The Beerhunter: The Imperial Strikes Back
Sep11

The Beerhunter: The Imperial Strikes Back

Earlier this year, I reached into a friend’s beer fridge to grab something light and refreshing before heading outdoors for a hike (as far as I understand the rules, writing this column gives me free access to everyone’s beer). That afternoon’s chatter distracted me, however, because I made it two or three swings into my bottle before I felt what was hitting me. I glanced down to find I was sampling a beer called Olde School by...

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Beerhunter Roadtrip! The Hudson Valley
Aug04

Beerhunter Roadtrip! The Hudson Valley

The thing to remember about summer in the Valley — aside from which SPF to use and which local farm stands sell the best corn — is that it will be over before you know it. Sure, the swimming holes don’t really warm up until September, and the cows at Cook Farm gamely enable our ice cream habit into the chillier months. But that special windows-down, afternoon road trip is a fleeting thing. With that in mind, I’m putting the August...

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The Beerhunter: The Eight-Day Cheers, Western Mass Beer Week is Upon Us
Jun05

The Beerhunter: The Eight-Day Cheers, Western Mass Beer Week is Upon Us

Any out-of-towner who would guess Western Mass has a quiet craft beer scene is bound for a rude, brewed awakening. But even locals may be surprised at the scope of the second annual Western Mass Beer Week, which runs June 10-17. Last year’s series of events at breweries, bars and restaurants around the Valley attracted 35 businesses, which hosted (by my count) 52 events. This year, more than 50 businesses are participating in 70...

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The Beerhunter: Stay Chilled, My Friends
May08

The Beerhunter: Stay Chilled, My Friends

In beer, as in life, context matters. If you crash a friend’s wedding in basketball shorts, you may be riding that easygoing reputation of yours a little too far. Conversely, if you’re mowing your lawn on a hot day, and you decide to dress up your lunch break by popping open a bottle of imperial stout, your chances of getting back off that cool, comfy couch drop to virtually nil. There’s a reason we eat, drink, and make merry by...

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Monday April 17: Laverne Cox Visits Smith College
Apr10

Monday April 17: Laverne Cox Visits Smith College

Our Lady Laverne Laverne Cox grew up in Mobile, Alabama, raised by a single mother in a Christian family. Back then, it wasn’t at all clear that she would end up attending college in New York City and pursuing a career as an actress, let alone that she would become one of the most celebrated names on television (notably for her role as Sophia Burset on the series Orange is the New Black, for which she became the first openly...

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Beerhunter: Turnpike Two-Stop
Apr10

Beerhunter: Turnpike Two-Stop

Two worthwhile breweries off exit 9 The naturalist John Muir once observed that “when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I’m no bearded environmental philosopher, but I do like to kick back with a pint sometimes and dwell on our interconnectedness. In the realm of craft beer, brewers and buyers often muse on the national and international history of the craft — but that must square,...

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Calling All New Bands!
Apr10

Calling All New Bands!

We’re still a few months out from July’s annual Green River Festival in Greenfield, but we’re right on time to share a special early announcement from producers Signature Sounds. This year, the festival will add a new stage called the Next Wave Stage, which will host a youth band contest to showcase five of the most promising up-and-coming young Western New England music groups. The Next Wave Stage is open to musical acts from Western...

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Film Screening: Holding Hands with Ilse
Apr10

Film Screening: Holding Hands with Ilse

Strangers No More In the 1950s, Hampshire College professor Abraham Ravett relocated with his Polish Jewish family from Eastern Europe to the United States. Ravett was just three at the time of the move, but he carried with him a memory — and a single black-and-white photograph — of the German teenage girl who used to care for him while his parents were at work. He knew only her first name: Ilse. Fast-forward to 2011, when “a major...

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On Exhibit: Mary Witt and Brianna Ashe at Oxbow Gallery
Apr10

On Exhibit: Mary Witt and Brianna Ashe at Oxbow Gallery

Full Spectrum Painter Mary Witt (who composed the piece on the left) and multimedia artist Brianna Ashe (the piece on the right) are showing their new work in a playful exhibit called Colorplay, in the front room of Oxbow Gallery this month. They both love working and playing with color in their abstract artwork. Although different, their art sets up an interesting dynamic, and a stylistic conversation. Colorplay: Through April 30....

