Who says the arts have to stop when summer is over? The Pioneer Valley, as always, delivers when it comes to creative nights out and interesting things to check out. Here is a sampling from the Advocate staff. -DE
Date: Sept. 28
Though summer is prime time for outdoor music festivals, early fall can work, too — and fall is a good time as well to stage a music fest that’s also designed to soak up the beauty of the New England landscape. Welcome to the Arcadia Folk Festival at Mass Audubon’s Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, which straddles Easthampton and Northampton. Presented on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. by Signature Sounds, the Northampton record and music production company, the festival is designed both as a showcase of leading acoustic groups and artists and a celebration of the Arcadia Sanctuary, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary of protecting area woodlands, wetlands, and wildlife. Organizers say the festival, now in its second year, is aimed at raising awareness of Arcadia’s mission and additional funds for its programming; it will also include various environmental activities and as minimal a footprint as possible.
Among the artists playing on two separate stages will be an old Valley favorite (and former resident), Dar Williams, and another hometown hero, Martin Sexton. Then there’s Anais Mitchell, the Vermont native and singer-songwriter who developed her album 2010 “Hadestown” into an award-winning musical of the same name. Earlier this year, “Hadestown” won multiple Tony Awards (and other honors), including for best musical, and Mitchell, now living in New York City, snagged the Tony for best original score. Rounding out the lineup are folk-rockers The Mammals and five other groups and artists, including kids’ favorite Little Roots. This “rain or shine” event features a number of food and beverage vendors, too, so you won’t go hungry or thirsty. Tickets are $50; kids 10 and under are free. Visit signaturesoundspresents.com for more information and links to buying tickets.
A weird walk through the orchard
Dates: Oct. 11-20
This is an artistic event that is completely novel, defies easy categorization, and is a lot of fun. Each year the Royal Frog Ballet Surrealist Cabaret takes those bold enough on a walking tour of a series of surrealist performances. Originally based in Amherst, the Cabaret — now in its 12th year — has taken place the past few years at Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton, the site of Art in the Orchard. It features costumes, story-telling, music, and a trio of helpful characters who guide the audience from performance to performance. The timing of the events are a part of the joy — they begin promptly at 4:45 p.m. and encompass the sunset over the course of the night. The first performances are done in daylight, and it is dark by the end. Walking along the vast expanse of Park Hill Orchard, among fruit trees as well as art installations, one gets the sense of being in another time and place. Be prepared to be on your feet for a while, and also to have your conception of what a performance can be challenged. Without a doubt, the Surrealist Cabaret is one of the Valley’s best celebrations of creativity of the year, and is an evening unlike any other. $18 for adults, $9 for children. October 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20. Park Hill Orchard, 82 Park Hill Road, Easthampton. theroyalfrogballet.com.
Dates: Oct. 11-14
Turners Falls is probably the definition of bucolic New England with its rolling falls nearby artisan stores and mom and pop shops downtown as well as plethora of storied mill buildings. And on starting Friday, Oct. 11 through Monday, Oct. 14, the scene is set alongside readings from writers and performances by seasoned poets during the 10th annual Great Falls Word Festival organized by Human Error Publishing and the Shea Theater.
The festival brings together artists of the spoken and written word for an opportunity to share literary works before audiences. There will be more than 180 poets of all ages, backgrounds, and voices, both local and beyond the Valley throughout the four-day festival.
Though the schedule of events is still being organized for the festival, there will be a pop-up bookstore at the Shea, as well as readings and workshops. Prior to moving to Turners Falls, the festival took place in Greenfield for seven years as the Greenfield Annual Word Festival. But during its eighth year, the festival found a new home and identity at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls.
Festival buttons are $25 for a four day pass. One day passes are $15 general admission or $10 for day students and seniors. For more information about the Great Falls Word Festival or to purchase passes visit sheatheater.org/d/1572/The-Great-Falls-Word-Festival.
The art of inclusivity
Date: Oct. 12
Dwellings formed earlier this year with the goal of creating more equitable performance spaces in the Valley for underrepresented groups and to bring awareness to issues that affect performing artists, such as fair pay, ethical relationships between artists and venues, and fostering safe environments for performance workers. A one-day festival hosted by Dwellings at the Northampton Center for the Arts will feature poetry, music, visual art, and workshops that promote ideals of community, safety, identity, and inclusivity.
