Arts Fuse critics select the best in music and theater that’s coming up this week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff.
Roots and World Music
Boston Caribbean Carnival
Nothing can touch the vibrancy and festiveness of the annual Caribbean Carnival parade. The 40th Boston carnival actually starts at 6 a.m. with the jouvert parade, which begins at Blue Hill Ave. and Morton Street in Mattapan. Then the day hits its stride around 1 p.m. as the parade kicks into gear. It’s followed by an afternoon festival in Franklin Park full of family-friendly performances, food, culture, and vendors from around the West Indies. Although the official Carnival committee does not have a website, longtime Carnival activist and photographer Michael Smith provides much useful information at his Boston Carnival Village.
All of Boston’s steel pan ensembles will be out in force as well as flamboyantly costumed “mas band” collectives. Each band has its own “mas camp”—essentially a home base of operations for costume making and rehearsals, and they’ll be busy outfitting their members in the days before the Carnival. Members of the public can generally visit as long as they’re respectful. One such mas camp belongs to the T&T Social Club—their Jamaica Plain camp stays open until 9 p.m. on Friday night.
Boston will be the center of activity for the North American Caribbean community all weekend—many revelers stop by on their way to New York’s Labor Day Carnival. That means there’s a slew of boat rides, parties, and concerts, most of which feature soca, which some time ago eclipsed calypso as the modern soundtrack of Carnival season. The brightest star wattage will be at the Reggie Lewis Track Center on Friday night as dancehall giant Beenie Man and soca queen Alison Hinds headline a show called Energy in the City. But buyer beware: a slew of opening acts and a 1 a.m. curfew could well result in the main attractions only being on stage for a short period of time. The flyer does not mention anything about a live band.
Saturday night is so full of Carnival after-parties that two different sections of the Reggie Lewis Track Center are being rented out by promoters. One will feature the Red Hot Flames, an offshoot of the Burning Flames soca band from Antigua. Their Trinidadian peers KES The Band appear at the I Love Soca party in another part of the Lewis Center. Blaxx and Peter Ram will make cameo appearances singing to tracks at a “camo fete” at the William E. Reed Auditorium (all revelers are instructed to wear camouflage outfits), while soca sound systems will keep the party going at Kay’s Oasis and Boston’s year-round soca venue the Unity Sports Club.
Wonderland Ballroom, Revere, MA
One of Brazilian samba’s most enduring performers, Aragão helped bring the music to a mass audience as a member of Fundo de Quintal and a songwriter for Beth Carvalho, both of whom helped lead the “pagode” movement. Aragão’s rich voice and warm persona have made him a big concert attraction both in Brazil and in the Brazilian diaspora, and he’ll likely have a large and talented string band behind him.
City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA
There’s clearly a classic soul fan in the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events. The Labor Day weekend Boston Arts Festival featured Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings last year, and next weekend it’ll include fellow revivalist Jesse Dee. But you can’t beat the real thing, and ’70s balladeer Flack is the earth mother of today’s sensitive-but-stylish neo-soul divas. If it rains, the show will move to the Strand Theater in Dorchester, MA.
— Noah Schaffer
The paths out of Berklee lead in many directions but few as unique as the one followed by guitarist Ian Ethan. The double-necked guitar (6-string plus 12-string) is something I associate more with rock bands, but “Stairway to Heaven” this isn’t. Ethan has picked up this unusual instrument and run in a virtuosic direction all his own and even added the African kalimba into the mix (which makes a lot more sense than you might think, once you’ve heard his music). While he frequently plays solo (often with spontaneously recorded loops), this evening he’s joined by soprano saxophonist Don Davis and drummer/percussionist Karl Grohmann.
Even by the usual high standards of performances by Brazilian saxophonist Felipe Salles, this evening is special. He’s leapt the Atlantic to collaborate with Ugandan percussion master Damascus Kafumbe and, were that not enough, has added saxophone great David Liebman and percussionist Rogerio Boccato to his regular quartet (pianist Nando Michelin, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, and drummer Bertram Lehmann). This should be one hell of an evening.
Pianist Marc Cary is no stranger to contemporary sounds. He’s collaborated with practitioners of house music and with hip hop MC Q-Tip, but this evening it’s just him and a baby grand. For a dozen years, Cary accompanied the great vocalist/lyricist/composer Abbey Lincoln, and his reflective solo work embodies the intense clarity of Lincoln’s performances. For this gig, he’ll be digging into his recent tribute album, For the Love of Abbey, which explores 10 of Lincoln’s songs.
Anyone who cites the Battered Ornaments as an influence has already caught my attention. Filipino-American guitarist Karl Evangelista (along with Grex—keyboardist Margaret Rei Scampavia and drummer Robert Lopez) constructs off-kilter musical structures that shift gears when you least expect it. Catch this Bay Area trio of electric eclectics at Outpost 186 while they’re in town.
— J. R. Carroll
Film Night with John Williams
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
August 24, 8:30 p.m.
Koussevitzky Music Shed at Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
Williams’s annual film music bash is almost always a highlight of the Tanglewood season, and this year brings a very special guest in Audra McDonald. David Newman shares the conducting duties.
Finale al Fresco with Fireworks
Presented by Monadnock Music
August 25, 6:30 p.m.
Cathedral of the Pines, Rindge, NH
Monadnock Music caps off a brilliant summer with a mix of John Philip Sousa, Percy Grainger, Ron Nelson, and an Andy Vores premiere. If that’s not enough, an arrangement of Respighi’s The Pines of Rome ends the concert. If there’s a more appropriate piece to be heard in the Cathedral of the Pines, I’m not aware of it.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
August 23, 8 p.m.
First Universalist Church of Essex, Essex, MA
Music at Eden’s Edge performs Martinu’s Sonata for Flute, Violin and Piano, Hilary Tann’s Llef for Flute and Cello, and Schubert’s Piano Trio in B Flat, Op. 99.
Boston Chamber Music Society
August 24, 8 p.m.
Charles Mosesian Theater, The Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA
BCMS performs music of Voříšek, Lachner, and Schubert, including his beloved Piano Trio in B Flat, Op. 99 and “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen” (“The Shepherd on the Rock“) for Voice, Clarinet and Piano, D. 965.
Music in Every Sound: Reflections on Thoreau
August 24, 7:30 p.m.
Bass Hall, Manadnock Center for History and Culture, Peterborough, NH
The Electric Earth Concerts program includes pianist Randall Hodgkinson (a founding member of the Boston Chamber Music Society) playing the Ives’s Concord Sonata, with photos, readings, and a new soundscape commissioned for the occasion from composer Nicholas Stoia and a premiere by N.H.-based composer Lawrence Siegel.
— Susan Miron
The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonough
Directed by Matthew Penn.
Presented by Shakespeare and Company
Through September 15
The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA
Martin McDonough has pretty much forsaken the theater for the movies, but early on the Irish playwright produced a series of curdled comedies detailing the stultification of his homeland. This is one of his most sardonic domestic comedies—a mother and daughter duel that at Shakespeare & Co features Elizabeth Aspenlieder and Tina Packer. The staging has inspired my favorite nonsensical blurb of the summer: “expect yourself to be clutching your chair in angst and suspense and laughing while you do”— Did You Weekend.
— Bill Marx