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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 Preview May 19-24


Chamber-rock group Girls in Trouble will debut songs off Half You Half Me, its brand-new sophomore album, at Spotty Dog Books & Ale on Friday, May 20, at 8. The group is the creative outlet for an ongoing song-cycle about the forgotten women of the Bible by singer/guitarist/fiddler Alicia Jo Rabins -- a former member of groups including Golem and the Mammals.

Inspired by storyteller-songwriters such as Leonard Cohen and Joanna Newsom, bandleader Alicia Jo Rabins creates first-person songs based on obscure stories of Biblical women, investigating the hidden places where their complicated lives overlap with hers.

Half You Half Me retains the emotional vulnerability and poetic focus of Girls in Trouble’s self-titled debut, while broadening the band’s sound into eclectic, atmospheric landscapes. Although drawn from ancient scripture, the dramas told in the songs are utterly contemporary and speak of timeless human -- and female -- challenges, struggles, heartbreaks, and triumphs.

Alicia Jo Rabins is a Brooklyn-based poet, songwriter, biblical scholar and violinist. Girls in Trouble began as a way to get out of writing her master’s thesis and developed into a full band that has toured together across America and Europe. Alicia wrote Half You Half Me on an acoustic guitar in the tiny apartment she shares with husband/bassist Aaron Hartman (Old Time Relijun, K Records), who helped transform the album’s songs into their full gorgeousness: intimate vocals surrounded by electric guitars, big drums, analog synths, and Alicia’s intricate violin arrangements.

Girls in Trouble returns to the region with a performance at the Dream Away Lodge in Becket, Mass., on May 29.


The annual Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Saturday, May 21, at 8, will feature opera’s great dramatic soprano, Deborah Voigt, accompanied by Brian Zeger, in a recital performance of both opera and Broadway standards. The next night, the Mahaiwe presents the Wailers, the band that officially carries on the legacy of reggae legend Bob Marley.

Deborah Voigt has made her mark in popular Italian operatic parts, such as Tosca, Aida, and Amelia. Her “home” opera house is the Metropolitan Opera, where she wowed critics and fans alike with her turn this year as Puccini's quintessential New World heroine, Minnie, in the Met’s centenary staging of La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) – with one performance broadcast “Live in HD” from the Met last January to 46 countries worldwide. This month, she takes on one of the greatest opera roles in the repertoire for the first time: Brunnhilde in Robert Lepage's highly anticipated new Met production of Wagner's Die Walkure.

Tickets to the Mahaiwe Gala, which will benefit the Mahaiwe’s year-round programming fund, are $67 to $127 (for the performance) and $500, which includes a post-performance reception with Ms. Voigt.

On Sunday, May 22 at 7, the Wailers will perform with original members Aston “Family Man” Barrett on bass and Carlton “Carlie” Barrett on drums. The Barrett brothers, originally members of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s studio band The Upsetters, were part of the team that performed and recorded with Bob Marley throughout the 1970s at the height of his fame and creative influence, on songs including “Lively Up Yourself,” “Trenchtown Rock,” and “Simmer Down” and “Get Up, Stand Up.”

For tickets and information, see Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center or call 413.528.0100.


A long, busy weekend of music at Club Helsinki in Hudson, N.Y., kicks off on Thursday, May 19 with a double-bill of world-influenced indie rock by Fifth Veil and Yassou Benedict, followed on Friday night by another double-bill featuring the Eastern European-sounds of Underscore Orkestra, providing the soundtrack for a belly-dance presentation, and the old-school jazz of Lucky Five. On Saturday, May 21, guitar legend Bill Kirchen brings his Telecaster twang to the club. The club’s two-night celebration of Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday kicks off on Sunday, May 22, at 7, when Bob Dylan author Seth Rogovoy presents his multimedia program, The Kabbalah of Bob Dylan, plus a live tribute concert, followed by an all-night tribute to Dylan by top regional performers on Tuesday, May 24.

The Portland Oregon-based Underscore Orkestra plays a little bit of everything, including traditional folk songs, swing standards and slow, gorgeous instrumentals, including klezmer, Balkan, Gypsy jazz and swing. The Underscore Orkestra will also be featuring a music and belly dance extravaganza called Revel Me! The performance seamlessly blends belly and contemporary dance vignettes with syncopated compositions.

The Lucky Five plays hard-swinging old-school jazz. The quintet, featuring musicians from a handful of popular outfits between New York City and the Berkshires, brings vitality, high energy, and an unpredictable impulse to the tradition of jazz from the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s.

There is nothing that beats the twangy sound of the Telecaster electric guitar, especially when it’s being wielded by Telecaster legend Bill Kirchen. Kirchen lays his rootsy brilliance on the stage with his band, the TwangBangers rhythm section featuring Johnny Castle on bass and Jack O’Dell on drums, collectively known as Too Much Fun, who’ve been working with Kirchen for over 10 years. The band celebrates an American musical tradition where country music draws upon its origins in blues and bluegrass, and in the Western swing of Texas and California honky-tonks.

Bill Kirchen first gained renown as lead guitarist and a vocalist for Commander Cody & his Lost Planet Airmen, the renegade country-rock band that tuned a whole generation of rock fans into the joys of unvarnished country, boogie and rockabilly. It was the resonant twang of Kirchen’s battered Telecaster that drove "Hot Rod Lincoln" into the Top Ten in 1972. Kirchen has played guitar on recordings and performances with Gene Vincent, Link Wray, Danny Gatton, Emmylou Harris, Hoyt Axton, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello. Kirchen also received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance 2001.

