Valley Show Girl: Soundtracking Life with Eddie Japan
Jul24

Valley Show Girl: Soundtracking Life with Eddie Japan

Ahead of their show at the Iron Horse, I plug my purple Skull Candies into my ears, and click play on the intro track to Eddie Japan’s Golden Age. The sound of static pulls me in, reminding me of vinyl, so I pretend I’m listening on a record player, not my computer at work. “E-Cabaret /When the Morning Comes” jumps right into a blend of genres: I hear’ bits of ’70s pop, ’80s new wave, a hint of Latin, and a dash of big band, all on a...

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Stagestruck: Opposites Attract in Silverthorne’s Gentle Comedy
Jul24

Stagestruck: Opposites Attract in Silverthorne’s Gentle Comedy

Chapatti, now playing at Silverthorne Theater Company, is one of the sweetest comedies about grief, loneliness and suicide I’ve ever seen. The title is unfortunate, even confusing, since Christian O’Reilly’s play takes place in Dublin, not Delhi, and the name has nothing to do with the play’s plot or theme. For what it’s worth, Chapatti is a dog, named after his fondness for that Indian flatbread. There are dog people and there...

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O Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds Of Massachusetts’ Pot Bill
Jul21

O Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds Of Massachusetts’ Pot Bill

We’re no Nevada, but last week Massachusetts took two rippin’ steps toward weed legalization and protection in the state. First the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a business cannot fire an employee for being a medical marijuana patient — a decision that is causing headaches in HR offices around the state who claim it will be difficult to maintain drug-free workplaces. Then the Legislature passed a compromise bill on...

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Stagestruck: Misfit Millennials – “Speech & Debate” at Barrington Stage
Jul20

Stagestruck: Misfit Millennials – “Speech & Debate” at Barrington Stage

Reid Thompson’s setting for Speech & Debate, now receiving a near-perfect production at Barrington Stage Company, is a high school classroom. Maps and historical posters line the walls and headshots of famous Americans form a frieze above a pair of whiteboards – which become screens for Alex Basco Koch’s witty between-scenes animated projections. Lighting by Burke Brown also divides the room into discrete areas representing the...

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Basemental: Young Musicians Deserve Pay, Too
Jul17

Basemental: Young Musicians Deserve Pay, Too

I’ve played in about a half dozen bands over the past seven years here in the Valley. I’ve played on the steps of my beloved Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley (for free) and I’ve played The Calvin (for $250); I’ve played countless basements (including “The Basement”), colleges, and plenty of bar shows to boot. With the exception of the very occasional, yet lucrative, college show or an exceptionally good night at a bar, which does...

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Cinemadope: ‘Wanna-Bes Need Not Apply,’ Documentary on Madonna’s Back-up Voguers
Jul17

Cinemadope: ‘Wanna-Bes Need Not Apply,’ Documentary on Madonna’s Back-up Voguers

“Wimps and Wanna-Be’s need not apply!” That was the tagline of a print ad announcing an open audition for “FIERCE Male Dancers” who wanted to earn a spot on Madonna’s controversial, ground-breaking Blond Ambition Tour in 1990. It would have been a dream job for any dancer, but nobody — certainly not the seven young men, most barely 20 at the time, who ended up touring the globe with the pop star — could have predicted the impact the...

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Stagestruck: Bare Bard at Shakespeare & Co., Cymbeline Reviewed
Jul18

Stagestruck: Bare Bard at Shakespeare & Co., Cymbeline Reviewed

Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare’s “romances,” those late works in which comedy blends with tragedy and the endings are neither strewn with corpses nor aclang with wedding bells, but suffused with poignancy and forgiveness. The Tempest is the most popular of this group – in fact, it inaugurates the company’s new outdoor performance space next month – and Cymbeline runs a close second to Pericles as the least performed. So...

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Stagestruck: Wizard of Arrrrrs — PaintBox Theatre
Jul19

Stagestruck: Wizard of Arrrrrs — PaintBox Theatre

“Oh dear, the Wicked Witch is coming!” cried the Mayor of Munchkin City. “In that case,” responded Good Witch Glinda, “I’ve got to go.” “But why?” asked Dorothy, who was just starting to get used to not being in Kansas anymore. “Because she and I can’t be onstage at the same time. You’ll see why in a minute.” That meta-moment is part of why I love Tom McCabe’s PaintBox Theatre. The troupe’s inspired approach to kids’ shows combines...

