Sarah Kohrs and Wanda Houston at The Mahaiwe in Great Barrington

Wanda Houston Sarah Kohrs Mahaiwe - 67Great Barrington, MA - When it comes to music in the Berkshires, there's more to life than just Tanglewood. Case in point: the 113 year old Mahaiwe theater, where last night I heard a stunning show by local singer-songwriter Sarah Kohrs and former Broadway star Wanda Houston, backed by a full band of brass, guitars, and drums. Part jazz, part alt-country, Kohrs' songs lay bare the trials and tribulations - and ecstasies and joys - of falling in and out of love. Switching between piano and guitar, Kohrs sounded like the best of Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor, and Carol King, with a bit of Loretta Lynn for good measure. Not a bad way to spend a rainy night in the Berkshires. 

Next time you're up this way, check out Kohrs with her musical partner, Mark Tuomenoksa, who regularly perform as Tumo-Kohrs. Schedule here.

More pics on the photo page


BRIC Celebrate! Brooklyn: Aimee Mann/ Robert Glasper's R+R = NOW / Branford Marsalis and Roger Guenveur Smith

Branford marsalis  - 1I've been in and out of town a bunch over the past few weeks, but when I'm home, I always make a point of stopping by the Prospect Park Bandshell, where BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn is holding its 40th(!) annual season of free concerts. (See our thoughts on the opening night with Common here.) Pretty much any night you stop by, odds are you'll see something worthwhile: in the past week alone, I've seen singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, and some intense, politically tinged jazz with Robert Glasper's R+R=NOW project (incl. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Terrace Martin, Derrick Hodge, Justin Tyson, and Taylor McFerrin).

Last night's show featured a monster double bill including two sets by the incredibly tight and powerful Branford Marsalis Quartet, which bracketed  Roger Guenveur Smith's Frederick Douglass Now, which is hands down the most brilliant, urgent work of theater I've seen in recent memory. Blending several of Douglass' most famous letters and speeches with his own freestyle mashup of socio-political rant, it was a wake up call right on time for the 4th of July - marked by a huge American flag hanging droopily onstage and Marsalis' emotional playing of the National Anthem, twice. One of the best nights I've had at the bandshell, period. 

If you're in the area and want to beat the heat with a little country and bluegrass, stop by tonight for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, with Sierra Hull, Justin Moses and Mamie Minch opening. Doors at 6pm, show at 7.

Pics (with links to full albums) below.

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The Neighbourhood at New Haven’s College Street Music Hall

by Katie Zepf

IMG_2957NEW HAVEN, CT - On Friday, California's The Neighbourhood paid a visit to New Haven's College Street Music Hall, located just outside the Yale campus. Known for their blending of alternative rock with electro-pop, the band - singer Jesse Rutherford, guitarists Zach Abels and Jeremy Freedman, bassist Mikey Margott, drummer Brandon Fried - delivered an energetic performance before a revved up crowd.  They played a total of 16 songs from their albums I Love You., #000000 & #FFFFFF, Wiped Out!, and their newest self-titled release. Halfway through the set, Rutherford crowd surfed over the audience, giving excited fans a chance to see him him up close. The band closed out with their top hits “Sweater Weather” and “Stuck with Me”, ending the night with just as much energy as they began.

Before The Neighbourhood, LA noise rock outfit HEALTH played a very loud set, sounding no less ferocious than when we first heard them in 2009:

"At first listen, HEALTH are like a lot of other no wave bands: fast, hard, loud, thrashing guitar and drums. But they layer in these hypnotic, almost ecstatic techno sounds that make you want to get up and dance. And, then, they unleash a terrible bass that rumbles through your chest like a Marshall Tank. Before long, the whole thing sounds like a nighttime air raid, dropping guitar hits like napalm."

Opening the night on a quieter note, San Francisco's Field Medic (a.k.a.Kevin Patrick Sullivan) played lo-fi folk songs on acoustic guitar and harmonica, including a freestyle piece about juice (as suggested by the audience).

College Street Music Hall, which opened in 1926, features both a standing general admission floor with elevated rows and a seated balcony. Personally, I loved the layout, as it allowed for those who didn't necessarily want to be in the more aggressive pit (unlike myself) to enjoy the music from the comfort of chairs. Concessions were also solid: there was a a taco stand outside the entrance, as well as multiple bars that served food and drinks during and after the show.

The Neighbourhood is playing numerous festivals and headlining slots throughout summer, and returns to New York in the fall for shows at Brooklyn Steel (October 5th) and Terminal 5 (October 6th). Full tour dates can be found here.