Marathon music

Bang on a Can All-Stars will perform at Saturday's Marathon

by Seth Rogovoy

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., July 24, 2003) -- Among the composers whose works will be featured in this Saturday’s Bang on a Can Summer Marathon at the Hunter Center at Mass MoCA (413-662-2111) is Louis Andriessen. Born into a prominent Dutch family of composers, Andriessen studied composition at an early age with his father Hendrik, before going on to study with Kees van Barren at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag. After winning the Conservatory’s prize for composition, he went to Milan and later Berlin to study with Luciano Berio. Andriessen, who has been in residence at MoCA for the last three weeks teaching at the Bang on a Can Summer Institute, is a revered figure on the new-music scene both for his compositions, which as heard on the terrific album, “Gigantic Dancing Human Machine: Bang on a Can Plays Louis Andriessen,” add an aggressive, dynamic punch to a bed of American minimalism, and for his renowned skills as a teacher – students reportedly flock to the Hague from all over the world to study with Andriessen.

While the Marathon program is tweaked and twisted up until the last minute, it is sure to include Andriessen’s “Hoketus,” a 24-minute work of industrial-patterned bliss. New-music pioneer Steve Reich will also be on hand to introduce his piece, “Sextet,” and the Marathon – in which institute attendees perform alongside faculty drawn from the Bang on a Can All-Stars and other professional guest musicians -- will also include a performance of Bang co-founder Julia Wolfe’s “Full Dark Ride” for four drum sets; Frederic Rzewski’s “De Profundis,” a mammoth piano solo by Lisa Moore; and performances by the Summer Institute Electric Guitar Quartet and the Summer Institute Flute Quartet.

The Marathon begins at 4 and runs until approximately 10. While a few stalwarts sit through the entire six hours, it is de rigueur for listeners to arrive at any time and to walk in and out during the performance. This insures that everyone’s experience of the Marathon is unique.

Classic rock in new package

It’s hard to find that classic-rock sound in new packages these days among major pop artists -- the sound of rootsy, catchy epic tunes like the ones that Bob Seger and John Mellencamp used to take to the top of the charts. But “Crunch,” a new CD by Berkshire singer-songwriter Tom Ingersoll arrives just in time to satisfy the appetite of anyone who has been hungering for some old-fashioned, guitar-driven, blue-collar rock ‘n’ roll. A homegrown affair, the album, featuring 10 original songs by Ingersoll, was produced by Todd Mack at his Off the Beat ‘n Track studio in Southfield. It features a veritable who’s who of Berkshire instrumental and vocal talent, including Steve Ide, Rob Putnam, Dave Lincoln, Jim Reynolds, Bobby Sweet, Joe Rose, Thom and Beth Whaley, Sharon Foehl, and Mack. It also features a special guest appearance by New York City blues guitarist Popa Chubby, whom Ingersoll grabbed and dragged into the studio when he was up in the area to perform at Club Helsinki. South County listeners can hear Ingersoll perform live on WKZE (98.1 FM) out of Sharon, Conn., tonight at 10 on Todd Mack’s “Off the Beat ‘n Track Radio Hour.” Ingersoll will celebrate the release of “Crunch” with a free concert at Berkshire South Community Center in Great Barrington on Saturday at 4.

Stripped-down Irish duets

A listener is immediately struck by the power of simplicity inherent in Matt and Shannon Heaton’s stripped-down, traditional-style Irish music. On their upcoming album, “Dearga,” which means red in Gaelic, the husband-and-wife duo who met in Chicago and now call Boston home work up a head of frothy steam on guitar and flute duets and vocal numbers that strip Irish music to its dazzling, melodic essence without sacrificing any of its rhythmic impact. Although solidly rooted in Irish tradition, the group’s repertoire betrays its familiarity with American jazz, blues, folk and country music. The duo are at the Dream Away Lodge (413-623-8725) in Becket on Saturday night.

Festival Frenzy

What with jazz fans being served up a host of acts at this weekend’s Berkshire Jazz Festival at Ski Butternut, beginning tomorrow night and running through Sunday, and folk fans already lining the hillside at the Long Hill Farm in Hillsdale, N.Y., where the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival gets underway today and runs through Sunday, what’s a jam-rock fan to do? Go to the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, N.Y., just a few minutes outside of Albany, where Camp Creek (, one of the nation’s longest-running music festivals, takes place Friday through Sunday. For nearly 20 years, the granddaddy of New England jam-bands, Max Creek, has hosted the Camp Creek festival, which this year includes performances by Strangefolk, Tom Tom Club, Jen Durkin and the Bomb Squad, Railroad Earth, The Recipe, Seth Yacovone, Fuzz and the Gratuitous Sextet, Flipper Dave, David Gans, Oak Street and the Berkshires’ own Reverend Tor Band.

And for those looking for something completely different, the eclectic FrancoFolies de Montreal celebrates its 15th anniversary season with 15 special events from today through August 3. The music, all with a French accent, ranges from pop to jazz to rock to cabaret to electronic to world-beat, including Claude Leveillee, Souad Massi, Stephan Eicher, Juliette Greco, Michel Rivard, and an orchestral tribute to Jacques Brel. The festival, which includes 150 free outdoor performances and 50 indoor shows, features French-speaking performers from all over the world on six stages all on the festival site in downtown Montreal. For more info visit

[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on July 24, 2003. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2003. All rights reserved.]

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