The Advocate Guide to Open Mics in the Pioneer Valley!
Nov20

The Advocate Guide to Open Mics in the Pioneer Valley!

The Pioneer Valley is home not only to a bountiful music scene, but to dozens of open mics where artistic communities blossom. Open mics are places where the generational lines between artists blur while they’re jamming out to a bluesy ballad or talking about their favorite Beatles album. Open mics can be a mixed bag at times — you might hear a jaw dropping original song followed by one of worst renditions of your favorite song. But...

Read More
Stream Queen: The Film and TV Industry is a Steaming Morass of Iniquity, but I’m Still Thankful
Nov20

Stream Queen: The Film and TV Industry is a Steaming Morass of Iniquity, but I’m Still Thankful

Dearest streamers, as the year draws to a close and we start to gather with our families (chosen or otherwise), it’s customary to take stock of how our lives have changed in the past 365 days. To say that the entertainment industry and all its iterations have changed in even the past month would be an understatement. Reverberations of female resistance can be felt in all areas of the entertainment world, which for so long has silenced...

Read More
Stagestruck: Not Your Bobble-head Einstein
Nov14

Stagestruck: Not Your Bobble-head Einstein

Though it harks back more than 100 years, Jack Fry’s Einstein! shuns the usual retrospective approach to solo shows portraying celebrities. This one is both timeless and time-stamped. The title character appears to us “from the beyond,” complaining about the popular caricature he’s become after death, presenting as evidence his wild-haired likeness on a t-shirt and a bobble-head. But he also situates us in his Berlin study in August...

Read More
Stagestruck: The Fruits of Poetry
Nov08

Stagestruck: The Fruits of Poetry

Note: An earlier version of this article contained several errors. They have now been corrected. In 1999, Time magazine named its pick for “the song of the century.” That song was “Strange Fruit,” perhaps an odd choice from the songbook of the era that gave birth to blues, jazz, musical comedy and rock’n’roll. Written in the late 1930s by a schoolteacher named Abel Meeropol, it’s a mournful tune set to a bitter lyric about an...

Read More
Literally, what would Jesus do? A chat with Jesus Christ Superstar’s Ted Neeley
Nov06

Literally, what would Jesus do? A chat with Jesus Christ Superstar’s Ted Neeley

Ted Neeley is not the second coming of Jesus Christ. But he does play one in the extremely popular show and accompanying 1973 movie Jesus Christ Superstar. The show went from being protested in the streets to one of the biggest Broadway sensations, touring around the world. Neeley still plays the part decades later, and participates in talkbacks at screenings of the film, but an upcoming event at Hawks and Reed in Greenfield this...

Read More
Stagestruck: House of Terrors
Nov05

Stagestruck: House of Terrors

The current world-premiere production at Hartford Stage (through Nov. 12) is “based on a true story,” according to the publicity, which is otherwise unforthcoming about its real-life inspiration. No matter. The premise for Sarah Gancher’s Seder is dramatic enough to pass for fiction, but has an unmistakable ring of authenticity. Fact or fantasy, it’s one of the smartest, most engaging and provocative new plays I’ve seen. It’s 2002,...

Read More
Stagestruck: Babylon in Vermont
Nov01

Stagestruck: Babylon in Vermont

As artists, how can one watch the millions of refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, not to mention countries in Africa and Asia, and not want to address this issue?  That question provoked the latest handmade production from Sandglass Theater, the world-class puppetry troupe headquartered in Putney, Vermont. The floods of refugees flowing from the Near East into an often hostile Europe, coupled with the travel bans on people...

Read More
Get Writing! National Novel Writing Month Starts Soon
Oct30

Get Writing! National Novel Writing Month Starts Soon

Art flourishes in uncertain times. From the critical poetry of World War I and the post World War II Beat Generation to the innovative music of the Beatles and the Stones and beyond, during and after strife, creative types will make art. They rush to prove Jonathan Larson right when the “Rent” creator wrote “the opposite of war isn’t peace; it’s creation.” This November, about 120 Pioneer Valley creative types will join that rush,...

Read More
Stagestruck: Runaways and Refugees
Oct30

Stagestruck: Runaways and Refugees

“Once upon a time / There was a boy or a girl / Who ran far away from home …” But this is no fairy tale. Runaways, which opens this week at UMass, is a grown-up musical about homeless children — kids who have fled from home and are living on the street. Created by Elizabeth Swados, it premiered in 1978 at the Public Theater, which had midwifed Hair a decade earlier, and soon moved to Broadway. It was based on Swados’...

