Charles Busch is the author and star of such plays as The Divine Sister, The Lady in Question, Red Scare on Sunset and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, one of the longest running plays in the history of Off-Broadway. His play The Tale of the Allergist's Wife ran for 777 performances on Broadway, won the Outer Circle Critics' John L. Gassner Award for playwriting and received a Tony nomination for Best Play. He wrote and starred in the film versions of his plays, Psycho Beach Party and Die Mommie Die, the latter of which won him the Best Performance Award at the Sundance Film Festival. For two seasons, he appeared as Nat Ginzburg on the HBO series OZ and is the author of the auto-biographical novel Whores of Lost Atlantis. He has directed two films; the Showtime short subject, Personal Assistant, and a feature, A Very Serious Person, which won an honorable mention at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Due to his love and knowledge of film and theatre history, he has appeared in numerous documentaries for Turner Classic Movies and has lectured and conducted master classes at many colleges and universities including NYU, Harvard, UCLA and Amherst College. In 2003, Mr. Busch received a special Drama Desk Award for career achievement as both performer and playwright and was given a star on the Playwrights Walk outside the Lucille Lortel Theatre. He is also the subject of the acclaimed documentary film The Lady in Question. He is a graduate of Northwestern University (charlesbusch.com).
Free and open to the public A reception will follow after the conversation with Charles.
Dorianne Laux's fifth collection, The Book of Men was the winner of The Paterson Prize. Her fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon won The Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry (finalist for the National Book Critic's Circle Award) and Smoke, as well as The Book of Women, and Dark Charms. Co-author of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, she's the recipient of three Best American Poetry Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She directs the Program in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University and is founding faculty of Pacific University's Low Residency MFA Program.
Kevin Young is the author of Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels; Dear Darkness; For the Confederate Dead; Book of Hours and the film noir in verse Black Maria. Young was a 1993 Nation Poetry Series winner for Most Way Home, a finalist for the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets for To Repel Ghosts: Five Sides in B Minor, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award forJelly Roll: A Blues. Young is also the author of a non-fiction book, The Grey Album, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the 2013 PEN Open Book Award. He is the editor of several collections, most recently The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010 and The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink. Young is currently Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English, and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.All readings will take place in the drawing room of the Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities and are free and open to the public.
When: Mar 11, 2015 4 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Wed, 11 Mar 2015 16 )
Multi-platinum selling singer/songwriter/producer Ben Folds is releasing in 2015 a landmark record that will showcase new pop songs – arranged and recorded in collaboration with yMusic, a NYC-based sextet ensemble. The new record also features the debut of Folds' critically acclaimed "Concerto For Piano and Orchestra." Recorded in just under two weeks in New York, Los Angeles and Folds' own historic RCA Studio A in Nashville, the record is marked by its forward-thinking studio craft and creative spontaneity.
Folds, who first found fame with the Ben Folds Five, has gone on to have a successful solo career, writing, recording and performing pop hits and a piano concerto, as well as writing and recording music for film and TV.
To kick off his 2015 touring, Folds will be joined for the initial tour shows by yMusic, which critics have characterized as combining "all the prestige and virtuosity of classical music degrees with all the attitude and energy of an indie rock band." Folds will also perform other orchestral and solo shows throughout the year to promote the record.
Ribbon Music is pleased to announce the return of Baltimore’s Lower Dens with their third album, Escape from Evil. On Escape From Evil, Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter emerges: cerebral and hot-blooded, rash and incorruptible, and, crucially, possessing of a loud, clear voice. The album sees Hunter stepping up and taking center stage, and emboldening every aspect of the band.
On Escape From Evil, Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter emerges: cerebral and hot-blooded, rash and incorruptible, and, crucially, possessing of a loud, clear voice. The album sees Hunter stepping up and taking center stage, and emboldening every aspect of the band.
Escape From Evil is a cinematic, tonally rich work. The sounds are clean and warm. The pulse of the album is strong. Melodies are potent and songs are physical. Lyrics are direct, frank confrontations with life’s common crises. The album title is brazen, and along with the grimly funny title of lead single, “To Die in L.A.”, almost theatrical.
Lower Dens’ 2010 debut, Twin-Hand Movement, was a stunning evolution of guitar brilliance and murky emotiveness, while its 2012 follow-up, Nootropics, was a stark, textured paean to experimental bands of the krautrock era. Escape From Evil marks a bold, monumental step forward for the band and the welcome manifestation of a singer we’ve never quite seen until now.
When: Jun 20, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $12 advance/ $14 day of show (Sat, 20 Jun 2015 21 )
Singer, songwriter and guitarist DUSTIN KENSRUE will release his new album, CARRY THE FIRE, on April 21, 2015 on Staple Records/Vagrant Records. The new album is the long anticipated follow-up to his 2007 solo debut, Please Come Home.
Kensrue, known for his dynamic solo performances and as frontman for Southern California rock band Thrice, engineered and produced the record on his own while mixing duties were handled by Brian Eichelberger and the album was mastered by Howie Weinberg.
“This record is a study in contrasts; light and darkness, flame and flood, true love and senseless hatred,” commented Kensrue. “What does it mean to ‘carry the fire’ when it so often seems like there is no light or warmth to be found at all? This is the question woven through the fabric of these ten songs.” Andy Hull
“I got too many things on my mind,” Josh Rouse sings on his new album, ‘The Embers Of Time.’ It was that realization that led the acclaimed songwriter to find the only English-speaking therapist in Valencia, Spain—the small town on the Mediterranean coast where he’s lived for the last decade with his family—and face his anxiety head-on.
“While I was writing these songs, I was having a mid-life crisis I guess,” Rouse says. “I’d been living in a different country for a long time, and becoming a father and being someone who travels a lot, I was having a hard time.”
In his sessions, Rouse was introduced to Gestalt Therapy, which focuses on fully experiencing the present moment and the thoughts and feelings it encompasses, with the belief that growth and change come about from a total acceptance of one’s current reality rather than a pursuit of an alternate one.
“I started going back through my past and my childhood,” the Nebraska native explains, “growing up and moving around a lot and never really having a father figure, per say. All those things came out in this new set of songs. This is my surreal, ex-pat therapy life album.”
It’s also one of the finest collections in a celebrated career that’s earned him plaudits everywhere from the NY Times to NPR for his “pop-folk introspection” and “string of remarkable records.” Hailed for his “sharp wit” by Rolling Stone and as “a talent to outrank Ryan Adams or Conor Oberst” by Uncut, Rouse has long since solidified his status as a songwriter of the highest caliber over his ten preceding studio releases. Q called his acclaimed critical breakout album ’1972' “the most intimate record of the year,” EW dubbed the follow-up album ‘Nashville’ “persistently gorgeous,” and PopMatters called his most recent record, 2013's ‘The Happiness Waltz,’ “a big contender for Rouse’s best work.” In 2014, he won a Goya Award (the Spanish equivalent of an Oscar) for best song for “Do You Really Want To Be In Love,” from the film ‘La Gran Familia Española.’ But as he navigated the unfamiliar terrain of his forties while writing ‘The Embers of Time,’ Rouse found himself facing difficult questions.
Album opener “Some Days I’m Golden All Night” finds comfort in accepting that there are no easy answers.
“I think I had been talking to my therapist about it, and he was like, ‘It’s OK to feel like shit,’” says Rouse. “There’s a lot of emphasis out there on this kind of fake positivity, but if you feel bad you feel bad, and this song is about having good days and bad days just like everybody experiences.”
The album’s laidback, countrypolitan vibe—captured in part in Rouse’s studio in Valencia and in part in his former American home base of Nashville with producer Brad Jones—continues on “Too Many Things On My Mind,” which was inspired by economist E.F. Schumacher’s book ‘Small Is Beautiful.’
“It’s a book on economics,” explains Rouse, “but it was written in the mid-70's and predicts what’s going on today with globalism and where we’re at in the world right now with consumerism and technology. That song is about downshifting and trying to live a bit more simply.”
“Taking care of loved ones / hanging out with friends / some big ideas going through their heads,” he sings. “Can we recover what’s been lost / So many people living in the box / Turn on your TV and stay offline / Too many things on my mind.”
