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Jaimeo Brown and his ensemble, Transcendence, comes to Mass MoCA on Saturday, Aug. 18.

Unique Musical Shows Coming to Berkshires This Week

By Grace LichtensteinGuest Column
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'Gotta Dance: New Faces for Broadway' comes to Jacob's Pillow on Aug. 19.

It's an unusual week for music in the Berkshires, with one-offs on offer at two of the major venues in the county. Don't miss these unique shows!

Jacob's Pillow

A benefit at Jacob's Pillow called "Gotta Dance: New Faces for Broadway” is among the highlights of the summer at the Pillow near Becket. 

With an onstage band, the show, once called "A Jazz Happening," was created by director/choreographer Chet Walker, playwright Shaun McKenna and composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz features original numbers that provide a chance for all to see new work being readied for the Broadway stage. 

The show includes an onstage band and is set for 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at the Pillow's Ted Shawn Theatre. More information is on the Pillow website.

Guthrie Center

If you didn't know who he was, you surely know his songs. The Guthrie Center presents a tribute to legendary songwriter Doc Pomus, whose hits included "Save the Last Dance for Me” and "This Magic Moment.”

Led by Marshall Crenshaw, Willie Nile and Christine Ohlman, the show will have you singing along Saturday, Aug. 18, at 8 p.m. Info online.

Mass MoCA

The North Adams art museum continues its expanded series of shows with Jaimeo Brown and his ensemble, Transcendence, on Saturday, Aug. 18, at 8 p.m. The music, with his collaborators Chris Sholar and Jaleel Shaw, is described as a melange of jazz, hip hop and blues.

It will be outdoors, weather permitting, and is presented in "confluence” with Allison Janae Hamilton's exhibit "Pitch" at the museum. There's a political message here: the show includes Brown's "Work Songs,” sampling the music of the jailhouse, the coal mine and the gandy dancer. The idea, says Brown, is that songs can transcend oppression and constraints on creativity. Check out the website for details.


As part of the Saturday, Aug. 18, program at the Shed at 8 p.m., the Boston Symphony Orchestra performs "Fancy Free,” a fully staged version of the irresistible jazz ballet by Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins that rocketed the two to stardom in 1944. The Boston Ballet under artistic director Mikko Nissinen will do the dancing while maestro Andris Nelsons conducts the BSO. Info on Tanglewood's website.

Barrington Stage

And speaking of Bernstein, the production of "West Side Story,” which was greeted with ecstatic reviews, continues through Sept. 1 at the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage in Pittsfield. It's perhaps the greatest musical ever directed with verve and professionalism by Juilianne Boyd and scintillating choreography reproduced by Robert La Fosse. 

If you have not seen it in a while (or ever), here's your chance. Find all the schedule and ticket information online.

And there's more ...

The lounge at the Gateways Inn in Lenox features easy-going music just about every night from 7:30 p.m. on. So does the Lion's Den at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, with a different performer every night starting at 8 or 9 p.m. seven nights a week. Info online.

The Town of Great Barrington Summer Concert Series barrels ahead with a free concert Friday, Aug. 17, by First Take Band with MaryAnn Palermo, which styles itself as funk and blues. The music runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at the Gazebo behind Town Hall. 

The Egremont Barn at the Egremont Village Inn hosts Peter Mulvey with special guest Jenny Rubin on Friday, Aug. 17, and Honeysuckle with Sam Moss, a progressive folk act on Saturday, Aug. 18. Info on the website.

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DA's Office, Pittsfield Schools Collaborate on Early Intervention Grant

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Brooke Bridges, founder of Building Bridges SEL, explains how the program works. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A collaboration of the Berkshire District attorney's office and the Pittsfield Public Schools is using $25,000 in seed money in hopes of growing a sustainable program for social emotional learning in the schools. 
The program, Tuned Transitions, is being funded through a grant from the state Department of Probation and will be implemented in the Conte and Morningside community schools for Grades 2 through 5. The curriculum was developed by Brooke Bridges, founder of Building Bridges SEL, a mental health advocacy and coaching organization.
"I have to say, as a parent, I understand how much the closing of schools and the switch to virtual learning has impacted children," said District Attorney Andrea Harrington at a press conference at Conte School on Wednesday. "And the disparity between children who are able to live in a safe home, children who are able to have access to education, and those who do not during the pandemic is going to be the social justice issues of our time."
Bridges will be the facilitator for the program, which will use personal storytelling as the focus to aid children in working through their experiences and challenges. Her business was inspired by her overcoming her own mental and social challenges as a child actor in Los Angeles. The program is evidence-based and is based off the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, program used in schools. 
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