Category: Live Reviews

Theater review: “Grandma Moses: An American Primitive” at the Oldcastle Theatre

17th December

Published in the Bennington Banner on Nov. 9, 2013
Original article:

BENNINGTON — Local painting legend Grandma Moses lived both an ordinary and an extraordinary life, and they were both fascinating.

Before she began painting at age 76, Anna Mary Moses lived on farms in Virginia and nearby parts of New York, running the household and raising five children. Then, after being “discovered” at age 78, Moses became an international celebrity — appearing on magazine covers and showing her art worldwide. She even visited the White House, where President Harry S. Truman played piano for her. This unexpected dichotomy is central to “Grandma Moses: An American Primitive,” a new play running through Nov. 17 at the Oldcastle Theatre, 331 Main St., Bennington.

Written in the late 1980s by Stephen Pouliot, who is mostly known for his work writing television awards shows, the play toured …

Theater review: “Sherlock Holmes – Knight’s Gambit” at Oldcastle Theater

17th December

Published in the Bennington Banner on Oct. 10, 2013
Original article:

BENNINGTON – The game is afoot at Oldcastle! Opening last weekend and running for the next two weeks, Oldcastle Theatre Company’s theater on Main Street hosts “Sherlock Holmes–Knight’s Gambit,” a new mystery story written specifically for small theaters like Oldcastle by playwright Paul Falzone. Directed by Eric Peterson, Oldcastle’s Producing Artistic Director, the show captures all the suspense, wit and intrigue of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous stories using a single set and a small cast.

While the production itself may be relatively modest, the scale of the story is as ambitious as we’ve come to expect from the Holmes canon. Set in 1905, towards the end of the detective’s career, Falzone’s story hinges on events that take place around the city of London and elsewhere in Europe – even though his …

Review: FressGrass Festival 9/26/13

2nd October

Published in the Bennington Banner

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — For three days last weekend, Mass MoCA in North Adams welcomed roughly 4,000 music fans for a celebration of modern and traditional American acoustic music–an art form more commonly linked to Appalachian front porches and fiddle contests than modern art museums in New England.

The Freshgrass festival, which attracted a significantly larger crowd than in the festival’s first two years, boasted an impressive lineup of bluegrass and bluegrass-inspired acts, ranging from pioneering legacy groups like the Del McCoury Band to acoustic-minded indie acts like Brooklyn’s The Lone Bellow, who won over the crowd with their energetic performance on Saturday afternoon.

With two stages offering virtually uninterrupted music, a dedicated kids’ area, workshops for musicians and impromptu bluegrass jam sessions popping up everywhere (including inside the museum’s exhibit spaces), the whole …

Review: Ben Williams and Sound Effect

11th April

Published in The Spectator
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Instead of watching Syracuse fall to Michigan in their Final Four game, a passionate crowd of Hamilton jazz fans gathered in Wellin Hall on Saturday night for an impressive display of contemporary jazz from phenom bassist Ben Williams and his group Sound Effect. Williams led the quintet through complex arrangements of his original tunes and some surprising covers, including songs by Stevie Wonder, the rap group N.E.R.D. and R&B songstress Goapele. Speaking candidly to the crowd between songs, Williams explained his philosophy of “new standards,” embracing these contemporary compositions in the same way that earlier Jazz artists like John Coltrane and Louis Armstrong adopted popular songs into their repertoires. Building on these new age attitudes, Williams and his band played an impressive, challenging set that clearly demonstrated the bright future of modern Jazz.