Simplification is a recurring theme on the album, as the pedal steel and harmonica drenched “New Young” finds Rouse “making plans to move out to the country,” and “Crystal Falls” is propelled by uncomplicated rhythm from an unexpected source.
“That song feels very childlike,” says Rouse, “and that’s because my two-year-old son has a drum kit. He was banging on it and playing this beat, and I started playing along with it, and the initial idea for ‘Crystal Falls’ came out.”
Fatherhood influences Rouse’s writing throughout the album. “Just the other day I stopped by my stepfather’s grave / He died at 30 way too soon I forgot his face,” he sings on the delicate, mandolin-flecked “Time.” The reminder prompts him to contemplate his own mortality and how to make the most of his days on Earth with his own kids.
“It’s wonderful to bring my kids up around music and for them to have a father that does something different,” says Rouse, “but at the same time, there’s a sense of responsibility that can be overwhelming, especially having a career that’s as unstable as music.”
“How am I gonna tell another story / How am I gonna live another line? / Gotta wake up early in the morning / Take the kids to school by nine,” he sings on “Worried Blues,” a JJ Cale-inspired, tongue-in-cheek look at his unusual lifestyle.
“I’ve always been a fan of JJ Cale, and when he passed away it seemed like an appropriate time to give a nod to him,” says Rouse. “The song is about being worried about things I shouldn’t be worried about, but I didn’t want the record to come off as overly serious, so it was important to me that songs like this have a sense of humor to them.”
That sense of humor sustains Rouse as he faces down some of life’s biggest questions on this record with grace and humility. “Am I a hunter or a fox?” he sings on “Pheasant Feather.” ‘The Embers Of Time’ suggests that Rouse has discovered he may never know the answer, and that’s just fine.
When: Jun 12, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $22 advance / $25 day of show (Fri, 12 Jun 2015 21 )
The Guild of Carillonneurs welcomes several professional carillonneurs in our annual Spring Concert.
The carillon, commonly known as "the bells," is the largest musical instrument in the world. Wellesley's is one of fewer than 200 in the United States, and one of only a few in the country played by students. The Guild of Carillonneurs plays around 200 concerts a year, so while those within earshot of Galen Stone Tower may enjoy the music often, its other concerts are times that one may plan ahead to find a favorite spot on campus and take in a performance. The Guild of Carillonneurs is a Music Department Ensemble program.
When: Mar 14, 2015 2 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Sat, 14 Mar 2015 14 )
The Wellesley Computer Science Department's biannual Cirque du CS is a celebration of student work in Computer Science and Media Arts Studies, with a festive circus theme! We invite students, faculty and staff from the Wellesley College community, CS/MAS alumnae, and families from the local area, to come and view lots of wonderful demonstrations from many CS courses and independent research; engage in student led activities that explore new technologies; and enjoy popcorn, cotton candy, face painting, creating balloon animals, and other fun circus activities! Visitors can try out cutting-edge human computer interaction technologies, make a mobile phone app, play a student-designed computer game, and see a 3D printer and laser cutter in action!
Hilton Als became a staff writer at The New Yorker in October 1994, and a theatre and art critic in 2002. In this lecture, Als will discuss photographer and writer Diane Arbus and explore “her relationship with New York, the city of her birth and early death, and home to the subjects—deviant, deformed, and singularly beautiful—of her most iconic images” (mfa.org). Just a glimpse at Arbus’ photographic portraits of New York residents in black and white will evoke curiosity about this artist and her background.
Before writing for The New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. He has also written articles for The Nation and collaborated on film scripts for “Swoon” and “Looking for Langston.” His first book, The Women, a meditation on gender, race, and personal identity, was published in 1996. In 2010, he co-curated Self-Consciousness at the Veneklasen Werner Gallery in Berlin, and published Justin Bond/Jackie Curtis, his second book. His collection of essays, White Girls, was published in 2013. In 1997, the New York Association of Black Journalists awarded Als first prize in both Magazine Critique/Review and Magazine Arts and Entertainment. He was awarded a Guggenheim for Creative Writing in 2000 and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2002-2003 (newyorker.com).Als has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan, Wellesley College, and Smith College, and he currently teaches at Columbia University. He lives in New York City.
Curated by Jane Kamesky, These American Lives will engage the Wellesley community in a sustained meditation on two entwined questions: the challenges of capturing and representing an individual’s story, and the vexed notion of a particular—even, some allege, “exceptional”—American experience. A series of talks and workshops featuring guest speakers and artists as well as scholars from the Wellesley faculty will approach this broad theme through different disciplinary lenses throughout the 2014–15 academic year.
When: Apr 1, 2015 4 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16 )
Blue October frontman Justin Furstenfeld has announced plans for a solo tour dubbed "An Open Book: An Evening With Justin Furstenfeld Of Blue October" to promote the release of the expanded 3rd Edition of his book of lyrics and writings dubbed "Crazy Making". The shows will consist of spoken word, rounded off with a question-and-answer session, and will also include an acoustic set of songs never before heard and intimate versions of favorites. The evening will focus on breaking down the walls of artist and audience and will provide fans the most access to Justin ever.
When: Jun 18, 2015 8 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $30 (Thu, 18 Jun 2015 20 )
Over the course of its two-decade existence, Lightning Bolt has revolutionized underground rock in immeasurable ways. The duo broke the barrier between stage and audience by setting themselves up on the floor in the midst of the crowd. Their momentous live performances and the mania they inspired paved the way for similar tactics used by Dan Deacon and literally hundreds of others. Similarly, the band's recordings have always been chaotic, roaring, blown out documents that sound like they could destroy even the toughest set of speakers. Fantasy Empire, Lightning Bolt's sixth album and first in five years, is a fresh take from a band intent on pushing themselves musically and sonically while maintaining the aesthetic that has defined not only them, but an entire generation of noisemakers. It marks many firsts, most notably their first recordings made using hi-fi recording equipment at the famed Machines With Magnets, and their first album for Thrill Jockey. More than any previous album, Fantasy Empire sounds like drummer Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson are playing just a few feet away, using the clarity afforded by the studio to amplify the intensity they project. Every frantic drum hit, every fuzzed-out riff, sounds more present and tangible than ever before.
Fantasy Empire is ferocious, consuming, and is a more accurate translation of their live experience. It also shows Lightning Bolt embracing new ways to make their music even stranger. More than any previous record, Chippendale and Gibson make use of live loops and complete separation of the instruments during recording to maximize the sonic pandemonium and power. Gibson worked with Machines very carefully to get a clear yet still distorted and intense bass sound, allowing listeners to truly absorb the detail and dynamic range he displays, from the heaviest thud to the subtle melodic embellishments. Some of these songs have been in the band's live repertoire since as early as 2010, and have been refined in front of audiences for maximum impact. This is heavy, turbulent music, but it is executed with the precision of musicians that have spent years learning how to create impactful noise through the use of dynamics, melody, and rhythm.
Fantasy Empire has been in gestation for four years, with some songs having been recorded on lo-fi equipment before ultimately being scrapped. Since Early Delights was released, the band has collaborated with the Flaming Lips multiple times, and continued to tour relentlessly. 2013 saw the release of All My Relations by Black Pus, Chippendale's solo outlet, which was followed by a split LP with Oozing Wound. Chippendale, an accomplished comic artist and illustrator, created the Fantasy Empire's subtly ominous album art, and will release an upcoming book of his comics through respected imprint Drawn and Quarterly. Brian Gibson has been developing the new video game Thumper, with his own company, Drool, which will be released next year. And, of course, Lightning Bolt will be touring the US in 2015.
When: May 17, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $12 advance / $14 day of show (Sun, 17 May 2015 21 )
In partnership with theCinema and Media Studies program, the Davis presents this series of film screenings dedicated to exploring the groundbreaking achievements of women directors in modern Iranian cinema. Proportionally speaking, there have been more high profile female directors in Iran than in several Western countries, despite the hardships of women in post-Revolutionary Iran. These films range from drama to comedy and explore a broad range of topics, suspending generalizations of Iranian society and provoking curiosity. These selections highlight just a few of these critically-acclaimed films - sure to delight cinephiles, art-lovers, and everyone in-between.
