Encores and Curtain Calls

Encores & Curtain Calls: Three tales of summer

  • Pacifico "Tony"Palumbo and Michael Collins outside the former North River Glass studio on Deerfield Street in Shelburne Falls, where they hope to open a new Mexican restaurant named Mi Vida Loca.<br/>(Recorder/Paul Franz)

    Pacifico "Tony"Palumbo and Michael Collins outside the former North River Glass studio on Deerfield Street in Shelburne Falls, where they hope to open a new Mexican restaurant named Mi Vida Loca.
    (Recorder/Paul Franz)

  • Pacifico "Tony"Palumbo and Michael Collins outside the former North River Glass studio on Deerfield Street in Shelburne Falls, where they hope to open a new Mexican restaurant named Mi Vida Loca.<br/>(Recorder/Paul Franz)

One of the most poignant moments of the Superman saga occurs in “Superman Returns,” when we see our solitary protagonist descending toward earth from the darkness of insterstellar space, hearing, as he does so, to a desperate, densely layered cross-section of earth-born voices, beseeching the cosmos for intercession.

A bit further on, Lois Lane, who has had to make sense of a suddenly Superman-less (and therefore lover-less) universe for five years, bitterly taunts the Man of Steel, upon his sudden, seemingly cavalier reappearance, with the assertion, “The world doesn’t need a savior and neither do I.”

Listening gravely, Superman requests her to accompany him and, after some hesitation she finds them both floating in the night air above the million lights of Metropolis. As they hover there, he asks her: “Listen, what do you hear?”

After a pause, she replies, “Nothing.”

He follows with: ‘I hear everything ... you wrote that the world doesn’t need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.”

The world is a mighty big place and making one’s way through its mazes is frequently far from easy; my own hunch is that if so offered, we would all — if not openly, then secretly — welcome a saving presence in our lives.

Now is our chance to help out.

A tale of two dreamers

Given a recent, informative but, often, deeply pained dialogue with former Green Emporium entrepreneurs and life companions Tony “Pacifico” Palumbo and Michael Collins, the blow-by-blow of which might make for equally pained reading, one comes away with the sense these are two souls hovering between a rock, a hard place and the hope of a vision that, superheros aside, we ordinary mortals have within our modest means to help bring to fulfillment.

The rock/hard place: the loss of their former, much-loved venue in Colrain and with it the death of a shared dream, perhaps the most painful experience a human being can undergo, whether that dream be the dream of treasured way of life, a long-held hope or a trusted relationship. “Much-loved” because the Emporium was far more than an eatery, rather more like a salon after the gathering places of yore, where cuisine and culture-loving souls could gather, dine, dialogue and dream together about those things that made their journeys on earth worth living and away from which they came fulfilled in the true sense of the word, filled full at every level; an increasingly rare experience in today’s virtual flatland.

And so it is that, unwilling to let several years of cuisinary and therefore financial fallowness snowball into an irreversible backslide, with the imminent possibility of the loss of even their home hanging in the balance, Michael and Tony have rekindled their dream the birth of a new restaurant/bakery (and, I feel sure, salon) by the potholes in Shelburne Falls, to be named “Mi Vida Loca” (My Crazy Life). To their great credit, they have taken that dream on the road with more than a little success: to date, they have garnered $56,000 of their goal of $75,000: a $35,000 grant from the Franklin County Community Development Cooperation, $16,000 from generous direct contributions of their many friends and $5,000-plus through their Kickstarter campaign.

Better yet, they are being gifted with a benefit jazz concert on Saturday, July 5, in Shelburne Falls’ Memorial Hall, 51 Bridge St., by four-time Grammy jazz vocalist and Mike & Tony fan Karrin Allyson and her — according to a recent chat with jazz hornist John Clark — top-notch sidemen: Bob Mann, guitar, Ed Howard, bass and Adam Cruz, drums.

Allyson’s four Grammys and the New York Times’ high praise say all that needs to be said of her gifts: “utter musical fearlessness ... a complete artist ... one of the jazz world’s finest.”

Tickets: $25 in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/733939; $30 at the door


The strange tale of three John Clarks

Will the real John Clark please stand up?

On Thursday, July 3, a jazz hornist by this name will be performing at the Arts Block Cafe in Greenfield with the John Clark quintet, including Michael Rabinowitz, bassoon, Jerome Harris, guitar, Marty Jaffe, bass and Abe Fogle on drums, with special guest rhythm & blues vocalist Becca Byram.

But then, the very next afternoon, there seems to be a “John Clark” clone playing in Charlemont. This time the bill of fare reads, “John Clark’s Odd Couple & Friends will perform from jazz to rock, original compositions, arrangements of popular compositions and jazz arrangements of classical works, in a free family Independence Day concert presented by Mohawk Trail Concerts on the riverbank in Charlemont, Friday, July 4, at 4 p.m.

