Film School for the Dead
Popster Henning Ohlenbusch has stamped his creative influence on many a Valley musical project, from helming the School for the Dead to taking a relative backseat in bands like The Aloha Steamtrain and The Fawns. He’s also maintained Rub Wrongways Records, a Northampton-based indie label that plays host to artists including Bourgeois Heroes and Sitting Next to Brian, for nigh on a decade now, in addition to his own musical endeavors.
A thinking man’s fool, Ohlenbusch’s often absurdist, always clever arrangements and lyrics occasionally find themselves begging for a topic to deconstruct, and for his first solo release, he’s provided them with exactly that. Henning Goes to the Movies includes nine songs that are also movie titles, including “Logan’s Run,” “Meatballs,” “Poltergeist” (which has a “Tomorrow Never Knows” feel), and even “Joe versus The Volcano.” The record is more a deep examination of the films’ underlying themes and emotions than a straight-up Siskel & Ebert experience, and either way is a great peek into the melodic and instrumentally moody world of the prolific Ohlenbusch. —Tom Sturm
CD release party with special guest Jose Ayerve (Spouse) Oct. 14, 10 p.m. at the Montague Bookmill, 440 Greenfield Rd., Montague, (413) 367-9206, http://www.montaguebookmill.com.
Strings at Flywheel
Veteran acoustic guitarist Glenn Jones plays Flywheel in Easthampton Nov. 3 in support of his recently released The Wanting, which features the single “Of Its Own Kind.” Fans of Cul de Sac, the psych-rock Boston band that enjoyed a 20-year run starting in 1989, will recognize Jones as one of its founding members. Jones will be joined by special guests Joshua Burkett and Crystalline Roses. —Pete Redington
Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m., $8, Flywheel, 43 Main St., Easthampton, (413) 527-9800, flywheel.org.
All in the Family
The newly renovated Pushkin Gallery re-opens in downtown Greenfield with a joint art show featuring works from four members of one local family. Additionally, at Arts Block, across the street, there will be music and dancing with family member Sonya Kitchell to celebrate the show’s opening. (All events except the music are free.)
Peter Kitchell is an abstract poster artist. Gayle Kabaker is a textile designer, graphic designer and illustrator who also teaches at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Singer/songwriter Sonya Kitchell has performed at Carnegie Hall, and on The David Letterman Show. And Max Kitchell, 17, is a budding photographer.
Arts Block will feature photographs by Max and Sonya from 8 p.m. to midnight. The Pushkin will show works by Gayle and Peter from 5 to 8 p.m. —Pete Redington
Oct. 21, 5 p.m., Pushkin Gallery, 4 Federal St.; Sonya performs with her band at the Arts Block at 9 p.m., $15/advance, $20/door, 289 Main St., Greenfield.
In praise of Salvatore Scibona’s first book, The End, renowned writer Annie Dillard noted that the debut work “brims with the promise of a remarkable literary career, of which The End is only the beginning.”
Named by The New Yorker as one of the “20 Under 40″ to keep an eye on, Scibona reads from that novel, set in racially charged 1950s America, at Amherst Books this week. Sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center, the reading will be followed by refreshments. —Pete Redington
Oct. 13, 8 p.m., Amherst Books, 8 Main St., Amherst, (413) 256-1547, http://www.amherstbooks.com.
Korean artist Kimsooja is a video, performance and installation artist. Her video work revolves around the idea of stillness—she is often motionless, a still point around which nature or humanity flows. You can see several of Kimsooja’s best-known works through December at the University Museum of Contemporary Art. A Needle Woman involves four simultaneous videos, showing Kimsooja motionless among crowds in Lagos, Nigeria, Tokyo, New York, and Delhi. Other works on display include A Laundry Woman—Yamuna River, India, In A Needle Woman—Kitakyushu, A Beggar Woman (Lagos, Nigeria), and Sewing Into Walking (Istanbul). —James Heflin
Through Dec. 11, University Museum of Contemporary Art, Fine Arts Center, UMass-Amherst, 151 Presidents Drive, Amherst, (413) 545-3670.
Homegrown in the Hills
For most outsiders, the arts scene in the Berkshires is defined by the big summertime players—Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow and the mainline theater festivals. One of the latter, the newly expanded Berkshire Theatre Group, is seeking to shift that perception by digging deep into the region’s year-round, homegrown talent.
Over two October weekends, Made in the Berkshires showcases music, theater, dance, film, poetry, fiction and visual art by dozens of established and emerging Berkshire-based artists, with shows in Stockbridge and Pittsfield. The festival features daily potpourris of short pieces and several major attractions, including the premiere of Viva la Diva, a drag-queen musical. —Chris Rohmann
Oct. 14-16, 21-23, Colonial Theatre, 111 South Street, Pittsfield, and Unicorn Theatre, East St., Stockbridge, (413) 997-4444, thecolonialtheatre.org.
