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Summer Arts Preview

A few good picks for a hot summer

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Les Doigts

Every June for a decade-plus, Northampton has filled up with musicians, most in Hawaiian shirts and toting funny-looking guitars. They migrate in for the annual homage to “jazz manouche” called Django in June. That festival is one of only a handful in North America that are magnets for European Gypsy jazz talents of the highest order, and also includes a very friendly camp for those who want to learn—from those same high-caliber musicians—about the style made famous by Django Reinhardt.

This year’s roster is particularly impressive. The Friday, June 20 show features Latcho Drom, a group founded by Christophe Lartilleux (pictured). Lartilleux comes from a Gypsy circus family, and grew up traveling with the circus. He began Latcho Drom in 1993, making him a standard bearer in what has, in the past decade or so, become a full-blown revival of Django’s style. The night also features Samson Schmitt, one of several well-respected jazz manouche musicians from the Schmitt family. Schmitt is joined by Dutch violinist Tim Kliphuis. On Saturday, June 21, the cleverly named Les Doigts de l’Homme take the stage—that moniker, which means “the fingers of man,” is a clever pun on Les Droits de l’Homme, the famous “Rights of Man.” These high-strung, flamboyant purveyors of Gypsy jazz come to Northampton on the heels of a major musical victory, having secured the closing spot on the main stage at the most important of all Django festivals in Samois-sur-Seine, France.

Latcho Drom, Samson Schmitt with Tim Kliphuis: June 20; Les Doigts de l’Homme, June 21: both shows 7:30 p.m., $25/advance, $30/door, Academy of Music, 274 Main St., Northampton, djangoinjune.com.

Dancing with Gorey

Out at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, they know how to throw a summer. The list of events goes on for days, and nearly every performance is a highlight, featuring a well-known dance troupe or two.

At the end of June, you can witness the highly regarded Trey McIntyre Project, but things get particularly interesting when you consider the musicians who accompany the Project. The Music Institute of Chicago’s Trio Solaris, made up of teenage recipients of major accolades, will be on hand to play the Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor by Dmitri Shostakovich.

One of the evening’s works, The Vinegar Works: Four Dances of Moral Instruction, arrives via the inspiration of one of America’s most intriguing writer/artists, Edward Gorey. The other, Mercury Half-Life, is a ballet set to the music of Queen.

 

June 25-29, Jacob’s Pillow, 358 George Carter Road, Becket, (413) 243-9919, jacobspillow.org.

 

The Other Anne Hathaway

In his last will and testament, William Shakespeare (in)famously bequeathed his “second-best bed” to his wife. That document lies at the heart of the punningly titled Shakespeare’s Will, which opens the summer season at Shakespeare & Company.

In it, we meet Anne Hathaway, the poet’s widow, on the afternoon of his funeral, reminiscing about her life with—and mostly without—her player/playwright husband. Married to Will Shakespeare because she was pregnant, she has spent her life in Stratford while he made his name and fortune in the metropolis. Most of Vern Thiessen’s one-woman play extrapolates from that and a few other known facts to imagine her life more fully, as an independent and, okay, willful woman. While Will is off in London (consorting, rumor has it, with a male lover), she feels free to enjoy the company of “lots and lots of men,” though she does yearn for him and remembers him, ironically, as “a man of few words” who wrote a sonnet for her. The piece, performed here by Kristin Wold (pictured), is a fanciful reconsideration of one of history’s icons, from the point of view of the woman who was at once the key character and a bit player in his life.

Through Aug. 24, Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. (413) 637-3353, shakespeare.org.

Working Together

In the Valley Idol Jr. event, singers Una Jensen (pictured, above left) and Holly May (above right) competed against each other. The two have known each other since junior high school at Mohawk Regional, and now are working together in their bids to launch careers. Both have landed big-time deals to make albums, and May’s deal includes Jensen as songwriter. The pair perform close to home this summer.

June 28, Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A, Turners Falls, (413) 863-2281, theshea.org.

 

Just a Phase

Twenty years ago, self-proclaimed “loser” Beck crashed the charts with his idiosyncratic anti-folk, lo-fi hip-hop sound. Then he grabbed “two turntables and a microphone,” met Jenny at J.C. Penny, got a taco from Satan, and recorded several more albums—the latest of which, Morning Phase, brings him to North Adams for his only gig in all of New England.

June 24, 8:30 p.m., Mass MoCA, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, (413) 662-2111, massmoca.org.

Abloom

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, and June 16 has never been the same. That’s the day in 1904 upon which, in James Joyce’s Ulysses, protagonist Leopold Bloom makes his way across the city of Dublin. The popularity of Bloomsday seems to have been on the increase in recent years, and in the Valley, aspiring Joyceans can choose between several local celebrations of things Bloom this summer.

At Amherst Cinema, there’s a screening of In Bed with Ulysses, about Joyce’s creation of the sprawling tome. At Easthampton’s White Square Books, you can don your best Edwardian gear, munch on gorgonzola sandwiches, quaff burgundy, and read a bit of Ulysses. In Greeenfield, the Arts Block hosts the Literacy Project’s Bloomsday party, for which you can also don, munch and quaff, in addition to enjoying Irish music, readings by local actors, and having your photo taken with a bust of your man Joyce himself.

Bloomsday: June 16, 1 p.m., White Square Books, Easthampton; 7 p.m., The Arts Block, Greenfield; 7 p.m., Amherst Cinema, Amherst.

 

Downward Facing Dad

“I’m about as neurotic as the next guy. Maybe just a bit more,” says Brian Leaf, author of Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi: Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting. “And that’s why I know that [a] sure key to parenting is patience, compassion, forgiveness, and even faith, in my kids, of course, but also in myself.”

Reading: June 26, 7:15 p.m., Heartsong Yoga, 264 North Main St., East Longmeadow, (413) 525-0720, heartsongyoga.com.

 

Standley Remembered

The exhibit In Memoriam: The Vision of Max D. Standley (1942-2013) begins with an opening reception on Friday June 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. in conjunction with Arts Night Out.

June 7-Aug. 31, R. Michelson Galleries, 132 Main St., Northampton, (413) 586-3964, rmichelson.com.

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Summer Arts Preview
A few good picks for a hot summer
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