Welcome to the Valley Advocate’s 2019 spring arts preview. Inside this collection of a dozen arts events happening across the Pioneer Valley, you’ll find poetry readings, dance performances, live local music shows, a DIY literary festival, important filmmaking, and even a giant pancake breakfast. The Valley is known for its vibrant cultural and arts scene, and there are plenty of interesting happenings in store this spring to explore, discover, and participate in. Whether you’re in the mood for listening to virtuoso Indian Classical music, finding a new local zine, or dancing through the night and until dawn, there’s a good chance that this collection of spring arts events will have you covered.
Immigrant Voices, Turners Falls, April 7
Now in its fourth year, Immigrant Voices is a project of the Center for New Americans, a local organization that helps immigrants learn English and provides other education and resources. Executive Director Laurie Millman wanted to provide a showcase of the organization’s students’ many talents, including singing, poetry, dance, and music. “We started it in 2016 and it was just a beautiful and moving event,” Millman said. Countries including Bulgaria, Rwanda, Iran, Haiti, Senegal, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Venezuela will be included this year. For Millman, the event is particularly poignant because some of the students can be shy and quiet in class, not being able to communicate well in English. The event gives some of the immigrants and opportunity to express themselves using their own culture and traditions. “Our community is so much richer for all of these artistic traditions,” Millman said. Performers are made up of current and former students at the Center for New Americans. The performance will be held Sunday, April 7, at 3 p.m. at the Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A, Turners Falls. Tickets are $10. Those who can afford to do so are encouraged to donate toward buying tickets for low income individuals, including some family members of the performers. Information is available at www.cnam.org/immigrant-voices.
The Valley’s Zine Scene, APRIL 13
On Saturday, April 13, the Flywheel Arts Collective will host its annual zine fest, celebrating zine creators, lovers, and distributors from across the Northeast in a festivity of all things related to DIY magazines. The event is free and takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to the Flywheel’s website, the Valley Zine Fest was first hosted in 2012 at Food For Thought Books in Amherst and made its home at the Flywheel in 2014 in conjunction with the Easthampton Book Fest. Workshops and special readings will also likely be featured. For more information about the Pioneer Valley Zine Festival visit flywheelarts.org/zines-at-flywheel/ pioneer-valley-zine-fest.
This year’s annual Extravaganja at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton is a special one in that legal marijuana is now being sold here in the Valley and across Massachusetts and surprise … the sky hasn’t fallen. Organized by the UMass Cannabis Reform Coalition, the oldest student-run drug reform group in the country, the coalition’s mission is to end the prohibition on cannabis nationally. With an emphasis on celebrating cannabis culture as well as local music, there will be plenty of tunes throughout the day on two stages. On the lineup for the sun stage are Shower Thoughts, dirty punk reggae band Danny Pease & The Regulators, funk group Fat Bradley, power pop trio Colorway, Afrobeat band Shokazoba, and Straight Sex. Meanwhile, on the moon stage are Mass Music, King’s Buskateers, Rhythm Inc., Zillawatt, and Glass Planets. The event is noon to 6 p.m. rain or shine. 21+ with valid ID, 18+ for Five College student ID holders. There will be no on-site entry without a pre-purchased ticket. For more information visit crcumass.wixsite.com/extravaganja.
StompBoxTrio @ Gateway City Arts, APRIL 20
StompBoxTrio sings the blues mixed with funk, roots, and soul. Made up of Evelyn Harris on vocals and percussion, David Rodriguez on wood bass, vocals, and foot tambourine, and John Cabán on dobro, vocals, and their namesake stompbox, StompBoxTrio will be at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on April 20 at 8 p.m. All three are locals at this point, but each has had time in other parts of the world where they developed their musical chops. Harris grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and supported herself in the D.C. jazz scene, Cabán made a musical name for himself for 20 years in Brooklyn, and Rodriguez lived and played abroad in Europe and Japan. All together, they make a soulful and heartfelt sound. Gateway City Arts, 92 Race St., Holyoke. $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Info: www.gatewaycityarts.com/stompboxtrio.
Virtuoso classical Indian drumming, APRIL 25
Indian classical tabla drummer Zakir Hussain has been hailed by the New York Times as “a living genius,” and on Thursday, April 25, Hussain will be heading to the Pioneer Valley during a performance at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Fine Arts Center starting at 7:30 p.m. Hussain will be joined onstage with sitarist Niladri Kumar, drummer Eric Harland, as well as Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar and the Drummers of Kerala in an exploration of global music. “A classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order, Zakir’s consistently brilliant and exciting performances have established him as a national treasure in India and one of that nation’s reigning cultural ambassadors,” according to the UMass Fine Arts Center’s website. Thursday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $20-$35; Five College students and youth 17 and under $10.
Radical festivities, APRIL 26
There will be a plethora of art on display during this year’s Radical Interconnectedness Festival hosted by Eggtooth Productions and the Shea Theater in Turners Falls on Friday, April 26. Theater, music, poetry, dance, video, and installations will all be a part of the festival, when venues throughout downtown Turners Falls such as storefronts and repurposed churches transform into places where art thrives. Some of the performances during the festival include Ezekiel Baskin and Samuel Achilles Edwards’ short play exploring the “complex beginnings of queer relationships through audience interaction,” according to the festival’s website. Another, Katherine Adler’s Artifacts of the Ephemeral blends physical objects with meditative writings and live performance, while formerly incarcerated women of Voices from Inside perform spoken word pieces, and Julia Whalen presents an immersive art installation piece about exploring childhood memory. All these exploratory and inventive art pieces and others can be experienced for the $20 admission to the festival. Information at sheatheater.org/d/1502/ Radical-Interconnectedness-Festival.
