Stream Queen: All Breasts Are the Best
Sep11

Stream Queen: All Breasts Are the Best

Some documentaries exist to tackle big-picture issues, while others hone in on life’s finer details. The Breast Archives, by local director Meagan Murphy, attempts both tasks at once, as the film delves into the world of feminist body politics vis-a-vis the breasts. The Breast Archives is truly a unique documentary, making it worth seeing for its message alone. Though this film has some growing to do before it really rends the fabric...

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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...

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Back Talk: Wypipo Smoking Weed in the Streets and a New Name for Amherst
Sep05

Back Talk: Wypipo Smoking Weed in the Streets and a New Name for Amherst

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our letters to the editor page. Here you’ll find comments from readers on Advocate articles and other news. We collect readers’ opinions from emails, letters, Facebook comments, and comments to valleyadvocate.com. Want to get in on this? Email  editor@valleyadvocate.com and put “BackTalk” or “letter to the editor” in the subject. Weed in the Streets (via Facebook) Some reactions to “Smoking Weed in Public:...

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Smoking Weed in Public
Aug28

Smoking Weed in Public

I have a friend, she’s a trip: She loves, LOVES, smoking marijuana where she isn’t supposed to. I call her a guerilla smoker, lighting up any time we’re in public no matter who’s around or what we’re doing. With recreational marijuana now being legal in Massachusetts, I asked her if she’s noticed any difference in how she and other people approach smoking in public. First she laughed, then she said she would show me. While weed is...

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Staff Picks: Old Crow Medicine Show, ET, Tomatoes, and Reggae
Aug21

Staff Picks: Old Crow Medicine Show, ET, Tomatoes, and Reggae

THURSDAY // Old Crow Medicine Show The originators of the open mic sing-a-long phenomenon “Wagon Wheel” are upbeat bluegrass band Old Crow Medicine Show. Although the band’s single is well known, there’s more to Old Crow Medicine Show than just this one tune. They made their start busking on the street corners of New York state and mix an old-time roots music sensibility with bluegrass and a punch of punk rock...

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The Futuristic Art of Christina Gusek
Aug21

The Futuristic Art of Christina Gusek

2050 and Beyond Christina Gusek is a futurist. She looks to what will be instead of what is. Her exhibit at Holyoke Hummus Company, Year 2050 and Beyond, is a vividly terrifying vision of people distorted with machines on a psychedelic event horizon. This exploration of people and our relationships with the increasingly advanced machines we rely on, is full of beauty and wit. The artwork is fluid and hypnotic. Gusek’s humor and smart...

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Chicopee Downtown GetDown All Weekend
Aug21

Chicopee Downtown GetDown All Weekend

Chicopee’s Downtown GetDown The Downtown GetDown is funneling people in this weekend to check out all the cool stuff going on in The Pee. This year’s GetDown will feature a Bike Rodeo, an event usually for kids under age 13 that teaches them good ridership skills and provides a sweet cycling course on which to practice. Musical acts will include 2 Free Spirits, Lenny Gomulka and the Chicago Push, Sky Highway, Trailer Trash,...

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Cinemadope: Human Smuggling Just to Get By
Aug21

Cinemadope: Human Smuggling Just to Get By

Shelburne Falls Pothole Pictures continues its summer movie series with something frosty: a screening of Frozen River. This 2008 film, written and directed by Courtney Hunt, was the hit of the festival circuit when it debuted, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and nabbing a “Top Ten Films” spot from the American Film Institute — not too shabby for a first outing. And while Hunt’s story and direction are top notch, it is star...

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Staff Picks: Transperformance, Leafies, Surf Rock God Dick Dale+
Aug14

Staff Picks: Transperformance, Leafies, Surf Rock God Dick Dale+

Top events of the coming week chosen by Advocate Staff: TUESDAY // This Must Be Heaven On Tuesday at Look Park you may be able to catch a glimpse of Cher, Kurt Cobain, a Beatle, Sharon Jones, Chris Cornell, Johnny Cash, or Amy Winehouse as this year’s Transperformance is dedicated to rockers who climbed up that stairway to heaven. Transperformance is a long-running show in which local musicians choose an on-theme, popular band (this...