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Stream Queen: Video Soundtrack Of Your Summer
Jul17

Stream Queen: Video Soundtrack Of Your Summer

When Queen released their music video for “Bohemian Rhapsody” back in the ‘70s, it’s doubtful they thought the medium would ever become as quintessential as it has today. In this millennium of viral content and streaming video, music videos have become an artist’s best tool when packaging a song. Though these shorts used to mostly depict artists’ performances, music and video have since coalesced into one discrete, enchanting medium....

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V-Spot: He’s Afraid to Cuddle
Jul17

V-Spot: He’s Afraid to Cuddle

Hi Yana, My partner and I have different sex drives. I could have sex four to six times a week, while he feels more comfortable with about two. In the beginning, we had a lot of sex and I was ecstatic thinking that our sex drives were more matched. Now, not so much. I feel like I’m constantly rejected and he feels pressured to have sex. He’s said he’s afraid to cuddle and kiss me because then he feels he’ll be expected to take it...

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The Pour Man: Columbard, The Grape I Never Knew I Loved
Jul17

The Pour Man: Columbard, The Grape I Never Knew I Loved

Mont Gravet, a light, refreshing, low-alcohol white wine, is perfect for drinking on warm summer evenings. It also has the added enjoyment of being a wine of discovery, one from an unfamiliar region, made from a grape that gets little attention and that I know little about. Maybe for the wine experts, it’s old hat, but for me, it’s new and fun. Mont Gravet is made from 100-percent Colombard grapes harvested from vineyards in the...

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Stagestruck: Lives on the Line
Jul15

Stagestruck: Lives on the Line

In her “Detroit Trilogy” of plays, Dominique Morisseau looks at black lives in that once-vibrant city through the lens of three distinct eras and groups of people.  Paradise Blue takes place in a 1949 jazz club in the city’s historic Black Bottom district, which is threatened by gentrification. Detroit ’67 is set in a “blind pig,” an unlicensed after-hours bar, during that summer’s deadly riots – which were triggered by a police raid...

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Stagestruck: Shakespearean Double Act
Jul13

Stagestruck: Shakespearean Double Act

Think of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as fan fiction – Tom Stoppard’s contribution to the “greatest-play-ever-written” phenomenon. That is, Hamlet.  In fact, though they were written centuries apart (around 1599 and 1966, respectively), the two make a well-matched repertory duet for an adventurous theater company, as minor characters in the elder become leads in the upstart, and vice versa. That’s just what Hampshire...

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Stagestruck: Art as Activism – Creative tactics at KO Festival
Jul11

Stagestruck: Art as Activism – Creative tactics at KO Festival

The KO Festival of Performance opened last weekend, kicking off a diverse five-week season clustered around the theme “Tactics for Trying Times.” First up was Jimmy & Lorraine, written by Talvin Wilks and developed with Hartford’s HartBeat Ensemble. The playwright describes his scrapbook drama as a “dramatic reflection” and “a type of mashup,” culled from the writings and correspondence of two great African-American...

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Cinemadope: A ‘Damned Dirty’ Future Classic
Jul10

Cinemadope: A ‘Damned Dirty’ Future Classic

At the risk of sounding impossibly out-of-touch, let me tell you something: I sure do miss Dialing for Dollars. That syndicated TV program — in which an afternoon movie was chopped into a few hundred pieces, allowing host George Allen to pick a number out of the area phone book and call cash-hungry viewers during the many breaks — did more for my early interest in movies than it had any right doing. Maybe it was because it was on in...

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Stagestruck: The Foreigner Hits Close To Home
Jul10

Stagestruck: The Foreigner Hits Close To Home

There’s a disclaimer of sorts in Jack Neary’s director’s note for The Foreigner, New Century Theatre’s season opener, playing through this weekend in its temporary digs at PVPA, the area’s performing arts high school in South Hadley. In it, Neary acknowledges that Larry Shue’s popular comedy “can easily be interpreted as an incisive commentary on our current political climate,” but “Me, I just think it’s funny.” Yes, certain aspects...

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Beerhunter: From Homebrew to Hotspot
Jul10

Beerhunter: From Homebrew to Hotspot

Don’t let the name of their new Westfield brewery fool you — Mark Avery and Rich DeSousa aren’t preparing to quit their day jobs. But the two friends and business partners are still opening up every spare hour, every day they can, to get Two Weeks Notice Brewing Company off the ground. Avery’s beers proved a hit during Western Mass Beer Week in June, when Two Weeks Notice collaborated on an IPA with Ludlow’s Vanished Valley Brewing...