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April 13: Noam Chomsky at UMass Amherst
Apr10

April 13: Noam Chomsky at UMass Amherst

Close to Noam Leftist hero Noam Chomsky, now 88, has been around the block a few times, picking up new fields of expertise like normal people pick up groceries. He’s a world-renowned linguist, philosopher, author, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, analytic philosopher, political activist, and libertarian socialist who has written more than 100 books. His talk at UMass this week, sponsored by the Political Economy Research...

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On Stage: Where War Meets Food and Music
Apr03

On Stage: Where War Meets Food and Music

War and Music Playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes has jumped onto our cultural radar many times over the years — she received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Water by the Spoonful, and she wrote the book for the musical In The Heights alongside future Hamilton star Lin-Manual Miranda — but we get to delve into a somewhat quieter (but no less powerful) part of her repertoire this month with the UMass production of her...

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Thursday: Easthampton Salon Hosts Michael Musto and Mickey Boardman
Apr03

Thursday: Easthampton Salon Hosts Michael Musto and Mickey Boardman

Dynamic Duo Easthampton City Arts+ kicks off the third annual Easthampton Book Fest with the first installment of the new Grist for the Mill speaker series, with inaugural guests Michael Musto (a longtime writer at The Village Voice) and Mickey Boardman, the editorial director of PAPER Magazine. Musto and Boardman riff off each other hilariously, like professional verbal ping pong players, and they’re sure to add a big dose of levity...

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Album Release Party: Children of the Wild’s Traveling Rock Opera
Apr03

Album Release Party: Children of the Wild’s Traveling Rock Opera

The Tribe That Quests In recent years, ensemble theater group Children of the Wild has managed something nifty: the full integration of the musical band dynamic into their touring acts. Music and theater fused completely in the show The Wastelands, an original experimental folk opera inspired by Dante’s Purgatorio that toured the Great Lakes region from June to October 2016, taking over real-world settings like abandoned factories and...

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Saturday Live: Terence Blanchard and the E-Collective
Apr03

Saturday Live: Terence Blanchard and the E-Collective

One of the Greats New Orleans native Terence Blanchard has become one of America’s most respected jazz musicians, working as a trumpeter, bandleader, composer, arranger, and film score composer. He was an integral figure in the 1980s jazz resurgence, and his trumpet can be heard on nearly 50 film scores. But he’s pushing boundaries with his new quintet, The E-Collective — a project that fuses funk, R&B, dance, and blues. The...

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On Exhibit: “Luminous Muqarna”
Apr03

On Exhibit: “Luminous Muqarna”

History Hangs Overhead If you’re looking to get out this week and into an immersive installation inspired by Islamic architecture — we’ve got just the local exhibit for you (actually, it’s the only one). Soo Sunny Park created ”Luminous Muqarna” for the Islamic Arts Festival in the United Arab Emirates in an effort to transform our experience of light from something merely perceptual into something big, heavy, and physical. The work’s...

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New Thursday Series: Award-Winning Documentaries at Next Stage
Mar27

New Thursday Series: Award-Winning Documentaries at Next Stage

The World in Frame Since opening its historic church doors in 2011, Next Stage Arts Project has been working to bring world-class events into the small town of Putney, Vermont (just north of Brattleboro). Never has that mission been more clear than with the group’s newest project: a curated screening series for feature-length documentary films called [framed], each one presented by the filmmaker, who will be present at each screening...

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Saturday: Talk by Punk Photographer Cynthia Connolly
Mar27

Saturday: Talk by Punk Photographer Cynthia Connolly

Smile! (Or Don’t) Artist, photographer, and punk for the ages Cynthia Connolly made a name for herself in one fell swoop when she published Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes from the D.C. Punk Underground (79-85). That scrappy yearbook-style achievement snuck into stores in 1988 with a first print run of 2,000 copies, and stayed in print through 2005. Ten years later, it came back into print, so the moment is perfect to catch up with...

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VIDEO Teaser: The Greys play Advocate Sessions
Mar29

VIDEO Teaser: The Greys play Advocate Sessions

Jazz-inspired indie duo on vocals and bass When Cait Simpson sings and Chris Merritt plucks his upright bass, something simple and enchanting happens. The friends just released their first EP, The Landing, available on iTunes and Spotify. Catch the full video this Friday on Advocate Sessions, and browse full-set videos of your favorite local musical acts! Click to visit:...