Generously supported by the Davis Museum Film Program Gift.
March 4: Blackboards(2000, Dir. Samira Makhmalbaf)
Carrying large blackboards on their backs, a group of teachers cross the mountainous paths of the remote Iranian Kurdistan region in the wake of the chemical bombing of Halabja, searching for students to teach. But as the teachers encounter one hardship after another, it seems that hunger and insecurity has not left any chance for the education of the future generations. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.
Presented in 35mm.
When: Mar 4, 2015 6 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18 )
Special exhibition tours are led by a Student Guide and are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. All tours start at 2:00pm and meet in the Davis lobby.
Known for his iconic Campbell’s soup can bright prints, Andy Warhol explored art as it related to a new era of commerciality. He was a leading artist of the 1960s Pop Art movement not only in printmaking but also in performance art, filmmaking, video installations, writing, and many other mediums. At times highly controversial, his work challenged the definition of art as his pieces often seemed to lack inherent meaning and rather served for aesthetic purposes.
This exhibition explores the rich holdings of artwork—some iconic and others lesser known—by Andy Warhol (1928–1987) in the collections of the Davis, which were recently greatly enhanced by generous gifts from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. An exciting and challenging array of photographs, prints, and sculpture by the leading figure of pop art will be on view.
Curated by Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs/Senior Curator of Collections. Presented with generous support from Wellesley College Friends of Art at the Davis.
When: Mar 7, 2015 2 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Sat, 07 Mar 2015 14 )
WHO: Join The Sinclair’s Executive Chef Keenan Langlois and Bill Codman, Master of Whisky for George Dickel Tennessee Whisky, as they come together to create a four-course dinner that will perfectly marry the southern spirit with complimentary flavors.
WHAT: Guests are invited to savor the season with a four-course whisky dinner at The Sinclair, paired with selections from George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. Included from the profile will be the George Dickel 8 year, George Dickel 12 year, George Dickel Rye, George Dickel Barrel Select. As guests arrived, they’ll be welcomed with a whisky cocktail created by Sinclair Bar Manager, Lindsay Whalen.
The menu for the evening will include: First Course: Frisee Salad with Grilled Endive, Smoked Oysters, Poached Egg, Blood Orange Second Course: Chicken Fried Foie Gras Torchon with Cherry Gastrique and Watercress Salad Third Course: Roasted Prime Rib with Charred Leeks, Candied Shallots and Rye Dijon Cream Dessert: Coconut Souffle Cake with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream and Plantain Chips
When: Mar 4, 2015 7 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $65 (inclusive of tax and gratuity) (Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19 )
After years toiling away as a guitarist in other-people's bands, Courtney Barnett finally gained the courage to step out as a solo artist less than two years ago. Gathering together a bunch of like minded friends, she recorded a debut EP of rambling garage pop and began life as a front-woman.
That EP 'I've Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris" received glowing reviews in her home country of Australia but that trickle of critical acclaim turned into a river of praise upon the release of her second EP "How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose".
While the sprawling guitar jams of her band "The Courtney Barnetts" barely hide her remarkable pop sensibility it's Courtney's honesty, wit and unique turn of phrase that set her apart from the rest. Reviews range from calling her "The next queen of Australian rock and roll" to just wanting to be mates with her, "I've only ever met her once but I can tell she's a legend."
2013 has seen Courtney release a bunch of killer singles such as the free associating 'History Eraser' (praised by The Guardian as "a perfect summary of the earnest freewheelin' and rambling wit that makes music from this end of the world just so great.") and the anaphylactic balladry of 'Avant Gardener'. With a second EP complete (produced by The Drones' Dan Luscombe), a debut album around the corner and an increasingly impatient international audience waiting for her to leave her shores, it's an exciting time to be one of Courtney Barnett's friends.
When: May 18, 2015 8 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $17 advance / $20 day of show (Mon, 18 May 2015 20 )
Ex Hex is Mary Timony, Laura Harris, and Betsy Wright. They are a power trio hailing from Washington, DC, making the music you’ve been waiting for. Drums, bass, guitar, P90s, searing leads—this is unapologetic rock ’n’ roll spat out in the discipline’s mother tongue.
Mary found Laura Harris (The Aquarium, Benjy Ferree) and they hit it off immediately. Laura is a monster on drums: intuitive, solid, and just a bit rough around the edges. The pair played together for a couple of months in a tiny carpet-lined practice space shared with half a dozen hardcore bands and what appeared to be the better part of a B.C. Rich Mockingbird. In walked Betsy Wright from the wilds of Virginia. She and Mary have similar tendencies, both defaulting to denim and The Voidoids. Betsy is a performer and an ace piano player, and before long, she was slinging a cherry SG as the third member of Ex Hex.
The group played a handful of shows and a couple of months later, in the spring of 2014, headed into the studio. Working furiously, they recorded over the span of two weeks in North Carolina with Mitch Easter (Let’s Active) and in the basement of Mary’s home with frequent collaborator Jonah Takagi. Bobby Harlow (The Go, Conspiracy of Owls) was tapped to mix because of his unique take on making rock records. What results is Ex Hex Rips, twelve songs about underdogs, guys stealing your wallet, schoolyard brawls, and getting bent. The record happens pretty quickly, so don’t blink.
When: Jun 13, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $15 (Sat, 13 Jun 2015 21 )
When a band spends the bulk of its year on the road, its members are bound to have their share of trouble and strife. But only the truly talented are able to take those trying experiences and turn them into enduring art. The Randy Rogers Band is one of those few, and they’ve transformed coal into diamonds yet again on their latest album for MCA Nashville, Trouble.
Teaming up for the first time with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage the Elephant, The Wallflowers), the Texas five-piece—vocalist/guitarist Randy Rogers, guitarist Geoffrey Hill, bassist Jon Richardson, fiddle player Brady Black, and drummer Les Lawless—dove headfirst into songs of loss, love and, above all, truth.
“No matter what, trouble always finds us. And that title honestly sums up the last two and a half years of making this record,” says Rogers. “At times it cuts deep and you can hear the pain, but it’s honest, it’s real. On the flip, we like to have a good time and you can hear that too. ”
During that time, the band and its extended family suffered an assortment of calamities, including the untimely death of Richardson’s brother. Instead of letting those events derail them, the band pulled together tighter than ever and allowed their personal experiences, pain and loss to seep into their work while hunkering down in the studio with Joyce.
“Getting Jay onboard pumped us up, made us work harder, and made me more creative. I think it reenergized our band,” Rogers says. “It was a blessing. The timing couldn’t have been better.”
A blessing for both the group and for their passionate fan base, w ho will no doubt connect with the 11 tracks of Trouble, the band’s eighth album. The band has always enjoyed critical acclaim, thanks to their signature blend of outlaw edge coupled with guy-next-door charm. This album takes that duality to the next level.
The first single “One More Sad Song” is a heart wrenching autobiographical tale of the end of a relationship. The sorrow in the lyric is tangible and echoed by a soaring, haunting chorus. “Fuzzy,” with its dirty, swampy groove, is the hazy recollection of a night that many have heard of and only a few have had. And “Speak of the Devil” is about one man’s efforts to forget his ex whose name and memory haunts the darkest corners of his mind. “I came in here to drink to drown you out and watch you sink…to do anything but think. Speak of the devil.”
“This album is a little more out of the box for us. We pushed the envelope intentionally, to try to grow and experiment with our sound in the studio. Knowing the depth of Jay’s talent and his genius, we were all willing to take a chance to expand our range. We felt comfortable in our skin with him and were able to try sounds that are a bit out of the ordinary,” Rogers says. “Glad we took those chances.”
On “Fuzzy,” for instance, the band uses wrenches and cooking equipment to add texture and layers to the sound. The payoff, a unique album with roots that run deep.
