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...

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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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“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...

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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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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...

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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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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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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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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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