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On Exhibit: “Unidentified Woman” at Historic Northampton
Mar27

On Exhibit: “Unidentified Woman” at Historic Northampton

You’re Wearing That? In her new exhibit, Jodi Colella engages with headwear and daguerreotypes from the collection of the Historic Northampton Museum and responds to forces that have shaped women’s identities since the 18th century. “Headwear has long played a role in indicating the class, status and occupation of the wearer – enforcing conformity and erasing individuality,” reads the gallery statement. “From the 18th-century poke...

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Music Spotlight: Jason Vieaux Plays UMass Amherst
Mar27

Music Spotlight: Jason Vieaux Plays UMass Amherst

Guitar Around the World To hear NPR tell it, musician Jason Vieaux is “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation.” Vieaux’s album Play won the 2015 Grammy award for best classical instrumental solo, and he has played in hundreds of orchestras and music festivals in Asia, Australia, Europe, and Mexico. He plays a solo concert at UMass on Tuesday that is sure to speak to his remarkably expressive range —...

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Like Guthrie Meets MacGyver: The Suitcase Junket Rocks Out
Mar20

Like Guthrie Meets MacGyver: The Suitcase Junket Rocks Out

One-man band plays blues, rock, and folk on improvised instruments Some of us spend our days sitting at computers in nondescript rooms. In the new, handmade music video for his love song “Beta Star,” Matt Lorenz gives that a shot. He wakes up in the morning, washes his face, twizzles his long mustache into shape, puts on a tie, grabs a coffee, and sits down to type. It doesn’t go well. In his mind, he’s wearing a tutu and romping...

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Dance VIP Raja Feather Kelly Comes to Town
Mar13

Dance VIP Raja Feather Kelly Comes to Town

Team Raja “With spidery limbs and a sprawling imagination,” writes Dance Magazine, “Brooklyn-based Raja Feather Kelly brings a vivid boundlessness to all he does. Whether dancing for the likes of Reggie Wilson or cooking up his own darkly entertaining dance-theater productions, he seems insatiably curious.” Last spring, this restless life led the 29-year-old choreographer and dancer to create Andy Warhol’s Tropico, an archetypal...

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Live Thursday: Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Mar13

Live Thursday: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Stay Classy, South Africa For over 50 years, South Africa’s male a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo has warmed the hearts of audiences worldwide with their uplifting vocal harmonies, signature dance moves, and charming onstage banter. With a deep respect for both their cultural and personal history, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is ever-evolving with an eye toward their long musical legacy. Over the years, the original members...

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Glasstastic! at the Brattleboro Museum
Mar13

Glasstastic! at the Brattleboro Museum

In a Glass of Their Own Last fall, the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center invited kids in kindergarten through sixth grade to create drawings and descriptions of imaginary creatures, with the promise that some of those creatures would be featured in the upcoming “Glasstastic” exhibit at the musem. “The response was incredible,” says BMAC museum educator Linda Whelihan. “We received over 1,000 submissions, an amazing assortment of...

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Wednesday and Thursday: A Visit From Community Activist Iris Morales
Mar13

Wednesday and Thursday: A Visit From Community Activist Iris Morales

Street Smarts Hampshire College, Holyoke Community College, and Smith College host visits this week from community activist Iris Morales, who rose to prominence in the Vietnam era. As a teenage activist in New York City, Morales joined the paramilitary Young Lords Party, a multiethnic, primarily Puerto Rican organization. The party, which disbanded in 1976, addressed the many socioeconomic needs of the working-class Puerto Rican...

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Sweet! The SYRUP Festival Returns This Weekend
Mar13

Sweet! The SYRUP Festival Returns This Weekend

With the SYRUP Festival, Piti Theatre Company in Shelburne Falls has hit on a tradition that most of us would never have realized we were missing: all-ages live performance, featuring world-class artists, mixed with handcrafted food and sweets from local artisans. Now in its eighth year, SYRUP comes back around this weekend. On Saturday, Jonathan Mirin performs the new solo physical comedy piece Sammy and the Grand Buffet at 2 p.m. An...