“We’ve grown as a band with this record. But I still don’t think we could make an album without the soul and passion that that embodies Texas music and it’s heritage,” said Rogers. “I am definitely proud that we are from Texas. We got our start here and cut our teeth here. To me, it’s the whole reason I have a gig.” Rogers continued, “Without growing up dreaming to be George Strait or Willie Nelson, there wouldn’t be a Randy Rogers Band.”
As such, there’s a certain cachet attached to the group—an authenticity that can’t be manufactured, and one that is often coveted by other artists.
“We work hard touring, building up our fan base and putting on a good show night after night, over 200 nights a year. I feel like people have grown to respect us for that.” Rogers is nonetheless honored by the group’s three consecutive ACM Award nominations for Vocal Group of the Year. “It’s validating. The ACM nominations, and even the regional awards we’ve won in Austin, mean a lot to the band. I can’t tell you how proud we are every time we hear that we’ve been nominated.”
And they’re equally proud of the fact that their hero Willie Nelson graces “Trouble Knows My Name,” a true-to-life song about the perils of the road that recalls the Red Headed Stranger’s own “Me and Paul.”
“We went out to Willie’s studio to record his vocal and guitar tracks. That is a day I’ll never forget. Having him on our record and being able to be in the studio while Willie Nelson was recording, priceless.”
“In the verse that Willie sings, there really was a guy hanging halfway out of our bus after a show in New Orleans,” Randy says. “We scared him off, and he came back and threw a bucket full of concrete through the window trying to get back in.”
“If I Had Another Heart” is a track that honors one of the band’s influences, Radney Foster, who produced three of the group’s previous albums. “We’ve always been huge fans of Radney and we always try to include him in our records. He was one of my first mentors and I’ve learned so much from him. ‘If I Had Another Heart’ is an incredible song, it really fits what we do as a band on the stage. We were excited he let us cut it, we hope we made him proud.”
Which is exactly where the band excels: on the concert stage. Under those bright lights they actually develop new songs, reinterpret old favorites and, most importantly, forge a connection with their audience before heading back to the studio and employing what they’ve learned. Such was the case with Trouble.
“We like to view albums as snapshots. It’s a photo of where the five of us are and where we came from. We made this record as a team and we’re really proud of it. It showcases who we are as a band and we got to include some of our heroes—and you just can’t beat that,” says Randy.
When: Apr 15, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $20 advance / $22 day of show (Wed, 15 Apr 2015 21 )
Calexico is no stranger to negotiating borders. For the better part of two decades, eight albums, and countless trips around the globe, Joey Burns and John Convertino have crossed musical barriers with their band, embracing a multitude of diverse styles, variety in instrumentation, and well-cultivated signature sounds. Under fences it digs and over mountains it climbs, sometimes into untrodden terrain, sometimes towards a more familiar landscape, and sometimes simply walking that fine line to soak up sustenance from all sides. These are men from the desert, yes, but there has always been so much more to Calexico than just heritage and heat. Now, with Edge of the Sun, Burns and Convertino find themselves straddling that celestial division of light and dark, taking inspiration from a trip to a place surprisingly unexplored by the band before, and with the benefit of many friends and comrades to help guide the way. "When I step back from this record I see the spirit of collaboration," says Burns. "As we began working on it, we started inviting people and it was a natural thing. We've always welcomed guests; it's in our DNA. John and I are really good at hopping in to play with people and improvise but we're also sensitive to what artists need." "We've collaborated a lot in the past on other records but this one is the most vastly collaborative," says Convertino. "Almost every song has a different guest." The first outside invitation came when Burns was writing "Bullets and Rocks" and recognized space for a former Calexico collaborator to join. "When putting vocals on that song, it immediately reminded me of the Iron & Wine feel," says Burns. "So I texted Sam (Beam), who wrote back quickly and got it going." Encouraged by that experience, the guest list grew to include musicians from a myriad of backgrounds, origins, and genres, including Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses, Nick Urata from Devotchka, Carla Morrison, Gaby Moreno, Amparo Sanchez, multi-instrumentalists from the Greek band Takim, as well as Neko Case. Burns' older brother John Burns lent a hand to some lyrics and songwriting, and the band's keyboardist, Sergio Mendoza, stepped up to co-write and arrange certain songs, ultimately co-producing the album along with Burns, Convertino, and longtime associate Craig Schumacher. It was, in fact, at Mendoza's suggestion that Calexico would physically cross an actual border for a retreat to the historic Mexico City borough of Coyoacán to begin the writing process for Edge of the Sun. In view of the fresh creative perspective provided by the band's journey to New Orleans to make its previous album, Algiers, Burns sought Mendoza's involvement in finding a new writing destination. "I wanted to see the band revisit elements in the songwriting that led to songs from [the band's 1998 breakthrough album] The Black Light, so I suggested going to Mexico City," says Mendoza. "To me, it wasnt going back to something they had already done, but rather adding another chapter with Mexican collaborators. The surroundings of Coyoacán really helped bring life to those ideas that were waiting for a special time and place to come out." "Going to another city to jumpstart the creative writing process helped us to know what this record is about and where we are as a band, like an open canvas with few ties to normal routines when recording and writing," says Burns. "Of course, we have been influenced by Mexican music and culture since the beginning, and you would imagine that a trip to Mexico City would have happened on past projects, but it hadn't. So going to the center of Mexico and seeing an artistic community with such an impressive history as well as notable current musicians really inspired us." The ten days in Coyoacán were not without their surprises. Initially expecting for the world of Calexico to mesh with the sounds and vibe of Mexico City and take on varied overt Latin influences, Burns and Convertino were amazed when they left the country with some of their poppiest songs to date. Album opener "Falling from the Sky" is earnestly straightforward in its rafter-reaching approach, and "When the Angels Play," with additional vocals and lyrics by Pieta Brown, connects thematically to the Aztecs but, in Burns' words, could have been written anywhere. Perspective achieved, the band internalized the influence of Mexico and continued to write and record in their home Wavelab studio in Tucson throughout the middle half of 2014. Songs such as the electronica "Cumbia de Donde" and the cinematic swell of "Coyoacán" were direct results of the foreign experience and the type of lessons that can only be realized upon reflection. While Convertino's move to El Paso, Texas, presented another slight border to cross, all this distance only served to inspire and preserve the unique Calexico identity: unconventional timing and instrumental elements, an electrifying live show, and the pushing forward of social connection and ideas to create a profound space. "It really demonstrates the dynamics of our live show, and I'm hoping this album helps translates some of that energy," says Burns, identifying Edge of the Sun most closely to the wide-ranging styles of their 2003 album Feast of Wire. "We weren't trying to replicate anything or make it hugely different from song to song, but there is some of that carryover, I think. As much as we try to break new ground on records, inevitably there's continuity, which works well on a record like this." Convertino, too, singles out Feast of Wire as a touchstone for the new album and a special era for Calexico, one that informed the band's unique relationship with space and distance today. "Feast of Wire opened the door for us and attached our sound to the region, helping us discover that we could have that sound and still be our own thing," he says. "Joey and I have talked a lot about space in music; we make sure to give the notes we don't play as much emphasis as the notes we do play, because they're just as important. It's a big part of what Calexico does: we create a space." Negotiating borders and the spaces within, then inviting others inside those edges: that may be the recipe for Calexico's success. As its empire expands and the familiar pieces join with fresh ideas and a new cohort to pass under wires and across fields and time, Calexico now finds itself here in 2015 on the solar precipice, navigating the edge and trying to find hope in that balance of darkness and light. "The 'edge of the sun' could be coming from the direction of darkness seeking light, or riding the line between both," says Burns. "Which side of this edge are you on? Traversing along the edge of the sun, that to me feels closest to what this album is and what the band has been, and where we are with this international makeup of musicians. Madrid, Nashville, Tucson, El Paso, Berlin; it's an eclectic mix. All in all, this album is about pushing through the blue to brighter days. Calexico has always had that element of hope, going back and forth between a positive outlook and embracing desperate or dark themes that I think we all share."
When: Jun 4, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $22 advance / $25 day of show (Thu, 04 Jun 2015 21 )
San Fermin is the work of Brooklyn composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. His self-titled debut album is strongly influenced by his unique background in classical music, which includes a job assisting composer/arranger Nico Muhly.
