Friday, July 19, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

BITS & BYTES: Westfield River Wildwater Races; Emily Barden Quartet; Bird watching in Cummington; Carolina Caycedo artist talk; Dance with Drumspyder; CEWM presents Manhattan Chamber players concert

Close Encounters with Music presents the Manhattan Chamber Players at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Sunday, April 23 at 4 p.m.
Westfield River Wildwater Races 2022. Photo credits: Inner Mountain Photography.

68th Annual Westfield River Wildwater Races set for Saturday

Huntington— The country’s oldest continuously-run whitewater kayak and canoe races are taking to the Westfield River once again this April 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Over 250 paddlers, from experts to those new to the rapids, will enjoy a fun, fast ride on a river so beautiful and historic that 30 years ago it received Wild & Scenic designation from the US Congress. What began as a bar bet has become an annual rite of spring and celebration of the Hilltowns of Western Mass through which the Westfield River flows down into the Connecticut.

Expert paddlers begin at Knightville Dam north of Huntington and make their way through up to Class 4 rapids and boulders as big as small cars as they are propelled by a rush of spring flowing water for five miles. The river is raised from its normal height due to a special water release from Knightville and Littleville dams by the US Army Corp of Engineers.

The Classic Race begins in the center of the village of Huntington and makes its way towards Westfield with up to Class 3 rapids for 8 miles. Paddlers must carry (portage) their canoes or kayaks over two sets of rock outcroppings to evade impassable waterfalls.

This year, the race is introducing a “Fun Run” for those not up to the portages and rapids.  It will start in downtown Huntington just after the Classic Race. This one mile run is designed for newbie or flatwater paddlers to get their feet wet and be a part of the excitement of the river. While there are no rapids on this stretch, the water is ripping and participants should expect a bumpy, wet ride. Costumes are encouraged.

There will be a race celebration free to all at Strathmore Park (on Rte 20 just east of Russell) beginning at noon featuring food trucks, live music,  DJ, and more.  Race winners will receive a hand-crafted paddle trophy in an awards ceremony at 2:30PM.

The entry fee is $30 per person for paddlers in the Expert and Classic Race (this includes a $5 insurance fee – early bird discount until April 1 of $25). The Fun Run is $10 per person (which includes a $5 insurance fee). To register for the race, or to get information on all the surrounding activities, go to

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Emily Braden Quartet. Image via The Foundry. https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_445638579_337801756067_1_original

Come see the jazz of the Emily Barden Quartet

West Stockbridge— The Foundry will host the Emily Braden Quartet on Saturday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. for a night of award winning blend of jazz and soul.

Big, bad beauty from Boise, Idaho, Emily Braden has the innate ability to win the heart of any audience with her powerhouse vocals and striking stage presence. As a resident of Harlem and a celebrated name on the NYC’s jazz scene for over a decade, Braden has graced the iconic stages of NYC’s Blue Note Jazz Club, Birdland Jazz Club and Minton’s Playhouse as well as international festival circuits. She could be seen at her monthly residency at the famed 55 Bar in Greenwich Village until its recent shuttering. Braden has twice represented the US arts community abroad with the US Embassy’s Arts Envoy Program.

Tickets are $25 in advance/$30 at the door.

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Hoffmann Bird Club birding session 

Cummington— The Hoffmann Bird Club will host a bird watching session on Saturday, April 22 at 7:30 a.m. 

Search for American bittern, waterthrushes, Virginia rails, cuckoos & more!  Meet at The Creamery on Route 9 in Cummington.  This trip involves driving to 4-6 birding spots, some easy to moderate walking on grassy paths or along roadsides. Please register for the trip by going to to obtain the leader’s contact details.

