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Weekend Preview May 19-24
Bob Dylan tributes, Deborah Voigt, Tom Paxton, Bill Kirchen, John Kirk and Trish Miller

Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday in Style
Paying tribute to the greatest rock songwriter ever

FILM REVIEW: In a Better World and Of Gods and Men
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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Deborah Voigt Headlines Mahaiwe Gala
Opera star to sing arias, show tunes on Saturday, May 21

Famed Spiritual Teacher to Speak on Nonviolence
Mother Maya in free talk at Sruti Yoga in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday May 20 at 7pm

Special Effects Wizard to Be Honored by Film Festival
Doug Trumbull to be Feted by BIFF

Weekend Preview May 12-16
Cultural Highlights of the Berkshire Weekend

Talk about a small world
Elaine and I grew up together, but only just recently met....

Berkshire Living to Cease Publication
A Farewell from Publisher Michael Zivyak

twiGs Branches Out
Lenox boutique launches new e-tail site

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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Weekend Cultural Highlights


Paul Sparks and Nate Corddry in True West at WTF [photo by Sam Hough/courtesy WTF]

For the first time ever, the Williamstown Theatre Festival is presenting a play by Sam Shepard on its main stage. WTF has gone back to Shepard’s 1980 classic of sibling rivalry, True West, which originally starred Tommy Lee Jones and Peter Boyle. Other great pairings of actors in this play have included Gary Sinise with John Malkovich and Philip Seymour Hoffman with John C. Reilly.

At Williamstown, Nate Corddry and Paul Sparks face off against each other in one of Shepard’s more conventional narratives, playing Austin and Lee, long estranged brothers who find themselves near-lethally reunited in their mother’s house while vying for the affection of a movie producer as dueling screenwriters, a sly commentary by Shepard on American myths by and about Hollywood. Sparks is terrifyingly explosive as Lee, a sociopath who upends his brother's life in this modern-day version of the Cain and Abel story.

Also running at Williamstown is the final weekend of the world premiere of a new play by Jonathan Marc Sherman called Knickerbocker. This production, about the anxieties of an expectant father, features two brief but terrific performances by veteran stage and screen actors Bob Dishy and Peter Dinklage, who are together worth the price of admission alone.

The annual Green River Festival takes place this Friday and Saturday on the grounds of Greenfield Community College (I-91, Exit 26, Greenfield, Mass.).

This year’s festival marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Western Massachusetts-based record label Signature Sounds, presenting Signature Sounds artists including Chris Smither, Crooked Still, Richard Shindell, Winterpills, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, Kris Delmhorst, Eilen Jewell, Tracy Grammer, Jim Henry, Peter Mulvey, and Sometymes Why.

Other festival headliners include Michael Franti & Spearhead, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Kathleen Edwards, Dave Alvin and The Guilty Women (featuring Laurie Lewis, Cindy Cashdollar and others), and Justin Townes Earle.

The festival combines music on two stages, food, crafts, a dance tent, a wide array of kid’s activities and entertainment, and hot air balloons.

It’s a mini-festival of American roots-music talent at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington this weekend, featuring banjo and slide-guitar virtuoso Tony Furtado leading his Caravan of Thieves into the club on Saturday night for an evening of alternative Gypsy swing, followed on Sunday by Appalachian country-folk singer-songwriter Iris Dement, in a rare, intimate club gig.

At Tanglewood on Friday night, music director James Levine leads the BSO in a performance of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony – one of his greatest hits – with Leon Fleisher lending his talents at the keyboard on Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 – also a good one.

The weekend at Tanglewood in Lenox includes the annual Film Night with John Williams conducting the Boston Pops on Saturday night. This year, Williams is joined by three-time Tony Award winner Frank Langella, fresh off his Oscar-nominated portrayal of Richard Nixon. Langella will narrate the second half of the evening’s program, which pays tribute to Warner Bros. Studios with excerpts from classic film scores accompanied by film clips from legendary movies including Casablanca and The Seahawk, as well as selections from Williams’ own scores for Superman, Harry Potter, and E.T. The evening will also include tributes to Errol Flynn, James Dean, and Bette Davis.

The weekend at Tanglewood concludes on Sunday afternoon with an all-Mozart program, with Levine conducting the BSO in Wolfgang’s symphonies number 39, 40, and 41 – hike!

Aston Magna brings down the curtain on its summer early music series this weekend with a multimedia presentation called “Music from the Age of Goya.” Under the direction of guitarist Richard Savino, the program features Spanish and Italian music in the late Baroque, Classical and early Romantic periods, in a concert enhanced with images of Goya’s paintings.

Soprano Jennifer Ellis-Kampani will be accompanied by a chamber ensemble at Olin Auditorium at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., on Friday at 8; at the Daniel Arts Center at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, Mass., on Saturday at 6; and at The Clark in Williamstown, Mass., on Sunday at 3.

On Monday night, the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield presents actor Jeff Daniels in concert. Yes, you read that right. The star of films including Terms of Endearment, the Squid and the Whale, and Good Night and Good Luck reinvents himself as a singer-songwriter in the vein of Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt and Guy Clark

On Tuesday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m., at Congregation Knesset Israel(16 Colt Rd, Pittsfield, Mass., 413.445.4872), Berkshire Living editor-in-chief Seth Rogovoy will offer a sneak preview of his upcoming book, Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet (forthcoming from Scribner in late 2009), in Bob Dylan's Mystical Midrash, a multimedia presentation that illuminates the Jewish influence of Bob Dylan's life, career and music.

A close examination of his songs reveals Dylan has a deep and profound knowledge of the Bible, Talmud and Kabbalah and his overall career is best appreciated when seen in the context of the Jewish prophetic tradition, which in large part accounts for his enduring popularity and appeal.

Tuesday’s presentation may feature a surprise live performance.

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