After finishing his musical studies at Yale, Ludwig-Leone wrote the album in six weeks while holed up in a studio on the mountainous border between Alberta and British Columbia. He focused on life?s top-shelf issues – youth, nostalgia, anxiety, unrequited love – and tied these vast themes to different characters through vocal contributions from longtime friend Allen Tate, as well as Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius.
The first track released from the album, "Sonsick," tackles many of these larger themes head-on. "It's like a panic attack disguised as a birthday party," Ludwig-Leone says. "I realized that the most intense moments are the ones in which conflicting emotional worlds exist inside you, equally, at once."
San Fermin is not an album of singles but rather a sweeping, full-bodied listen with multiple distinct peaks and ambitious thematic connections. Ludwig-Leone composed all of the album's arrangements and lyrics in full prior to collaborating and recording, noting that "writing for a large group of unknown musicians infused the writing process with a kind of operatic scope.
Since then, the band has coalesced into a core of eight members in addition to Ludwig-Leone: Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye, lead vocals; Rebekah Durham, vocals/violin; John Brandon, trumpet; Stephen Chen, saxophone; Tyler McDiarmid, guitar; and Mike Hanf, drums.
San Fermin is available now on CD, vinyl and digital outlets via Downtown Records. The name is pronounced [SAN fur-MEEN]
When: May 8, 2015 8 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $15 advance / $18 day of show (Fri, 08 May 2015 20 )
After being featured by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Fox News playing sold out houses in NY, LA and SF, attracting fans such as Dodger’s Andre Either, Dan Patrick, Lori Petty, Gary Busey, Kirsten Dunst, and even Keanu Reeves himself, Jaime Keeling’s POINT BREAK LIVE!, (the smash-hit parody of the 1991 Keanau Reeves/Patrick Swayze extreme action blockbuster movie Point Break) is coming to BOSTON! For the FIRST TIME EVER for ONE SHOW ONLY! The extreme 90s sports action, senseless violence and unintentionally hilarious dialogue of the original film, combined with over-the-top, action-packed comedy in a punk-theater setting, POINT BREAK LIVE! will have it’s BOSTON premiere JAN 31ST at THE SINCLAIR; doors 8pm show 9pm.
POINT BREAK LIVE! takes the audience along for the ride as FBI agent Johnny Utah is abused by the bureau, hazed by the LA surf community, and bromanced by one truly radical sonofabitch -- wave-catching guru Bodhisattva. In a “low-brow brilliant!” twist according to New York Magazine, the role of Utah is performed by an audience member selected nightly in an impromptu Are U Keanu? contest. To infiltrate the violent and insular world of the LA surf scene, former audience member Special Agent John Utah must learn to surf, sky dive and dominate at beach football. His lines are provided to him via cue card via a production assistant who is also his stunt double. No shit.
Sometimes credited as the first-ever “reality-play”, the audience as the movie's extras are caught in guns-a-blazing bank robberies, bloodied from senseless violence and soaked in a devastating Australian hurricane. No worries...a POINT BREAK LIVE! SURVIVAL KIT (poncho, earplugs, Bodhisattva $ etc.) is included with each ticket purchase! The life you save may be your own! Ms. Keeling created the radical theatrical device of casting the LEAD from the audience – which has contributed to the overwhelming success of the production.
The cast of POINT BREAK LIVE! Features Michael Christoforo, David Carl, Jo-Anne Lee, Mark Sam Rosenthal, Tristan Griffin, Kate Armstrong Ross, Brian Sturgill and Chris Nester. Production design includes technical design by Zach Wood, live music by Patrick Hambrick, fight choreography by Rod Kinter, Shane O’Connor is the Stage Manager.
JAIME KEELING (WRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR) Jaime Keeling has curated, produced, and directed many independent film/theater/multimedia projects. She produced 2011 Spirit Award-winning, and Gotham Award-nominated feature film “Without” and award-winning music video “Caskets” for artist Damien Jurado. She was formerly the program director of film arts non-profit Northwest Film Forum where she curated year-round programming and worked closely with local and international artists from all mediums. She was the originating programmer of L Magazine's popular outdoor film series Summerscreen in Brooklyn. She first premiered her college stoner joke Point Break LIVE! in 2003 in the highly liberal and permissive city of Seattle, Washington. It was a hit.
She is living proof that a major in philosophy can help you become a well-rounded writer of some killer stoner jokes that will still be appreciated by audiences over a decade later. Special Thanks to Keanu Reeves without which she would not have a career.
POINT BREAK LIVE! First premiered in 2003 for a sold-out 1 month run Directed/Produced by Jaime Keeling at Seattle's Little Theater and has since toured throughout the country, including extended runs at the Knitting Factory/Webster Hall/Bell House/Littlefield in New York, DragonFly in Los Angeles, and DNA Lounge in San Francisco. It previously played at Charlie O's Lounge in the Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles where much of the movie took place, and premiered on October 1, 2008 at the V Theater/Planet Hollywood Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas. To date it is the longest running show in LA/Hollywood, where it opened in 2007.
When: May 29, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $25 advance / $30 day of show (Fri, 29 May 2015 21 )
Some quick true/false facts about the band Horse Feathers and their new album, So It Is With Us:
1. The record was partially recorded in a barn in a beautiful pastoral setting in rural Oregon (true, but hasn’t everybody done this now?)
2. The band lives in Portland, OR (also true, and they are consciously and unconsciously living breathing stereotypes just like the ones portrayed in Portlandia)
3. Horse Feathers last album charted on Billboard by selling fewer records than they had in the past (true, but maybe more a comment on the music industry as a whole?)
4. For this album, the band was influenced by the following: Pentangle, Talk Talk, Paul Simon, The Band, Van Morrison, John Wesley Harding era Bob Dylan, Desire era Bob Dylan, and Abner Jay (not what you would have guessed, right?)
Justin Ringle, the man behind all ten years of Horse Feathers, has the following to say about the making of this album, and the current state of his band:
“I wanted to stop. I did all the touring for my fourth record – "Cynic's New Year" – and ended the year 2012 disillusioned and defeated. I didn't touch my guitar for months, which was the longest I had gone in about 15 years. I thought that my career in music was over and wondered if I even wanted to do it anymore. After an arduous period of self-doubt and discovery, I finally arrived at the enlightened idea that maybe it should just be a little more fun. I had grown weary of talking to people after shows who said that my last record “helped them through their divorce”. I have always been flattered by that sort of thing, but I realized what I wanted to hear was how my last record helped them “have a great weekend”. If you have heard any of my previous records you will realize that this transformation from “divorce” band to “weekend” band would be a tall order. And it was! I wouldn’t say we’ve become a “party band” overnight, but I certainly tried to change things a bit.
I enlisted friends to play with me that I trusted and had known for years. Along with longtime bandmates Nathan Crockett (strings/mandolin) and Dustin Dybvig (percusion/drums/keys), I threw Justin Power (bass/vocals) into the mix to have an honest to god rhythm section for the first time. With Lauren Vidal on cello and Brad Parsons singing harmonies, we played an impromptu show at Sasquatch and people liked it. We liked it, and the unusual feeling that I had after that show – which I think is referred to as “joy” – became something I wanted to experience again. I shared more. I stopped editing myself as much. The joy of playing live became its own reward, and I dared myself to allow that joy to shape the songwriting. In the end, I was able to let it go, and I don't own it anymore. Which also feels like joy. That's the way it was, and so it is with us.”
So It Is With Us will be released on Kill Rock Stars on October 21, 2014.
When: Mar 27, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $15 (Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21 )
With their sleek yet gritty brand of alt-bluesy garage rock, Toronto-based five-piece July Talk create rock & roll that's both boldly intimate and wildly confrontational. Each track in the band's repertoire is a conversation in song form, with singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay trading lines in a lyrical face-off that's at turns hot-tempered and tender, reckless and poetic. Onstage that conversation warps into beautiful chaos, thanks to the band's joyfully unhinged, spontaneity-fueled live performance. And in their music—including the five songs that grace their Island Records debut EP Guns + Ammunition—July Talk piece together supremely heavy riffs, infectious beats, and snakey grooves in a sound that's savage but seductive.