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Stagestruck: Taking Steps to Hilarity at Barrington Stage
Jul26

Stagestruck: Taking Steps to Hilarity at Barrington Stage

The classic sex farce is set in a large room with about half a dozen doors, in and out of which pop guilty lovers, jealous spouses and other staples of the genre, and behind which most of the shenanigans real and suspected take place. Alan Ayckbourne’s classic Taking Steps (at Barrington Stage Company through August 5) turns that convention on its head. The difference here is that much of what would normally happen offstage (like...

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StreamQueen: Indie Films Coming Off the Festival Circuit You’ve Gotta See
Jul24

StreamQueen: Indie Films Coming Off the Festival Circuit You’ve Gotta See

Though digital media has forever changed the face of filmmaking, there’s still one key way independent filmmakers can premiere their work: by entering it into the festival circuit. Each year many films, spanning all lengths and genres, debut to those lucky minority able to attend the most established festivals. Independent film festivals offer the world’s first look at the year’s best films. Moonlight first screened at the Telluride...

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The Original Game of Thrones: Queen Margaret Takes Center Stage in Springfield/Turners
Jul24

The Original Game of Thrones: Queen Margaret Takes Center Stage in Springfield/Turners

Queen Margaret, Historical Bad-Ass Before there was Game of Thrones and Cersei, there was the War of the Roses and Queen Margaret of Anjou. In fact, many people believe the hit HBO show was based on the War of the Roses, a 30-year war (of which Margaret was a key player) fought between enemy houses — the Yorks and the Lancasters — for control of the English throne. Margaret was queen of England for 17 nonconsecutive years. She led the...

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Sticks & Stones Won’t Break Your Bones at Hope and Feathers, Amherst
Jul03

Sticks & Stones Won’t Break Your Bones at Hope and Feathers, Amherst

Sticks and Stones II, the new exhibit at Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery, is a contemplation of the very small and natural. The four artists contributing to this show meditated on things like pebbles, pieces of cloth, terra cotta, and textiles. The end result is a celebration of the little ones we take for granted. Look for terra cotta pieces by Mary Carroll, textile constructions by Sharon McCartney, mixed media/ assemblages...

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Near-Centenarian Frances Crowe Says Pipeline Threatens Life On Earth
Jul03

Near-Centenarian Frances Crowe Says Pipeline Threatens Life On Earth

Ninety-eight-year-old peace activist Frances Crowe of Northampton is thinking about the future. That’s why she was arrested last month along with seven other people protesting Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s $93 million 13-mile tri-state Connecticut Expansion Project in Sandisfield’s Otis State Forest on June 24. The group, including Crowe, is set to appear in Southern Berkshire District Court for civil violations of trespassing on July 18....

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Go See: Ghosts of Industry by Catherine Gibbs
Jun26

Go See: Ghosts of Industry by Catherine Gibbs

Familiar Forgotten Places Catherine Gibbs picked a ubiquitous, but faded piece of local history for her exhibit at the Elusie Gallery in Easthampton: Mill buildings and train yards. Though not as much is manufactured here anymore, not that long ago people in places like Easthampton, Northampton, Holyoke, and Chicopee would tell time by the manufacturer whistles signaling breaks and shift switches. And the trains that would haul away...

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Berkshires Arts Festival This Weekend
Jun26

Berkshires Arts Festival This Weekend

Art in a (Butter)Nutshell Strolling through booths of fine art with a glass of wine in your hand underneath a sunny sky in the Berkshires isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon, or two. That’s what you’ll get at the 16th Berkshires Arts Festival at the Ski Butternut resort. This year’s event boasts 200 jury-selected artists and designers who will show and sell their jewelry, textiles, wood, furniture, ceramics, leather, glass,...

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Worthy Beer Fest in Springfield Saturday
Jun12

Worthy Beer Fest in Springfield Saturday

Are You Worthy? Yes, yes you are — if you’re 21 or over. The Worthy is back, ya’ll, and sudsier than ever for this year’s outdoors craft beer showcase. The Springfield brewfest, in the city’s most entertaining neighborhood: Worthington Street, is going down Saturday and will feature more than 20 local brewers. Old favorites like Amherst Brewing, Stone Brewing, and Berkshire Brewing Company will be there as well as some newer names:...

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Spirit Ghost on The Valley Advocate Sessions Stage
Jun09

Spirit Ghost on The Valley Advocate Sessions Stage

Check out Amherst-based indie/garage/ surf rock band Spirit Ghost’s Advocate Sessions performance recorded on May 23 in The Advocate Offices. BONUS: Interview with Spirit Ghost Like what you’re listening to? Check out the Valley Advocate Sessions page for bands and artists, including Shokazoba, Flava Evolution, Peter Blanchette, and...