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Image: Carolina Caycedo, From the Bottom of the River (detail), 2021. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL. Photo: Nathan Keay. © MCA Chicago. Via the Clark Art Institute

Conversation with artist Carolina Caycedo on her ecofeminist practice

WilliamstownOn Earth Day (Saturday, April 22) at 2 p.m., the Clark Art Institute hosts a conversation with artist Carolina Caycedo exploring her ecofeminist practice. The free talk takes place in the Clark’s auditorium, located in the Manton Research Center. Caycedo, whose work is included in the Clark’s upcoming exhibition, “Human Ecology: Eight Positions,” is known for her performances, video, artist’s books, sculptures, and installations that examine environmental and social issues. Her work contributes to the construction of environmental historical memory, as a fundamental element for the non-repetition of violence against human and nonhuman entities.

Carolina Caycedo has developed publicly engaged projects in major cities across the globe and has held residencies at the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) in Berlin as well as the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, among others. She has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the Sydney, Chicago Architecture, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Berlin, Havana, and Whitney Biennials. Caycedo’s recent solo museum exhibitions include “Projects: Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas” at MoMA (2022–2023); “Land of Friends” at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle, United Kingdom (2022–2023); “From the Bottom of the River” at the MCA Chicago (2020–2021); ”Cosmotarrayas”  at ICA Boston (2020).

“Humane Ecology: Eight Positions” features a group of contemporary artists who consider the intertwined natural and social dimensions of environmental questions: Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Carolina Caycedo, Allison Janae Hamilton, Juan Antonio Olivares, Christine Howard Sandoval, Pallavi Sen, and Kandis Williams. Opening July 15, 2023, the exhibition is presented in outdoor and indoor spaces at the Clark, including both the Clark Center and Lunder Center at Stone Hill. Caycedo presents her work at the Clark this summer in collaboration with Williams College art students.

Free and open to the public; no registration is required. For more information, visit

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Dance Lab with Drumspyder 2023. Image courtesy of Race Brook Lodge.

Dance Lab presents: Spring Awakening with Drumspyder

SheffieldOn Sunday, April 23 at 3 p.m. at Race Brook Large, attend a community gathering celebrating the arrival of Spring – featuring an opening warmup class, Ecstatic Dance & Live Music, sound healing & more.

See the percussionist, tribal-folk dance music producer, and artist weaving rhythm, melody, and line as Drumspyder, exploring the Heathen and Celtic old ways in vital contemporary expressions. Find out more about Drumspyder at his website, or check him out on Instagram.

This will be a safe and inclusive space, welcoming people from all walks of life to freely express themselves through movement. No prior dance experience is required, just come as you are!

The schedule includes: 2:30 p.m.: Doors Open + Opening Music; 3 p.m.: Opening Class; 4 p.m.: Ecstatic Dance w/ Drumspyder; 5:30-6 p.m.: Sound healing + Closing Circle

Tickets are $20 in advance/$25 at the door.

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Manhattan Chamber Players, chamber orchestra. Image courtesy of Close Encounters with Music.

“From Bach Brandenburg to Appalachian Spring with Manhattan Chamber Players”

Great Barrington— Close Encounters with Music presents “From Bach Brandenburg to Appalachian Spring with the Manhattan Chamber Players” at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Sunday, April 23 at 4 p.m.

Bringing a “mellifluous blend of vigorous intensity and dramatic import, performed with enthusiasm, technical facility and impressive balance,” the 13-strong Manhattan Chamber Players make their Close Encounters With Music debut this season. In a program both orchestral (Brandenburg No. 3 and Copland’s iconic Appalachian Spring and reduced to octet for Mendelssohn’s early work (“Its youthful verve, brilliance and perfection make it one of the miracles of nineteenth-century music”), they demonstrate their versatility and virtuosity. First written as a ballet for Martha Graham and telling the story of 19th century pioneers celebrating spring after building a new Pennsylvania farmhouse, Copland’s reworking of the Appalachian Spring Suite has become one of the staples of the concert hall.

Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $28 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available through Close Encounters With Music. Virtual tickets are also available.


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