The Recorder – Everything happens in the trees: Barbès in the Woods brings an eclectic musical program to Montague
For the past two decades, what was once a laundromat in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, NY, has been a busy music venue and bar, showcasing a wide range of music, from jazz to world music. through Americana and experimental sounds.
Barbès was founded by two expatriate French musicians who named the club after a district of Paris known for its record stores, food markets, discount stores and a large North African population.
In 2019, Laudable Productions of Easthampton, which has notably produced the Millpond.Live outdoor concerts in recent years, decided to bring a taste of Brooklyn-based music to western Massachusetts. And after being forced online in 2020, the live festival, called Barbès in the Woods, is back for 2021.
The festivities begin Friday August 20 with an opera performance at Peskeomskut Park in Turners Falls, followed by a fashion show and DJ at the Pioneer Valley Brewery.
Excerpts from Richard Wagner’s greatest hits will be performed at 6:30 p.m. by the opera TUNDI in Brattleboro, Vermont. Music director Hugh Keelan said his company’s performances of the scenes should shatter opera’s “scholarly” preconceptions in favor of a down-to-earth “intoxicating” to resonate personally with those in attendance.
“We strongly believe in this business that it … goes right to the heart of any particular problem of our time,” said Keelan.
Keelan described the themes of peer humiliation, negative judgment of love, and foster parenting as part of what to expect. He said he hopes participants will recognize that “the voice is a superpower.”
Following the fashion show at the Pioneer Valley Brewery, Boston-based DJ Bosq will perform a music ensemble until 1 a.m. The brasserie will offer its latest tap dance creations and dancing is encouraged.
The “The Trash Rich Fashion Show” will be hosted by Swanson’s Fabrics at 8 pm. Hosted and hosted by Kathryn Swanson, the show celebrates the store’s first anniversary and will feature models wearing clothes made from the store’s materials. Swanson hopes to connect with locals by tapping into the declining human tradition of homemade clothing.
“Making our own clothes is a really fundamental part of being human from which we have only moved away in the last hundred years,” said Swanson. “It’s all about Montague and shows how great and creative it is.”
The concert itself, which takes place on Saturday, August 21 at Bartlett Farm in Montague from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., features a range of acts whose sounds are everywhere: afro-funk, jazz, Sufi, Persian electro pop and whatnot. widely described as “garage-marimba-cumbia-punk”.
Kyle Homstead and Cassandra Holden of Laudable Productions describe Barbès in the Woods as a “rural retreat” for groups that have found an urban home in Brooklyn. The 12-acre Bartlett Farm has fields, woods, and the Sawmill River that members of the public can explore when not listening to the music of two stages that will be set up next to each other, where the groups will play consecutive performances.
This, the producers say, means one can hear “uninterrupted and risk-free FOMO” (the fear of missing an exciting or interesting event happening elsewhere at the same time).
Although they are not part of the Barbes scene in Brooklyn, two acts that are part of the August 21 show fall within the broad parameters of the music presented there. One is Liraz, an Iranian-born Israeli singer and actor who sings in Farsi (and Hebrew), and the second is Son Rompe Pera, a Mexican band with a sound that marries Mexican folk traditions with a punk sensibility. Both made their debuts in the United States at Barbès in the Woods.
“The festival, like the bar it is named after, is rooted in the idea of global citizenship, of building a global musical culture,” Holden said in an email. “In our second year, it felt natural to expand beyond the borders of Brooklyn and start looking much more broadly for exciting artists.”
Here’s a look at some of the acts:
Arooj Aftab – The Pakistani-born singer and songwriter, now living in New York City, received considerable attention this year for her latest album, “Vulture Prince”, which Time, The Guardian and Pitchfork all rated as the best albums of 2021. , and which, according to the singer, was steeped in the grief she experienced after the death of her younger brother.
On “Vulture Prince,” Aftab turned to ghazal, a form of Arabic poetry that deals with loss and desire, and combined this with, as Pitchfolk writes, “minimal compositions that draw inspiration from jazz, Hindustani classical, folk and – on one song – reggae to create a heartbreaking and exquisite document of the journey from grief to acceptance.
Laudable Productions asserts that the straightforward nature of Aftab’s compositions “rejects all that is not essential and invites the listener into an intimate listening space filled with prayers, laments and serious requests.”
At Barbès in the Woods, she will perform with members of her ensemble, including guitarist Gyan Riley and violinist Darian Donovan Thomas. His set will be co-presented with Antenna Cloud Farm, the artists’ retreat, also in Montague.
BIGYUKI – Japanese keyboardist and composer Masayuki Hirano, whose musical trade name is BIGYUKI, grew up studying and playing classical piano, then came to the United States to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, where, according to a report , he “spent hours alone in the piano practice rooms, learning to play bass with his left hand, just to avoid having to ask others to play with him.
This autodidact led him to a new musical palette: funk, hip-hop, gospel, organ-based jazz. Today, Masayuki, nicknamed “NYC’s Secret Weapon,” offers what Laudable describes as “an infectious and beautifully bizarre palette of music” that combines classical flourishes, jazz and pop. Among the people with whom he has played, jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington. At Barbès in the Woods, he will be joined by guitarist Randy Runyon and drummer Tim “Smithsoneon” Smith.
Liraz – Making her US debut at Barbes in the Woods, Israeli singer and actress Liraz grew up speaking Farsi – her parents were Jewish-Persian emigrants from Iran – and then reconnected with Iranian culture when she lived in Los Angeles. There she met other Iranian emigrants and began to collect pre-revolutionary Iranian music.
She is now playing what is described as retro Persian soul and psychedelic electro-pop; his Israeli group has secretly collaborated with Iranian musicians to produce the tracks for his new album, “Zan”. It is a sign, says Laudable Productions, of “how music can transcend nationalism, politics and war.”
Son Rompe Pera – This Mexican “band of brothers” who learned to play the marimba and other instruments from their father over years of busking, play a mix of what Laudable Productions calls “cha-cha-cha, psychobilly and cumbia”.
“Son Rompe Pera is a band we’ve been looking at for a few years,” Holden said. “We actually invited them to perform virtually at last year’s BITW, and they obligated us in the most delightful way by finding a forest just outside Mexico City to go and record their set live.
Holden also notes that one of the founders of the original Barbes, Olivier Conan, told him that Son Rompe Pera delivers “one of the best live sets he’s seen in the last 10 years … and he’s seeing a parcel of music.”
Also starring in the August 21 show, Berkshire Bacteria (Brazilian samba), Mamie Minch (acoustic blues), Kaleta & Super Yamba (afro-funk) and Los Cumpleaños (Latin and jazz music with psychedelic and electronic touches).
Additionally, Holden said the Shea Theater Arts Center, Fine House and Eggtooth Productions are teaming up to present “traveling pop-up theater shows” during the festival at a number of venues on the ground.
The festival has a detailed list of COVID-19 guidelines for members of the public, which includes a request that unvaccinated attendees and children under 12 wear masks at all times. Visit barbesinthewoods.com for updates to these guidelines and to order tickets (prices are $ 55 for adults, $ 25 for adults in Montague, $ 15 for children ages 6 to 17, and free for children aged 5 and under).
Steve Pfarrer can be reached at [email protected] Journalist Julian Mendoza contributed to this story.