Trick or treat ... or music?
by Seth Rogovoy

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., October 24, 2002) – Just because you’re too old to go door-to-door begging for candy on Halloween night, that doesn’t mean you have to stay at home and watch TV. There are plenty of musical events being planned for next Thursday night for the post-trick-or-treat set throughout the Berkshires and the greater region.

Folk-rock singer-songwriter Sky Smeed – South County’s answer to John Mellencamp – headlines a Halloween party at Club Helsinki at 9, while Steve Ide and Rob Putnam entertain at a Halloween dance party at the Castle Street Café, both in Great Barrington. At the Dream Away Lodge in Becket, folk group the Mammals share the bill with Suitcase.

Mass MoCA in North Adams is hosting a multi-media Halloween dance party featuring the sounds of electronic world-music collective GlobeSonic. Deejays Sultan32, Acidophilus and Addis Pace, as well as VJ Vaunteye, will be spinning tunes and images drawn from the global collective memory at the Mass MoCA party, which begins at 8 and includes prizes for best costume.

Drawing heavily on world music, including Asian massive, Arab electronica and Brazilian jungle, GlobeSonic parties boast an international soundtrack.

In a phone interview from Paris earlier this week, DJ Acidophilus – known to his childhood friends as Bill Bragin -- said that GlobeSonic is “an ongoing, DJ-driven party focusing on the intersection between electronic and world music, finding connections between different rhythms around the world, including local rhythms as well as contemporary dance rhythms.”

In addition to his work as a DJ, Bragin also works as a music presenter, currently programming events at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater in New York. Previously, he worked at Central Park SummerStage, Symphony Space, and the Boston Globe Jazz Festival.

Bragin said that the common denominator between his work as a DJ and as a presenter is in making musical connections.

“The work I do as a presenter of live music is about making connections for audiences between all different kinds of music I love and helping people to see all the uniquenesses that there are, but also that it’s universal without losing or sacrificing that uniqueness,” said Bragin, who when we caught up with him in Paris was on his way to Germany where he was to meet up with his GlobeSonic mates for a world-music showcase at the WOMEX conference.

Bragin said that his approach to programming Joe’s Pub is very much akin to his work as a DJ.

“It’s a very open canvas,” he said. “There’s virtually nothing that I can’t present in that room, so I’ll present Malian artists or Nick Lowe or the Kronos Quartet or flamenco dance or performance art or slam poetry.

“The lack of boundaries -- it’s all about how you present it and find ways to make people understand how it’s all related.”

In a manifesto published on his website, GlobeSonic founder DJ Sultan32, aka Fabian Alsultany, writes about GlobeSonic’s mission, “People have crossed borders, relocated far from their ancestral homes, raising families in cities where twenty-first-century children have multiple identities that link them to more than one nation. At the current speed of globalization, the increase of different types of world musics reflect the hybridity and intermingling and recreation of cultural forms through music. We are far from reaching harmony, but this provides an opening into what harmony or peace might sound like.”

Also on Halloween night, the Philip Glass Ensemble, featuring the famed minimalist composer, performs Glass’s original soundtrack to Bela Lugosi’s classic, 1931 version of “Dracula” at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton. The original film had no musical score and very few sound effects. Glass originally was commissioned to write a score for the film for the Kronos Quartet in 1998, and he has since rearranged it for his own ensemble. This program is also at the Egg in Albany on Wednesday night.

Those wanting a head-start on Halloween can get a jump on things tomorrow night in the “haunted” barn at Bucksteep Manor, where a “Halloween Jam” featuring jam-rock bands including the Reverend Tor Band, Mountains of Venus, and Gadams Equation starts at 8.


[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on October 25, 2002. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2002. All rights reserved.]

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