Klezmania hits region

Naftule's Dream brings a regionwide klezmer weekend to a close at Club Helsinki on Sunday night

by Seth Rogovoy

(GREAT BARRINGTON, April 24, 2003) – It’s an all-klezmer weekend in the greater region. In addition to Sunday night’s concert by avant-klezmer group Naftule’s Dream at Club Helsinki, two premiere klezmer bands bookend the Hudson Valley on Saturday night, when Boston-based klezmer-fusion band Klezperanto is at the WAMC Performing Arts Center in Albany [full disclosure: I will be hosting that concert and signing copies of my book, “The Essential Klezmer”], and Margot Leverett’s Klezmer Mountain Boys, who fuse old-time bluegrass and klezmer (and who will be at Helsinki on May 31), are at the Rosendale Café in Rosendale, N.Y.

Performing arts at Bard

If the opening events this weekend and next at the new Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., is any indication of the sort of programming that one might expect some day at the similar facility slated for Williams College in Williamstown, the cultural scene can look forward to an infusion of stellar creativity.

The Bard venue will be hosting an array of orchestral, chamber and jazz concerts, theater and dance this weekend and next. Among those perofrming are the Charles Mingus Orchestra with special guest vocalist Elvis Costello, soloists David Krakauer on clarinet and Richard Teitelbaum on keyboards, the Emerson String Quartet, the Thurman Barker Quintet, and the Kronos Quartet in collaboration with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Lee Shaw to Scofield in one giant step

While the Williamstown Jazz Festival is in full swing this weekend with shows tonight by John Scofield’s jam-band at Mass MoCA in North Adams and tomorrow night by Kenny Barron’s Canta Brasil ensemble at Chapin Hall on the Williams College campus, fans of straight-ahead jazz shouldn’t overlook tonight’s gig by Capitol Region pianist Lee Shaw, who leads her trio at Castle Street Café in Great Barrington.

While Shaw, a protégé of Oscar Peterson, is firmly in the mainstream acoustic jazz world, there’s only one degree of separation between Shaw and Scofield’s jazz-rock. Scofield’s like-minded, some-time sideman, keyboardist John Medeski (whose band, Medeski, Martin and Wood, headlines this summer’s BerkFest in Great Barrington), spent several formative years in his teens studying harmony and theory with Shaw, a faculty adjunct at the College of Saint Rose since 1983, and a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

Max Creek celebrates

The Connecticut-based band Max Creek has been jamming for more years than the term “jam-band” has been in common usage. And for much of that time -- especially in its early years when the group got its start at the ill-fated, late, lamented Woody’s Roadhouse in Washington -- the group has viewed the Berkshires as a second home of sorts. Which is why Max Creek chooses to base its annual anniversary weekend, or “Creekend,” in the Berkshires.

The 32nd Anniversary Max Creek “Creekend” takes place at Eastover Resort in Lenox, where Max Creek will be in residence today through tomorrow night, along with the like-minded jam-band Reverend Tor, members of Flipper Dave, and other friends, special guests and former members of the band. For more information visit

Folk favorites

Three familiar favorites headline tomorrow night’s Pittsfield FolkFest in the Boland Theatre at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, the fourth such annual event.

Berkshire folk fans need little introduction to Bill Morrissey, the dean of New England singer-songwriters and a perennial favorite on the local scene, having performed frequently at the Guthrie Center and as the headliner at a previous Pittsfield FolkFest.

Same for Nerissa and Katryna Nields, the sister duo that got its start as a trio at the Williams Inn in Williamstown before morphing into a folk-rock quintet at area venues like the Night Shift Café in North Adams and the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. More recently, the group has performed in its duo format at the Berkshire Museum and at Club Helsinki.

Berkshire native Adam Michael Rothberg, a stalwart of the local music scene as a songwriter, performer and producer, holds down the slot reserved annually for a local artist in this annual showcase of top new-folk talent. Call 499-4660, ext. 291, for information.

[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on April 25, 2003. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2003. All rights reserved.]

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