The region’s cultural highlights this weekend include outsider music, North Indian classical, roots, reggae, spoken word, and Christmas carols.
Artist and musician Lonnie Holley recorded his first album in 2012 at age 62 after making home recordings for more than two decades. Holley’s music, like his art, defies classification — haunting vocals, keyboards, and new renditions of songs with every performance. He brings his unique, outsider-y, improvised sound – described as “somewhere between Sun Ra and spoken-word poetry” -- to MASS MoCA in North Adams on Sat at 8pm.
Internationally renowned sitarist and vocalist Veena Chandra returns to Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, Mass., with tabla master Devesh Chandra on Sun, Dec 3, at 7pm, in the Kellogg Music Center. The mother-and-son duo will perform a free concert of North Indian classical music.
Tis the season, and holiday concerts abound. Canadian fiddle virtuosos Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy will perform “A Celtic Family Christmas” at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, Mass., on Sun at 7pm. Accompanied by an array of talented musicians and their entire family, the married duo will guide audiences through a true Cape Breton Christmas celebration.
The Cantilena Chamber Choir will perform the “World’s Greatest Christmas Carols” at Trinity Church in Lenox, Mass., Sun at 3pm. The concert will include traditional carols and some new settings of old favorites, including Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Fantasia on Christmas Carols,” a medley of Christmas spirituals arranged by Chanticleer, and carol settings by John Rutter, Eric Barnum, and Paul Halley. The concert will end with the premiere of the “Lenox Suite for piano, violin, and choir,” by Moshe Knoll, as a tribute to Lenox’s 250th Anniversary. Allyn Burrows, artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, will narrate the event.
Two of “The Fridge Plays” – Daniel Talbott’s “Nick and Zoe,” and Steve McMahon’s “sad indie love song,” come to Bridge Street Theatre, in Catskill, N.Y., tonight and Sat at 7:30pm. Originally presented on a double-bill as part of Arctic Group’s recent Fridge Fest in Manhattan (which featured ten new plays with nothing in common but a refrigerator), this harrowing, intense, sexy, raw, fierce evening of adults-only theater comes to Catskill with its original cast of brilliant young New York actors intact.
Modern bluegrass legend Sara Watkins brings her instrumental virtuosity and songwriting talents to Club Helsinki Hudson tonight at 9pm. Best known as the fiddler in the platinum-selling progressive bluegrass group Nickel Creek, as well as for her role with bandmate/brother Sean Watkins in the Watkins Family Hour, Sara Watkins has firmly established herself as a solo singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
And finally, Jamaican-born dub-poet Everton Sylvester and Searching for Banjo bring their unique blend of spoken word and deep reggae grooves to Club Helsinki Hudson on Sunday, at 7pm. Sylvester’s song-poems recount acutely observed scenes from the life of an immigrant in New York City. Sometimes political and often humorous, Everton Sylvester brings a sly, deadpan wit to scenarios from the point of view of a son, a father, a teacher, and a would-be U.S. citizen, that alternately surprise, delight, or infuriate. Everton’s band, Searching for Banjo (which does not include banjo), lays down Jamaican-infused accompaniment and reggae beats, providing the perfect context for his cleverly crafted, alertly ironic lyrics.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com