By The Arts Fuse Staff.
Roots and World Music
JJ & Thee Cuban Heels
Toad, Boston, MA
Boston mainstay JJ Rassler’s resume includes stints in beloved Boston bands like the Odds, DMZ, and Downbeat Five. These days he’s keeping busy with the Heels, an unpretentious combo that dives deep into the reservoir of garage, frat rock, and noisy R&B.
White Mountain Boogie ‘n Blues Festival
North Thornton, NH
This annual New Hampshire event maintains a low profile in the Boston market, but its eclectic lineups and longevity helped it earn the Best U.S. Blues Festival nod from the Blues Foundation last year. This year it features roadhouse guitar hero Tinsley Ellis, Louisiana dancehall heirs Dwane Dopsie and The Zydeco Hell Raisers, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and the sacred steel gospel of the Lee Boys.
Rogers’s career is a checkered one, ranging from the psychedelia of “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” to immortal ballads like “The Gambler” to soft-rock dross like Lionel Ritchie’s “Lady.” It’s a testament to the genial 74-year-old’s wide appeal that besides obvious country venues like Indian Ranch, his tour schedule this summer also includes appearances at mammoth rock fests Glastonbury and Bonnaroo.
Worcester Latin American Festival
City Hall, Worcester, MA
Any Dominican artist with a sizable following eventually plays Lawrence. So its no surprise that the city now boasts its own international bachata star. Domenic Marte’s songs of jealousy and romance have garnered over a million hits on YouTube. He joins salsera Tony Vega and a host of local talents at Centro Las Americas’ annual, free celebration of pan-Latin culture. Eight days later Marte performs at a day-long event at Fenway Park presented by Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
Long before there was a genre called “zydeco,” the rich Creole heritage melded Cajun, African-American, and Native American cultures. Fiddler/accordionist Broussard keeps that tradition alive while also putting in just enough contemporary flavor to keep his band working the Louisiana dancehall circuit year-round.
Veteran Atlanta belter Reed has been in these parts as a member of Lyle Lovett’s Large Band. But she’s only recorded a number of her own albums, which harken back to the classic, female blues singer who ruled in the 1920’s before the music became identified with Delta guitar slingers. She’s so identified with Ida Cox’s “Wild Women (Don’t Get the Blues)” that it appears on three of her albums plus a Lyle Lovett live disc.
This beloved, Latin-country-lounge ensemble has impressively made it into the second year of its reunion without imploding—no small feat given its tumultuous past. Several trustworthy music fans report that they were the highlight of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in May, and the classic country trappings of Indian Ranch couldn’t be a more perfect spot to see them. Opener Yoder put out his second CD with the Western States, Javelina, this winter. It’s a smart piece of work that runs the gamut from swamp blues to power pop. But don’t take my word for it—he’ll probably be handing out free copies after his set.
La Santa Celia
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Last week the MFA’s Concerts in the Courtyard hosted the local debut of the new duo of flatpick guitar hotshots Chris Eldridge and Julian Lage. In between their self-described “esoteric acoustic guitar art songs” (and some fine Norman Blake and John Hartford covers), the pair revealed they had actually first jammed together when Eldridge’s group the Punch Brothers played the museum. Next week the series has another local debut, LA’s La Santa Cecilia. This engaging Los Angeles quartet can start a party with its cumbias and show a darker side via their cover of “Tainted Love.” They also have strong political interests, as shown by the video for their anti-deportation anthem “Ice El Hielo,” which featured a case of undocumented immigrant actors.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters
City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA
Fans of R&B pioneers the Drifters have long had to deal with the indignity that a group performing by that name at a local casino or fairground stage might very well be a phony act whose members weren’t born when the classic Drifters records were being made. But tenor Charlie Thomas’s voice is on the actual records the Drifters made between 1958 and 1967. Many of them featured Ben E. King on lead vocals, but when the group toured, King stayed in the studio, so live audiences heard Thomas sing lead on “There Goes My Baby” and “Save the Last Dance For Me.” He stayed in the group for a few years after King went solo, cut “On Broadway” and “Sweets for my Sweets,” and today is one of the last performing links to the golden era of group harmony singing and soul showmanship. If it rains the show gets moved to the Strand Theater.
— Noah Schaffer
Toyland by Lisa Knox
Through August 31, opening reception August 22, 5-7 p.m.
Presented by Fort Point Arts Community
Knox takes inspiration from small objects (figurines, tea sets, and plastic farm animals) found in her bedroom as a child to compose compellingly kitschy paintings.
