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Bits & Bytes: Postmodern Jukebox at the Mahaiwe; Aretha Franklin tribute; Freedom Fund Awards dinner; Ice Glen walk; Harvest Fiesta

Whitney Battle-Baptiste, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center and associate professor of anthropology at UMass Amherst, will be the keynote speaker at the fourth annual NAACP - Berkshire County Branch Freedom Awards dinner.

Mahaiwe to present Postmodern Jukebox

Great Barrington — The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will present Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox Friday, Nov. 2, at 8 p.m.

Founded by pianist and arranger Bradlee in 2009, the large ensemble reimagines contemporary pop, rock and R&B hits in the style of various yesteryears, from swing to doo-wop, ragtime to Motown—as Bradlee puts it, “pop music in a time machine.” The band parlayed a series of YouTube videos shot in Bradlee’s Queens living room into massive success, accruing over 1 billion YouTube views, 3.6 million subscribers and more than 1.8 million fans on Facebook.

PMJ has performed on “Good Morning America,” topped iTunes and Billboard charts, caught the attention of NPR Music and NBC News, and played hundreds of shows to sold-out houses around the world. For those who only know PMJ from their time-warping videos, the live show is a Roaring ‘20s party that would make the Great Gatsby proud, mixed with a swinging ‘60s night with the Rat Pack, spiced up with Motor City soul and classic sock-hop rockin’ that gets audiences twisting the night away.

Tickets are $30–$80. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Mahaiwe box office at (413) 528-0100.


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Colonial Theatre to host tribute to Aretha Franklin

Gina Coleman. Photo: Lee Everett

Pittsfield — Berkshire Theatre Group will present “Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul” at the Colonial Theatre, 11 South St., Thursday, Nov. 1, at 7:30pm. The show will feature vocalists Gina Coleman, Danielia Cotton, Jen Durkin and Wanda L. Houston with the Rev Tor Band backing the performances. Acoustic Groove will pre-show entertainment in the Garage at 6 p.m.

Williams College graduate Coleman began singing in 1990 on a dare by her co-workers, which blossomed into a five-piece band, allowing her to showcase original music and gain regional recognition. Coleman has performed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and New York City’s the Bitter End. Her band, Misty Blues, was featured at MASS MoCA’s blues festival, performed regularly with the late Charles Neville, and were finalists in both the 2017 and 2018 International Blues Challenge.

Danielia Cotton

Cotton penned her latest record, “The Mystery of Me,” in just one night. The new album’s 10 tracks feature an eclectic mix of rock and soul, pulling inspiration from classic Motown, Sly and the Family Stone, and Cotton’s newfound happiness. The Hopewell, New Jersey, native, who first picked up a guitar at age 12 and released her debut album in 2005; has since opened for the likes of Buddy Guy, Derek Trucks and Bon Jovi; and is still looking for fresh ways to say hello to audiences.

Wanda Houston performing a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro, Vermont, in December 2016. Photo: Jeff Lewis, courtesy Vermont Jazz Center

Durkin attended Berklee College of Music and then moved to New York City. Durkin’s high-profile East Coast funk band, Deep Banana Blackout, set her on the path to attaining her dreams. She has toured and performed with Bernie Worrell of the Talking Heads, Grateful Dead drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, Mike Gordon of Phish, and George Porter Jr. of the Meters.

Houston has lived and performed professionally throughout the U.S., Europe and Australia. Living on the East Coast in New York and New England returned Houston to the roots of her career and music. Houston has worked in varying capacities with artists such as Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, John Turturro, Eddie Izzard, Natalie Cole, Eartha Kitt, Patti LaBelle and Sam Harris on the stages of Pasadena Playhouse, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall.

Tickets are $25. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Colonial ticket office at (413) 997-4444.


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Berkshire NAACP to hold Freedom Fund Award dinner

Whitney Battle-Baptiste. Photo courtesy UMass Amherst Libraries’ W.E.B. Du Bois Center

Pittsfield — Whitney Battle-Baptiste, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center and associate professor of anthropology at UMass Amherst, will be the keynote speaker at the fourth annual NAACP – Berkshire County Branch Freedom Awards dinner to be held Saturday, Nov. 3, from 6 to 11 p.m. at Berkshire Hills Country Club.

Frances Jones-Sneed. Photo courtesy Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The dinner will honor three individuals for their contributions to the Berkshire community and their dedication to ensuring equal opportunity and rights for all: Mabel Hamilton, who was instrumental in bringing the Head Start “Follow Through” program to the Pittsfield Public Schools will be awarded the Shirley Chisolm Freedom Award; historian Frances Jones-Sneed, co-director of the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail and former director of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ women’s studies program will receive the W.E.B. Du Bois Freedom Award, as will Battle-Baptiste. Musical artist Wanda Houston will provide the evening’s entertainment, accompanied by Michael Brown.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to a 2019 youth trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the 2019 NAACP Branch College Scholarship Program.

Tickets start at $75. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or call Will Singleton at (413) 445-5159.


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Family-friendly Ice Glen walk to celebrate autumn

Stockbridge — Stockbridge Fire/Rescue/EMS will present a family-friendly moonlit hike into Ice Glen followed by a celebration around a bonfire Friday, Nov. 2, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The guided tour will start from the Stockbridge Town Park on Park Street, proceed down South Street onto Ice Glen Road and through the Glen, returning to the park for a bonfire, cider and donuts. It is an easy hike, and Stockbridge firefighters and volunteers will be at points where there is uneven terrain. Participants are advised to wear sturdy footwear, warm layered clothing, hats and gloves, and to bring flashlights. The celebration bonfire at the park will begin immediately after the hike. It is requested that pets be left at home. In the case of rain or inclement weather, the walk will be cancelled.

The hike and bonfire are both free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Stockbridge Fire Department at (413) 298-4866.


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Williamstown Community Preschool to offer Harvest Fiesta

Williamstown — The Williamstown Community Preschool will host its annual Harvest Fiesta Saturday, Nov. 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Rain or shine, all community members are invited to attend and celebrate fall, Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. The free event will feature mask decorating, fake tattoos, vegetable printing, harvest fruit, face painting, dance, bounce houses and fun on WCP’s new playground. A bake sale with spidery treats, pizza and more will be available for lunch. Costumes are optional. For more information, contact the Williamstown Community Preschool at (413) 458-4476 or



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