This weekly exploration into the Berkshires arts world offers behind-the-scenes insights with news, exclusive interviews, and analysis of the ever-fluid state of our cultural organizations.
Will Call #73 — NTRVW: Robert Miller of Project Grand Slam
In this episode, the first of our sort-of post pandemic shows, we speak with the wise, witty, and very talented Robert Miller. A lot of people people launch a second Nact after they conclude one career. Most people don’t decide to grab an axe and take to the stage in pursuit of rock stardom. Fortunately for all of us, Robert did! His band, Project Grand Slam is a tight, rhythm-driven engine that cranks out one great track after another. Solid songwriting and heartfelt lyrics complete the sound, providing the answers about how this Jazz/Rock/Latin fusion act has risen so far so fast.
After running down and catching a big life goal of his own, Robert Miller decided to share his own wisdom that he’s picked up along the way, as well as that of the artists and other guests he has on his own podcast, “Follow Your Dream.” He started this project at the height of the pandemic in 2020, and has had some amazing guests on that you’ll want to check out.
Project Grand SlamAugust 17, 2021; 8:30 p.m.Shakespeare & CompanyTina Packer Playhouse70 Kemble Street, Lenox Mass.Project Grand Slam (PGS) is the brainchild of acclaimedleader/bassist/composer Robert Miller.PGS is a celebrated fusion of Rock and Jazz witha twist of Latin and a New York City groove.Be sure to listen to our interview with Allyn Burrows,artistic director of Shakespeare & Co.!TICKETS
Robert Miller; submitted photo.
Robert Miller is the creative force behind Project Grand Slam (PGS), as the band’s leader/bassist/composer. PGS plays a fusion of Jazz/Rock/Latin music with a NYC groove. Plus Robert’s reimagined versions in PGS’s style of iconic ‘60s British Invasion hits by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks and The Beatles.
In just over the past 5 years PGS has released 10 highly acclaimed albums including a Billboard #1, has over 4 million video views, over a million Spotify streams, played festivals and concerts around the world, and opened for Edgar Winter, Blues Traveler, Boney James, and Mindi Abair, and an after-show for YES.
PGS today consists of Robert supported by a group of young, extremely talented, mainly foreign born musicians from places like Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Canada.
Beginning in 2015 Robert began transforming the band’s music, initially mainly contemporary jazz instrumentals, and now consisting almost entirely of original vocal songs. Robert’s songs channel his love for rock music, jazz fusion, and ‘60s British Invasion hits. With this eclectic mix, Robert has blazed a completely original path for PGS.
The pandemic severely affected musicians and all artists. PGS was somewhat fortunate in that the band’s latest album, East Side Sessions, was release in January 2020 just before the world closed down. However, the band was unable to tour in support of the album, so Robert decided instead to release videos of four of the songs from the album, which collectively received about a million views.
Will Call #72 — NTRVW: Joanna Seaton & Donald Sosin on scoring for silent film
We speak with two artists who keep alive a musical pursuit born during the nascent sensation of cinema — the scoring of silent films, on location and in real time. Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton spoke with Will Call by Skype prior to their appearance at Images Cinema in Williamstown for “An Evening with Charlie Chaplin.”
About Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton
Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton; submitted photo.
“For twenty years Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton have been among the only major performers in the US creating and performing music for classic silent films with vocals as well as instrumentals, and have won high praise from experts in the field, as well as enthusiastic supporters of all ages everywhere they appear. Their unique blend of keyboard, vocals, electronics and percussion delights a wide variety of audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
Their film scores incorporate original songs with Joanna’s lyrics and Donald’s music, as well as select songs from the early 20th century appropriate to the film, and even, in some cases, giving voice to the muted singing of the actors onscreen.”
An Evening with Charlie ChaplinMonday, December 16, 2019; 8:00 p.m.Images Cinema50 Spring StreetWilliamstown, Mass.From Images Cinema“By 1916—the same year the Walden Theater opened in Williamstown—Charlie Chaplin had become the most famous entertainer in the world, a mere two years after appearing in his first motion picture. Buoyed by his enormous success and popularity, he was offered the largest contract ever extended to a movie star— $670,000 for a single year’s work—to make 12 short comedies at Mutual Film Corporation. For Mutual, Chaplin produced what many film historians believe to be his best works, including the three featured in this program: The Immigrant, The Adventurer and The Count.”MORE INFO
Music heard on this show
Orchestration for THE COUNT (1916) dir. Charles Chaplin. Music (2013) by Donald Sosin For String quartet, piano, and bass
Orchestration for THE PAWNSHOP (1916) dir. Charles Chaplin. Music (2016) by Donald Sosin, orchestrated by Peter Breiner. Live at Cowell Theater, San Francisco, March 26, 2017. San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Simon, music director. 25 players with the composer at the piano.
