Bread and Circus explores the area where theory and reality meet. Timely, ambitious, and relevant, Bread and Circus is a brilliant intellectual and artistic contribution to an ongoing conversation about American inequality, for fans of Elizabeth Alexander, Natalie Diaz, Eve Ewing, and Gregory Pardlo.”

George Scialabba will talk about his essay collection Only a Voice at the Harvard Book Store.

George Scialabba at Harvard Book Store
Only A Voice: Essays 
September 13 at 7 p.m.

“George Scialabba examines the chasm between modernity’s promise of progress and the sobering reality of our present day through studies of the most influential public intellectuals of our time. In Scialabba’s hands, literary criticism becomes a powerful tool for expressing political passion and demonstrating the generative power of argument and an inquisitive mind. Drawing together a diverse group of thinkers, artists, activists, and philosophers-including Edward Said, D. H. Lawrence, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ellen Willis, and Noam Chomsky — Scialabba tours western intellectual history to find that no matter the stakes, critical thought remains a necessary precondition for politics. Every writer, Scialabba writes, faces the choice of whether “to tilt at the state and capital or ignore them”—and the world now is too dire not to choose the former.”

Zadie Smith at First Parish Church – Harvard Book Store
The Fraud: A Novel 
September 15 at 7 p.m. (Doors at 6:30)
Tickets are $38 with book

“It is 1873. Mrs. Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper—and cousin by marriage—of a once-famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years. Mrs. Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life and the next. But she is also skeptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems. Andrew Bogle, meanwhile, grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realize. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story.

The “Tichborne Trial” — wherein a lower-class butcher from Australia claimed he was in fact the rightful heir of a sizable estate and title—captivates Mrs. Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs. Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr. Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task . . . Based on real historical events, The Fraud is a dazzling novel about truth and fiction, Jamaica and Britain, fraudulence and authenticity and the mystery of ‘other people.'”

— Matt Hanson

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