Winter 2018 in the Pioneer Valley is bursting at the seams with interesting cultural and artistic events. Whether that’s checking out the latest art exhibit at MASSMoca or seeing a performance by world renowned musicians. This is just a snippet of what’s taking place across the four counties of Western Mass from early December until late March.
The Queen of Alt-Country
Alternative country singer-songwriter Neko Case is a tour de force with her grandiose and soaring powerhouse vocals and lyrical depth that is equally bizarre and poignant on songs such as “This Tornado Loves You,” and “Furnace Room Lullaby.” Case has been playing and touring as a solo artist and with bands for more than two decades, including Canadian indie rock and power pop outfit the New Pornographers. Case writes about destructive love, heartache, fairy tales, and nature in a beautiful chaotic swirl of poetic imagery.
Neko Case with opening act, Mt. Joy. Jan. 11, 2018. The Academy of Music Theatre, 274 Main St., Northampton. Doors: 7:30 p.m./ Show starts at 8 p.m. https://aomtheatre.ticketfly.com/event/1545357-neko-case-northampton/
Gospel to Make Your Soul Soar
The Blind Boys of Alabama are legendary not only for their energetic bluesy and gospel repertoire, but for how long the band’s been in existence. Original members are still performing with the Blind Boys’ since the group got their start touring throughout the South during the 1940s and 1950s. The band combines close vocal harmonies with jubilee gospel that makes for a boisterous show of soulful ballads and rollicking vocal improvisation. The Blind Boys of Alabama have won five Grammy Awards, performed at the White House for three different presidents, and have been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. The Blind Boys will be performing a special holiday concert featuring song from their album, Talkin’ Christmas!, along with classic gospel material.
The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show featuring Preservation Hall Legacy Horns, Dec. 10. Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. 14 Castle St., Great Barrington. 7 p.m. http://www.mahaiwe.org/BlindBoysofAlabama
Winter Music Festival for Homeward Vets
For the past five years, the Winter Music Festival has raised money for previously homeless veterans getting back on their feet. Last year, the Winter Music Festival raised funds for Ludlow-based Homeward Vets, which receives furniture, home goods, and grooming items and delivers them to veterans in need. In 2016, the event featured 36 local and regional acts at two venues — the World War II Club (the Deuce) and Platform Sports Bar, both in Northampton. Some of this year’s acts include local rockers Colorway, afrobeat funk fusion band Shokazoba, Americana/ alternative rock group, THe CHiCKen YaRD, and “too punk for metal and too metal for punk” group, The Uncomfortables. The master of ceremonies for the three-day indoor music festival will be Matthew James, ringmaster from Pioneer Valley Pro Wrestling.
Winter Music Festival, March 9, 10, and 11. The World War II Club. 50 Conz St., Northampton. Friday: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday: 12 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Art On the Menu
Visual and musical artists who work in the restaurant industry will unite to share their artwork during Art on the Menu: Unite the Resistance. This is the fourth annual Art on the Menu exhibit and will include appetizers, drinks, and good stories all in defense of the rights of low-wage and immigrant workers. Suggested donation: $0 to $60.
Art on the Menu: Unite the Resistance, Dec. 6. Northampton Community Arts Trust Building, 33 Hawley St., Northampton. 6 to 10 p.m. Exhibit is on display until Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Secret Postcard Stories
Post Secret: The Show is storytelling sourced from more than a million anonymous postcards filled with secrets that are sad, sexual, funny, and controversial. The show is a visual and auditory journey through stories that confront deep fears, ambitions, and confessions as three actors guide the audience through the crowd-sourced narratives, delving into honest stories that informs our own inner psyche in all its complications and beauty.
Post Secret: The Show, March 22 and 23. City Stage, 150 Bridge St., Springfield. 7:30 p.m. http://www.symphonyhall.com/shows/post-secret-show/
QYRQ QYZ: Music and Film from Central Asia
Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls) is an an epic tale from Central Asia about a girl who gathers a group of 40 young female warriors to vanquish invaders seeking to impose their will upon her clan. Uzbek filmmaker Saodat Ismailova’s adaptation of this classic transforms it into a multimedia work of art, which includes live performances by female speakers and musicians against a multi screen video projection backdrop. The event includes a pre-show discussion with musicologist Ted Levin in the Concert Hall Lobby at 3 p.m. as well as a post-show meet and greet with the artists.
QYRQ QYZ: Music and Film from Central Asia, March 4. UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 151 Presidents Drive, Amherst. 4 p.m. https://fac.umass.edu/
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
The Lure of the Dark is sex, death, magic, terror, romance, wonder, alienation, and freedom — all things the night represents to many. MASS MoCa’s new exhibit features paintings by a dozen contemporary artists, who illuminate the night in the minds of their audience through imagination, metaphors for the human experience, and encapsulating the allure of the night in its many facets. The exhibit features paintings by Patrick Bermingham, William Binnie, Cynthia Daignault, TM Davy, Jeronimo Elespe, Cy Gavin, Shara Hughes, and Josephine Halvorson, to name a few.
The Lure of the Dark, on view starting March 3, MASS MoCA, 1040 MassMoCA Way, North Adams. http://massmoca.org/event/the-lure-of-the-dark/
Rollin’ Like A Punk
You don’t get more punk than Black Flag lead singer Henry Rollins, who besides being the apex of punk rock is also a distinguished and intellectually charged public speaker, artist, and photographer. Rollins’ upcoming performance at the Academy of Music won’t be music related, but centers on his photography. For years, Rollins has used his camera to document his travels around the world. He’ll share stories about photos he’s taken from Baghdad to Timbuktu during an intimate evening in Northampton. What’s more punk than documenting conflict zones through the camera’s lens?
Henry Rollins: Travel Slideshow, Jan. 19, Academy of Music, 274 Main St., Northampton. 8 p.m. https://www.aomtheatre.com/ event/henry-rollins-travel-sideshow/
A Different Kind of Ballet
BalletX is Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet, which challenges the traditional idea of ballet as all classical music all the time. BalletX experiments by using contemporary music, while preserving the rigorous ballet techniques honed throughout the centuries. The troupe’s performance will include Trey McIntire’s Big Ones set to the music of Amy Winehouse. That’s probably ballet that Amy Winehouse would have approved of.
BalletX, March 29. UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 151 Presidents Drive, Amherst. 7:30 p.m. https://fac.umass.edu/