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Forgotten: Springfield’s Black History Is Nowhere In Sight
Jun05

Forgotten: Springfield’s Black History Is Nowhere In Sight

Springfield, Massachusetts, was a big abolitionist hub during the days of the Underground Railroad — not that many people know this. When talking about Massachusetts history, Western Mass isn’t well represented in historical texts — they’re more focused on Boston. And even less well represented is Pioneer Valley black history. Springfield, Massachusetts, was an early safe haven for refugees. In 1783, Massachusetts was one of the first...

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Get Out: Pioneer Valley Summer Arts & Culture Preview 2017
Jun01

Get Out: Pioneer Valley Summer Arts & Culture Preview 2017

The Valley is home to a wealth of arts and cultural events. So many, in fact, that the Advocate prints four seasonal arts preview editions every year — and really we could do one every month. This edition is all about what you can expect to see in the Valley, plus the Berkshires, this summer. We picked some of the biggest, best, and potentially overlooked events happening from now through September. We couldn’t list everything, so...

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Stagestruck: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Alive! and Playing in Amherst – Times Two
May30

Stagestruck: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Alive! and Playing in Amherst – Times Two

“We do on stage the things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else.” That line, spoken by a traveling player in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, could well be the elevator pitch for Tom Stoppard’s audaciously meta-theatrical play. Because that’s what it is: a backstage tour of Hamlet conducted by the pair of pawns who are summoned by the king to...

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Cinemadope: Mad Max ‘Black & Chrome’ Escapes Hollywood’s Color Crutch
May30

Cinemadope: Mad Max ‘Black & Chrome’ Escapes Hollywood’s Color Crutch

There has been a trend in Hollywood filmmaking that, for the last decade or so, has steadily changed the look of our blockbusters. It’s a pervasive change, but one that has happened gradually enough that many people aren’t even aware that it has been happening, quite literally in front of their eyes. So then, a warning: If you haven’t noticed, and don’t want the way you look at movies to be changed forever, skip the next paragraph....

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Stream Queen: Move over, ‘The Breakfast Club’ Titles for all of life’s graduations (w/vid)
May22

Stream Queen: Move over, ‘The Breakfast Club’ Titles for all of life’s graduations (w/vid)

Graduation season is upon us, as high schoolers gear up for the next vein of adulthood and university students steel themselves for the real world, whatever that is. Fresh from a weekend of back-to-back college graduations myself, I can’t help but contemplate the great universal human experience that is the major life transition. We all know what it’s like to start a new chapter, whatever that may entail, and just how...

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Summer Stage Preview, Part II: Theaters on the Move
May22

Summer Stage Preview, Part II: Theaters on the Move

Editor’s Note: Here’s the Summer Stage Preview Part I, about the Berkshires. These days, Sam Rush often finds himself using the punning phrase “Home is where the art is.” That’s because his company, New Century Theatre, having lost its longtime home at Smith College in Northampton, is mounting a reduced summer season on two Valley stages while searching for a permanent abode. For now, though, he’s determined to feel “at...

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Summer Stage Preview — Part I: The Berkshires
May15

Summer Stage Preview — Part I: The Berkshires

Most theaters in this region have only two seasons: summer and the rest of the year. None of the area’s professional companies are truly year-round. Some focus on intensive summer repertories of multiple shows with two- and three-week runs, while others produce only occasionally or mount fall-to-spring seasons with longer runs. “Intensive” and “multiple” are the key terms here. At least two-thirds of my annual theatergoing happens in...

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TEASE (W/VID) FlavaEvolution’s Funky Jazzy Sessions Set … Full Set Coming Friday
May17

TEASE (W/VID) FlavaEvolution’s Funky Jazzy Sessions Set … Full Set Coming Friday

\/ \/ Scroll down for video. \/ \/   Recorded May 9, 2017, at the party for Best Of the Valley Readers’ Poll 2017 first place winners hosted by the Valley Advocate at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Want more Sessions now? Go to sessions.valleyadvocate.com to hear intimate sets by Valley artists you may not know yet, but are worth discovering – and loving....

