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Tanglewood hosts the great New Orleans singer and pianist Harry Connick Jr. on Saturday, June 23.

Big Names, Great Popular Music Land in Berkshires

By Grace LichtensteinSpecial to iBerkshires
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Yes, it’s still early in the season. But lots of toe-tapping pleasures await.

First things first: If you don't have your tickets to the Barrington Stage's "The Royal Family of Broadway," a world premiere, stop reading this column for a moment and buy them right now. The show has garnered rave reviews everywhere — in the Wall Street Journal, the Albany Times Union and elsewhere. It sounds like a cinch that the show will eventually make it to Broadway itself. But it's here in Pittsfield now — through July 7. Find details online.

 

Tanglewood Music Festival

The Tanglewood pop season is already in high gear. This weekend, Andy Grammer's debut Tanglewood appearance is set for Friday night, June 22, at 7 p.m. The singer-songwriter (seen at left) brings his tunes like "Smoke Clears" and "Honey I’m Good" to the Shed. The Nashville pop singer Quinn Lewis opens for Grammer.

On Saturday night, June 23, Tanglewood hosts the great New Orleans singer and pianist Harry Connick Jr. It's hard to believe that handsome Harry is 50! He brings with him a songbook ranging from classics like "Jambalaya" to Broadway favorites to originals like "Every Man Should Know." His Berkshires program is billed as "A New Orleans Tricentennial Celebration."

Audra McDonald, a Tanglewood favorite, brings her distinctive pop and jazz song stylings to the Shed on Sunday afternoon, June 24, at 2:30 p.m. She’ll be showcasing songs by the likes of Sondheim, Rogers and Gershwin, accompanied by the Boston Pops Orchestra.

All the details can be found on the website.

 

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

It won't be just Lenox that hosts great pop acts this weekend. At the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Aimee Mann takes the stage 8 p.m. Friday, June 22. The folk-rock singer and instrumentalist is expected to perform songs from her album "Mental Illness," which won the award for best folk album at the 60th annual Grammys last year.

On Saturday, June 24, at the Mahaiwe the Wailers, Bob Marley's original band, bring their infectious Jamaican rhythms to the Mahaiwe stage, led by bassist and founder Aston "Familyman" Barrett, and joined by original Wailers' guitarists Junior Marvin and Donald Kinsey. Also on stage: singers Shema McGregor, daughter of I Three Judy Mowatt, and Hassanah, a multi-cultural powerhouse, plus veterans Owen "Dreadie" Reid on guitar/bass and Noel Davey on keyboards.

The Mahaiwe continues a great weekend Sunday night with an entirely different sound, with a starting time at 7 p.m. "Marin Mazzie & Jason Danieley: Broadway and Beyond" is a show filled with Great American Songbook tunes from shows like "Ragtime," "Passion," "Kiss Me Kate" (revival of course), "The Full Monty," "Curtains" and "The Visit."

You can bet "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" will be part of the Monday, June 25, evening at the Mahaiwe starring Pat Benatar and guitarist/producer Neil Giraldo. It's an acoustic evening, but surely everyone will be singing along to Pat's hits. Details can be found online.

 

Mass MoCA

Get ready for the invasion of the Taylor family. Mass MoCA on Saturday, June 23, presents "An Evening With Sally Taylor and Friends," including the singer-songwriter's illustrious mom Carly Simon with brother Ben Taylor and Sophie Hiller. (Sally's dad James will be coming July 3 and 4 to Tanglewood.)

Additional participants include fellow next generation R&B sensation Kori Withers, daughter of Bill Withers; blues guitarist Eric Erdman; and hip-hop artist and producer John Forte, formerly of the Fugees; with a dance performance by Alison Manning and Jesse Keller.

The evening celebrates the multi-media project "Come to Your Senses" curated by Sally in Mass MoCA's Kidspace. Details online.

 

And there's more…

At Mr. Finn's, the Barrington Stage cabaret at 36 Linden St., Pittsfield, Sunday and Monday, June 24 and June 25, come see and hear Charles Busch in "My Kinda Sixties," his fun-filled trip through a tumultuous decade with stories and songs from Broadway to Pop, featuring the work of Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb, the Beatles, Henry Mancini, Bob Dylan, Stephen Sondheim, and Kander and Ebb. Details online. https://barringtonstageco.org/mrfinns/

Finally, for something completely different, plan now for hip-hop/vogue/house program at that shrine to dance, Jacob's Pillow in Becket. Opening Wednesday, June 27, is Ephrat Asherie Dance. Her company performs the world premiere of Odeon, a high-energy, hybrid hip-hop work set to and inspired by the music of early 20th century Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth, played live. The show runs through July 1. The complete schedule can be found on Jacob's Pillow's website.

For tips on upcoming music, please contact Grace Lichtenstein by email.

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