Through September 21, 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
Atlantic Wharf Gallery, 290 Congress Street, Boston, MA
A felicitous subject for the tail end of summer—road trips—is the subject for this summer gallery showing. The exhibition features works by 15 FPAC artists, including photography, drawings, paintings, and mixed-media assemblages, all exploring nostalgic visions of hot weather adventures.
— Renée E. Caouette
Dowland, Parker, and Schubert in NH
Presented by Monadnock Music
August 17, 7:30 p.m.
Peterborough Town House, Peterborough, NH
Horatio Parker, best known as Charles Ives’s stuffy, tradition-bound teacher at Yale, is turning up on a few programs this summer. Here, his String Quartet in D minor shares billing with music by the great Elizabethan composer John Dowland and Schubert’s transcendent String Quintet in C.
Isabel Faust plays Mozart
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
August 17, 8:30 p.m.
Koussevitzky Music Shed at Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
Violinist Faust, who has a marvelous new Bartók disc out this month, comes to Lenox with some different fare: Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 5, “Turkish.” Swedish soprano Camilla Tilling then joins Bernard Haitink and the BSO in a reprise of their critically-praised April performance of Mahler’s Symphony no. 4.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Duo Adia, Monadnock Chamber Players
August 22, 7:30 p.m.
Washington Congregational Church, Washington, NH
Sarah Brady (flute) and Ina Zdorovetchi (harpist extraordinaire) play a virtuoso program featuring Piazzolla’s “Histoires du Tango” and music by Damase, Rochberg, Lutoslawski, and Rorem.
— Susan Miron
August 16 & 23
The Hatch Memorial Shell, Boston, MA
Every Friday throughout the summer families are invited to bring their lawn chairs for family safe films under the stars. The remaining films in the series include Jack The Giant Slayer on August 16th at 7:43 p.m. and Oz The Great & Powerful on August 23rd at 7:33 p.m.
The Boston International Children’s Film Festival
August 18 through September 1
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
The mission of the festival is to promote intelligent, passionate, provocative films for ages three through 18 and to help define what makes compelling cinema for kids. This event has become the largest festival for children and teens in North America. It is co-presented with the New York Children’s Festival and is made up of two weeks of live action and experimental shorts and features from around the world.
August 22, 8 p.m.
Courtyard C or Hunter Center, Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA
This summer’s special event is a Bollywood spectacle: “Special-effects pioneer Jeff Kleiser, whose Synthespian Studios is a long-time creative tenant at the museum, supervised 800 artists for over two-and-a-half years to create the visual effects for this science-fiction superhero Bollywood film. Over 125 of the most complex shots were produced on MASS MoCA’s campus.”
The Massachusetts Independent Film Festival
August 16 & 17
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
The goal of MassIFF is to bridge the gap between the best independent, micro-budget films and the larger independents. This year there over 30 films from all over the globe from veterans like Susan Seidelman, Dean Stockwell (Blue Velvet), Denis O’ Hare (True Blood), and Jonathan Groff. Go here for tickets, full film schedule, and after party info.
Spark: A Burning Man Story
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
Anyone who has been to this eccentric-to-the-max festival returns a little altered. Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City and depart one week later, leaving no trace whatsoever of their presence. It is based on principles of “Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification , Radical Self-reliance, Radical Self-expression Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation, and Immediacy.” At last there is a documentary about one of the world’s most remarkable arts festivals.
— Tim Jackson
A young theater company ventures into “the final frontier … Steven Dietz’s creative and probing account of self discovery.” “Tracking the lives of its characters across parallel universes,” the play “addresses themes of fate, family, and the ability to communicate with the ones we love.” In a summer of empty-headed, CGI-frienzed sci-fi films, this promises to be a refreshingly quiet exploration of worlds elsewhere.
— Bill Marx
The return of the Yellowjackets to Scullers is notable in two ways. First, it begins a new and welcome series of live broadcasts (on Friday at 10 p.m.) hosted by Eric Jackson on WGBH. Second, subbing for Jimmy Haslip, who is on extended hiatus, is Felix Pastorius (and, yes, he’s the son of bass legend Jaco).
The saxophonist and long-time leader of Natraj teams with the pianist/jazz scholar for an exploratory evening which undoubtedly will delve into the styles and techniques of Indian music, a mutual interest. For performers and interested observers, Porter will also lead a jazz improvisation workshop on Sunday afternoon.
Brooklyn’s funky little slice of Colombia is back at the Beehive for an evening of cumbia and its other good friends from around the Gulf and Caribbean. Guaranteed to get you up and dancing. (If the gig runs past midnight, though, see your doctor.)
Spawned by Berklee and with members hailing from Turkey, Israel, Colombia and Japan, this fascinating ensemble fuses jazz with elements of music from South America and the Middle and Far East.
— J.R. Carroll