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Thursday to Sunday: The Back Porch Festival Returns
Mar06

Thursday to Sunday: The Back Porch Festival Returns

A Porch to be Reckoned With Most Valley radio listeners have spent at least a little time on Jim Olsen’s back porch. For years the president of Northampton-based record label Signature Sounds has hosted a Sunday morning radio program on 93.9 The River that focuses on songs new and old by American roots artists. Inspired by that show, for the past couple of years Signature Sounds has put on The Back Porch Festival, curated to present...

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The Beerhunter: Vanished Valley Brewing Company in Ludlow
Mar06

The Beerhunter: Vanished Valley Brewing Company in Ludlow

Local homebrewer Josh Britton scales up with a low-key launch On quiet winter days between reports of Valley craft beer happenings, your friendly neighborhood Beerhunter has been wandering a bit further afield. Over the past few months, I’ve written articles about my stop-ins at breweries in Worcester, Hartford, and northern Connecticut. But home is where the heart is. So on Instagram the other day, my scrolling thumb paused, hovering...

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We Have Questions About That ’West Mass’ Video
Mar06

We Have Questions About That ’West Mass’ Video

Early last month, the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts announced a new brand identity: West Mass. The groups spent $80,000 on the campaign, hiring Oklahoma-based agency Cubic Creative to lead the re-branding of a region formerly known as the Pioneer Valley. The reaction was swift and unforgiving. Springfield resident Dylan Pilon, whose online petition...

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Thursday Film Screening: A Trailblazing Trans Elder and Activist
Mar06

Thursday Film Screening: A Trailblazing Trans Elder and Activist

Miss Major Known to many simply as “mama,” Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a trans elder and activist who blazed the trail for other high-profile transgender women of color. Griffin-Gracy has been involved, up close and personal, in decades of fights for rights, including at the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969. Now 76 years old, she lives in Oakland and serves as the executive director for the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex...

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On Exhibit: It’s Me, Eloise — The Voice of Kay Thompson and the Art of Hilary Knight
Mar06

On Exhibit: It’s Me, Eloise — The Voice of Kay Thompson and the Art of Hilary Knight

El on Wheels Before President 45 ruined our fantasies about living the carefree life atop a skyscraper, America had Eloise, the children’s book series from the 1950s written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight. For someone living the cushy life — this girl lives in the “room on the tippy-top floor” of the Plaza Hotel in New York City with her pug Weenie and her turtle Skipperdee — Eloise got around, making her way...

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The Head and the Heart Plays Northampton
Feb27

The Head and the Heart Plays Northampton

Signs of Light Seattle indie folk band The Head and the Heart formed in 2009, and their third album Signs of Light, released this past fall, captures a radio-friendly pop rhythm that Rolling Stone described as “cozy and stylish at the same time.” That album was hard-won. In 2014, exhausted from four years of touring, the six band members parted ways for a while and scattered across the world to pursue individual projects, camp,...

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A Contortionist’s Journey Around the World — and Back to Brattleboro
Feb27

A Contortionist’s Journey Around the World — and Back to Brattleboro

The Body Follows: Inside the mind of professional contortionist Ariana Ferber-Carter Many people would bend over backwards to avoid performing stunts in front of an audience. But Ariana Ferber-Carter — a professional contortionist and circus coach — is far more flexible, and her passion for the circus runs deep. “What I do is intense and extreme, and I love it to death,” she says. “It hurts sometimes when I’m learning something new,...

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Q&A with Pasqualina Azzarello, the New Face of Easthampton City Arts
Feb27

Q&A with Pasqualina Azzarello, the New Face of Easthampton City Arts

In advance of the 1984 Summer Olympics, the city of Los Angeles commissioned 200 public murals. Pasqualina Azzarello remembers that transformation vividly. On hot afternoons, at the end of a long day at elementary school, she would climb into the backseat of her father’s car and sit looking out the window, stuck in traffic, at urban murals being painted. Changing worlds impressed themselves on her young eyes, and got into her head....

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On Stage Now: “Painting Churches” at the Majestic Theater
Feb27

On Stage Now: “Painting Churches” at the Majestic Theater

Home is Where the Art Is The sweet and heartfelt family story Painting Churches, winner of the John Gassner Award and Best Off-Broadway Play, is set in a Beacon Hill townhouse owned by Fanny and Gardner Church. As the play opens, the couple is packing, planning to move to a beach home on Cape Cod. Their daughter, Mags, an artist who lives in New York, arrives to help — and to paint their portrait. Gardner (Anderson Matthews), who has...

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