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Cinemadope: It’s Going to Be a Damn Fine Reboot, and FREE Streaming Movies )w/vid)
May15

Cinemadope: It’s Going to Be a Damn Fine Reboot, and FREE Streaming Movies )w/vid)

Amherst Cinema is gearing up for the return of Special Agent Dale Cooper. Kyle MacLachlan returns to TV this week in his early role as Cooper, the FBI man who got tied up in the death of Laura Palmer and the mysteries of Twin Peaks when the show of the same name first aired in the early 1990s on ABC. I was in high school then, and watching the original was a life-changer: it was dark and weird and funny and sweet in a way nothing had...

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Review: Historic Northampton’s ‘Laws Change. People Die. The Land Remains.’
May15

Review: Historic Northampton’s ‘Laws Change. People Die. The Land Remains.’

The first thing I notice walking into Historic Northampton’s gallery on Bridge Street (besides how interesting the 1800s home is) is that my interpretation of the show’s title is wrong. The exhibit, Laws Change. People Die. The Land Remains, is a collection of landscape art by five local artists and curated by Sally Curcio and Anne LaPrade Seuthe. The show name is taken from an Abraham Lincoln quote that is cherished by nature-lovers....

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Theater: ‘Shipwrecked!’ You Had Me at Giant Killer Octopus
May15

Theater: ‘Shipwrecked!’ You Had Me at Giant Killer Octopus

You Had Me at Giant Killer Octopus Right now, in Trump’s post-truth America, is an excellent time to stage Shipwrecked! The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself). The play is based on the grandiose stories of a Victorian huckster who fills in the audience about his time as a castaway in the South Pacific, including anecdotes about a killer octopus, cannibals, and buried treasure. Written by Donald Margulies,...

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Missed Connections: The Lunch Counter Where I Often Showed Up In Your Bed
May15

Missed Connections: The Lunch Counter Where I Often Showed Up In Your Bed

The Missed Connections forum on Craigslist is a wasteland of terrible poetry, dick pics, and whining, but among the detritus are some truly fascinating, funny, and occasionally sweet entries. The following are highlights from the Western Mass Missed Connections forum, sans detritus. PS — Rabbit where are you? — w4m (Easthampton) We met on Pleasant St in the late 70’s or early 80’s. I last met you at my place in the late...

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Air Sexus Interruptus
May15

Air Sexus Interruptus

In a staggering blow to anyone looking for a weird experience on a Monday evening, tonight’s air sex tournament (think air guitar, but with sex) has been mysteriously cancelled. The event was going to take place at 7 p.m. at the Iron Horse, but a message on the Iron Horse Entertainment Group website says in red letters, “This event has been cancelled due to reasons beyond the control of mere mortals. Refunds can be...

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Appalachian Still On The Valley Advocate Sessions Stage
May12

Appalachian Still On The Valley Advocate Sessions Stage

Check out Appalachian Still: Also visit our Sessions page, with an interview with the artist and all of our other Sessions...

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With Criminal Charges Dropped, Pipeline Protesters Vow to Fight On
May12

With Criminal Charges Dropped, Pipeline Protesters Vow to Fight On

Protesters looking to use climate change as a legal defense of their actions to try to stop a natural gas pipeline expansion project through Otis State Forest in Sandisfield won’t need to bother. Charges against them, which included trespassing and disorderly conduct, were downgraded from criminal to civil infractions this week. Now, members of the anti-pipeline Sugar Shack Alliance, which had planned to offer testimony establishing...

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Cinemadope: Would You Take a Bullet for Art? Documentary on full-throttle artist Chris Burden (w/vid)
May08

Cinemadope: Would You Take a Bullet for Art? Documentary on full-throttle artist Chris Burden (w/vid)

For such a rich subject, films about art and the people that make it all too often feel either forced and flat or ridiculously over the top. Better, usually, to take the documentary route, and let the art speak for itself. That’s the course taken by directors Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey, whose film Burden — screening this week at the Little Cinema in the Berkshire Museum — takes a good long look at the life and times of...

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Kitchen Dwellers Bring ‘Galaxy Grass’ to Northampton (w/vid)
May08

Kitchen Dwellers Bring ‘Galaxy Grass’ to Northampton (w/vid)

Got that Galaxy Grass A Kitchen Dwellers show is a true Montana bluegrass experience … that’s been strapped to a rocket, shot into space, and looped around Saturn a few times. Dubbed “galaxy grass,” the band’s sound is high-energy and exploratory jamming with just a touch of funk. Each song has a story pushed by a chugging mandolin-fiddle section. Torrin Daniels’ vocals growl like a spirit stitched out of Appalachia and fast...

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