Art Review: Martha Armstrong: A Big Deal in a Little Town
May23

Art Review: Martha Armstrong: A Big Deal in a Little Town

Hatfield resident Martha Armstrong is exhibiting at the Oxbow Gallery in Northampton. Her collection of paintings, Friends and Family, is currently on display in the back gallery of the Pleasant Street venue. The back gallery at Oxbow is very small and intimate, longer than it is wide, white with a utilitarian feel. One might be inclined to think that it’s reserved for “lesser” talents. That, of course, isn’t true; artist-members of...

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The Soaring Beauty of Paul Goodnight’s Imagination
May08

The Soaring Beauty of Paul Goodnight’s Imagination

Given Paul Goodnight’s international stature, it’s difficult to understand the lack of fanfare and the dearth of coverage he receives when his work is exhibited at Rosemary Tracy Woods’ Art for The Soul Gallery in Springfield. Since 1984, Goodnight’s work has been awarded and acquired by scores of individuals, institutions, and museums, including The Smithsonian American Art Museum. He has also exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine...

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The CDs You Gave Me: ‘Hush Money’ is pure catharsis
Apr18

The CDs You Gave Me: ‘Hush Money’ is pure catharsis

Last year, I reviewed psychedelic bluesy rock band, Old Flame, with their debut extended play (EP) “Wolf in the Heather.” Now, a year later the band has released a new six-song EP called “Hush Money” continuing to create political charged art rock that takes an every-man approach mixing politics with raw emotion.   Hush Money by Old Flame Hush Money kicks off with “Hollow,” a psych rock meditation with intricate guitar riffs that...

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Review – Doing Justice: Denise Beaudet’s Roots to Resistance
Apr16

Review – Doing Justice: Denise Beaudet’s Roots to Resistance

Going into Denise Beaudet’s exhibit Roots to Resistance at the New England Visionary Artists Museum, requires a bit of preparation. Beaudet, after all, has amassed a master’s course in global female activism. In her bountiful literature, her writings concerning the process, and her descriptions of her subjects, Beaudet has produced an unforgettable set of images. New England Visionary Artists Museum is in the Anchor House of...

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Thoughts on Barb Hadden’s Thoughts on the Education of Daughters
Apr13

Thoughts on Barb Hadden’s Thoughts on the Education of Daughters

Barb Hadden walks about the white walled Oxbow Gallery on Pleasant Street, contemplating the placements in her show at the Northampton artist collective. With two galleries, artist-members have a show in the large front gallery and a show in the back gallery. Hadden’s show is in the front gallery and it is her last. “I can’t figure out how long I’ve been a member at the Oxbow,” she says perplexed. “About 10 years maybe… or maybe...

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The CDs You Gave Me: Rob Maher’s ‘Man of Many Misses’ hits the mark
Mar23

The CDs You Gave Me: Rob Maher’s ‘Man of Many Misses’ hits the mark

Northampton-based singer-songwriter Rob Maher’s debut 10-track album, “A Man of Many Misses,” is a an ode to the underdog and to overcoming life’s pains with a wry sense of humor and unshakable empathy.  It’s a record that blends melancholy folk with haunting alternative rock in a union that, despite sounding depressing, results in emotions that are uplifting through hard earned moments of epiphany. What’s most surprising about...

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Basemental: Tundrastomper Cleans It Up
Mar13

Basemental: Tundrastomper Cleans It Up

Before writing this column, I stopped by Tundrastomper’s band house near the border of Easthampton and Southampton. Bassist Andrew Jones was getting surgical with a vacuum in the suburban home’s awkwardly large bathroom. He then offered me a bowl of black beans, which he had prepared, and I proceeded to microwave them and then spill them on the floor in such a way that they splattered 20-feet, making a clear trail all the way across...

