This weekend brings a Jamaican-born singer-guitarist who only comes with a D-String; a soul singer who finally caught the spotlight after 50 years in the trenches; and several art exhibitions, including one focusing on the art of the nude, and another on endangered species of animals.
Andrew Chin’s father was renowned Jamaican soul singer Freddy McKay, and his mother, Beverly Foster, toured with the likes of Tina Turner as a backup singer. Chin himself had a tough upbringing, and would escape his hardships with music, banging away on his guitar, breaking the strings by playing so hard. One day, he pulled out his guitar from under his bed, and it had only one string left. But Chin was undaunted. He figured out how to make enough music with the single string, plus using his guitar as a percussion instrument, to replicate the sound of a full band. Blessed with his colorful voice, he reinvented himself as Brushy One String, and came up with an original mix of reggae, blues, rap, and traditional African rhythms, all of which he will bring to Club B-10 at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday at 8pm.
Soul singer Bettye LaVette also didn’t have it easy. A self-described "overnight sensation after 50 years in the music business," LaVette tasted a hint of success as an R&B performer out of Detroit in the early 1960s. She could have been a peer to Diana Ross. Instead, a series of unlucky breaks left LaVette in the dust, trying to make records for over four decades in between the occasional theatrical gig and temporary jobs cleaning houses. LaVette finally tasted real success in 2005 with her album, “I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise,” featuring songs by contemporary female singer-songwriters including Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, Sinéad O’Connor, Lucinda Williams, Joan Armatrading, and Dolly Parton. She followed that up with her Grammy nominated 2010 album, “Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook,” which featured her elastic vocals and her dynamic R&B remakes of pop and rock hits by the likes of the Who, Peter Gabriel, the Animals, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. LaVette performs at Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday at 9pm.
An artist’s talk and book signing featuring Berkshire photographer Lincoln Russell will take place at Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Stockbridge on Saturday from 2 to 4pm. The event is in conjunction with the exhibition NUDE, featuring the work of a dozen artists, including John Atchley, Peggy Braun, John Clarke, Greg Gorman, Eric Korenman, Hildy Kronen, Mona Mark, Matuschka, Cassandra Sohn and Savannah Spirit. Russell’s paranormal panoramic scenes are included in the exhibition; and his books include “Artist Seeking Models,” “Adventures in Burgundy,” and “An Intimate Portrait of Seiji Ozawa.”
An Infinite Odyssey, a four-part series of illustrated talks by international photographers Dan Mead and Sally Eagle continues on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield with Untamed: Wild and Endangered Animals. The second talk in the series will include images of silverback gorillas in Rwanda, big cats in Kenya, majestic grizzly bears in Alaska, and many more.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com