"With the name of the band, the word 'talk' refers to the whole idea of our songs being a conversation, and 'July' is about that thing that happens in the summertime when you're young—how you can meet someone and fall in love and party your face off and then fall out of love and have the happiest and saddest time in your life, all in about three months," explains Dreimanis, who founded July Talk in 2012 with Fay and fellow guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton, and drummer Danny Miles. And while Dreimanis's initial vision for the project centered on that tag-team vocal exchange, Fay notes that July Talk's emotionally intricate, contradiction-driven dynamic results largely from the band's raw authenticity. "I think it comes naturally from us living out our intention of being an honest rock band, whether it's quiet-loud or male-female, or whatever else comes up as we're expressing what we need to express," she says.
Even July Talk's two lead voices are constantly clashing forces, with Dreimanis's raspy growl scraping up against Fay's graceful sing-song. On Guns + Ammunition July Talk use those vocals to channel their pure and brutal emotionalism into wickedly sharp and sardonic lyrics. On "Paper Girl," for instance, Dreimanis attempts to destroy an ex-love with jabs like "You don't look pretty when you smile/So don't smile at all" before Fay steps in and serenades him with the sweetly devastating chorus ("And if you want money in your coffee/If you want secrets in your tea/Keep your paper heart away from me"). With its swinging rhythm and sludgy guitar, "Summer Dress" touches on the possible futility of looking for love in the city ("The girls are young, a little dumb/And they're going it alone"), while the twangy, tough-talking "Garden" is a close-up glimpse at mental unraveling ("I've got thoughts that ain't my own/I'm talking black souls dressed in red/And things that I never shoulda known"). And on the quietly brooding "I've Rationed Well" (a song about "creating an idealized version of someone and being nostalgic when they're gone—basically missing someone who doesn't exist," according to Dreimanis), Fay's hushed vocals entwine with Dreimanis's stark spoken-word to deliver lines like "We'll survive by telling lies/We've rationed well" to haunting effect.
True to their name, July Talk was born in the summertime, at a Toronto bar lit solely by candlelight in recognition of the anniversary of the 2003 blackout. "There was an acoustic guitar getting passed around and Leah was playing and singing as I came in, and I was just blown away by her," recalls Dreimanis, who'd recently parted ways with his former band and written a batch of songs intended for dual vocalists. Though the two didn't connect that night, Dreimanis soon tracked Fay down and sent her a handful of songs he'd recorded in his bedroom. "We were from such different places and going through such different things, it almost felt like it shouldn't have worked," says Fay, who previously played in a band/performance-art project called Mothers of Brides (who, as she explains, "tried to distract from the sincerity of our songs by doing things like banging on books with hammers and having people play Jenga onstage during our sets"). Rounding out the lineup with Docherty, Warburton, and Miles (all of whom were former bandmates of Dreimanis), July Talk soon began playing together and expanding the songs Dreimanis had newly developed. "The bands I'd played in before had a Replacements-y sort of influence, very loud and high-energy rock & roll mixed with intoxication, so I wanted to take the manic chaos of that and turn it into something more intimate," Dreimanis points out.
After finding a manager and setting to work on their debut (a self-titled album released in Canada in autumn 2012), July Talk quickly threw themselves into a frantic touring schedule that's gone a long way in shaping the sound and soul of the band. "Starting right from when the record came out we were on the road about 90 percent of the time, which we really love," says Dreimanis. "The stage is where this band lives, and we've written our songs in a way that they can change every night and turn into something completely different when we play them live." When it comes to writing, July Talk tend to retreat to remote and quiet spaces (such as a friend's house in the woods, where they set up camp last January) and dedicate entire days to working on songs. "All five of us get together and bring ideas to the table and deconstruct them and fight over them and eventually love them, and then Leah and I will work on the lyrics," says Dreimanis. In that lyric-writing, July Talk aim first and foremost for a certain frankness and uncompromising honesty. "It's really important to us that we fully illustrate the subject we're trying to get at in the song, which a lot of the time has to do with what it's like to be 25 and confused or pissed off or whatever it is that we are," says Dreimanis. "We try to have the guts to say the kinds of things that most people would hold themselves back from saying."
Also intensely devoted to the visual element of the band, July Talk have put out a series of self-produced videos directed by Warburton and shot in black and white to mimic their music's spirit of contrast. According to Fay, that what-you-see-is-what-you-get aesthetic has much to do with "trying to make something people can connect with in a real and direct way." With recent outings including a spring tour of Europe and stops at summer festivals like the Isle of Wight, connection through live performance is also paramount to the band. "It's an amazing thing to experience people through rock & roll," says Fay. "I feel like I'm learning so much by being onstage and getting to look hundreds of different people in the eyes." And in making those connections, the band members endlessly play off the give-and-take dynamic that stands at the heart of July Talk. "We always see how far we can push each other past our boundaries, figuratively and literally," says Dreimanis. "Quite early on we realized the audience was totally on board with that, so now how we measure a show is whether we're able to lose all touch with reality, and create something special that goes way past what anyone's expectations of us might be."
When: Mar 1, 2015 9 PM in Allston, Massachusetts Cost: $10 (Sun, 01 Mar 2015 21 )
What is the history of affirmative action policies on Asian Americans? How are these policies affecting Asian Americans today? Please join us as Ling Chi Wang answers and elaborates on these questions in his lecture.
Ling-Chi Wang helped establish Asian American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and taught its first course in 1969. He is a founder of Chinese For Affirmative Action and the recipient of the Association for Asian American Studies Lifetime Achievement Award. Before his retirement in 2006, Professor Wang headed the program and the Ethnic Studies Department several times. He helped create the Ethnic Studies graduate program as well as the campus American Cultures requirement.
Professor Wang co-founded the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO) in 1992, which has since been sponsoring conferences at sites around the world where Chinese diaspora communities are located. From the 1960s to the present, he led community struggles against Republic of China (Taiwan) control of Chinese American community politics. He has been at the forefront of language education rights advocacy for more than four decades, advocating for language immersion programs, inclusion of Asian languages by the Educational Testing Services and, most recently, the building of a San Francisco community college branch in San Francisco Chinatown, where Chinatown restaurant and garment workers might take ESL classes in and near the communities where they work and live. In 2011, Wang received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Chinese-language Media Association, an organization of professionals on TV and radio, as well as in newspaper, magazine, and online publication. Wang was the first and only one to receive the award, which was presented at a the banquet for 300 at the Grand Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City. (source: http://aaads.berkeley.edu)
Dinner will be provided.
Support for this event provided by The Edwards Fund, Advisor to Students of Asian Descent, Mayling Soong Fund, and hte Ching Jem Lung fund.
When: Mar 11, 2015 5 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Wed, 11 Mar 2015 17 )
Come learn a skill! Everyone knows something that can easily be taught, and the Sustainability Skill Share is a time for students and professors to teach others a skill, such as how to recycle, how to knit, or how to make honey.There will be multiple skills to learn, so engage with your curious side and join us.
When: Apr 8, 2015 12 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Wed, 08 Apr 2015 12 )
Join us for an exploration of current issues in contemporary Middle Eastern art, an area of newly heightened interest among institutions, collectors, curators, scholars, and patrons. Organized in conjunction with the groundbreaking exhibition Parviz Tanavoli, the event kicks off with a special screening of Terrance Turner's new documentary film on the artist. A day long symposium considers Tanavoli's art in context. Drawing inspiration from Tanavoli's myriad roles as an artist, teacher, scholar, collector, and curator over nearly six decades, the symposium maps the ways contemporary Middle Eastern art circulates within the artworld. Panelists will discuss the possibilities and limits of the scholarly, curatorial, economic, and political infrastructures within which this emerging field is embedded. Presented with major support from the Kathryn Wasserman Davis '28 Fund for World Cultures and Leadership.
The screening and symposium are free and open to the public; however, reservations are required. Please see the Davis.
