The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include the unveiling of a new outdoor arts space; an acoustic solo concert by a jam-band legend; Portuguese jazz; vintage jazz; dream-pop; and a whole lot more.
Chris Barron, best known as lead singer of Spin Doctors, brings his acoustic guitar and witty original pop-rock tunes to the Egremont Barn in South Egremont tonight at 8pm. Long before he was that goofy guy in the hat on MTV, Chris Barron was an even goofier kid with an acoustic guitar. Barron plays nifty chords on an old Gibson to masterfully crafted songs that are poignant yet wistful and funny, all the while singing in a manner that’s sweet and somewhat different from what you would expect if you only knew him from Spin Doctors’ hits such as “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes.”
The Turn Park Art Space, a new 16-acre cultural and recreational park in West Stockbridge, Mass., celebrates its grand opening on Sunday, May 14, with a five-hour “Happening” - an immersive music and theater production -- from 11am to 4pm. Participants include Floating Tower and an international cast of performers including the German-Romanian singing sensation Sanda Weigl; mezzo-soprano Sophie Delphis; trumpeter Joe Moffett; composer/performer Casey Keenan; and others.
The formal grand opening of the park, which features an outdoor sculpture collection, gallery, outdoor amphitheater, nature walks, and a gift shop -- will take place at 11am, and the happening itself, in which visitors will travel the park through different routes, encountering musicians, clowns, troubadours, and other performers, runs from noon to 4pm.
The Mary Ann McSweeney Quartet, led by the renowned jazz bassist and bandleader, brings its “Urban Fado” program of jazz interpretations of Portuguese music themes to the Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield, Mass., on Saturday, at 8pm. McSweeney’s ensemble includes Jason Ennis on guitar, Todd Reynolds on violin, and Conor Meehan on drums, and will be augmented by special guests, including vocalist Natalia Bernal.
Also for jazz lovers, to mark the centennial of the first jazz recording in 1917, trombonist Chris Washburne leads an international group of all-stars in a celebration of the roots and influences of jazz, in the Fisher Center at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson on Saturday at 8pm. The concert, “Celebrating 100 Years of Jazz,” will explore traditional folk songs to the music of jazz pioneers including Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Bessie Smith.
Novelist Kristopher Jansma, essayist John Proctor, and poet Jayne Benjulian 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-signing and a DJ set by Rebecca Wolff.
Americana singer-songwriter Shannon McNally brings her rootsy songs and soulful vocals to Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday at 9pm. Born in New York but roughed up and refined by New Orleans and Mississippi, Shannon McNally has cut a singular path through the musical landscape – one that includes a Grammy nomination and a place on the stage with a who’s who of rock, country, and soul.
Ora Cogan brings her haunted, jazzy chamber-folk and her band to the Half Moon on Tuesday, May 16, at 8pm. Jeffrey Lewis warms up the crowd for the Vancouver-based Cogan, who is touring in support of her forthcoming album, “Crickets.”
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com