New Year’s Eve inevitably creates a dilemma—it’s somehow always true that at least two bands you’d really like to see are playing that evening. This year at the Calvin, you can catch three exceptionally talented young bands, a gathering of New England talent that’s going to be hard to match.
The headlining act is Lake Street Dive, a Boston band that’s tough to describe but easy to listen to. The powerful and dead-on vocals of Rachael Price lead the proceedings, and the rest of the band provides solid accompaniment and harmonizing, not to mention some very good songwriting (many songs are attributed to one band member). If you appreciate pop and enjoy a wide range of styles, Lake Street Dive delivers the goods.
Fellow Bostonians David Wax Museum join Lake Street Dive, and offer hard-hitting acoustic stylings that mix American and Mexican sounds. Northampton’s wonderfully talented And The Kids also join the bill.
Dec. 31, $25, 8 p.m., The Calvin, 19 King St., Northampton, (413) 586-8686, iheg.com.
Bright Nights, Home City
Over the city streets and into Forest Park, to Springfield’s Bright Nights you’ll go. Follow the three-mile-long winding auto path past unique holiday light displays including the American Flag, Noah’s Ark, Winter Woods, Letters to Santa, Poinsettia Arch, Jurassic World, Seussland, and the Garden of Peace. Then stretch your legs, visit Santa’s Cottage, and get a photo with jolly old Saint Nick at the Gift Shop. On the weekend, hop a horse and carriage ride back along the path, and enjoy the luminescence all over again. See http://www.brightnights.org for details, including information about special evening events, like the Christmas Cabaret, Dinner with Dickens, and Supper with Santa.
Through Jan. 5, 5 p.m., $21, Forest Park, Springfield, (413) 733-3800.
The late UMass-Amherst poetry professor Agha Shahid Ali spun an international web of friends and acquaintances, and even 12 years after his untimely death, his influence as a poet and a personality is often felt. This winter, Mass MoCA features a retrospective of 30 years of the work of Israeli-born, New York-based artist Izhar Patkin (pictured alongside one of his works). The exhibition includes sculpture that comments on art criticism, paintings on rubber curtain echoing Diego Velázquez’s Baroque Era painting “Las Meninas,” and its centerpiece, new work called “Veiled Threats.”
For “Veiled Threats,” Patkin collaborated with Ali in the two years preceding the poet’s death. The large-scale artwork comprises paintings on diaphanous tulle, and the pieces will be overlapped and arranged throughout rooms and Mass MoCA’s football field-sized gallery space. Its themes and images are a visual adaptation of Ali’s poems.
Opens Dec. 7, ongoing, Mass MoCA, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, (413) 662-2111, massmoca.org.
Snowflakes and Reindeer
As the holiday season rolls around again, the Pioneer Valley Ballet will continue a time-honored tradition of its own-for the 35th straight year, as one of its two seasonal performances, PVB will stage an original presentation of The Nutcracker. The non-profit organization, which was founded in 1972, provides young dancers in the region with training and gives them an opportunity to practice their craft alongside established professionals. In this year’s performance, over 250 dancers from the Western Massachusetts area will be taking part, playing everything from “enchanted snowflakes to the tiniest reindeer.”
Dec. 13-15, The Academy of Music, 274 Main Street, Northampton, (413) 527-6363, http://www.pioneervalleyballet.org.
For those who like holiday traditions of very old and very European origin, Welcome Yule Midwinter Celebration offers a smorgasbord of festive happenings. This year’s performance brings to an English setting the Swedish tradition of Santa Lucia Day, the Dec. 13 remembrance of a (particularly grim) martyrdom in the Roman era. The Swedish tradition involves children, dressed all in white, parading with candles alongside one child chosen to be Lucia, who wears a crown of candles or lights. The Welcome Yule players mingle Swedish and English traditions in a pageant of song and dance (including the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance).
Dec. 13-15, $12/adults, $10/seniors and children, free/four and under, The Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A, Turners Falls, 9413) 323-423, brattleborotix.com, WelcomeYule.org.
Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol close to 200 years ago. The story of Bob Cratchit, Ebenezer Scrooge, and the time-space-continuum-defying trio of ghosts past, present and future has been a Christmas staple for nearly as long, growing so synonymous with the holiday season that its main character has long since passed into pop culture lingo (“Bah, humbug!”). Over the years, various adaptations of Dickens’ tale have starred everyone from George C. Scott to Kermit the Frog. This month, the Colonial Theatre offers several performances of the classic, adapted and directed by the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Eric Hill. See http://www.berkshiretheatregroup.org for curtain times.
Dec. 14-29, The Colonial Theatre, 11 South St., Pittsfield, (413) 997-4444.
As winter settles across the Pioneer Valley, four-time Grammy-nominated jazz singer Karrin Allyson visits to add a little joy and warmth to these dreary months. Allyson, whom the New York Times calls “cheerful” and “sexy” and credits with an “easy mastery” of her material, is touring in support of her latest release, Yuletide Hideaway. As its name suggests, the album is a celebration of the holiday season, and includes well-loved favorites like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Let it Snow,” and “Christmas Bells Are Ringing,” as well as originals and lesser-known tracks. Downbeat magazine recently gave it four stars, calling it “sterling” and “sophisticated.”
Dec. 14, Unitarian Society of Northampton, 220 Main Street, Northampton, (413) 584-1390, uunorthampton.org.