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J Mascis

It’s common knowledge that it was the post-Nirvana major-label feeding frenzy in Seattle that really lit the fuse for the alternative rock revolution, but as is often the case, common knowledge is probably wrong. The real progenitors of the scene may well have been a couple of Northeastern bands: Boston’s the Pixies and Amherst’s Dinosaur Jr., whose legendary front man, J Mascis, will perform a rare acoustic show at Valentine’ tonight (Thursday).

Early Dinosaur Jr. releases blended hardcore rhythmic thunder, sprawling Sonic Youth-style noise breaks and sharp, soaring solos a la Neil Young; teamed with that racket, Mascis’ voice, an unmistakable woeful groan, seemed the perfect representation of the slacker generation’s angry apathy, a strange and furious immobility. The volatile mix proved the product of a volatile lineup, however, and after three albums on the famed SST label, Mascis told the band’s other songwriter, bassist Lou Barlow, that Dinosaur Jr. were a done deal. The good news is that the very next day, Dinosaur Jr., sans Barlow, were resurrected—but it was a very different animal. The band’s next album, their major label debut, Green Mind, was essentially a J Mascis solo project—one destined for only retrospective appreciation. Fans and critics alike were disheartened by the stylistic variation of Green Mind from Mascis’s previous work. Today, though, the album—with its inclusion of acoustic guitars, folk and funk elements, and its tighter, more pronounced melodies—is regarded as an artistic high point for Mascis.

Mascis never achieved the same cultural visibility as onetime opening act Nirvana, but he has continued to crank out consistently engaging hard rock, both under the Dinosaur Jr. rubric and as a solo act. Most recently, he teamed with Guided by Voices head honcho Bob Pollard and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields to produce the album More Light, under the name J Mascis and the Fog. Apparently the ad hoc supergroup were never actually a band out of the studio, so now Mascis is out on the road doing his thing acoustically, which will give fans the rare treat of catching Mascis’ underrated songwriter skills all up close and personal-like.

J Mascis will perform at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) tonight (Thursday, Aug. 1). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $15. For more information, call 432-6572.

Magnum Photographers

When we think back to Sept. 11, there are images that stand out in our mind. Magnum, an internationally famous photo agency, had 11 photographers coincidentally on hand the day the World Trade Center was attacked to document the horror, heroism and turmoil. The New York September 11 by Magnum Photographers exhibit opens today (Thursday, Aug. 1) at the New York State Museum.

The 42 photographs are separated into two sections, one that honors the memory of the two towers and one that displays the havoc that was caused by the attacks. The photographers, who are experienced in photographing warfare and violence all over the world, were in New York for an agency meeting and risked their lives to memorialize the events that transpired during and after the attack. The photos also appear in a companion book, which The New York Times Book Review described as “an emotional charge that is characteristic of the best photojournalism.”

In addition to the photos taken, there is a 25-minute documentary film by Evan Fairbanks, not a Magnum photographer, which documents the attack and the aftermath. There are interviews with bystanders and evacuees, and the film actually follows firefighters into the World Trade Center.

Kenneth Jackson, president of the New York Historical Society, notes that the photos could be very disturbing to some and that children should receive parental permission before viewing the exhibit.

Another exhibition, Preserving History: New York State Museum and the World Trade Center, will feature a large collection of materials from the site of the attack.

New York September 11 by Magnum Photographers at the New York State Museum (Madison Avenue, Albany) opens Aug. 1 and runs until Oct. 14.

Museum is open daily from 9:30 AM to 5 PM. Admission is free. For more information, call (518) 474-5877 or go to www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Without Walls

Alfred Uhry, author of the Pulitzer Prize- and Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy, will premiere his new play Without Walls at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The play centers on the relationship between a cryptic black drama teacher named Morocco Hemphill and the Dewey School’s newest transfer, named Anton. Both characters have hard lessons to learn about each other and themselves.

Uhry, who started his Broadway career as a lyric writer under Frank Loesser, has penned two Tony Award-winning plays, Last Night of Ballyhoo and Parade. He was also one of four writers to write Mystic Pizza, famous as the film in which Julia Roberts had her first major role.

Without Walls will be presented on the Nikos Stage (adjacent to the Adams Memorial Theatre on Route 2 in Williamstown, Mass.), opening Wednesday (Aug. 7) and running through Aug.18. All shows on Tuesday through Friday evenings are at 8 PM and Saturday evenings at 8:30 PM. Matinees are Tuesdays and Sundays at 2 PM and Saturdays at 4 PM. Tickets range from $20 to $22. For more information, call (413) 597-3400 or go to www.WTFestival.org.


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