Lit Up North
The Brattleboro Literary Festival has become something of a fall tradition. The fest, celebrating its 10th year, is a weekend full of readings by authors from these parts and much farther afield. Festivalgoers can also choose to take poetry or fiction workshops (the only non-free events). The roster is reliably rich, and this year’s installment offers some interesting high points.
Fest-related events run Wednesday through Sunday, with “official” events concentrated on Friday night through Sunday. Guests include, among many more, Julia Alvarez, Richard Bausch, Teju Cole, Anthony Doerr, Luis Alberto Urrea, Stephen Dobyns, Mira Bartok, Mark Doty, and NPR personalities Tom Bodett and Roy Blount, Jr. (pictured). —James Heflin
Oct. 14-16, various venues, downtown Brattleboro. For more info, visit brattelboroliteraryfestival.org.
Garage Sale Find
Guitarist Marc Ribot is the kind of restless innovator who takes his instrument to widely varied locales and is equally at home in jazz, rock, Cuban music and experimentation with and around most any other style. He shows up on plenty of other musicians’ recordings (recently those of Tom Waits and Allen Toussaint, among others), and participates in a long list of projects.
This fall, one of the most interesting of Ribot’s projects visits the Iron Horse. Ceramic Dog takes its name from the French expression “chien de faience,” which refers to the state of being “frozen with emotion, as in the perfectly still moment before a fight breaks out.” The group includes Shahzad Ismaily and Ches Smith, and pigeonholes itself as a “free/punk/funk/experimental/psychedelic/post-electronica” band. —James Heflin
Nov. 15, 7 p.m., $20, Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton, (413) 586-8686, http://www.iheg.com.
Jazzing Up the Movies
The cinema becomes a concert stage and lecture hall in the second installment of the Joy of Sax film series in November (the first featured a documentary about Illinois Jacquet, who is pictured). You can witness live music before the films, and enjoy commentary from WFCR’s Jazz A La Mode host Tom Reney.
On Nov. 7, the short Jammin’ the Blues is followed by A Great Day in Harlem, a documentary about the many jazz greats who gathered for an iconic photo taken by Art Kane in 1958 for Esquire magazine. The series continues in spring of 2012. —James Heflin
Nov. 7, 7 p.m., Amherst Cinema, 28 Amity St., Amherst, (413) 253-2547.
A Gay Old Time
The Valley’s GLBTQ community may sometimes sound like a delicious lunchtime sandwich, but in fact it’s a broad and diverse community of wisdom, talent and culture all its own which only occasionally includes bacon, lettuce or tomato. In recognition of the subculture’s contributions to the general community, the Academy of Music hosts a night of appreciation, pithily dubbed A Gay Old Time. The event will feature the musical work of award-winning composer Paula M. Kimper, whose folk opera TRUTH, A New Folk Opera about the Life of Sojourner Truth has inspired many and caught the ear of a substantial American undercurrent.
In addition to Kimper, the event also promises performances by the folk opera’s star, local singer and activist Evelyn Harris, and stand-up comedy by Poppy Champlin, who’s opened for comedians including Denis Leary, Bill Maher, Ray Romano, Rosie O’Donnell and even Bill Hicks, as well as local comics the Ha Ha Sisterhood. Food, drink and fun will all play a part, and a portion of the night’s proceeds will go to help the Hurricane Irene Relief Fund for Flat Street in Brattleboro. —Tom Sturm
Oct. 22, 7 p.m., $10, Academy of Music Theatre, 274 Main St., Northampton, (413) 584-9032 ext. 105, http://www.academyofmusictheatre.com.
Thangka refers to scroll paintings of Buddhist figures, and is an art form whose works have been largely inaccessible to Western eyes for decades, but now is on view at Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum. Highly fragile, the mostly Tibetan works in The Mead’s exhibit Picturing the Enlightenment have been meticulously restored by conservators at Museum Textile Services in Andover, Mass. through delicate processes of cleaning and repair. Of the 18 examples of thangka, nine will be on view through Jan. 1, 2012 and the remaining nine viewable from Jan. 20 through June 3, 2012.
The museum has organized a number of exhibition-related events as well, including a public lecture on Oct. 19 by MTS Head Conservator Camille Myers Breeze, and thangka-focused meditation sessions on Nov. 9 and Dec. 7. In addition, the college welcomes monks from the Tibetan Buddhist Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York from Oct. 13-16, who will create a sand mandala in the Frost Library. —Tom Sturm
Through Jan. 1 and Jan. 20 through June 3, 2012, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, (413) 542-2335, http://www.amherst.edu/mead.