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Review: Sally Clegg’s Bundle curious and unique; UMass’ Hampden Gallery could use work
Mar08

Review: Sally Clegg’s Bundle curious and unique; UMass’ Hampden Gallery could use work

There are so many settings in which you can find art exhibitions: Cafes, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and of course college campuses. UMass Amherst, as a matter of fact, has four galleries under the auspices of the Fine Arts Center. The Student Union Gallery, Augusta Savage at New Africa House, Herter Gallery and Hampden Gallery. Hamden Gallery is the only gallery on campus that is housed in a student residential area, and...

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Lauren L. Anderson is Connecting Moments at Sam’s Pizzeria and Cafe in Northampton
Mar02

Lauren L. Anderson is Connecting Moments at Sam’s Pizzeria and Cafe in Northampton

Sam’s Pizzeria and Cafe is nestled in the 200 block on Main Street in downtown Northampton. Like its owner, Sam Harbey, the eatery is down to earth and friendly. “We’ve been here for 11 years in the same spot,” Harbey says sitting in one of the glossy wood benches that skirt the restaurant. “I like belonging to a community — being in a community place.” And with that, Harbey spots another Sam — a beautiful, lean greyhound, who...

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The Face of Children’s Literature: Eighty Years of Caldecott Books
Feb27

The Face of Children’s Literature: Eighty Years of Caldecott Books

There are three exhibitions on display at the Eric Carle Museum this month, but the one that will tug at the book lover’s heartstrings is Eighty Years of Caldecott Books. It’s a collection of first edition Caldecott medal-winning children’s books that date from 1938 to 2018. Sandy Soderberg, the museum’s marketing manager, says that although the museum is dedicated to the illustration of children’s books, in its 15-year history,...

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Poste Nebuleux: Ben Banville’s Life in Art
Feb08

Poste Nebuleux: Ben Banville’s Life in Art

Bernard “Ben” Banville’s life sounds as if it was an unfettered celebration of creativity.  Born in Quebec, for many years Banville made his home in Greenfield. He was a musician, a photographer, and an artist who spent years on the Pioneer Valley artscape developing and refining his talents.  In a photo taken prior to his death last year, Banville is a gray bearded gentleman with salt and pepper hair and a slightly mischievous...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: “Son of The Pink Panther” falls far from the tree
Feb08

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: “Son of The Pink Panther” falls far from the tree

It may come as a surprise to my faithful readers that I actually own a few classy movies — notably, the well-regarded “Pink Panther” series starring the great Peter Sellers as Detective Inspector Clouseau. After Sellers’ death, the producers unwisely decided to try to keep the series going with a “Son Of” sequel. Alas, I am forced to quote the immortal Rocky the Squirrel: “But that trick never works, Bullwinkle!” You know you’re in...

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Color and Heat: Pan American Prints at Smith College Museum of Art
Feb01

Color and Heat: Pan American Prints at Smith College Museum of Art

The great mysteries of the southernmost countries of Pan America lie in the enormity of its territory, its rich history, and the shroud of chaos and human suffering. But Nobel-winning Mexican poet Octavio Paz beautifully sums up the artistic heritage of these nations. In his preface for the art book Agpa: Artes Gràficas Panamericanas Paz wrote, “printmaking, like the poetry and novels of Latin America; gives us back our confidence in...

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Review: Forgotten Girls: Lives In Peril
Jan23

Review: Forgotten Girls: Lives In Peril

Walking into the genteel Von Auersperg Gallery, one is reminded that Western Massachusetts is truly a bastion for visual arts venues. One is also reminded of how many choose to host phlegmatic collections of New England landscapes rather than those that may court controversy. But the Von Auersperg, a teaching gallery, housed on the tony Deerfield Academy campus, has chosen to take a chance. Gallery Director Lydia Hemphill is hosting...

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Cannabis Consultant Ezra Parzybok Talks Marijuana as Medicine in New Book
Jan02

Cannabis Consultant Ezra Parzybok Talks Marijuana as Medicine in New Book

As its medical uses evolve and marijuana becomes legally available for recreation in Massachusetts, an area cannabis consultant is working to fill an information hole he thinks is undermining its use. “In our culture, marijuana is known for all the bad reasons because of its psychoactive abilities,” said Ezra Parzybok of Northampton, author of Cannabis Consulting: Helping Patients, Parents, and Practitioners Understand Medical...

