VIDEO Valley Show Girl: Experiencing an Album Live; Disguise the Curse’s Release Party
Mar20

VIDEO Valley Show Girl: Experiencing an Album Live; Disguise the Curse’s Release Party

A couple weeks ago I picked up Echoes of the Dying Light by local metal titans, Disguise the Curse. “Holy shit, this is amazing,” I said to myself while drumming on my steering wheel with the music blasting through my car speakers. Produced by Chris Daniele at Yucky Studios, the quality of the album is superb with not one track worth skipping. The album is still in my car stereo on repeat.The opening track “Caverns” sets the tone for...

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Stream Queen: Women’s Work, rediscovering female directors
Mar20

Stream Queen: Women’s Work, rediscovering female directors

Whether or not Western Mass has gotten the meteorological memo, we’ve officially sprung forward. That means it’s time to emerge from hibernation, put on our rubber gloves, and get ready for some spring cleaning. In my case, I’ve decided to dust off some groundbreaking works by female directors, in honor of Women’s History Month.The cinematic history of female directors is woefully short, and very much still in progress. It took the...

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Nerding Out: Building a Passion, 120 hours drawing an historic court house
Mar20

Nerding Out: Building a Passion, 120 hours drawing an historic court house

Andrew Quient is celebrated for his geometrical-style pottery. Quient, 66, of Florence, even has some of his pieces in the national White House archives. But if you run into him working in Northampton, it’s unlikely he’ll be at a potter’s wheel. You’re probably going to find him at Forbes Library painstakingly drawing exact architectural pencil sketches of buildings he finds interesting and beautiful. Because not every building is...

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DIO Comes to Town
Mar20

DIO Comes to Town

DIO know DIO is coming to town?Jump on your tiger, Holy Diver, because DIO is coming to town. Last in Line, a DIO cover band that includes members of the original DIO, is playing the Waterfront Tavern in Holyoke on Wednesday, March 29. The group will play some classic DIO as well as new tunes the band has written since forming in 2011. DIO bandmates Vivian Campbell and Vinny Appice and vocalist Andrew Freeman along with Phil Soussan...

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On Screens: Antarctica Ice and Sky
Mar20

On Screens: Antarctica Ice and Sky

Antarctica’s isolation and cold have always been attractive to me. A land of rolling ice mountains, silence, and snow where Mother Nature is commander in chief. In Antarctica — Ice and Sky, Oscar-winning director Luc Jacquet creates a portrait of French glaciologist Claude Lorius — one of the first scientists to start warning people about climate change. Lorius was among a vanguard of scientists studying ice cores in Antarctica, which...

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Cinemadope: In a Pickle
Mar20

Cinemadope: In a Pickle

The annual Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival returnsNow in its twelfth year, the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival (PVJFF) has long been a wonderful part of the Valley’s plentiful film offerings. Carefully curated, the festival screens films big and small, providing local filmgoers with a thought-provoking slate of work that is engaging, entertaining, and often unexpected. Beyond giving viewers a nice show, the festival organizers...

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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 AfricaFor 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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Stagestruck: Shenanigans and the Sexual Revolution
Mar12

Stagestruck: Shenanigans and the Sexual Revolution

On the first page of Fiona Kyle’s dramaturgical notes for Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9, at Hartford Stage through March 19, is a photo of Margaret Thatcher. The next page features the less- recognizable face of Cecil Rhodes. He was the epitome of 19th-century British imperialism – ruthless exploiter of southern Africa’s diamond fields (and her labor force), prime minister of Cape Colony, champion of Victorian institutions and culture.His...

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Stagestruck: Facing the Other — a local premiere examines the roots of violence
Mar13

Stagestruck: Facing the Other — a local premiere examines the roots of violence

Talk about prejudice… Without knowing anything about the play, I walked into a rehearsal of Sweet, Sweet Spirit last week and made some snap judgments that turned out to be quite wrong.The play, which receives its regional premiere next weekend at the Academy of Music, takes place in a West Texas town. As soon as I heard the (white) actors’ drawls, coupled with a few references to scripture, I “naturally” concluded that they were...

