On Stage: Where War Meets Food and Music
Apr03

On Stage: Where War Meets Food and Music

War and MusicPlaywright 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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Between the Lines: Western Mass Needs More Rattlesnakes
Apr03

Between the Lines: Western Mass Needs More Rattlesnakes

No one knows how many timber rattlesnakes there are in Massachusetts — and this is a sticking point for opponents of a plan to boost the endangered species population.Does this species of venomous snakes really need saving? Over the past few years, state scientists and conservationists have been devising plans to increase the what they’re calling an “endangered” timber rattlesnake population by creating a breeding ground for the...

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Back Talk: Weighing in on Boston’s Racism; and a Dumpty Trumpty poem
Apr03

Back Talk: Weighing in on Boston’s Racism; and a Dumpty Trumpty poem

You Can’t Make an Omelette …Poem and illustration by Mary L. Rice, maryl.rice@yahoo.comIs Boston Super Racist?Readers weigh in on the question posed in a Between the Lines of the same name in the March 30-April 5, 2017. Via FacebookEvan H Gregg: “Beloved Boston?” This is Western Mass, kid. Only people from Boston love Boston around here. — Ben Easton: Well put, man! What grinds my gears is those stupid traffic message signs —...

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Tick, Tick, Tick … Boom? No bumper crop of ticks this year, but keep your socks tucked into your pants anyway
Apr03

Tick, Tick, Tick … Boom? No bumper crop of ticks this year, but keep your socks tucked into your pants anyway

Every year billions of ticks creep through wooded areas across Massachusetts and New England, feeding vampirically off the blood of wildlife, pets, and humans. With ticks comes the most obvious fear: Lyme disease. But how much of what seems like common knowledge about ticks is really true? Do cold winters or mild winters affect tick populations? Is it really the smallest ticks that carry diseases most of time? “They’re always...

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Cinemadope: Your Nearest Screening of 1984
Mar27

Cinemadope: Your Nearest Screening of 1984

Hurt FeelingsA few weeks back I found myself with a rare night off — the kids asleep early, the house somehow clean, the bills already paid. I was scrolling through my various Netflix queues when a familiar title popped up: V for Vendetta, the Wachowskis’ 2005 adaptation of Alan Moore’s (Watchmen) famous graphic novel. Something in our current climate had me in the mood to revisit this tale of a neo-fascist regime, holding on to power...

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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 FrameSince 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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Stagestruck: Force of Nature
Mar27

Stagestruck: Force of Nature

WAM Theatre exists on two levels: to produce work that foregrounds women playwrights and performers, and to tangibly support, with a portion of ticket sales, organizations that work to better the lives of women and girls. Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight brings its own bifurcated story to that mission. First performed here in 2013, WAM is reviving it this weekend and next in a guest appearance at Shakespeare &...

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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 bassWhen 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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A Heartbeat (or Impeachment) Away from the Presidency: We went to VP Mike Pence’s hometown to learn about him
Mar27

A Heartbeat (or Impeachment) Away from the Presidency: We went to VP Mike Pence’s hometown to learn about him

COLUMBUS, Indiana — While Vice President Pence’s gubernatorial career earned national controversy, his hometown and closest friends vouch for his character. Columbus, Indiana, fits the image he presents: practical, family-oriented, and subject to change over the decades since his childhood there.In the late-1970s, Pence and his friends were the picture of midwestern adolescence: basketball camp, drive-ins, and revved-up cars. But for...

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Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: Springfield reduces in-school arrests, but is it enough?
Mar27

Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: Springfield reduces in-school arrests, but is it enough?

You’re a teenager in high school. You’ve been texting on your smartphone when you shouldn’t be or otherwise refusing to listen to your teacher. You think you’ll probably get berated, maybe detention, but never thought you’d be handcuffed and taken into police custody. That’s the reality for some students who find themselves caught in the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline” – an acknowledgement of the increased rate of incarceration...

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Between the Lines: Is Boston Super Racist?
Mar27

Between the Lines: Is Boston Super Racist?

Is Boston a racist city?    If you’ve been watching         Saturday Night Live lately, you probably caught “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che give Boston that dubious title.Prior to the Super Bowl clash between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, Che dropped this line: “I just want to relax, turn my brain off, and watch the blackest city in America beat the most racist city I’ve ever been to.”Che’s comment roiled...