Poets such as Clementine von Radics, an award-winning spoken word performer from Brooklyn, and Nicole M. Young, whose play “get (t)his!” received a 2009 James Baldwin Memorial Playwriting Award from the Five Colleges, to name a couple, will take the stage at the art center’s Mezzanine stage.
Musicians, of local and international acclaim, will perform a wide range of genres. From Izy Coffey playing indie-folk on their guitar to mrudangam (South Indian percussion) artist and composer Rajna Swaminathan to Sodada’s blend of jazz modality and contemporary indie rock the festival’s musical line-up is eclectic and diverse.
Additional events at the festival include a community open mic, conversations on performance anxiety, local makers and crafters, yoga, a zine fair, and art-making opportunities.
Dates: Oct. 24 and Nov. 14
Among a wealth of varied programming on tap this fall at the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center is a double header of sorts: two shows celebrating standout female jazz musicians. On October 24 at 7:30 p.m., drummer Terri Lyne Carrington brings her ensemble to Bowker Auditorium to offer a live performance of her acclaimed 2013 album, “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue,” which earned her the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for a woman. Carrington, who has worked with jazz luminaries such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Cassandra Wilson, made “Money Jungle” as an homage to another group of jazz greats — Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach (the one-time UMass faculty member and Jazz in July founder) — who released their own “Money Jungle” album in 1963.
Then on Nov. 14, also at Bowker Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., saxophonist and composer Melissa Aldana, a native of Chile, brings her quartet to the FAC. After attending the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Aldana in 2013 became the first female musician — and the first South American musician — to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. She was just 24 at the time. No wonder The Washington Post said that she represented “a new sense of possibility and direction in jazz.” Aldana will also be spending three days in the area as a visiting artist, connecting with students and communities over music and shared stories. General admission for both shows range from $20 to $35; it’s $10 for Five College College students and teens/children under 18. Visit fac.umass.edu for more information and to purchase tickets.
— Steve Pfarrer
Catch a hit author in the making
Date: Oct. 25
Booklovers will get a chance to hear a young writer and new addition to the Valley late in October as Eleanor M. Rasor reads from her debut book, Twelve Dead Princesses. Rasor, who is 18 years old and is in her first year at Mount Holyoke College, based her book on the classic fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” In the 1812 Grimm version, a soldier follows a dozen princesses on secret nightly dancing trips then rats them out to their father, the king, and gets to marry the eldest. In Rasor’s dark retelling, the princesses all fell ill and were only saved by a magical stranger who obliges them all to dance for him at night in his otherworldly kingdom as payment. Rasor is on her way up, with a collection of writing awards and fellowships to her name. She wrote Twelve Dead Princesses as part of the Young Emerging Authors fellowship at The Telling Room, a nonprofit writing program in Portland, Maine. 7 p.m. Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., South Hadley. Free.
Stoned to Death IV
Date: Oct. 26
Local heavy music organizer Promotorhead is teaming up with the Stone Church in Brattleboro for the fourth annual Stoned to Death one-day festival on Saturday, Oct. 26. The event features a day of stoner, death, and doom metal at the former-church-turned-music-venue. The lineup for this year’s Stoned to Death features a wide range of bands both local and regional.
There’s local anarcho stoner metal band Problem with Dragons, Springfield-based doom metal group Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean, Walpole-based death metal band Garroted, Hudson Valley, New York’s doom metal group Witchkiss, and more than half a dozen other metal acts throughout the day. Among the other acts on the bill are Boston-based “technical death metal band” Boarcorpse as well as Pennsylvania-based stoner sludge metal band Almost Honest, which is described as “groovy sexy Viking funk doom rock from outer space.”
The show starts at 1 p.m. and music kicks off at 2 p.m. through midnight. Stoned to Death is all ages and admission is $15. For more information visit stonechurchvt.com.
