The weekend highlights in our region include a not one but two soul music legends; a new music festival; a literary birthday party for a 90-year-old poet; and a whole lot more.
If you ask me, the greatest R&B and soul music of the 1960s was not made in Detroit, although Motown certainly produced its share of great music. But the recordings made in Memphis at Stax Records – by artists including Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Isaac Hayes, Johnnie Taylor, Bill Withers, and, of course, Otis Redding – were the real deal. The secret sauce of those recordings was the house band – the musicians who played on almost all the recordings that came out of Stax in the Sixties – who on their own were known as Booker T and the MGs. Booker T himself will revive the classic sound of Stax Records and southern urban soul when he performs at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., on Saturday night at 8pm.
Speaking of ‘60s soul, iconic “girl-group” rock ‘n’ roll vocalist Ronnie Spector performs with the Ronettes at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie tonight at 8pm, and at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, Mass., on Saturday at 8pm. Artists including Amy Winehouse, Macy Gray, Joan Jett, Patti Smith, and countless others are unimaginable without the template fashioned by Ronnie Spector, arguably the first major female rock ‘n’ roller to embody a dialectic of innocence and experience.
For the 16th summer in a row, new music collective Bang on a Can takes up residence at MASS MoCA for its summer music festival and institute, now through Saturday, August 5. Featuring public performances, recitals, and lectures, the festival will be attended by over 50 cutting-edge composers and performers from around the globe, including over 35 fellows selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants from throughout the world. This year’s featured guest composers are Louis Andriessen and George Lewis.
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein will perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations at PS21 in Chatham, N.Y., on Saturday at 8pm. Dinnerstein gained an international reputation with the success of her 2007 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. It hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart and was named to several Best of 2007 lists. The Goldberg Variations, of course, are among Bach’s most beloved works.
READ & FEED, a festival celebrating literature and food, returns to Basilica Hudson on Sunday from noon to 5pm. The festival includes a celebration of legendary poet John Ashbery’s 90th birthday in his hometown of Hudson, N.Y.; acclaimed food writers and chefs presenting demonstrations and interactive discussions; a superstar collection of authors offering literary performances and novel conversations; a marketplace featuring some of America’s most intriguing small literary publishers and artisanal food makers; plenty of food, and more.
Choreographer Adam H. Weinert stages a program of works associated with Jacob’s Pillow Dance founder Ted Shawn, as well as his own site-specific work, Monument, at Hudson Hall tonight, Saturday, and Sunday. Weinert – who calls Hudson home -- offers a contemporary take on historical dance. He and an ensemble of dancers perform classic solos by Doris Humphrey, José Limón, and Ted Shawn, and then transport audiences to a world of original choreography in an immersive, multimedia dance production.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com