Read More
STAFF PICKS: Haunted Evenings, Electronic/Art Rock, and Ukulele’s
Oct23

STAFF PICKS: Haunted Evenings, Electronic/Art Rock, and Ukulele’s

A Haunted Evening at Gateway City Arts // SATURDAY The weekend before Halloween is usually when all the fun happens. The Valley is full of events going on, and this just happens to be one of them. ​There will be many treats in store. Halloween-inspired cocktails and drinks, yummy food available from The Bistro at Gateway City Arts, and of course live music by jazzy indie rock duo, The Greys. They will be performing a cauldron full of...

Read More
This Halloween, Let These Psychological Horror Movies Brainwash You
Oct23

This Halloween, Let These Psychological Horror Movies Brainwash You

The leaves are changing, there’s a chill in the air, and every cafe has restocked their pumpkin spice syrup. Fall is finally here, and if you’re interested in movies, that means two things: nearby Oscar season means there are finally some good films in theatres again, and streaming sites have restocked their horror fodder in honor of Halloween. Netflix has especially stepped up their game this October, with new originals like David...

Read More
Stagestruck: Going for Goal
Oct19

Stagestruck: Going for Goal

The timing was kind of perfect. Last week, just as the U.S. men’s soccer team was being eliminated from qualifying for next year’s World Cup, Hartford’s TheaterWorks was opening The Wolves, an energetic if puzzling play about women’s soccer. Make that girls’ soccer. Sarah DeLappe’s high-spirited drama is about a team of suburban teenagers competing in six-a-side indoor soccer. In the context of this show, the World Cup news invites...

Read More
Stagestruck: A Light, a Lake and a Lady
Oct16

Stagestruck: A Light, a Lake and a Lady

In last week’s column I covered a fistful of shows playing in the Valley, and now it’s the Berkshires’ turn. Shakespeare & Company’s God of Carnage recently completed a late-season run, and three quite varied fall productions are now running on other western stages.   In Pittsfield, Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 psychothriller Gaslight is playing at Barrington Stage Company through this weekend. The inspiration for reviving this...

Read More
Stagestruck — Fall Harvest: A Bumper Crop of Valley Shows
Oct09

Stagestruck — Fall Harvest: A Bumper Crop of Valley Shows

At the end of summer, there’s a pause before the fall season unfolds — or rather, explodes. Suddenly, this weekend and next there’s a bumper crop of shows in an abundance of Valley venues. By my count, no fewer than seven productions are on hand — 21 if you count the 15-act Double Take Festival next weekend. And they come in as many shapes and varieties as the leaves on the season’s glorious trees. Let’s begin with Albatross, this...

Read More
Stagestruck: “Tuna” on Wry − Lake Wobegon, Texas-style
Oct03

Stagestruck: “Tuna” on Wry − Lake Wobegon, Texas-style

One way to put a big play on a small stage and stay on budget is by having two actors play all the parts. In Silverthorne Theater Company’s current offering, that’s not a cost-cutting shortcut, it’s the key concept. Greater Tuna, playing this weekend and next, introduces 20 stranger-than-life denizens of Tuna, the third-smallest town in Texas, all played with bigger-than-life vigor by Julian Findlay and John Reese. This...

Read More
Valley Advocate Fall Arts Preview of Western Mass
Oct02

Valley Advocate Fall Arts Preview of Western Mass

Fall 2017 in the Valley is stuffed with anticipated moments of cultural and artistic profundity; below is just a taste of all the amazing events taking place October into early-December across the three counties, and southern Vermont. Fragile Freedom After the U.S. entered WWII, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the evacuation and imprisonment of 120,000 mostly Japanese-Americans into 10...

Read More
Pixies at Smith College
Sep21

Pixies at Smith College

The Pixies rocked out a 31-song set, which was close to 2 hours of non-stop jams last night at the John M. Greene Hall, at Smith College in Northampton. Here’s a sample of some pictures and video from their show. — Jennifer Levesque, jlevesque@valleyadvocate.com          ...

Read More
Stagestruck: Culture Clashes on the Border and on the Island
Sep20

Stagestruck: Culture Clashes on the Border and on the Island

Two plays in the Valley this weekend couldn’t be more different but at the same time so close to the bone of our current national  crisis of xenophobia and identity. Building the Wall, in Northampton, is a tense confrontation that touches on today’s headlines and then reaches beyond them. La Gringa, in Holyoke, is an unabashed comedy about a Puerto Rican woman caught between two homelands. Building the Wall (the very title sends...