Review: Martin Hayes and The Masters of Tradition

7th March

Published in The Spectator
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In a refreshing departure from Wellin Hall’s usual choral, orchestral and jazz programming, last Saturday the community gathered to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a few weeks early with an impressive demonstration of Ireland’s musical traditions from Martin Hayes and his touring company, the Masters of Tradition. Taking the stage in different combinations through the night, the seven-piece collective presented historic and treasured tunes in a respectful but nonetheless lively way, often drawing wild whoops of approval from the enthusiastic audience. Between songs they spoke comfortably to the crowd in their thick Irish brogues, explaining the unfamiliar tunes, styles and instruments with a healthy dose of Gaelic wit and cheer. Continued…

Live Reaction: Jeff Mangum at Hamilton, 2/14/2013

25th February

Published in The Spectator
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Songwriters like Jeff Mangum often have an interesting relationship with their songs. Especially when they’re as raw and personally reflective as “Two Headed Boy” or “King Of Carrot Flowers,” lyrics can almost feel like little pieces of your soul, bared for the world to misinterpret, ridicule, reject or just maybe relate to. Because they’re so personal, songwriters sometimes develop a sense of protectiveness or ownership over their songs, which can get awkward in a live concert situation. Knowing Mangum’s reclusive nature, I never expected him to be so open and gracious in the way he shared his songs with all of us. Continued…

Review: Josh Ritter at Hamilton College, 2/12/2013

14th February

Published in The Spectator
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Before the doors opened at 7:30 there were already a few dozen students in line to enter the Barn, a sure sign that excitement was running high for this week’s special Tuesday edition of Acoustic Coffeehouse with Josh Ritter. Returning to the stage after a three-month hiatus—during which he became a first-time father and announced a new album—Josh’s excitement matched the audience’s, ensuring a special night of song debuts, intimate performances and the spirit of sublime wintertime joy that FebFest embodies. Continued…

Road Journal: Seeking DFA1979 in Canada

8th November

Published in The Spectator
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For most students (including myself), typical Monday nights at Hamilton involve homework, club meetings, maybe some football and relaxing weekend recovery. This past Monday evening had something else in store for five students: sophomore Brendon Kaufman and seniors Lucas Kang, Brendan Doherty, Pete Adelfio and myself, Jack McManus. Replacing the books in our backpacks with warm coats and passports, the five of us travelled up to Kingston, Ontario to see the dance punk duo Death From Above 1979 on a trip sponsored by Hamilton’s Independent Music Fund. Continued…

Review: Theophilus London at Hamilton College, 10/20/2012

24th October

Published in The Spectator
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With midterms mostly over and the semester’s inevitably snow-covered final weeks still out of sight, the cloud of buzzing, anticipatory energy that floats over Hamilton most Friday nights felt especially thick this week. While the campus’ most wizardly students congregated across the road for Hogwarts at Hamilton in Benedict, many of their Muggle classmates filed into the wide open Annex for the Campus Activities Board’s flagship musical event of the semester: rapper Theophilus London in the headlining slot with pop princess Wynter Gordon opening up the show. Continued…


Review: Bon Iver, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY – 9/17/2012

21st September

Published on

Full Article:

Despite its remote setting in Upstate New York, the village of Cooperstown has long held a unique significance within American culture and history. Well known as the legendary birthplace of baseball, fabled author James Fenimore Cooper also set many of his greatest works in the village and its surrounding forests. On September 17, nearly two centuries after Cooper wrote his masterpiece The Last of the Mohicans, thousands gathered in the sloped clearing behind Cooperstown’s Brewery Ommegang to see another artist with deep connections to the wilderness, Justin Vernon and his band Bon Iver.

Interview: Sam Amidon

Published in Berkshires Week on September 3, 2014 Original article:

NORTH ADAMS — After performing at Wilco’s most recent Solid Sound festival in 2013, Brattleboro native Sam...

Feature: Robert Frost in Bennington

Published in Berkshires Week on September 3, 2014 Original article:

SHAFTSBURY — Bennington County is well known for its Revolutionary War history, but it holds a significant...

Preview: Garlic Fest

Published in Berkshires Week on August 27, 2014 Original article:

BENNINGTON — Garlic ice cream? Garlic cupcakes? Garlic peanuts? Unexpected flavors will tempt the crowds this...