Things are picking up in our region, culturally speaking, with a new-music festival, a theater festival, a reading by the author of one of last year’s big books, “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine,” and a birthday bash for Elvis Presley.
The Williams College Department of Music’s annual I/O Fest, a four-day festival of new music, runs today through Sunday, in various venues on and around the college campus in Williamstown, Mass. Over the course of four days and nights, performers and audiences will take a deep dive into new and adventurous music from around the world and down the street. I/O Fest 2018 features composer/performer Kate Soper, in residence for a performance of her landmark chamber opera “Here Be Sirens,” by guest ensemble Fresh Squeezed Opera, as well as performances by the I/O Ensemble, IOTA, and an array of Williams faculty, students, alumni, and guests. All events are free and open to the public.
Old, new, and classic plays are on tap for the Winter Studio Festival of Plays at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass., on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend of staged readings features Carson Kreitzer’s “Timebomb,” Liz Duffy Adams’s “Wonders of the Invisible World,” Hamish Linklater’s “The Whirligig,” Edith Wharton’s “The Shadow of a Doubt,” and the late Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Buried Child,” one of my all-time personal favorites.
Authors Taylor Larsen (who wrote “Stranger, Father, Beloved”), Joe Hagan (whose new book, “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine,” was seemingly on everyone’s year-end, Ten Best of 2017 lists), and Michele Filgate will read from their works at Spotty Dog Books & Ale in Hudson on Saturday at 7pm, as part of Volume, the free monthly reading and music series every second Saturday of the month. The readings will be followed by book-signings and a DJ set by Samantha Hunt.
Club Helsinki Hudson’s annual Elvis Birthday Bash, featuring Mark Gamsjager & the Lustre Kings, will take place tonight at 9pm, just a few days after what would have been Elvis Presley’s 83rd birthday. The Lustre Kings will be joined by a who’s who of regional rockabilly talent celebrating the legacy and influence of the man who ate America, according to Bono, who would know.
Looking ahead to next weekend: What do you get when your cross Wilco with NASA? You get Quindar, the multimedia duo featuring Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen and his collaborator, art historian and curator James Merle Thomas, returning to MASS MoCA in North Adams, on Sat, Jan 20, at 8pm.The duo syncs electronic music with historical recordings and film sourced mainly from NASA’s earliest manned missions. “Quindar tones” — the ubiquitous beeps heard during NASA’s early manned spaceflight missions — let astronauts and mission control know they were still in contact with each other. In essence, “Quindar tones’ function as to say, ‘Are you there?’ ‘Yes, we’re still here. Are you still there?’” (Which if you think about it, is kind of like “Roger Wilco.”) The duo will be joined by Jeremy Roth, Quindar’s lighting designer and video artist.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com