On Sunday, May 22, at 7, two days before Bob Dylan turns 70 years old, Seth Rogovoy, author of the critical biography, Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet, presents The Kabbalah of Bob Dylan, a multimedia journey in word, music, and imagery, through the life and songs of the great rock poet. Rogovoy’s presentation examines how Dylan’s Jewish background and lifetime interest in the prophetic tradition has influenced his songwriting, and features rare video footage of Dylan raising money for Jewish causes and quoting a Hebrew prayer at a Grammy Awards ceremony.

The multimedia event also features a Dylan tribute by Seth Rogovoy and the Grove Street Band, and includes a book signing for BOB DYLAN: Prophet Mystic Poet, courtesy of the Spotty Dog Books & Ale.

In keeping with years of tradition, Club Helsinki Hudson will honor Bob Dylan on the occasion of his 70th birthday on May 24 at 7 with Forever Young: A Bob Dylan Birthday Tribute Concert, featuring top regional performers and special guests performing songs by the great rock poet.

For many years, Dylan fans and the merely curious crowded Club Helsinki in Great Barrington, Mass., for this annual occasion marking the birthday of the single most influential artist in American music in the last half-century. This year, with the expanded audience space and larger stage provided by Club Helsinki’s new home in Hudson, N.Y., there promises to be an even bigger birthday celebration, befitting the artist’s 70th birthday and marking a half-century since he arrived in Greenwich Village and within a matter of months made a huge splash on the nascent folk scene there.

Rob Sanzone, Helsinki impresario, musician, music instructor and proprietor of Mass Music Lab Recording Studios, will MC the event. This year’s lineup for Forever Young includes an all-star cast of performers, including old favorites and new faces. This is a free to the public birthday celebration, but tables fill up fast and reservations are necessary for dinner.

Club Helsinki
405 Columbia Street
Hudson, N.Y.


An acoustic roots-music concert featuring National Flatpicking Guitar Champion Mark Cosgrove www.mcosgrove.com and upstate New York duo John Kirk and Trish Miller takes place at the Berkshire Museum on Saturday, May 21, at 7. The evening will be a mix of bluegrass, country, old-time, folk, fiddle tunes, banjo, and some clog dancing.

Mark Cosgrove's distinctive, creative flatpicking guitar sound is known and respected on both sides of the Atlantic, through both his own recordings and as a sideman and session player for Jerry Douglas and others. Although he grew up in a Manhattan apartment surrounded by classical records, his original musical ambition was to become a drummer. Immersed in bluegrass and fiddle tunes from an early age, he has continued to make acoustic music his life's work and pleasure. Cosgrove has won the U.S. National Flatpicking Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kansas, and also the Doc Watson Guitar Championship in Wilkesboro, N.C.

On fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo and tin whistle, John Kirk demonstrates a vast knowledge of musical traditions. He is also a composer, dancer and dance caller. The Dixie Chicks recorded his song, “Long Roads.” Trish Miller has been teaching and performing Appalachian clogging since 1980. She plays guitar, banjo and a little ukulele. Trish is a dance caller and country-dance choreographer. Her stepping style is rooted in the Southern mountains mixed with some steps from tap and Celtic repertoires. As a member of the Green Grass Cloggers, from Asheville, N.C., she toured throughout the U.S. & internationally.

Berkshire Museum
39 South Street
Pittsfield, Mass.
Ticket info for this concert: 413.442.0080


Collectors’ Choice: Selections from the Jane and Jay Braus Collection at the Berkshire Museum opens with a reception on Saturday, May 21, at 5. The exhibition, which includes 26 works by Richard Pousette-Dart, Sol LeWitt, Nancy Graves, Grandma Moses, Sam Francis, David Hockney, and others, will be on display through October 11. This weekend is also the last chance to catch the M.C. Escher retrospective, Seeing the Unseen, which closes on Sunday.

“The joy and passion the Brauses feel toward art is written all over this exhibition,” says interim executive director Maria Mingalone. “Berkshire Museum has always been keenly interested in displaying the work of innovative artists working in the 20th and 21st centuries, and this show gives us the chance to show some exciting work that wouldn’t otherwise be on view to the public. It’s a real treat.”

The bold influence running through the collection of the Brauses is the desire to sample interesting works in a variety of styles; this instinct has led them to assemble a lively, diverse collection which features many innovative artists. Among the works included are Richard Pousette-Dart’s Circles of Life (1983-85) [pictured], Sol LeWitt’s Squiggly Lines (1996), Nancy Graves’ The Drama of Inner Life (1988), Grandma Moses’ At the Bend of the River (1948), Sam Francis’ Untitled (1986), Red Grooms’ Tea Set and Case (1974), and David Hockney’s Mr. Arithmetic (1980).

Jay Braus began his collection with Israeli artist Yaacov Agam’s Untitled (1965), which is included in this exhibition. Braus was following in a family tradition—his grandfather Paul was an art dealer who ran Braus Galleries in New York City. (During the summers of 1914 and 1915, the gallery expanded into Lenox under the stewardship of Paul’s wife, Dora Braus.)

Jay Braus frequently visited the gallery in the days when his father Leon worked there. Braus Galleries was a casualty of the Great Depression, but the Braus family’s interest in contemporary and modern art was firmly planted. Jay and Jane married in 1952, and Collectors’ Choice: Selections from the Jane and Jay Braus Collection displays the fruits of their many visits to galleries and art fairs through the years.

Berkshire Museum
39 South Street
Pittsfield, Mass.


Tom Paxton will appear in a solo acoustic concert at The Colonial on Saturday, May 21, at 8. Paxton was a fixture on the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s, and songs of his including “The Last Thing On My Mind,” “Ramblin’ Boy,” “Bottle Of Wine,” “Whose Garden Was This?,” “Goin’ To The Zoo,” and “The Marvelous Toy” are as much a part of the Great American Songbook as anything by Cole Porter or Harold Arlen.

The Colonial
111 South Street
Pittsfield, Mass.

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