Read More
Stories From The Stoop a Nuanced Look at Growing Up in 1960s New York
Sep18

Stories From The Stoop a Nuanced Look at Growing Up in 1960s New York

I first met Steve Bernstein when I was working at a small library in Marlborough, New Hampshire, a little more than a decade ago. In the newsletter I put a note in for a writers’ group without knowing if anyone from the little town would show up. Steve was among the small handful who did. Two things immediately stood out about Steve — his strong Bronx accent, and the quality of his work. The stories he brought in over the weeks were...

Read More
Stagestruck: Summer Theater Wrap Party, in Living Color
Sep18

Stagestruck: Summer Theater Wrap Party, in Living Color

The area’s summer theaters have folded their metaphorical tents for the year, though three of the Berkshire companies are also mounting fall shows. For this critic, it was a Sergio Leone season: good, bad, and occasionally ugly. (An example of the extremes — Silverthorne Theater Company’s Chekhov mashup Stupid Fucking Bird, which played metatheatrically with The Seagull, and Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow...

Read More
BrattRock
Sep18

BrattRock

In its second year, the Brattleboro Youth Rock Festival has a killer line up of below-the-drinking-age talent. Saturday features a full day of rock with performances by local bands Impending Exorcism, Gabe Brodeur (frontman for Court Etiquette, which P.S. performed on the Advocate Sessions stage recently – the video will be out on the 29th), Moxie, Felixis Jinx, Parlicium (Sessions alumni), Outer Space, Oak Groove Blues Groove,...

Read More
Yea-Hoo and Rockabilly, too: Flathead Rodeo Friday in Easthampton
Sep11

Yea-Hoo and Rockabilly, too: Flathead Rodeo Friday in Easthampton

Songs From the Rodeo Flathead Rodeo is Northampton-based roots rockabilly band recently won Mark Sherry’s Valley Musical Showcase in July, a regular, judged competition at New City Brewery in Easthampton. So, now they have the honor of opening and closing this week’s Showcase. Go see ‘em: They’re rocking, fun, and funny. Mistress Miriam (who got her name from Iggy Pop) has a long history of singing and performing improv — a...

Read More
Springfield Puerto Rican Parade SUNDAY
Sep11

Springfield Puerto Rican Parade SUNDAY

The annual Puerto Rican Parade kicks off Sunday in Springfield. The parade, which featured more than 100 marching contingents and floats last year, will start at 11 a.m. and go down Main Street, from Wason Avenue to Boland Way. Expect to get your dance on and enjoy some killer empanadas. There will be a main stage and celebration outside at 1500 Main St. Puerto Rican Parade: 11 a.m. Main Street, Springfield, from Wason Avenue to...

Read More
Selfie Indulgent? UMass show explores the self portrait
Sep11

Selfie Indulgent? UMass show explores the self portrait

No one gives Picasso shit for all the self portraits he’s painted. And I’m yet to hear someone call Frida Kahlo’s self portraits “navel gazing.” But right now, the self portrait is under fire. People like to heap a lot of scorn on selfie-takers, folks who have read up on how to pose for the best pic and keep their smartphone cameras set to “Beauty” mode. The selfie is often derided as being selfish and trite, but people’s desire to be...

Read More
Amherst Emily Dickinson FEST!!!! Now Through the Weekend
Sep11

Amherst Emily Dickinson FEST!!!! Now Through the Weekend

Kindly Stopping for Emily Dickinson Amherst’s annual celebration of one of its most famed artists begins Thursday, Sept. 14, and carries on through the weekend with the Amherst Poetry Festival and Emily Dickinson Poetry Marathon. The fest, held at various locations, features a day-long marathon of reading Dickinson’s 1,789 poems aloud (starts at 6 a.m. Saturday at the Emily Dickinson Museum); Poetry in the Planetarium with Dara Wier...

Read More
Hidden Figures in the Silent Sky
Sep12

Hidden Figures in the Silent Sky

When Robert Freedman tells people about Silent Sky, the play he directs this weekend at the Shea Theater, they often think he’s talking about Hidden Figures, the recent movie about black women mathematicians who worked as “computers” for NASA in the 1960s. But, he explains, “While that movie told an incredible story about brilliant women facing sexism and racism to pursue their highest God-given talents,” this play looks back a...

Read More
Go See: Museum and Gallery Exhibits on Sept. 14-20, 2017
Sep11

Go See: Museum and Gallery Exhibits on Sept. 14-20, 2017

Alumnae House Gallery: Greenhouse Panoramas — A Process of Reinvention. Large-scale greenhouse images by photographer/artist Esther Pullman. Through Jan. 8. Free. 33 Elm St., Northampton. (413) 585-2190. mhobbes@smith.edu. Amherst Town Hall: Changing Landscapes. By Janet Pozar paintings from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where she grew up. Through Oct. 31. 4 Boltwood Ave., Amherst. janet-pozar.squarespace.com. Anchor House: 5...

