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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.

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


Common Opens Up the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Season in Prospect Park

by Steven Pisano

20180605-_DSC4623(All photos by Steven Pisano)

You know it's summer when the BRIC Celebrate Festival season starts in Prospect Park (even if Mother Nature won't officially chime in for a couple of more weeks). On Tuesday, thousands of people lined up along Prospect Park West and then thronged the Bandshell area to listen to Common open up this year's long list of great concerts, one of the finest line-ups ever.

While there were not many overt references to the current political administration in Washington, Common's reputation is based on singing socially conscious songs, so the topics of race, personal freedom, social inequality, police violence, and similar concerns were thick in the air.

But there was no moralizing or preaching. Common does not communicate from a pulpit or from an altar on high. He spreads his beliefs by walking amongst people's everyday lives, so most of all, he spent the evening telling the audience the story of his life through his songs, from the days he longed to sink baskets like Chicago superstar Michael Jordan, up through the current day, as a father himself.

Continue reading "Common Opens Up the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Season in Prospect Park" »