— Chris Goudreau
Hitting the sweet spot
Dates: Oct. 26 – Apr. 26
Are you curious about the history of candy? Or how about how candy is made? There is an exhibit coming to the Wood Museum of Springfield History called Sweet: A Tasty Journey, created by Stage Nine Design, about just that. It includes videos and stories about famous candymakers and chocolatiers, as well as a giant Rock Candy Mountain, filled with interactive displays and places to take your photo with treats. The exhibition runs through April and will be on display at the Wood Museum, 21 Edwards Street, Springfield. Museum admission: $25 for adults; $16.50 students and seniors; $13 for children 3-17.
50 years ago today
Date: Nov. 15
By late 1969, after recording and releasing Abbey Road, the Beatles had effectively split, though it wouldn’t become official until the following spring. But their music has lived on … and on … and one of the group’s biggest boosters has been The Fab Faux, the acclaimed Beatles cover band that doesn’t bother with the mop-top wigs and Sgt. Pepper costumes, instead concentrating on reproducing the music of John, Paul, George, and Ringo with absolute fidelity. Rolling Stone says the band “invigorate[s] the artistry of the Beatles’ most intricate studio masterpieces with top chops and Beatlemaniac glee.”
The Fauxsters come to Northampton’s Academy of Music at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15, where they’ll be reproducing all the cuts from the Beatles’ first big release in America, Meet The Beatles, which topped the U.S. charts for 11 straight weeks in early 1964 with cuts like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” There will be other songs on the menu, too, as The Fab Faux have long since mastered the whole Beatles catalog. And as drummer Rich Pagano told the Daily Hampshire Gazette in an interview a few years ago, the group also strives to capture the Beatles’ spirit and groove, rather that just playing note-for-note renditions. “We’ve always approached the music with total respect and love,” he said at the time. “But we also want to make it as fresh as we can.” Tickets range from $38.50 to $85; visit aomtheatre.com to purchase.
— Steve Pfarrer
‘Gotta honor him somehow’
Date: Nov. 16
Occasionally singing in falsetto with poignant lyrics about personal experiences, (Sandy) Alex G’s latest album House of Sugar blends his typical indie-rock guitar with dreamy musical landscapes with often seemingly semi-biographical songs. Take the album’s second song, “Hope,” where he sings, “He was a good friend of mine/He died/Why I write about it now?/Gotta honor him somehow.”
The 26-year-old Philly-based artist’s name is Alex Giannascoli and he rose to prominence as a DIY experimentalist during his years as a student at Temple University in the early 2010s by releasing four full-length projects on his Bandcamp site. In 2015, Giannascoli signed with Domino Recording Company and his last three albums have been under the label. The following year, he recorded guitar arrangements on Frank Ocean’s album Blonde on tracks “Self Control” and “White Ferrari.”
Giannascoli’s musical style is often described as lo-fi “bedroom pop” due to his DIY approach to recording many of his early songs with a microphone hooked up to his laptop, something he continues to this day.
(Sandy) Alex G at Gateway City Arts: November 16, doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. General admission is $17. The show is 16 and over. 92 Race Street, Holyoke. For more information, call (413) 650-2670.
— Luis Fieldman
Dancing like rubber
Date: Nov. 19
Montreal-based RUBBERBANDance Group is heading to the Pioneer Valley on Tuesday, Nov. 19, bringing their blend of live music and a range of different dance styles from contemporary dance to ballet and hip-hop. The group will be performing at the UMass Fine Arts Center in Amherst with their work, “Ever So Slightly,” which is described as “an exploration of the daily challenge to find balance and reflection in our lives” that delivers delicacy, high-energy action, finesse, and “all the energy contained in urgency, revolt, chaos, and flight.”
The group was founded in 2002 by Artistic Director Victor Quijada and in its first year created new forms of urban dance before going on to develop its piece “Reflections on Movement Particles,” according to their Facebook page. As part of the performance at the UMass Fine Arts Center, there will be a pre-performance discussion in the lobby at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets range in price from $25 to $45 for adults and $10 to $15 for Five College students and youth 17 years old and under. Tickets go on sale for the event starting on Nov. 4. For more information about RUBBERBANDance Group visit rbdg.ca/en. To purchase tickets visit fac.umass.edu.