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Wilco's extravagant, hugely popular Solid Sound Festival comes to Mass MoCA this weekend.

Gearing Up for Old and New Pop Idols

By Grace LichtensteinGuest Column
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Alan Freed. Queen. Earth, Wind & Fire. Southside Johnny. These are among the treats awaiting Berkshire pop and dance enthusiasts in the week before July 4.

Berkshire Theatre Group

Older folks surely remember the pioneering DJ Alan Freed, who practically invented rock 'n' roll radio (for white listeners) back in the day. The music was considered dangerous in the beginning and Freed was a pied piper leading teenagers astray. Now, at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield, the Berkshire Theatre Group and Caiola Productions presents a new musical, "Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story," starting Thursday June 27. The show runs through July 21.

Even those who don't recall Freed will recognize the black artists he championed — the likes of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, LaVern Baker, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Screamin' Jay Hawkins.

With live music, starring Tony Award-nominated Alan Campbell as Freed, the show is directed by Tony Award-nominee Randal Myler. The music direction is by Dave Keyes and choreography is by Brian Reeder.

Details and tickets the the BTC website.


Moving ahead to the late 1960a and '70s, the Boston Pops under the baton of James Burton takes on the legacy of Queen, with Freddy Mercury's vocals voiced by Marc Martel, who did some of the singing in the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody" and who fronts a widely acclaimed Queen tribute band. Put Thursday night, June 27 at 8 p.m. at the Koussevitzky Music Shed, on your calendar for the show or order tickets online; the best seats are selling quickly.

Then come back to the Shed on Friday, June 28, at 7 p.m. for the exciting Earth, Wind & Fire, the many-sided band that brought together elements of funk, R&B, soul and pop. Although lead singer Maurice White passed in 2016, several early members of the band are still on hand to lead you though its stirring legacy.

Ready for a current sound? There's a matinee Sunday, June 30, at 2:30 p.m. at the Shed with Rodrigo y Gabriela, a Mexican acoustic guitar duo that has been selling out shows here in the United States as well as abroad. Their rhythmic sound surely will turn listeners into dancers.

For more info go online.

Jacob's Pillow

Speaking of dancers, there is nothing more toe-tapping than Flamenco. The Pillow welcomes the stars of Cuba's Compañía Irene Rodríguez from Wednesday, June 26, at 8 p.m. through Sunday, June 30, at its Ted Shawn Theatre. This group, with live music, updates the historic traditions of Flamenco, sold out their debut show at the Pillow in 2017, so be sure to order your tickets now.

Also this week, get to know Abby Z and the New Utility at the Doris Duke Theatre. It's a Pillow debut for Abby Zbikowski and company, with their high-powered intensity and extreme physicality that draws on tap, hip-hop, West African, postmodern, and a deep-rooted punk aesthetic. Shows start Wednesday, June 26, at 8:15 p.m. and run through Sunday, June 30.

Details and tickets online.

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

The venerable theater in Great Barrington turns the southern Berkshires into a slice of the Jersey Shore on Satursday, June 29, with the appearance of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at 8 p.m. If you're a fan of this horn-heavy, ole-timey band, which has long been associated with Bruce Springsteen, get ready to sing along.

More info and tickets online.

Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort

Its not too soon to laugh your head off at national politics, says Capitol Steps. The truly funny musical satire group returns to Cranwell's Harvest Barn starting Fri. June 28 with its latest show based on their upcoming album, "The Lyin' Kings." Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, whatever— all are welcomed. More info and tickets online.

Mass MoCA

Wilco's extravagant, hugely popular Solid Sound Festival, running June 28-30, is sold out, but there may still be tickets via an exchange and your can put your email on a list. For more info, go here.

A future note: The appearance at Mass MoCA of Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders is a month away, but tickets are available in advance now at the Mass MoCA website.


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Berkshire United Way, Miraval Offer Getaway to Essential Worker

LENOX, Mass. — Berkshire United Way and Miraval Berkshires have teamed up to honor an essential worker or first responder on the front lines of relief efforts in Berkshire County during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Berkshire United Way, which has helped provide relief grants to nonprofit organizations helping the most vulnerable populations throughout the pandemic, has created an online nomination form here. Self-nominations will be accepted and individuals may also request a nomination form by emailing
Nominations are currently open and the deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2. Submissions will be pooled together and one recipient will be selected at random. The person selected will receive a four-day, three-night all-expenses-paid wellness getaway for two guests, including food and experiences, at Miraval Berkshires' newly opened resort in Lenox, the former Cranwell. The recipient and their guest must be 18 years or older and the offer is valid for 12 months (black-out dates apply).
"Throughout this pandemic, we have recognized the challenges and triumphs our essential workers have experienced," said Candace Winkler, president and CEO of Berkshire United Way, in a statement. "Today is the perfect day to launch this exciting endeavor to find a well-deserving recipient with this generous offering from Miraval Berkshires. As a new business here, we are happy to partner with them on this effort."
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