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Fat Bradley EP: A Funk Rock Voyage
Dec04

Fat Bradley EP: A Funk Rock Voyage

Northampton-based funk sextet Fat Bradley’s new self-titled five-song extended play (EP) recording is an acid jazz fusion of instrumental kaleidoscopic funky rock that grooves along with frantic energy and a sense of reckless abandon that’s downright entertaining. This is virtuosic showmanship that’ll get you jumping. Fat Bradley is comprised of Jeff Ritterson (keys), Tyler Silva (drums), Matt Postel (bass), Josh Hirst (guitar), Kat...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Demons of Ludlow
Nov20

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Demons of Ludlow

As I type this column, it is not yet Halloween, but by the time it sees print the holiday will be over. I’m still in a scary-movie mode, watching such fare as “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” But maybe I should switch gears and see what’s available now on TV. Wow! Hallmark is already running Christmas movies! That’s pretty scary right there. Well, OK — let’s go with one last spookfest. Think of it as munching on those leftover...

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Valley Show Girl: A Bloody Good Time
Oct30

Valley Show Girl: A Bloody Good Time

Later this month, Chicopee’s Maximum Capacity will close and open at some point in the future with new ownership. Will there still be shows? If so, will they include metal/rock shows? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, you still have a chance to get to “one last show.” Over the years of going to certain clubs/venues, you develop memories that either bring a smile to your face, or a head shake, like “wow, yeah, that totally...

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Review: Terrible Yarn, but Moving Art, “The Scarf” Displays a Noble Struggle
Oct30

Review: Terrible Yarn, but Moving Art, “The Scarf” Displays a Noble Struggle

As I wait for Brattleboro artist Joan O’Beirne to arrive at her exhibit “The Scarf,” showing now through Feb. 11 at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, curator Mara Williams brings a museum guest into the showroom. She gestures to the (at least) 12-foot orange weave of cables winding its way down from an elevated chair to the floor on one side of the room. Williams explains, “she knitted it entirely out of extension cords.”...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Crawling Eye
Oct23

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Crawling Eye

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem and view an exhibit by Kirk Hammett. “Kirk who?” you ask. Why, none other than the lead guitarist for the thrash metal band Metallica. Can’t say I was ever a fan, but Hammett’s collection on display was interesting. Growing up with a love for old horror films, he has amassed a treasure trove of original movie posters. The collection mostly focuses on the...

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Your Hot Steaming Guide to Local Mac & Cheese From Springfield to Brattleboro
Oct09

Your Hot Steaming Guide to Local Mac & Cheese From Springfield to Brattleboro

The weather is getting colder, so it’s time for us New Englanders to look inward for some of that warm toasty comfort — literally. Fill yourself with some happy via one of everyone’s favorite comfort foods, mac ‘n’ cheese (even the dish’s name is nice ‘n’ cozy). At its best mac ‘n’ cheese is a sumptuous joy ride for the mouth across various plains of strong and/or creamy cheeses strung together by buttered noodles. Mac ‘n’ cheese...

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Review: Art in the Orchard is a Museum that Breathes
Oct02

Review: Art in the Orchard is a Museum that Breathes

Captivating. Whimsical. An idea at once exotic and comforting. Art in the Orchard is a curatorial triumph striking a perfect balance between art and nature. This was my first visit to Art in the Orchard, which has been hosted by Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton in odd number years since 2011. An orchard, where you go to pick fruit from the tree, seems the perfect locale for an art exhibition. Rather than being stuffed into the rigid...