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Glasstastic! at the Brattleboro Museum
Mar13

Glasstastic! at the Brattleboro Museum

In a Glass of Their OwnLast 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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Stream Queen: Personal Documentary (The Real Alternative Facts)
Mar13

Stream Queen: Personal Documentary (The Real Alternative Facts)

There are a lot of zippy phrases floating around right now that blur the concept of journalistic integrity — “fake news,” “alternative facts,” “White House press secretary Sean Spicer” — but in the film world, objectivity and performance coalesce into a kind of honestly biased duet. Despite its journalistic nature, even documentary filmmaking demands a viewpoint, which the director must decide to tease out through interviews and the...

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Basemental: Hammydown and the Myth of the Millenial Slacker
Mar13

Basemental: Hammydown and the Myth of the Millenial Slacker

Pavement certainly planted some type of “slacker” flag in the 90s. Whether or not they were the original “slackers” — they weren’t — is irrelevant, but that label has often evoked that band. Today the same label, certainly a compelling angle for write-ups, is attached to acts like Melbourne, Australia’s Courtney Barnett, Boston’s Palehound, and now Northampton’s Hammydown because they make music that references “slacker rock.” But...

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Cinemadope: Perfect 10
Mar13

Cinemadope: Perfect 10

Talk about the American Dream, and one of the first things that will likely come up is the idea of owning your own home. To be sure, having a house of one’s own brings with it a host of benefits — if you have kids, for instance, cleaning all those rooms every day means you can skip a gym membership — but sometimes there is something lost in the rush to find our own walled castles.Before I came to the Valley, I lived in a series of...

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Cold Fingers at the Iron Horse: Vanessa Carlton Calls for Boycott of Northampton Venue
Mar13

Cold Fingers at the Iron Horse: Vanessa Carlton Calls for Boycott of Northampton Venue

Vanessa Carlton may be best known for playing piano on the back of a truck while singing her hit song “A Thousand Miles,” but that doesn’t mean she’ll play just anywhere. The artist has standards — and they’re apparently higher than at least what one Northampton venue offered.Carlton was quick to voice what those standards were during her performance last week at the Iron Horse in Northampton, tweeting out her grievances with the...

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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 WithMost 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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Valley Show Girl: Krewe Les Gras at Theodore’s
Mar06

Valley Show Girl: Krewe Les Gras at Theodore’s

I consider myself a musical schizophrenic. I can get into just about any genre you put in front of me — especially if it’s live. I may not be a musician, but music has been a passionate subject for me for as long as I can remember. One of the first local shows I went to when I was about 18 or so, was Hypnotic Kick and All That Remains at the Fat Cat Bar and Grill in Springfield. I soon became a regular at their hardcore nights on...

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Thursday Film Screening: A Trailblazing Trans Elder and Activist
Mar06

Thursday Film Screening: A Trailblazing Trans Elder and Activist

Miss MajorKnown 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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Stagestruck: A.R.T.’s “Night of the Iguana” Revives a Minor Classic
Mar06

Stagestruck: A.R.T.’s “Night of the Iguana” Revives a Minor Classic

Some of those leaving the American Repertory Theater’s current production must be surprised and baffled, not to mention disappointed. On my way out of the Cambridge theater on opening night, I overheard a man asking, “Why did James Earl Jones have such a small part?” I was asking the same question myself.The show is Tennessee Williams’ steamy 1961 drama The Night of the Iguana. It’s directed by Michael Wilson, who led Hartford Stage...

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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 WheelsBefore 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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Cinemadope: In Plain Sight
Mar06

Cinemadope: In Plain Sight

Over the last few months, it has become impossible to ignore the rising tides of xenophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry and hatred that have suddenly made America a much scarier place for so many of those who call it home. Of course, these prejudices aren’t new — for a nation founded by people fleeing persecution, we sure have done a damn lot of persecuting ourselves — but they are certainly out in the daylight in a way they...

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The Head and the Heart Plays Northampton
Feb27

The Head and the Heart Plays Northampton

Signs of LightSeattle 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-CarterMany 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, but...

