In its earliest form back in Ireland and Scotland circa the 15th century, the distilled spirit we now call whiskey was commonly referred to as “aqua vitae.” Curiously, the word “vitae” means “blameless in life; innocent.”
But as history has well chronicled, aqua vitae was largely to blame for many an altercation, bad deal, forbidden love, or even loss of life in the centuries that followed.
Around these parts, the fermented grain mash has fueled far more fruitful and favorable endeavors. Not the least of which is the Whiskey Treaty Festival, an annual affair that brings together an assortment of the area’s finest Americana, rock, and roots/folk practictioners.
It’s an artist collective so successful, in fact, that noted filmmaker Tim Bradley has decided to make it the focus of his most recent documentary. And when he premieres the film on Saturday, May 1 at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge in Pittsfield, the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow — an acoustic offshoot of the festival — will perform after the screening.
“I am so thrilled to bring my film to Berkshire County, where more than half of the footage was shot and the concept largely born,” says Bradley. “This film speaks to the beauty of Western Massachusetts, which is no better epitomized than in the Berkshires.”
The Roadshow consists of Tory Hanna, Billy Keane, Greg Daniel Smith, David Tanklefsky and Chris Merenda — all from the Bay State.
“There’s a certain camaraderie to the Treaty — different voices, different tunes, different styles maybe, but a commonality of spirit and musical expression,” Keane adds.
Tix for the screening of the documentary/concert are $12 in advance and $15 day of show. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Speaking of kindred spirits, the Dirty Bourbon River Show spills into Noho’s Parlor Room this Sunday, April 26. Direct from New Orleans, the five-piece “Gypsy brass circus rockers” promise everything from switching instruments mid-song to onstage fireballs and sudden, impromptu chants and stomps.
“It’s like Shostakovich meets Entry of the Gladiators,” band leader Noah Adams declares. “There’s a ringmaster, and very physical performances. There are kinds of vignettes you used to find in vaudeville. We change tempo, key, styles — it all unfolds like a story.”
Since we’re doing Parlor (room) tricks: fiddler/singer/stepdancer April Verch performs at the Parlor Room Thursday, April 23 in support of her recently released 10th studio effort, The Newpart. According to the Ottawa-born artist, the disc is an audio homage to her family home — specifically, the addition to the former one-room school house that her parents actually attended in their youth.
“The ‘new part’ was the place we would gather to jam, to practice songs for family baptisms, funerals and weddings,” she explains. “It’s where I practiced countless hours and wrote many tunes, including the songs on this album.”
Tix for both shows are available online now at ticketfly.com.
Lastly, New York band The Fab Faux reworks tunes from those infamous lads of Liverpool at UMass’ Fine Arts Center April 25. Faux features Will Lee of Letterman Late Show infamy, Conan O’Brien’s Jimmy Vivino, and Rich Pagano, who’s worked with everyone from Roseanne Cash to Ray Davies.
“It’s not just a cover band,” says Pagano. “This is the greatest pop music ever written, and we’re such freaks for it.”
In addition to copious helpings of Beatles faves, this weekend’s performance is slated to include a complete, top-to-bottom stroll down the Abbey Road album. Tix are $10-$60. To obtain yours, kindly point your browser to thefabfaux.com.•
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