Musical examples from THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1927, von Sternberg), J. Seaton, D. Sosin Joanna Seaton and Donald Sosin were commissioned by the Criterion Collection to create a piano/vocal score for Josef von Sternberg’s silent drama, THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1927). These excerpts illustrate the use of the title song (lyrics and vocals by Joanna Seaton, music composed and performed by Donald Sosin) in seve...
Will Call #71: Jennifer Trainer on Museum Town
In this episode, we speak with Jennifer Trainer, director of the documentary, Museum Town which released earlier in 2019, debuting at SXSW. Museum Town tells the story of MASS MoCA, arguably the United States’ most expansive contemporary art space, but it does a lot more besides. This flick situates the museum within the various contexts of history, culture, and economic development. With memories and observations contributed by political figures, local business owners, the general public, artists, and the architects of the original idea, Museum Town takes an unflinching look back at how their instincts were, in many ways, spot on, but at the same time missed the mark here or there.
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Thanks for tuning in to Episode #71 of Will Call here at the Greylock Glass, the Berkshire’s mightiest independent alternative newsthing. I’m your host, Jason Velazquez, and I’d like to remind you that if you like the programming and articles you find at the Greylock Glass, you can support our work by becoming a member for as little as a dollar per month. Find out more by going to greylockglass.com/membership.
The film presents some of the most relevant and interesting history of the mill complex, from the days of Sprague Electric back to its inception as Arnold Print Works; still from Museum Town; image courtesy the filmmaker.
Such a documentary, in part compiled of photos footage collected by the museum itself over the years, risks being overly promotional, yet Trainer stops well short of creating an overly self-congratulatory paean to an institution that has, at time generated intense criticism. The film makes its cinematic debut at Images Cinema in Williamstown, Friday, November 1 with a discussion featuring Jennifer Trainer, Representative John Barrett, producer Noah Bashevkin, producer Rachel Chanoff.
Museum Town — showing 11/1 through 11/7Director: Jennifer TrainerRuntime: 1 hour 15 minutesImages Cinema50 Spring StreetWilliamstown, Mass.For showtimes, clique aqui.For more info, visit the documentary’s website.
Jennifer Trainer, on Museum Town
Jennifer Trainer at Hancock Shaker Village, where she serves as Director; submitted photo.
My goal was really to tell what I knew. My goal was to tell the history of MASS MoCA and what MASS MoCA is today, and to tell a story about risk and taking risk, and what that means…To compress 30 years into 90 minutes is impossible, and, as my cinematographer said to me, you’re going to leave many of your babies on the cutting room floor, because they don’t serve the point, the purpose in the end, and that was so true. It killed me to leave out something that we had filmed.
But, ultimately, we picked five characters, and they were an artists that we followed through an installation for 18 months, a curator and how the curatorial process works, because I also wanted to show what it’s like to work inside a museum. And then we picked the guy in the basement who’s actually fabricating some of these works, because so many of these massive contemporary pieces are not just made by one person in their studio — they’re really like a film their collaborative effort.
Installation of Christoph Büchel’s unfinished Training Ground for Democracy; still from Museum Town; image courtesy the filmmaker.
Will Call #70: Love’s Labour’s perfectly Lost at The Dell.
(Cover Photo) From left: Luke Haskell, Dara Silverman, Madeleine Rose Maggio; photo By Eloy Garcia.
Lenox, Mass. — Shakespeare & Company presents William Shakespeare’s comedy Love’s Labor’s Lost, directed by Kelly Galvin and performed outside in The Dell at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home. This family-friendly, open-air production featuring Shakespeare & Company Education Artists runs from July 10th – August 18th.
Today is Monday, August 13 and you’re listening to Episode #70 of Will Call.
Luke Haskell, Dara Silverman, Madeleine Rose Maggio; photo By Eloy Garcia.
We hear from director Kelly Galvin, who returns to Shake and Co. for her ninth season with the company after earning an MFA from Boston University this Spring. Her experience directing, with Shakespeare & Company, WAM Theatre, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Southwest Shakespeare, and other companies really pays off in this faced-paced early Shakespeare comedy from the mid 1590s.
