Great Jazz, Super Musicals Wrap Up Summer Music Scene
The final days of August bring a rush of terrific jazz, a dance party and musical comedies to all corners of the Berkshires.
Berkshire Jazz Showcase
Head for the Pittsfield Common on Saturday, Aug. 25, for a brand new enterprise, the the first Berkshire Jazz Showcase. Between 1 and 6 p.m. five of the area's most popular bands will take the stage for an extravaganza: The Lucky 5, Gruppo Mondo, the Ben Kohn Quartet, the Jason Ennis Quintet with vocalist Natalia Bernal and Andy Kelly Gypsy Jazz.
Founder Ed Bride explains that the event offers a showcase for local talent and a signature jazz event with artists who "could easily establish careers in jazz havens like New York, Chicago" et al but who remain in the Berkshires for "our quality of life and the appreciation of their art."
The showcase is free. Bring your own chairs and blankets. Vendors will be on hand for local treats. Information can be found online.
In Chatham, N.Y., the Mac-Haydn season winds up with a production of the uplifting musical "Annie," beginning with a matinee on Thursday, Aug. 23, and running through Sunday, Sept. 2. Annabel Feigen and Rieleigh Smith share the lead in this good-hearted show, while Monica M. Wemmit is Miss Hannigan and George Dvorsky is Daddy Warbucks. Info online.
The Theater Barn
At the Theater Barn in New Lebanon, N.Y., "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," which began its run Aug. 12, ends on Sept. 2. With its witty book by Rachel Sheinkin and music by William Finn, this is fun for the entire family. Information can be found on the website.
Gotta dance? Gotta eat sweets? Both will be on tap (or swing, or whatever) at the season finale of Jacob's Pillow on Saturday, Aug. 25. After a performance of either "Stars of the American Ballet" or "ODC/Dance," the Pillow lawn at about 9 p.m. turns into an outdoor dance floor for everyone, with free desserts and a cash bar.
The music will be spun by Jules Jenssen DJ. Combined tickets for the individual performances and party, or for a dance-party-only ticket, are available. Check out the website for details.
Looking Ahead ...
Although this is the last column of the summer, there are still a stellar attractions to look forward to in the weeks beyond. Among them are:
Tanglewood: Wynton Marsalis Jr. Quintet plus special guest Ellis Marsalis Quintet bring a Crescent City vibe to Tanglewood on Saturday, Sept 1, at 7 p.m. The Marsalis clan is the first jazz family of New Orleans, as everyone knows, and the patriarch, Ellis, now 83 years old, is the man responsible for Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason. (We dare not leave out their mother, Dolores.)
Ellis and his quintet will make a special appearance at a special concert by Wynton, the trumpeter, bandleader, educator and composer and his quintet. It promises to be a memorable evening. Information online.
Great Barrington Summer Concerts: The free series continues every Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. with Lee Rogers & Friends on Fri. Aug 24 and Rock Steady on Aug. 31
Mass MoCA: The final regular concert of the summer features Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles Sat. Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. Then, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 14-16, watch Fresh Grass, the three-day festival of familiar and new talent, grow in North Adams. Expect four stages, plus music in the courtyards and galleries. The lineup of pop, country, jazz, r&b and grassroots includes Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Flogging Molly, the Indigo Girls, Béla Fleck and Rhiannon Giddens.
The music begins at 6 p.m. Friday and at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and continues late into the night at the indoor Hunter Center. Information online.
I hope to be back next summer with previews on the exciting pop events in the region.
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