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Down to Earth: No, The Car Is Not King
Jul10

Down to Earth: No, The Car Is Not King

We’re in the middle of a national crisis of public life. The idea that we can make life better by sharing our collective wealth (money and natural resources) and brainpower (science, engineering, literature and the arts) is under threat. In a recent article for Salon, Henry A. Giroux called it “the withering of civic attachments, the undoing of civic culture, the decline of public life and the erosion of any sense of shared...

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Valley Show Girl: Khalif Neville and Ian Haas Are Musical Chameleons
Jul10

Valley Show Girl: Khalif Neville and Ian Haas Are Musical Chameleons

I hear the sound of jazz in the parking lot as I walk towards New City Brewery in Easthampton last Thursday night. People are gathered in the patio area enjoying the music while also enjoying the summer night air. Inside, the old factory building with exposed beams, pulleys, and brick walls are inviting as I look at the multi-colored handwritten beer specials on the chalkboard at the bar. I order the Original Ginger Beer (which is...

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The V-Spot: Do I Talk Too Much in Bed?
Jul10

The V-Spot: Do I Talk Too Much in Bed?

I recently started going out with this girl, but it already feels like we are magnets to one another (both inside and outside of the bedroom). But the last time we had sex an issue came up that broke up that magnet-like feeling for me. I’m someone who really wants to communicate about sex so I know how to make partners feel good in all the ways they want. So I was really confused when, during sex, my communication caused her...

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Tundrastomper Are Good Musical Neighbors in Western Mass
Jul03

Tundrastomper Are Good Musical Neighbors in Western Mass

Tundrastomper, an explosive, chaotic, and notey rock band, formed about 10 years ago when Skyler Lloyd, Sam Brivic, Andrew Jones, and Max Goldstein were teenagers — about 13 years old each. They grew up in a town in Westchester, New York, called Ardsley. I looked it up on Google Maps and, well, it is what you might expect for New York City suburbs: the green space is evenly split between golf clubs and public parks, and the houses...

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Cinemadope: I Like Mike, Michael Keaton doesn’t get enough credit
Jul03

Cinemadope: I Like Mike, Michael Keaton doesn’t get enough credit

In film, there have always been levels of stardom. There are those stars whose wattage is measured in tooth whiteness, and whose films are expected to earn many millions based more or less on their mere presence — your Pitts, your Cruises, your Lawrences. Then there are those whose star power is moodier, imbued with more actorly gravitas — the Day Lewises, for short. It’s okay if their films don’t always make millions, because they...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: Wonder Woman’s Got Nothing on Feline Empowerment
Jul03

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: Wonder Woman’s Got Nothing on Feline Empowerment

For Father’s Day, I was treated to a screening of the new Wonder Woman movie. My daughter summed it up well: It was better than good, but not great. What I cannot understand is the fever this movie has generated. Women-only showings? Were there any women-only showings for Tomb Raider? One reviewer is said to have bawled her eyes out when Wonder Woman decked some bad dudes. Did anyone cry during Red Sonja? Wonder Woman has been touted...

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How Does a Shy Girl Ask for the Sex She Wants?
Jul03

How Does a Shy Girl Ask for the Sex She Wants?

Check out a video of Yana’s Q&A with the Valley Advocate. Hi Yana, I’m a bisexual woman in a LTR with another woman. My issue is that I’m super bashful when it comes to asking for what I want during sex. I’ve been partnered for a while now and even though I’m really comfortable with her and trust her, it’s hard for me to drum up the confidence to speak up. She’s great at asking me what I want from her but in the moment I...

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The Pour Man: Wine That Took 2,600 Years To Perfect
Jul03

The Pour Man: Wine That Took 2,600 Years To Perfect

Vintners have been making dry, pink wine in Provence since 600 B.C., and they have gotten pretty good at it. In fact, the region’s winemakers would say that Cotes de Provence makes the best rosé in the world, and I agree that the crisp, bright wines are awfully good. One outstanding, undisputed feature about the wines from Cote de Provence is the elegant, personalized bottles — often tall and curvy, with long, thin necks. They can be...

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Stagestruck: Stellar Casts Overcome Awkward Plot Points at Chester and Williamstown Theatres
Jul03

Stagestruck: Stellar Casts Overcome Awkward Plot Points at Chester and Williamstown Theatres

Are we finally breaking through the color bar in American theater? Is the tokenism represented by theaters programming one “diverse” play during Black History Month giving way to broader representation and bolder casting choices? Judging from the area’s summer theater lineup, it just might be. In late June, for example, three plays focusing on people of color opened in Western Mass. One of them stipulates only that its two characters...