This week’s show takes us to The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home, in Lenox Massachusetts. Weather permitting, Shakespeare & Company presents William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost under the open sky at The Dell, a sort of natural amphitheater that is a truly ideal place to experience this particular play, which is being performed until August 18. You don’t want to miss this immersive experience, so I’d encourage you to visit the company on the web at shakespeare.org for tickets and more information,
Kelly Galvin directing Love’s Labor’s Lost at The Mount; photo by Eloy Garcia
“One of Shakespeare’s very first plays, Love’s Labor’s Lost offers us a glimpse of an audacious young playwright delighting in his virtuosity,” says director Kelly Galvin. “Within his sparkling poetry we sense the young playwright coming into the fullness of his power. In doing so, he conjures a fantastical world of young luminaries who are coming into power in their own right. In The Dell, where the borders between our actors and audiences are most fluid, we find a perfect setting for Shakespeare’s rhapsody of language, laughter, and summer love.”
Also with us are actors Luke Haskell and Madeleine Rose Maggio. Luke brings to life the irreverent knave Costard, while Madeleine portrays both the wanton country wench Jaquenetta as well as the somewhat vacuous nobleman Longaville, a member of the court of Ferdinand, King of Navarre.
Historically one of the less frequently performed of Shakespeare’s works, Love’s Labour’s Lost yet has a solid, if simple, storyline that acts as a perfect vehicle to explore themes familiar to us more than 400 years after the works first publication. Director Kelly Galvin gives us an overview of this prototype of so many literary battles of the sexes to follow:
Love’s Labor’s Lost begins with the King of Navarre dedicating himself and his country to a life of scholarship. The King and his courtiers have made an oath renouncing worldly pleasures and have commanded all the townsfolk of Navarre to do the same. But when the Princess of France and her ladies arrive on a diplomatic visit, the King and his friends find the enticements of summer love more powerful than they had imagined. A spoof of those who try to shun love and life, Love’s Labor’s Lost is full of witty wordplay, outrageous mishaps, and riotous comedy.
Rylan Morsbach, David Bertoldi, Madeleine Maggio, Devante Owens; photo by Eloy Garcia.
Luke Haskell and Madeleine Maggio are prime examp...
Plenty #12: HEIRLOOM by design, at Greylock WORKS
Welcome to episode number 12 of Plenty, in which we spend time with a number of folks involved in HEIRLOOM by Design at Greylock WORKS in North Adams, Massachusetts—an inaugural celebration of the handmade, hand-grown, and house crafted.
We speak first with Sophie Grant, program director of HEIRLOOM by design. Her job is to coordinate vendors, entertainment, presenters, and more to create a truly memorable local food jubilee.
One event sponsor and presenter that’s a natural fit at HEIRLOOM by design, is Storey Publishing, based on the campus of MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass. We spoke with Debra Balmuth, publisher at Storey, on site at GreylockWORKS, after she toured the space during the planning stages.
Storey, now an imprint of Workman Publishing, has been a familiar installment on the bookshelves of foodies, farmers, crafters, and do-it-yourselfers for just about a generation.
Although Greylock WORKS is the new kid in town when it comes to the local food movement, the overlapping missions, plus the local history represented by the former Cariddi Mill, created a timely synthesis of the two entities.
Of course, in a space this big, there’s room for LOTS of different delegates of the local and hand crafted scene. Sophie Grant again…
Lucy Rawlins is one of a new generation of farmers—she and her boyfriend are definitely the genuine article, in spite of, or maybe because of, an evolved perspective on the back to the land movement.
Participating in HEIRLOOM made sense, given the support that Greylock WORKS has pledged both to local agriculture organizations and local artists.
One of the points that rawlins wants to drive home is that the future of farming likely lies in the rediscovery of techniques that were the tried and true conventions for millenia.
Storey publisher Debrah Balmuth has seen traditional arts trend in and trend out over the years, which gives her a unique vantage point when it comes to the current renaissance in artisanal quality.
And that self expression is definitely en vogue from the Berkshires to Brooklyn and way way beyond.
While the hip factor helps fuel the image of local food, at the end of the day, sustainability also means creating a viable space for farming in the local economy.
