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Berkshire Busk! opens third season

“The whole essence of this event is bringing together the community,” co-organizer Carli Scolforo told The Edge during Berkshire Busk!'s season opener. “We want to create a safe community gathering point for the residents of Great Barrington and anyone who is visiting. It’s important to us to keep this as a free event so you can come as many times as you want.”

Great Barrington — Music was in the air and everywhere in the downtown area during the third season opening of the Berkshire Busk! on Friday, June 30 and Saturday, July 1. The event will be held every Friday and Saturday night at various locations in town through Saturday, September 2.

Berkshire Busk! co-organizers Carli Scolforo and Eugene Carr. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

The event started three years ago during the pandemic. “While the pandemic was going on, we wanted to find a way to create some energy downtown,” event founder and co-organizer Eugene Carr told The Berkshire Edge. “The town created outdoor dining for the restaurants, and we thought that outdoor performances are a good way to bring the community together. We wanted to create a sense of energy and enthusiasm and to have performers of all types around town.”

Musician Genevieve Collins playing in front of The Vault Gallery on Main Street on July 1. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
“Balloon Ben” Wibby giving a baby balloon to a lucky child during the Berkshire Busk! on June 30. Wibby was giving out his balloon creations in front of Robin’s Candy on Main Street. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

Carr said that the event draws its inspiration from the busking tradition that started in Europe. “Busking started in the 1500s with street performers who don’t have a venue or are booked in a professional manner,” Carr said. “They just want to get out and show off their art. Our sense is that there are a lot of opportunities here in the Berkshires to pay for a ticket, go inside a venue, and see art. But we wanted to create an opportunity for everyone to see art that is open to everyone in the downtown area.”

Robin O’Herin, playing outside the courtyard in front of the Triplex on June 30. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
The Berkshire Resilience Brass Band performing on lower Railroad Street on June 30. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

For the event each Friday and Saturday night, Railroad Street is closed off to traffic for a few hours, allowing for outdoor performances and dining from local restaurants, with vendors on one side of the street for Saturday nights.

The scene on Railroad Street on July 1. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Attendees of The Berkshire Busk! enjoying food from local eateries, including Bizen Gourmet Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Baba Louie’s Sourdough Pizza, and SoCo Creamery. Photos by Shaw Israel Izikson.

Carr said that Berkshire Busk! not only includes performances by musicians, but also magicians, circus performers, painters, jugglers, and all types of creative arts.

Magician Benjamin Levy performing in front of TP Saddleblanket on June 30. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Young fans enjoying Natalie Lewis as she performs at The Triplex Courtyard on July 1. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
The band Paper Anniversary played on Railroad Street on July 1. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

He explained that the event brings people out to local area restaurants and stores. “We know from our previous years that the event brings a lot of people to the downtown area,” he said. “Every Friday and Saturday night, the restaurants are packed. On Saturday nights, our vendor fair on Railroad Street brings out people selling their crafts. It creates an opportunity for people to do something downtown at night with their friends and neighbors.”

“The whole essence of this event is bringing together the community,” co-organizer Carli Scolforo added. “We want to create a safe community gathering point for the residents of Great Barrington and anyone who is visiting. It’s important to us to keep this as a free event so you can come as many times as you want.”

The Monument Mountain High School Jazz Orchestra performing outside of Rubiner’s Cheesemongers on July 1. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Thirteen-year-old Noah Robertson from Australia performing on Railroad Street on July 1. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

For the past two seasons, performers and creative acts at the event have come from all across the United States and the world. The event’s opening nights continued with this lineup of performers and included Noah Robertson from Australia; Paper Anniversary from Brooklyn, N.Y.; the Berkshire Resilience Brass Band; and other performers.

Christopher Scott performing on Main Street on July 1 in front of Calyx Berkshire Dispensary. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Face painter Raeah Rama who took part in The Berkshire Busk! event on July 1. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

Both Carr and Scolforo said that the series of Berkshire Busk! events will continue to present diverse acts and creative performers as the season goes on.
“We have a roster of returning performers that we are thrilled about and brand new performers,” Carr said. “What we are doing here in Great Barrington is completely unique and different than you’ll find anywhere else in the Berkshires. It complements all of the other great things that are happening in the area with a very unique experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”

“Just besides when it rains, there is never a bad night to come,” Scolforo added. “It’s unlike anything you have ever seen before.”

For more information about Berkshire Busk!, go to its website.

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