A few hours later, on Friday, comes a free open rehearsal of Clark’s Saturday concert with MTC, which will include a chamber (mini) version of Richard Strauss’ tongue-in-cheekish orchestral tone poem, “’Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks,” in keeping with the theme of MTC season-theme of “Tales Told.” Also on board: Gershwin medley, a Bach trio sonata, works by George Philipp Telemann, Alvaro Dalmar and jazz compositions by Clark himself. Guitarist Freddie Bryant, unlike many of his colleagues, will display his skills on the classical guitar, in works by Albeniz and Tarrega, including the heart-wrenching “Recuerdos de la Alhambra.”

The Friday rehearsal at 7 p.m. and Saturday’s concert, which starts at 7:30 p.m., will be at the air-conditioned Federated Church on Route 2 in Charlemont.

If all of these peformers are, by some stretch of the imagination, the same soft-spoken, mild-mannered John Clark who graced my studio with a recent visit, it trashes the notion that “nice guys finish last.”

Bravo, John!

Tickets: $20, $18, students and seniors. 413-625-9511, online at www.mohawktrailconcerts.org, at Boswell’s Books, Shelburne Falls; World Eye Bookshop, Greenfield; and Amherst Copy & Designworks, Amherst.

The riverbank site is by the old railroad station at the bridge, just off Route 2 in Charlemont. Folding chairs are suggested. Rain-out location: Federated Church on Route 2

If you have questions, contact Denese Gurley, 413-625-9511 info@mohawktraiconcerts.org

The tale of America in song

We dwell in a complex era and patriotism, the original meaning of which is devotion for one’s homeland, is oft confused with political extremism. Yet, despite the conflicted rhetoric of her ever-warring congressional and military ideologues, America remains a land whose meaning, power and beauty far transcend such divisionalisms.

We’re all well-familiar with what is amiss in our land, but the day of her official birth is the perfect time to sing in her many blessings and beauties during “America: Poets, Patriotism, Politics and Life,” an American song recital by soprano Kathleen Shimeta of New York and pianist Julia Bady of Bernardston, Sunday, July 6, at 3 p.m. in the classic Memorial Hall Museum in Old Deerfield.

On the program are works by Edward MacDowell, Aaron Coplan, Langston Hughes and Jean Berger, Gena Branscombe, Lee Holdridge and others.

A talk with Shimeta follows:

JM: Was this a mutual program selection process?

KS: Actually, I chose the program. It came about ... when I realized the program was over the July 4 weekend and I asked Julia if she was willing to do an all-American program and she was amenable.

JM: You’ve got a wide-ranging overview of great— and a substantial amount of largely unsung — American music, like the Leonard Bernstein-Alan Lerner piece, from their musical about the White House, “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” which I’m very eager to hear.

KS: Well, you know, it’s a very simple piece; it’s nothing like you would have expected Bernstein to write.

JM: One of the things I like about Bernstein when he was good — and to my mind, he was very erratic in inspiration, having written complete operas that nobody has ever heard — was that he was one of the few contemporary composers who could reach the heart with the simplest of means.

KS: Well, I chose it ... because I felt that that message, “Take care of this house ... keep it from harm,” (was about) a lot more than a building and had so much more to do with us as a nation.

JM: Given the few pieces of the mosaic of who you are that I’ve been able to experience, it strikes me that you are, beneath the veneer, a very old-fashioned soul.

KS: Yes, yes ... I would say that is true.

JM: And that your sensibilities stem much more from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

KS: Yes, I must say, I have done a great deal of late-20th- century music. But, when I chose this program, I wanted a program that spoke to an audience about patriotism, about our country, so I chose things that would have been based in the late 19th and early 20th century, yes.

JM: When that sentiment was so strong ... Well, I think it’s much needed; there’s a kind of cynical energy in our time which doesn’t lend itself too easily to love of country ... probably because of the “thorn in the side” of politics, which has gotten in the way of that love so much.

KS: Probably!

JM: How did you and Julia stumble over each other?

KS: It was really quite wonderful; I had been invited to perform with the Friends of Music in Guilford, up in Vermont in their “Women in Music” concert this past spring. Julia then came to New York to my apartment for a few days; she was so absolutely beautifully prepared, it was as if she and I had worked together before; she was familiar with the poetry, with the style. We just set off making music right off. I was stunned, because of her sensitivity to words and breathing. First of all, she’s just a great musician and then her talent of being able to wed (her solo and ensemble) together into accompanying singers, are just the sign of a very fine musician.

JM: Yes, the little I’ve seen of her have left me with a rare sight, the vision of a professional performer who is still actually in love with the music she does.

KS: Yes.

JM: And if the word weren’t so loaded, I would describe her as a true “amateur,” which originally just meant not a neophyte but a “lover of.”

KS: Yes!

Old Deerfield will present the Westmoreland (NH) Town Band now in its 44th season in a free, hour-long concert of rousing patriotic tunes from the past. The concert will be held in front of the Old Town Hall, 12 Memorial St., Deerfield, immediately to the west of the Memorial Hall Museum on Memorial Street. For information or weather questions on the day of the concert, call Memorial Hall Museum: 413- 774-2768 ext 80.

An author and composer, columnist Joseph Marcello of Northfield focuses on music and theater. He can be reached at josephmarcello@verizon.net.

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