Mozart and Mahler 2: Resurrection, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, APRIL 27
It sounds like some crazy action-packed sequel starring Wolfgang and Gustav, but in actuality, it is one of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s marquee events for its 75th season. On the program will be Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618 (tough to go wrong with Mozart) and Mahler’s 2nd symphony, which is where the “2” and “Resurrection” come in. Concertgoers will get a 2-for-1 experience when the Springfield Symphony Chorus joins the orchestra on stage for the Mahler piece. As the concert description says, “There is no greater opportunity in the region to experience the majesty that comes from the nearly 150 voices converging to enliven one of Mahler’s most important works.” You can learn more about the piece with Maestro Kevin Rhodes at 6:30 before the concert begins with a 30-minute discussion about the concert. Tickets range from $22 to $65. Symphony Hall, 34 Court St., Springfield. More info: www.springfieldsymphony.org/ event/mozart-mahler-2/.
The culinary art of pancakes, MAY 11
What is the annual World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast doing in a spring arts preview, you might be asking, dear reader? On the surface, pancakes don’t really fit with live music, theater, dance, and visual art exhibits, and serving up hundreds of hot and hearty pancakes paired with coffee, juice, and milk, in downtown Springfield on Saturday, May 11, from 8 to 11 a.m. isn’t a form of abstract art … or is it? Nope, it’s just a fun pancake breakfast that the city of Springfield has been celebrating since 1976 as a way of honoring the country’s bicentennial. But if you’re going to buck the trend, let it be with pancakes. According to the event’s website, the day before breakfast, chefs at Mercy Medical Center prepare the batter by filling 100 five-gallon buckets full of pancake batter. The event is organized by volunteers and provides support from local corporations and groups such as the Massachusetts Army National Guard and the Spirit of Springfield. More than 65,000 free tickets are distributed to local students. Info: www.spiritofspringfield.org/ events/pancake-breakfast.
Tank and the Bangas at Mass MoCA, MAY 25
The winners of NPR’s first-ever Tiny Desk Concert contest, Tank and the Bangas, are coming back to western Massachusetts for a show on May 25 at MassMoCA in North Adams. Blending together funk, soul, hip-hop, and personal spoken word poetry with a theatrical presence, the New Orleans-based band delighted audience members at one of its previous Valley performances at the Green River Festival in Greenfield in 2017. Be on the lookout for the band’s forthcoming second studio album, Green Balloon, on May 3. The show at MassMoCA will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 advance or $30 the day of the show. More information can be found at: massmoca.org/event/tank-and-the-bangas.
Out! For Reel brings LGBTQ filmmaking to Northampton, MAY 18
Out! For Reel LGBT Films presents a screening of Rafiki a love story between two young women in Kenya amidst the draconian criminalization of LGBTQ people in the country. The screening will take place at Northampton’s Academy of Music Theatre on Saturday, May 18 starting at 7 p.m. The plot centers around Kena and Ziki, who both yearn for independence, college, and careers. Despite political rivalries between their two fathers, the women become friends and then their friendship blossoms into romance in a society where their love is oppressed. The film was Kenya’s first official film entry in the Cannes Film Festival, and although it is still banned in Kenya, the 2018 film was allowed to be screened for one week in the country in order to be eligible for the Academy Awards. General admission is $10 advance/ $12 at the door. Info at: www.aomtheatre.com/event/ out-for-reel-lgbtq-films-rafiki.
Brattleboro Dawn Dance, MAY 26
Twice a year, Brattleboro hosts contra dances that run all night long from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. — once leading up to Memorial Day and again leading up to Labor Day. These Sunday night extravaganzas feature three sets of bands and dance callers. This upcoming dance, which will start on Sunday, May 26, features a local group in the 3:30 to 7 a.m. slot: Polaris, with caller Steve Zakon-Anderson. The musicians also include Andrew and Noah Van Norstrand, who have traveled across the country playing dance weekends and large events as part of the Great Bear Trio. They’ll be performing as Faux Paws this time around, with saxophonist Chris Miller and caller Nils Fredland. Tips for surviving an entire night of music and dancing can be found at www.dawndance.org. The dance is held at the Gibson-Aiken Center at 207 Main Street (Rt. 5) in Brattleboro, Vermont. Tickets are $25-30 sliding scale for general admission attendees and $20-25 for students and seniors.
Painting in the city, JUNE 2-8
Downtown Springfield is about to get creative in early June, when “Fresh Paint Springfield” gets underway from June 2 to 8. Nationally recognized mural artists will create permanent works of art on bare building walls across the downtown, while public pianos will make an appearance, which will also be painted on by artists. The community event is aimed at encouraging local area residents in joining to make art a reality in public spaces. Watch as boring plain walls are transformed into works of art, meet the artists, and explore the city’s soon-to-be outdoor art gallery. springfieldculture.org/cultural-events/ 2019/6/2/fresh-paint-springfield.