When: Apr 18, 2015 10 AM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Sat, 18 Apr 2015 10 )
The Middle Eastern Studies Program at Wellesley College, with generous contributions from the Department of Religion, the Barnette Miller Foundation, and the Department of Political Science present: Houchang Chehabi, "The Paradox of Iran's Religious Diversity".
Houchang Chehabi currently teaches International Relations and History at Boston University. Houchang Chehabi has taught at Harvard, Oxford, and UCLA, and has held Alexander von Humboldt and Woodrow Wilson fellowships. He has published two books, Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism: The Liberation Movement of Iran under the Shah and Khomeini (1990) and Distant Relations: Iran and Lebanon in the Last 500 Years (2006). He has also co-edited Politics, Society, and Democracy: Comparative Studies (1995) and Sultanistic Regimes (1998). Professor Chehabi has written numerous articles, book reviews, and translations. He has contributed to numerous edited books and journal issues on the topics of Persian politics, culture, literature, language, and Religion.
Dr. Chehabi's lecture at Wellesley College on March 2 will examine the following: Few areas of the world have given rise to as many religions as Iran. And yet, today adherents of Iran's official religion constitute more than 99% of the country's population. This talk first provides a tableau of religious communities in Iran, both those that are officially recognized and those that are not. It then traces the development of these communities and their official status from the end of the nineteenth century to the present.
(Photo courtesy of the Graduate Institute of Geneva)
When: Mar 2, 2015 4 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16 )
Terry Martin is the George F. Baker III Professor of Russian Studies in the History Department, and director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the USSR, 1923-1939 (Cornell UP, 2001) and co-editor (with Ronald Suny) of A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-Making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin (Oxford UP, 2001). In addition to questions of nationality and empire, he has written on religion, political and administrative history, Soviet neo-traditionalism, and the political police, as well as the Nazi-Soviet comparison. He is currently completing a book on the politics and sociology of state information-gathering in the USSR from the revolution through the death of Stalin.
When: Mar 10, 2015 8 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Tue, 10 Mar 2015 20 )
The current crisis over Ukraine has utterly obliterated the “reset” policy towards Russia that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama launched five years ago, and the world is witnessing a sea-change in U.S.-Russian relations. With President Obama issuing ever-harsher condemnations of his Russian counterpart, and Mr. Putin accusing the United States of having fomented revolution in Ukraine in order to remove Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence, are we now being hurtled into a new Cold War? Harvard Professor Timothy Colton will address this key question in a lecture on U.S.-Russian relations in this time of crisis and beyond.
Colton is the Morris and Anna Feldberg Professor of Government and Russian Studies and the Chair of the Department of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of several books focusing on post-Soviet government and politics, including The Dilemma of Reform in the Soviet Union (1986), Moscow: Governing the Socialist Metropolis (1995), and Transitional Citizens: Voters and What Influences Them in the New Russia (2000). Just a few of the numerous other positions he has held include being a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a member of the editorial board of World Politics and Post-Soviet Affairs (www.gov.harvard.edu).
This program is generously supported by the Davis Fund for Russian Area Studies.
When: Mar 4, 2015 8 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20 )
Join the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) in celebrating the release of Four Ways to Click: Rewire Your Brain for Stronger, More Rewarding Relationships by Amy Banks, M.D. with Leigh Ann Hirschman on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. at the Wellesley Centers for Women Cheever House. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing by Amy Banks.
When: Mar 4, 2015 4 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16 )
Free, self-guided tour of artist & artisans open studios, shops & museums of Boylston, West Boylston, and Clinton. Sponsored by the West Boylston Arts Foundation to support local arts. Information and directions available at www.wbaf.org.
When: Mar 14, 2015 10 AM in Worcester, Massachusetts Cost: Free (Sat, 14 Mar 2015 10 )
Attention came swiftly following Speedy Ortiz’s 2012 Sports EP on the Boston-centric label Exploding In Sound, and with good reason. Massachusetts-based songwriter/guitarist Sadie Dupuis’ knotty, lyrically dense songs were fully realized by her bandmates, with intricate guitar lines crisscrossing over Darl Ferm’s fluid bass and Mike Falcone’s precisely executed drumming in a way that was simultaneously catchy and jarring. After the success of its 2013 Best New Music-honored debut full-length Major Arcana, the band formalized its assault through a year and a half of relentless touring with bands in whose brainy-slash-brawny legacies it followed—among them Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Ex Hex, and The Breeders. In 2014, the band added guitarist Devin McKnight of the Boston-based post-punk group Grass Is Green, whose guitar parts both match and challenge Dupuis’.
Speedy Ortiz’s second proper album—Foil Deer, recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn when the band wasn’t pushing forward on its hectic 2014 tour schedule—comes out on April 21, 2015. The songs represent a leap forward, possessing a lightness that mirrors Dupuis’s post-grad school outlook; they also have a deliberate nature to them, one that emanates from extra studio time and more experimentation with the band’s essential form. (Ferm contributes a few unexpected guitar parts; Falcone’s vocal harmonies zing in with more force.) Speedy Ortiz possesses big-tent rock swagger and punk’s restless yet intimate spirit in a way that makes the impulses seem identical; while the quartet can still command crowds at festivals like Primavera Sound and Pitchfork Music Festival, they also relish playing Boston’s teeming basements alongside the city’s next generation of bands. That willingness to push not just forward, but in all directions, makes Speedy Ortiz one of rock’s most exciting outfits.
When: Apr 22, 2015 8:45:00 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $13 advance / $15 day of show (Wed, 22 Apr 2015 20:45:00 )
Eliga Gould, Professor of History and Chair of the History Department, University of New Hampshire, will speak on the topic, "The American Revolution as a Hemispheric Crisis." Professor Gould's most recent book is Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire (2012; paperback, 2014). Named a Library Journal Best Book of the Year, it received the SHEAR Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic and was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.
When: Mar 30, 2015 4 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16 )
Please note that due to illness, the Elizabeth Turner Jordan '59 Endowed Humanities Lecture with Achille Mbembe originally scheduled for March 3 has been cancelled. We hope to welcome Dr. Mbembe to campus at a later time. We regret any inconvenience this may cause, and appreciate your understanding.
When: Mar 3, 2015 4 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16 )
'Restarter' coming February 24th via Relapse Records on CD/LP/Deluxe 2xLP/Cassette/Digital.
The four-pronged Floridian Riff Colossus that has steamrolled its way across the international underground. Led by vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks (formerly of doom dropouts Floor) and featuring the myriad talents of drummer Rick Smith, bassist Jonathan Nuñez and guitarist Juan Montoya, Torche unfurled their self-titled debut in 2005 via Richmond, Virginia's Robotic Empire. The glorious half-hour of blissed-out power-grooves, triumphant vocal harmonies and cosmic resonance within was variously hailed as "stoner pop," "thunder rock," and "doom pop," but a consensus was quickly reached within the Fourth Estate: Both the underground and mainstream press had their hands halfway down their pants just thinking about listening to Torche. The band was immediately lauded as giants among men, leaders among sheep, and powerbrokers of a deadly new sonic idiom founded upon Brooks' signature "bomb-string" detonation-detune. As Decibel magazine so righteously pointed out in May of 2005, Torche "carries on in the dizzying Sabbathian tradition of Floor, only potentially more bottomless and epic." Seven months later, the same publication would declare Torche as the # 7 album of the year in its annual top 40.
When: Mar 24, 2015 9 PM in Allston, Massachusetts Cost: $16 (Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21 )
Swedish rapper born in 1996. Yung Lean exists in a universe of instant references to the pop culture that surrounds him. Digimon, Space Jam, Nintendo64, Mindcraft, Transformers, Super Smash Bros., Pokemon, Windows screensavers… Musically Yung Lean and his Sad Boys crew, all born in 1995, 1996, works in rap's freeform tradition. A flowing, asymmetrical and multicoloured creativity where wrong might as well be right. Emotional laser sword melancholia from Stockholm.
So far 2014 Yung Lean has been nominated for a place in the XXL Freshmen Class, several videos has reached over a million views on Youtube and he's done a sold out european tour. The next project is on it's way and it's finally time to meet the fans in the US and Canada. The Black Marble tour visits around 15 cities in 20 days.