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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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Cinemadope: Wolverine’s Back — For the Last Time
Feb27

Cinemadope: Wolverine’s Back — For the Last Time

We Americans are a nostalgic bunch. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just that we are still such a young nation — there are Italian cafes that are older than our whole country — that we like to fool ourselves into thinking we have more history than we do. Or maybe, when things are particularly desperate, we just need the comfort of pretending that things haven’t always been so bad. And so we have our Facebook memories, our Timehops, our...

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A Poem for Elizabeth Warren
Feb27

A Poem for Elizabeth Warren

And Still She Persisted (for Elizabeth Warren)They offered her a muzzle and still she persisted. This sister, this gatekeeper, this whistleblower and thistle-bearer. They told her to shut her justice-loving mouth but still she persisted: could not remain still when speaking was necessary. She would not stop yielding pistol-shots from an epistle. Would not yield. She, Elizabeth Warren, is just one person, but inside her stir the voices...

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The V-Spot: How Do We Get the Mood Back?
Feb27

The V-Spot: How Do We Get the Mood Back?

Hi Yana,My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time. We moved in together six months ago into our new home in New Mexico. But, I’m really not feeling our sex life lately. I feel bad because my boyfriend is amazing, but I’m never ever in the mood to have sex. Lately, we have sex once a month and it’s only because I feel bad so I just pretend. Is there anything I can do? We’re a rather conservative couple,...

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Basemental: So You Want to be a Music Writer?
Feb27

Basemental: So You Want to be a Music Writer?

Pioneer Valley Underground brings new voices to DIY coverageBack in 1999, thousands descended into downtown Seattle for protests against the World Trade Organization, dubbed “The Battle of Seattle.” Not only did protesters successfully get a frank discussion about globalization into the news, but they also left a legacy that many don’t remember: Indymedia, the first national network of citizens who used the internet to tell their own...

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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 IsThe 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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On Exhibit: 100 Photos in the Berkshires
Feb27

On Exhibit: 100 Photos in the Berkshires

Five and Ten AgainThis month, Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Lenox teams up with the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield for another year of Berkshire County’s 10 x 10 Upstreet Arts Festival. The two galleries are each showing half of a 100-photograph show, comprised of 10 photographs by 10 emerging artists: Bob Avakian, Zachary Burns, Ken Dreyfack, Susan Evans Grove, Roberto Falck, Ralph Mercer, Rebecca Moseman, Astrid...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Last Dinosaur
Feb27

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Last Dinosaur

Many winters ago, in 1977 to be precise, a friend and I were invited to a party. As luck would have it, we were the only males present. To top it off, the girls wanted to try the old game of spin the bottle. Chumps that my friend and I were, we decided we would rather catch the premiere of a movie on TV called The Last Dinosaur. Mind you, this was way before the days of cable, or even VCRs, so our feeble minds thought this was a big...

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Stream Queen: Animation Staycation
Feb20

Stream Queen: Animation Staycation

As far as media genres go, animation is one that rarely gets its due. Cartoons enchant us as children, but are then left in the past, their artistry and potential forgotten. But whether on your laptop or your Saturday morning television screen, good animation can make us laugh, cry, or learn the entire plot of Hamlet at a young age (here’s lookin’ at you, Simba).Animation studios can define the genre for their respective generations....

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Stagestruck: Woman on the Edge
Feb20

Stagestruck: Woman on the Edge

For a 19th-century male, Henrik Ibsen was quite the feminist. His best-known play, A Doll’s House, ends with one of the theater’s most famous sound effects as his protagonist, Nora Helmer, leaves her stifling marriage with the finality of a slamming door.An equally definitive offstage bang concludes Ibsen’s other great marital drama, Hedda Gabler. While his title character is not at all like Nora, and her final action an even more...

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In Concert: Weird Love Noise
Feb20

In Concert: Weird Love Noise

Spending Valentine’s Day with Thurston Moore and friendsA distant droning noise fills the cold air as I get out of my car in a very full parking lot at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence. I walk up the steps to the entrance of the club above JJ’s Tavern, and the distortion beyond the walls gets louder. I’m greeted by manager and promoter John Gulow with a smile. I open the doors, and am immediately hit with an intense...

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