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O, Cannabis! How to Taste the Nuances of Marijuana Like a Pro
Mar27

O, Cannabis! How to Taste the Nuances of Marijuana Like a Pro

Now that marijuana is legal, the perception of the drug is changing. We’re on the road of cannabis no longer being thought of as some seedy contraband in a sandwich bag tossed through a car window to potheads, but a varied, quality — and dare I say, refined — hobby.With the ability to purchase and grow identified strains with known THC and other compound levels, weed smokers can zero-in on the buds they like and sample the best of...

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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 instrumentsSome 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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Music Review: “15 Sunrise” by Calico Blue
Mar20

Music Review: “15 Sunrise” by Calico Blue

Amherst-based psychedelic dream-pop and surf-blues infused band Calico Blue released its second album early this month, 15 Sunrise, which presents songs that could be best described as meditations on life. They confront the ghosts that live in the corridors of the mind: regret, heartbreak, and solitude. But in the darkness of the lyrics there is hidden light, which builds to bring about a dawning, as the title suggests.Vocalist Sarah...

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On Exhibit: Unseen Ruins Near Pompeii
Mar20

On Exhibit: Unseen Ruins Near Pompeii

From Italy With AshFeaturing works seen for the first time outside Italy, this exhibit contains pieces from the ancient town of Oplontis. When Mount Vesuvius blew in 79 CE it buried more than just Pompeii. Pieces excavated from Oplontis reveal a life of luxury and shopping. The artwork is drool-worthy: so fine, precise, soft, and powerful. After centuries underground, the pieces — which range from statues, to lamps, to mortars, to...

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Saturday: Nasty Women Take the Stage
Mar20

Saturday: Nasty Women Take the Stage

Nasty JazzThe Ladies of Jazz music series is dedicating its Saturday, March 25, concert to all the “nasty” (aka “strong”) women fighting for female and reproductive rights. And all proceeds are going to benefit Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in Brattleboro. Organized by the Valley’s First Lady of Jazz (FLo-J?), Samirah Evans, the show will feature women musicians performing jazz and rock classics written by women. There...

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President of the NAACP in Amherst
Mar20

President of the NAACP in Amherst

President of the NAACP in Amherst President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Cornell William Brooks will be giving a talk at Amherst College Friday night. The event is free and open to the public. What exactly Brooks will discuss is unclear right now, but NAACP members advocate for civil rights, fight against police brutality, and conduct voter mobilization campaigns in their communities —...

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Between the Lines: No Man is an Island; It Takes a Village to Raise a Hero
Mar20

Between the Lines: No Man is an Island; It Takes a Village to Raise a Hero

Pamela Murphy, an Agawam firefighter, was vacationing on the Cape when she jumped into the water to save a six-year-old boy from being smashed against some rocks by the ocean waves.James Chartier, a former Army staff sergeant, completed a 90-mile walk from Western Mass to Boston to raise awareness for homeless military veterans and those struggling with PTSD. Along the way he wore full military gear, hoisted a backpack, slept in a...

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

Wednesday and Thursday: A Visit From Community Activist Iris Morales

Street SmartsHampshire 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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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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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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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 launchOn 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 calling...

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No Land? No Problem: Gardening Everywhere With Containers
Mar06

No Land? No Problem: Gardening Everywhere With Containers

Container gardening, for the uninitiated, is exactly what it sounds like: planting vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruits in containers as opposed to soil in the ground. It’s also exactly as easy as it sounds.It’s also something anyone can do anywhere. No land? No time? No problem; plant whatever you want in a pot and store it anywhere there is ample light: on a windowsill, on a patio, doorways, in a car (I saw this while walking...

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Lasagna Gardening: The Easy Way to Start a Garden Right Now
Mar06

Lasagna Gardening: The Easy Way to Start a Garden Right Now

One of the first hurdles to planting a garden is the land: often hard, rocky, compact, dusty, weedy, and dry.Tilling the soil — churning up the ground to mix the dirt and soil layers and soften up the plot for easier digging and root growth — is hard work even if you have an electric tiller. Unless you’ve got the upper body strength for it, tilling isn’t going to happen.For those who can’t, or don’t feel like, tilling, there is...

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Between the Lines: Thought We Already Legalized It, What’s the hold up with weed?
Mar06

Between the Lines: Thought We Already Legalized It, What’s the hold up with weed?

This time, when I went to Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing last Friday, I didn’t have to wait in a line to get in. I also didn’t get any weed when I left.For nearly two months, Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing operated like a weed club. Located in a strip mall on Page Boulevard in Springfield, patrons paid a “cover charge” of $20-$50 and left with either one or three grams of marijuana as a “gift.” I checked the club out last month for...

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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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