When: Mar 1, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $18 advance / $20 day of show (Sun, 01 Mar 2015 21 )
Speaker Emily Dyer is a Research Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society in London. Her research focuses on women’s rights, female genital mutilation, Islamic feminism, Islamism and terrorism. Her most recent report, ‘Honour’ Killings in the UK, was launched in January alongside the announcement of Britain’s first national day of memory for victims of ‘honour’ killings. She is the author of Marginalizing Egyptian Women, based on field research in Cairo interviewing leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s women’s rights movement. Her previous reports include Al-Qaeda in the United States: A Complete Analysis of Terrorism Offenses and Terror in the Sinai. She has presented her research in the British Parliament, the White House, the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the National Counterterrorism Center, and has written about women’s rights and human rights issues for publications including Foreign Affairs, The Observer, The Telegraph, The Huffington Post, City AM, Prospect Magazine, The Atlantic, World Affairs, CTC Sentinel and Standpoint magazine.
When: Mar 3, 2015 6 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18 )
The new film from award winning director, producer, writer, and artist Terrence Turner (dir. Adele's Wish, 2008) screens with the director in attendance. Q & A with Terrence Turner. Screening begins at 5:00pm in Collins Cinema.
Please join us for a festive reception in the Davis Lobbyfollowing the film screening to celebrate the kick-off of Art and Reality: A Symposium on Contemporary Middle Eastern Art in Context.
When: Apr 17, 2015 7 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19 )
In partnership with the Cinema and Media Studies program, the Davis presents this series of film screenings dedicated to exploring the groundbreaking achievements of women directors in modern Iranian cinema. Proportionally speaking, there have been more high profile female directors in Iran than in several Western countries, despite the hardships of women in post-Revolutionary Iran. These films range from drama to comedy and explore a broad range of topics, suspending generalizations of Iranian society and provoking curiosity. These selections highlight just a few of these critically-acclaimed films - sure to delight cinephiles, art-lovers, and everyone in-between.
Generously supported by the Davis Museum Film Program Gift.
In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.
When: Apr 1, 2015 6 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18 )
Co-curators Eve Straussman-Pflanzer and Claire Whitner will discuss how the current installation of the Davis's Italian Old Master paintings collection is intended to provoke discussion of the behind-the-scenes decision-making that happens among curators: which paintings should be placed on view and why, whether conservation is an option, how should "hangs" be arranged, what information should be included in labels, among others. Objects conservator, Gerri Strickler, will join the conversation with her assessment of the Davis's collection of polychrome sculpture and discuss how these preliminary findings will determine whether treatment is possible and if so, how it will be carried out.
When: Mar 3, 2015 3 PM in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15 )
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis return with their first new album in three years since their acclaimed Smoking In Heaven. On Kitty, Daisy & Lewis The Third, themes of fresh adulthood and lost loves run throughout. With the enlisted help of legendary Clash guitarist, Mick Jones, as producer, KD&L recorded The Third in their self-constructed, 16-track analogue studio in a derelict Indian restaurant in Camden Town. "With Mick on board, it was the first time we have worked with a producer," says Lewis, "Just having someone else in the room meant we could start bouncing ideas off other people and that was great."
London siblings Kitty, Daisy & Lewis Durham are talented songwriters and musicians, whose musical background is rooted in the tradition where songs are handed down and performed at family gatherings, playing any instrument they lay their hands on. From a young age Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have been inspiring audiences with their unique stage show and eclectic musical selections rooted in a history of story telling.
It took a near-death experience to reunite Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin, the California brothers at the heart of "roots heroes" (Rolling Stone) The Blasters.
"Phil died and was brought back to life over in Spain," Dave says of his brother's 2012 health scare. "That was a real wakeup call to me. We hadn't made a full album together since 1985, but as you get older, you realize you're not immortal and you've only got so much time."
It only made sense, then, that for their first record together in three decades, the Alvin brothers would go back to where it all started and pay tribute to one of their original shared musical heroes: Big Bill Broonzy.
"I first remember seeing Big Bill's picture on an album cover that I bought when I was 14 or 15," says Phil. "I didn't really know who he was and came home and played it and was overwhelmed by him."
"We're brothers, we argue sometimes," Dave adds with a laugh, "but one thing we never argue about is Big Bill Broonzy. I remember the day Phil brought the record home, it was one of those childhood memories like you're graduating grammar school or stealing your first Playboy. For me, Big Bill is in that elite company of Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, people like that."
Like the Alvins', Broonzy's career lasted more than 30 years and spanned several stylistic incarnations, all of which the brothers sought to capture on 'Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy.' "He played both country blues and ragtime blues picking, and then in the late 1930's and 40's he was one of the inventors of the Chicago blues sound," explains Dave. "And then in the late 40's until his death, he was the guy that brought blues and American folk music to Europe. He was the first guy to go over there and blaze the trail."
That the Alvin brothers feel such a kinship with a trailblazer like Broonzy is little surprise. The Blasters emerged to international fame in the early 1980's, blending American roots and blues with searing punk energy to critical acclaim. Rolling Stone hailed their "bright, raw playing, terrific taste and...[Phil's] full- bodied vocals," while in the Village Voice, Robert Christgau wrote that Dave was "a major songwriter, one with John Fogerty's bead on the wound-tight good times of America's tough white underbelly." The band performed with everyone from X and Black Flag to The Cramps and Queen, and even gave early breaks to Los Lobos and Dwight Yoakam by inviting them on the road as openers. As AllMusic puts it, "it's practically impossible to imagine the roots rock scene of the '80s and onward existing without [The Blasters] as a roadmap."
The brothers went their separate ways in 1986, when Dave left the band to pursue a solo career. After decades apart musically, they reunited briefly to record songs for the 2013 soundtrack to "The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," a musical written by Stephen King and John Mellencamp featuring performances by Elvis Costello, Taj Mahal, and Kris Kistofferson among others, and produced by T Bone Burnett.They also sang a duet on “What’s Up With Your Brother” for Dave’s last Yep Roc release ‘Eleven Eleven.’
"We rehearsed at David's house a few times for that," remembers Phil, "and that was a good step in bringing us back together."
Once inspiration struck for the Big Bill Broonzy project, all it took was a phone call from Dave, and Phil was onboard and ready to head into the studio for their first album together in three decades.
"We used this old Foley studio from the 30's that had been used for movie sound effects," says Dave, who shares vocal duties with his brother on the record. "We set up all in that one little room a la Sun or Chess and just recorded."
"It was easy," he continues. "I'm not as boisterous as I used to be. Like the title suggests, this is where we come together. It's square one. There was nothing to argue about outside of 'Am I playing the guitar part right?'" he laughs.
Rather than trying to recreate Broonzy's exact guitar parts and vocals note for note, though, the record honors his innovative spirit and musical adventurousness, blending chords and melodies from different songs and incorporating stylistic nods to other guitarists—everyone from Magic Sam to Bo Diddley—whose work bears Big Bill's unmistakable fingerprint.
That encyclopedic knowledge of American music, that expansive musical vocabulary and the fluency with which the Alvins slip in out and of genres and eras is what enables 'Common Ground' to triumph. Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin may have set out to honor the legacy of Big Bill Broonzy with this record, but in the process, they solidified their own as one of roots music's most exceptional duos.
When: Mar 21, 2015 9 PM in Cambridge, Massachusetts Cost: $25 advance / $28 day of show (Sat, 21 Mar 2015 21 )
The Nile Project brings together artists from 11 countries along the Nile basin to create one unified sound. With the lilting melodies and deep grooves of Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and beyond, the music is produced by a stunning variety of instruments, including the masenko from Ethiopia, the ney and oud from Egypt, and the adungu from Uganda, in addition to violin, saxophone, bass guitar, and six vocalists singing in 11 languages. The Nile Project's 2013 recording Aswan was named a Must-Hear International Album by NPR.
When: Mar 27, 2015 8 PM in Boston, Massachusetts Cost: Reserved Seating
$28.00 (Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20 )
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