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
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
Valley Show Girl: Music That Got Me Through White Supremacy News
Aug21

Valley Show Girl: Music That Got Me Through White Supremacy News

The white supremacy horror show that happened earlier this month in Charlottesville really got to me. That Sunday, I barely left my bed. I mainly watched stupid chick flicks to occupy my mind with less meaningful things. After dinner however, I took my 6-year old son to the all ages show at The Tank in Feeding Hills where The Prozacs were putting on a punk show for the release of their album, Exist, which I reviewed last week. Music...

Read More
Building 6: Major expansion and a new building at MASS MoCA
Aug14

Building 6: Major expansion and a new building at MASS MoCA

If a white cube is your comfort zone for viewing contemporary art, then the recent expansion of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) pushes well outside the box. “Building 6” is the modest name of an ambitious project that adds 130,000 square feet to nearly double the museum’s gallery space and augments other institutional amenities such as new art fabrication workshops and support facilities for performing artists...

Read More
Stagestruck: ‘This’ Drama as Sitcom Is ‘Too Snappy, Too Loud’
Aug08

Stagestruck: ‘This’ Drama as Sitcom Is ‘Too Snappy, Too Loud’

This is the title of the play now running at Barrington Stage Company (through August 27). But it might be more accurately called This and That. Melissa James Gibson’s script is a grab-bag of seriocomic situations, satirical barbs and personal anguish that harks back to the ’80s TV series thirtysomething. Her characters, approaching middle age – i.e., their forties – are preoccupied with marital, parental, ethical, sexual and...

Read More
Album Review: Pop and Punk Collide In The Prozacs’ Sci-Fi Influenced “Exist”
Aug04

Album Review: Pop and Punk Collide In The Prozacs’ Sci-Fi Influenced “Exist”

Back in January of this past year, the members of Westfield-based pop punkers, The Prozacs, parted ways. Formed in 2001 by Jay Gauvin (or better known as J Prozac), the band had seen many different line-ups of members throughout their time performing. Gauvin was going to end the band following this year’s breakup, but realized that it made no sense after all the hard work that had been put into making their latest album, Exist. “Also...

Read More
Valley Show Girl: A Jam Session in the Forest With Staind Singer Aaron Lewis
Aug07

Valley Show Girl: A Jam Session in the Forest With Staind Singer Aaron Lewis

Staind. Remember them? I think at one point in our late-’90s lives we were all blasting “Tormented” or “Dysfunction” and relating to the ultra-sensitive alternative rock that was birthed right here in the Valley. Well, times have changed, and people change. Aaron Lewis, singer of the now-retired Staind has gone on to other things, including switching up musical genres to country. Lewis also puts on an amazing benefit concert once a...

Read More
A Look Inside Marc Chagall’s World at Springfield Museums
Jul31

A Look Inside Marc Chagall’s World at Springfield Museums

Put several dozen artists in a building called “The Beehive,” and what do you get? A space brimming and buzzing with new ideas and fresh perspectives on art, as a new exhibit at the Springfield Museums illustrates. Marc Chagall and Friends, a display of prints drawn from the collection of the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, shines a light on a group of artists who, living in close quarters in Paris in the early 20th century, played a big...

Read More
Review: The Blues in Bloom, Lexi Weege’s New Album
Jul24

Review: The Blues in Bloom, Lexi Weege’s New Album

Lexi Weege is the type of performer who draws you in immediately. She’s a blues and jazz songstress with a voice that combines intimate and heartbreaking cabaret singing, in the vein of French chanteuse Edith Piaf, with 1960s boisterous rock n’ roll frontwoman stylings ala Janis Joplin. She follows in the footsteps of trailblazing blues and jazz singers  — Big Mama Thornton, Bessie Smith, and Ma Rainey — to name a few, while putting...

Read More
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...

Read More
“Recipes from the Herbalists Kitchen” Great for Herb-an Renewal
Jul17

“Recipes from the Herbalists Kitchen” Great for Herb-an Renewal

Yes, I had cooked with herbs before, or I thought I had. But the first lesson that Conway author Brittany Wood Nickerson’s Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen (just out from Storey Publishing in North Adams http://www.storey.com) taught me is that my prior forays in cooking with basil, oregano, and thyme were feeble attempts at best. My wife and I picked a recipe for miso peanut sauce and the first ingredient was two full cups of...

Read More
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...

Read More
Review: ‘In a Different Light’ at Easthampton City Arts Gallery
Jul10

Review: ‘In a Different Light’ at Easthampton City Arts Gallery

Thirteen of America’s presidents gather for a summit. They listen as Thomas Jefferson explains this new majesty before them — a giant, wonderfully fluffy chocolate-glazed doughnut with rainbow sprinkles. Teddy Roosevelt gathers his jacket at the hip judging the round table’s character. Ulysses S. Grant looks dumbfounded. George Washington, with his clenched fists and downcast eyes, appears to be looking for an excuse to leave. This is...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More