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Stories From The Stoop a Nuanced Look at Growing Up in 1960s New York
Sep18

Stories From The Stoop a Nuanced Look at Growing Up in 1960s New York

I first met Steve Bernstein when I was working at a small library in Marlborough, New Hampshire, a little more than a decade ago. In the newsletter I put a note in for a writers’ group without knowing if anyone from the little town would show up. Steve was among the small handful who did. Two things immediately stood out about Steve — his strong Bronx accent, and the quality of his work. The stories he brought in over the weeks were...

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The Sacred Space in Between: Auferoth Exhibit in Easthampton
Sep11

The Sacred Space in Between: Auferoth Exhibit in Easthampton

The paintings in Susannah Auferoth’s exhibit at the Grubbs Gallery in Easthampton, have one thing in common: They all use the template of three exact lines, two thick, the middle one thin, in colors with cavernous depth. But that’s it. Within this framework Auferoth has created individual expressions of movement and reflection on three plains: Earth, sky, and the space in between where life happens. Seven of these pieces are on view...

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Valley Show Girl: Music That Got Me Through White Supremacy News
Aug21

Valley Show Girl: Music That Got Me Through White Supremacy News

The white supremacy horror show that happened earlier this month in Charlottesville really got to me. That Sunday, I barely left my bed. I mainly watched stupid chick flicks to occupy my mind with less meaningful things. After dinner however, I took my 6-year old son to the all ages show at The Tank in Feeding Hills where The Prozacs were putting on a punk show for the release of their album, Exist, which I reviewed last week. Music...

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Building 6: Major expansion and a new building at MASS MoCA
Aug14

Building 6: Major expansion and a new building at MASS MoCA

If a white cube is your comfort zone for viewing contemporary art, then the recent expansion of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) pushes well outside the box. “Building 6” is the modest name of an ambitious project that adds 130,000 square feet to nearly double the museum’s gallery space and augments other institutional amenities such as new art fabrication workshops and support facilities for performing artists...

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Stagestruck: ‘This’ Drama as Sitcom Is ‘Too Snappy, Too Loud’
Aug08

Stagestruck: ‘This’ Drama as Sitcom Is ‘Too Snappy, Too Loud’

This is the title of the play now running at Barrington Stage Company (through August 27). But it might be more accurately called This and That. Melissa James Gibson’s script is a grab-bag of seriocomic situations, satirical barbs and personal anguish that harks back to the ’80s TV series thirtysomething. Her characters, approaching middle age – i.e., their forties – are preoccupied with marital, parental, ethical, sexual and...

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Album Review: Pop and Punk Collide In The Prozacs’ Sci-Fi Influenced “Exist”
Aug04

Album Review: Pop and Punk Collide In The Prozacs’ Sci-Fi Influenced “Exist”

Back in January of this past year, the members of Westfield-based pop punkers, The Prozacs, parted ways. Formed in 2001 by Jay Gauvin (or better known as J Prozac), the band had seen many different line-ups of members throughout their time performing. Gauvin was going to end the band following this year’s breakup, but realized that it made no sense after all the hard work that had been put into making their latest album, Exist. “Also...

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Valley Show Girl: A Jam Session in the Forest With Staind Singer Aaron Lewis
Aug07

Valley Show Girl: A Jam Session in the Forest With Staind Singer Aaron Lewis

Staind. Remember them? I think at one point in our late-’90s lives we were all blasting “Tormented” or “Dysfunction” and relating to the ultra-sensitive alternative rock that was birthed right here in the Valley. Well, times have changed, and people change. Aaron Lewis, singer of the now-retired Staind has gone on to other things, including switching up musical genres to country. Lewis also puts on an amazing benefit concert once a...

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A Look Inside Marc Chagall’s World at Springfield Museums
Jul31

A Look Inside Marc Chagall’s World at Springfield Museums

Put several dozen artists in a building called “The Beehive,” and what do you get? A space brimming and buzzing with new ideas and fresh perspectives on art, as a new exhibit at the Springfield Museums illustrates. Marc Chagall and Friends, a display of prints drawn from the collection of the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, shines a light on a group of artists who, living in close quarters in Paris in the early 20th century, played a big...

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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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