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Stagestruck: Song & Dance
Jun30

Stagestruck: Song & Dance

Two shows now running in the Berkshires are rooted in the past but right up to the minute. Both Tireless, playing this week at Jacob’s Pillow, and Ragtime, at Barrington Stage through July 15, take their inspiration from the music of a bygone era while inviting us, implicitly but exuberantly, to reflect on our own times. I don’t know why or when Ragtime was chosen as this season’s mainstage musical at Barrington Stage, but I’ll bet...

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Stagestruck: Brother/Sister Act — The New Theresa Rebeck Play Gets World Debut in VT
Jun27

Stagestruck: Brother/Sister Act — The New Theresa Rebeck Play Gets World Debut in VT

The publicity for Downstairs, which opened at the Dorset (VT) Theatre Festival last week, gives rather short shrift to the fact that it’s a world premiere by the prolific Theresa Rebeck, whose plays Bad Dates and Mauritius are also being produced in the region this summer (at Shakespeare & Company and Oldcastle Theatre, respectively). Most of the attention has been showered on another first: Tyne Daly and her brother, Tim Daly,...

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Cinemadope: Better Than Finding A 45-Year-Old Porno
Jun26

Cinemadope: Better Than Finding A 45-Year-Old Porno

Many years ago, I found myself deep in the basement of the old Pleasant Street Theater (now the location of McLadden’s pub in Northampton), cleaning out some old storage lockers. From one of them, I pulled out a dented, dusty, film can, a flat circle of metal about 15 inches across and an inch or so deep. On its side was a peeling piece of yellowed masking tape with a single, suggestive word scrawled across it in marker: “Throat.”...

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Stream Queen: Butch Lesbians, Streaming, and Straight Clubs
Jun26

Stream Queen: Butch Lesbians, Streaming, and Straight Clubs

Filmmaker Michelle Ehlen practically invented multitasking. Her IMdB profile stretches on with credits that range from editing and production to cinematography and soundtrack. Though she’s had a hand in other LGBT films, like the popular Eating Out series, Ehlen is best known for her work as actor/director/writer/editor/producer on her lesbian film trilogy, comprised of Butch Jamie, Heterosexual Jill, and S&M Sally. You might...

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The V-Spot: He’s Monogamous, I’m Polyamorous — Can This Work?
Jun26

The V-Spot: He’s Monogamous, I’m Polyamorous — Can This Work?

Hi Yana! I’m currently in a mono-poly relationship. My primary partner is monogamous and has no interest in being with other people. He is reading More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert and is searching for resources when feelings of jealousy or envy come up. We’ve known each other for two years and have been dating for three months. I was already dating my current girlfriend when he and I started dating, and I have also...

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Valley Show Girl: Pick It Up! Pick It Up!
Jun26

Valley Show Girl: Pick It Up! Pick It Up!

After drinking sangria and picking at BBQ all day at a bridal shower this weekend, I shrugged off the floral shackles of proper wedding etiquette and hit The Cove in Southwick for the first time. Danny Pease and The Regulators put together a one-day summer bash at The Cove with bands playing throughout the day on the deck and moving the last two performances inside at night. As I walked up the stairs to the packed deck, the lights...

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O Cannabis!: Mass. Politicians Want to Charge How Much For An Eighth?
Jun26

O Cannabis!: Mass. Politicians Want to Charge How Much For An Eighth?

The battle over how recreational marijuana will be taxed and managed in Massachusetts will come to a head Friday. Gov. Charlie Baker has said he wants a bill on his desk by June 30 in order to allow enough time for retailers to apply for marijuana sales licenses and open shop on July 1, 2018 — a delayed timeline lawmakers approved following the successful November 2016 statewide vote to legalize recreational weed. So far, there are...

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Stagestruck: Fowl Play(s)
Jun20

Stagestruck: Fowl Play(s)

“Birds of a feather flock together,” as the saying goes, but that’s no excuse for these two avian-themed plays to be running at the same time in this area. They are entirely different species. The Birds, at Barrington Stage Company, is a claustrophobic thriller, while Stupid Fucking Bird, opening on Thursday at Silverthorne Theater Company, is a cheeky updating of Chekhov’s The Seagull.   When asked what Stupid Fucking Bird is...

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Stream Queen: The ‘F’ Word
Jun19

Stream Queen: The ‘F’ Word

Feminism is a word that has puzzled/infuriated/strengthened so many people in this country. Debates over the goals of feminism rage on, while popular media outlets inject the word into their headlines for maximum clicks. Are selfies feminist? Is makeup feminist? Am I anti-feminist for making fun of Ann Coulter’s reanimated corpse? In my opinion, “feminist” is no longer a particularly useful adjective, unless it precedes words like...

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