West Stockbridge – In a sense, the Berkshires could be considered a rural — very, very rural — version of Brooklyn.
Or, in less flamboyant terms, let’s just say that the Berkshires is undergoing an evanescent Brooklyn-like experience – transforming, as Brooklyn has over the past decade little by little, neighborhood by neighborhood — into a kind of underground crucible for young and emerging artists, writers, actors, filmmakers and musicians whose creative instincts were forged in the city but who are now seeking a refuge for exploring their art. A temporary refuge, perhaps, but a refuge.
There was Maggie Mailer, for example, arriving in Pittsfield twelve years ago from Brooklyn, where she had a studio in DUMBO, to establish the Storefront Artists Project, an initiative that opened the door to such current enterprises as the Crispina ffrench’s ShireCity Sanctuary and the Whitney Center for the Arts. And supported the work of artists such the painters Paul Graubard, Gail Downey and Scott Cole, the performance artist and dancer Stephanie Lynx Weber, the sculptor Nicole Peskin, and the mult-form artist Doug Truth, to name but a few of the artists who benefited from the project.
And would Pittsfield have ever established an Office of Cultural Affairs, with Megan Whilden as its indefatigable director, without it?
In South County, we have Pooja Ru with her Rogue Angel Theatre that gives impromptu performances in alleyways, mill tunnels and, soon, in a stream. And let’s not forget the accordion tamer and extravaganza impresario Heather Fisch, with her latest production, “Blue Venice.”
And this is just a too brief list of the cutting-edge creative minds who are lurking in the Berkshire hills.
As for venues there’s the Down County Social Club on Route 41 in Sheffield, the new LABspace showroom in Great Barrington, displaying the extraordinary masks of Huck DelSignore, and Lauren Clark’s fabulous new gallery on Railroad Street with the work, among many others, of the sculptor Joe Wheaton.
But for a taste of the old-fashioned, genuine Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene, with extraordinary performers to go along with their home-roasted coffees, it’s hard to beat No. Six Depot in West Stockbridge, where Flavio Lichtenthal and Lisa Landry have created what amounts to a 21st century reincarnation of Mundy’s, the Glendale watering hole that was, in many ways, the cultural heart of the Berkshires.
No. Six Depot has music and more – and will soon be showing independent films in the gallery – and the soccer World Cup. Hey, Flavio’s from Argentina.
But this Friday, May 16, at 8 p.m., No. Six Depot will host “Quiet in the Head,” a Brooklyn-based, cutting-edge musical project created by guitarist Seamus Maynard, violinist Jonathan Talbott and cellist Jonah Thomas.
Their original compositions and improvisation reflect Middle Eastern and Eastern European music. Here’s a sample: https://soundcloud.com/quiet-in-the-head/catalyst-excerpt
Talbott has performed violin improvisations with Mother Fletcher, jazz drummer Bobby Preville’s Voodoo Orchestra and the Lucky 5 jazz band.
Cellist Jonah Thomas, son of Great Barrington resident and filmmaker Michael Thomas, has been playing cello since the age of 9, studying composition and cello at the Juilliard School.
Classical guitarist and actor Seamus Maynard graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London in 2008. He is the recipient of a John Gielgud Award for Excellence in Acting.
For more information on this performance, call No. Six Depot at 413-232-0205, or check out their web site: http://www.sixdepot.com.