Read More
Northampton’s ‘Beefcake’ Scandal
Sep11

Northampton’s ‘Beefcake’ Scandal

Fifty-seven years ago this month, agents of the Anti-Smut Unit of the Massachusetts State Police raided the Northampton apartment of Smith College literature professor Newton Arvin and discovered copies of “beefcake” magazines he had collected and shared with friends. He was arrested, not for homosexual activity — which was still largely outlawed in the Eisenhower-era U.S. — but for possessing “obscene materials” received through the...

Read More
The Sacred Space in Between: Auferoth Exhibit in Easthampton
Sep11

The Sacred Space in Between: Auferoth Exhibit in Easthampton

The paintings in Susannah Auferoth’s exhibit at the Grubbs Gallery in Easthampton, have one thing in common: They all use the template of three exact lines, two thick, the middle one thin, in colors with cavernous depth. But that’s it. Within this framework Auferoth has created individual expressions of movement and reflection on three plains: Earth, sky, and the space in between where life happens. Seven of these pieces are on view...

Read More
Interview: The Pixies On Music, Reuniting, And Annoying The Neighbors
Sep05

Interview: The Pixies On Music, Reuniting, And Annoying The Neighbors

There’s no band quite like the Pixies with its blend of dissonant noise pop, psychedelic hard rock, surf-drenched reverb, punk rock-ish DIY leanings, and surreal lyrics that cover bizarre topics from extraterrestrials to biblical violence. Since the band’s 1986 formation at UMass Amherst, the Pixies have played thousands of shows across the world and on Sept. 20, the band returns to Western Mass to play Smith College’s John Greene...

Read More
Michael Ruffino of the Unband: All Rock, No Bullshit
Sep05

Michael Ruffino of the Unband: All Rock, No Bullshit

Unband bassist Michael Ruffino doesn’t bullshit. Outside on the deck at Northampton Brewery,  I ask the rocker with a new memoir about music, the Valley, LA, the creative process, his book; and he’s refreshingly candid. How do you feel about the music in the ‘90s, Mike? “Just self-centered people, trying to be deep, but not being deep. It’s like, talk to a professional about this instead; don’t make me sit through it.” What do you...

Read More
Between The Lines: Will Greenfield Get Hooked Up Like The Shea?
Sep05

Between The Lines: Will Greenfield Get Hooked Up Like The Shea?

Forty years ago, the Shea Theater building in downtown Turners Falls was a shell about to collapse in on itself. But Montague leaders saw the building’s potential to boost the village’s economic fortunes and acquired the Shea. With help from grants, Montague rejuvenated the Avenue A landmark into the small downtown arts and cultural engine it has been since the 1980s. In the past few years, a new Shea Theater board of directors has...

Read More
Tundrastomper’s Psychedelic, Math Rocking ‘O’ Reviewed
Sep05

Tundrastomper’s Psychedelic, Math Rocking ‘O’ Reviewed

Easthampton-based basement rock band Tundrastomper is an experimental psychedelia mutant grown from a vat of math rock that explodes into a storm with manic ferocity. There’s more than a glob of progressive rock stylings thrown into the mixer with the band’s new album, “O,” released on July 7. Tundrastomper is a four piece group comprised of Sam Brivic on guitar, Max Goldstein on drums, Andrew Jones on bass, and Skyler Lloyd on guitar...

Read More
Staff PICKS! Lady Snowblood in Amherst, Freak Folkers, Orchard Ballet, and Yucks
Sep05

Staff PICKS! Lady Snowblood in Amherst, Freak Folkers, Orchard Ballet, and Yucks

Lady Snowblood at Amherst Cinema // FRIDAY Ah, the classic story of bloody and brutal revenge. There’s nothing quite like it. Although many think Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films are the peak of stylized action in the sub-genre, there is another film ready to climb a metaphorical mountain of gore. That film is Lady Snowblood (1973) by Toshiya Fujita, which raises gory revenge to a level of visual poetry. Lady Snowblood...

Read More
Blandford Fair: All’s Fair in Love and Corn Dogs
Aug28

Blandford Fair: All’s Fair in Love and Corn Dogs

What can you say about how much fun the Blandford Fair is that hasn’t been said 150 times before? The four-day agricultural fair has been going strong for a century and a half, tweaking the format a little every year to keep up with the times while staying firmly rooted in local heritage. This year’s highlights include: horse shows, an art show and sale, historical re-enactments, carnival rides and games, country-fried...

Read More