Sometimes economic sustainability can mean a brisk business in traditional market gardening and sometimes that can mean taking the leap to offering customers a value added product that taps into a different area of consumer appeal. Nicole Blum operates Carr’s Ciderhouse with her husband Jonathan Carr, in Hadley, Massachusetts. Their experience as market gardeners evolved into a highly specialized (and delicious) product line based on hard cider.
For Jonathan and Nicole, how they produce their wares, and the environmental impact it has, is well-aligned with the agricultural ethics of many of their cohorts.
Lucy Rawlins of the Williamstown Farmers Market shares Blum’s holistic perspective on human effects of food production.
The appreciation of slow food, and respect for the basics will likely be instrumental in the quest to mitigate the accelerating effects of climate change.
Blum explained some of what Carr’s Ciderhouse will have to offer at HEIRLOOM. And despite the fact that she and her husband would obviously like to earn some coin from the event, their demonstration would seem to be the antithesis of profiteering—they will be teaching attendees to make a product at home that Carr’s sells bottled and ready to use. A willingness to share knowledge seems to be a defining characteristic of sustainability advocates, even if it means they don’t squeeze every nickel out of an opportunity.
Debra Balmuth of Storey Publishing described her company’s contribution to HEIRLOOM, including some of the demonstrations designed to educate event-goers about some of the highly accessible techniques of
Will Call #69: Purple Valley Plays—A Festival of New Work for the Stage
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williams Theatre Department will present Purple Valley Plays, original works for the stage written, directed, designed, and performed by Williams students. Back for a third year, Purple Valley Plays continues the Theatre Department’s tradition of incubating new work and cultivating the next generation of theatre artists. Presented in two programs, Purple Valley Plays will premiere works by Terah Ehigiator ’18, Mia Hull ’17, Joseph Messer ’21, Chanel Palmer ’19, and Tom Robertshaw ’19. *
Performances are on Thursday, April 26th to Saturday, April 28th. Program 1 will be in the CenterStage at 7 PM. Program 2 will be in the Adams Memorial Theatre at 8:30 PM. All performances will be located at 1000 Main Street, in Williamstown, MA. Tickets are $3.
“The Theatre Department recognizes that some artistic works are provocative, and may be challenging for audience members—emotionally, intellectually, and personally. We wish to alert our patrons to the following specific content.”
Program One (Adams Memorial Theatre)
River Spirits by Terah Ehigiator ’18, directed by Jack Romans ’20. Emmett lives freely in paradise until the appearance of a strange new boy alters him forever. With playfulness and sincerity, this play explores tensions of boyhood, friendship, and (dis)belief.
contains artistic representations of racialized violence and self-harm.
Phaedra / Hippolytus / by Mia Hull ’17, directed by Tom Robertshaw ’19. A woman, in love with her husband, falls in love with his son. Clean lines and floors, stifled, enraged, undone.
contains artistic representations of suicide.
Program Two (CenterStage)
Majesty in the Middle Realm by Chanel Palmer ’19, directed by Caroline Fairweather ’20. A fast-paced exploration of connection, belonging, displacement, and infinity. A young woman’s quest for family and for peace in a world of in-betweens turns out to extend well beyond her wildest dreams.
alludes to racialized violence and police brutality.
What if We Loved with our Radiated Bodies? by Joseph Messer ’21, directed by Fiona Selmi ’21. Three infected lovers attempt to find themselves, but as their environment falls apart, words fall apart, movement falls apart, and people fall apart as well.
contains graphic sexual language.
Chastens and Hastens by Tom Robertshaw ’19, directed by Liam Ouweleen ’19. Thanksgiving/family/generations/breach/a dongle/butterball/ritual hunt?
references appropriation of indigenous cultures, and ignorance about sexual and gendered orientations.
The Theatre Department works to develop in each student an understanding of theatre that is both broad and deep. Through creative expression and critical study, we challenge students to engage both contemporary and historical modes of performance. Theatre students make artworks through design, acting, directing, and dramaturgy. They are encouraged to experiment, to risk, and to make bold choices. Working collaboratively with faculty and guest artists, students integrate intellectual, physical, and emotional responses into an array of live performances each academic year.
For tickets, visit the Williams ’62 Center Box Office Tues-Sat, 1-5 pm or call (413) 597-2425. For more information, please visit http://62center.williams.edu
* This article was created, in whole or in part, using submitted officially released information.
Wonderful Podcast on the Local Arts
This is a great podcast to learn about local arts shows going on, the story behind the productions, and wonderful engagement between the hosts and the guest. Thanks for all the great value!!!